Avocados are a popular landscape tree in the American Southwest where they reach heights of up to 65 feet and produce an average of 120 fruits per year. Also called the "alligator pear," the avocado is native to Mexico where the Aztecs regarded it as a 'fertility fruit'. Because the avocado was believed to be a sexual stimulant, Aztec families locked up their virgin daughters during Avocado harvest to protect them from its potent powers.
Indoor grown avocados rarely bear fruit. When they do, the taste of the fruit is quite different from those grown outdoors in their tropical habitat (zones 9-11). Yet, the avocado bears a most interesting seed and, if you are patient, an indoor avocado tree will reward you with an indoor touch of the tropics.
A favored method of sprouting an avocado seed is to pierce it with toothpicks and suspend it (pointed end up) over a glass, vase, or jar of water, immersing only the bottom third to half of the seed. Keep the water sweet by adding some charcoal to the bottom of your container. Keep it warm and moist, but out of direct sunlight. In two to six weeks, if your seed germinates, you should see the beginning of stems and roots.
When the stem reaches six inches in length, cut it back to three to allow your plant to put energy into root growth. When your plant has good root growth and the beginnings of foliage, pot it in a small pot (4-5 inch diameter). Pot it partly exposed like you would an amaryllis bulb or sweet potato vine. Use a four to five inch pot for starters, filled with nutrient rich potting soil. Allow for good drainage.
Leave an avocado pit in the sunshine until it begins to split; then pot it partly exposed like above.
When your avocado plant grows to about 12-inches tall, pinch it back to 6-inches to produce a rounder, fuller plant. When your new plant fills its pot with roots, repot it in its 'permanent' pot and put it in its permanent place in your indoor garden. If you provide it with moist, fertile soil and plenty of sunshine, your avocado plant will reward you with gorgeous foliage for three to five years.
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