Growing an avocado plant indoors isn’t just about conquering size limitations; it’s about harvesting your superfood.
When life gives you a tiny apartment, grow avocado trees in pots! From guilt-free guacamole to your slice of the tropics, there are countless benefits to nurturing and growing avocados within your humble abode.
After my beloved avocado trees perished during the scorching summer heatwave, I was determined to find a way to outsmart Mother Nature’s fickle weather. So, I got myself a couple more trees, potted them indoors, and it worked!
An Avocado plant indoors craves bright direct sunlight but is adaptable, so a sunny window should suffice. Water them lovingly but sparingly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not soggy.
Let’s take a look at avocado care in more detail.
Table of Contents
- How Much Light Is Required?
- Do They Like to Dry Out Between Waterings?
- What Soil Blend Is Best?
- Do Avocados Tolerate Cold Temperatures?
- Is Humidity Necessary?
- When Should I Apply Fertilizer?
- What Method of Propagation Is the Most Successful?
- Are Avocados Toxic?
- What Pests and Common Problems Should I Look Out For?
- About Avocado Plant Indoors
How Much Light Is Required?
Aim for around 6 to 8 hours of indirect sunlight daily for an avocado plant indoors. That’s a good amount of light, but not the direct, scorching kind.
When it comes to placement, choose a sunny window where they can catch those rays without getting roasted. South or west-facing windows usually do the trick. Ensure they’re not too close to the glass, which can scorch them.
If your avocado plant indoors isn’t getting enough light, its leaves might droop or turn yellow and look slightly leggy (long, stretched branches). Consider moving it to a sunnier spot.
While younger avocado trees love bright sunlight, trees less than three years old are more sensitive and can burn in the sun. Keep an eye on the stems and branches to ensure they don’t start turning brown, and move them away from the sun if you notice any changes in their appearance.
I didn’t realize this until it was too late. My avocado plants started to crisp up around the edges of the leaves, and although the trees were three years old, the sun outside is so strong nowadays. I used a shade cloth to filter the sun to revive them for a few extra weeks.
Do They Like to Dry Out Between Waterings?
Because avocado plants are sun-worshippers, they do require a regular watering routine. Not one that will leave them feeling soggy, so their roots rot.
I water my indoor avocado plants when the top two inches of soil feel dry, or the plant shows signs of wilting. It may sound like I’ve left it too long, but after a drink, they perk back up. If the leaves start to go brown or crispy, it has been left too long, and you will need to give them deep water to revive them.
Before potting your avocado tree, ensure the pot has adequate drainage holes for the excess water to drain. When it is time to water, pour water around the base of the plant to avoid letting water sit close to the stem.
If you have access to rainwater, your avocado plant will love you for it. Otherwise, use tap water after it has sat for a day to let the chlorine evaporate.
Because the avocado is in a pot, the minerals take little time to build up. You will see a salty crust on the soil’s top, eventually suffocating the roots. If this happens, repot the avocado plant into fresh soil and continue watering using distilled or filtered water.
What Soil Blend Is Best?
Use a potting soil blend that is specifically designed for container plants. You can mix your own using peat moss, perlite, and organic matter.
Avoid using garden soil, as avocados can be a bit fussy. Also your native soil may not provide the right texture for the roots to penetrate. Mine is heavy clay and suffocates any plants I put in it.
Aim for a pH of around 6 to 6.5. You can get a soil pH testing kit from your local garden store or online to check it. If the potting soil is too alkaline, you can tweak it with some sulfur.
Adding a layer of mulch, like wood chips or straw, to the soil’s surface helps keep moisture, which avocado trees love.
Soil compaction can be a killer for an avocado plant indoors. To avoid it, gently loosen the potting soil surface with a fork or your fingers occasionally.
When potting your avocado tree, ensure the root ball is at the same depth. Gently pack soil as it was in its nursery container. Planting it too deep or too shallow can cause issues with the base of the stem.
When growing an avocado plant indoors in a pot, periodically refresh the potting soil by removing the top layer and replacing it with fresh potting mix. This helps maintain the correct pH and nutrient levels.
Do Avocados Tolerate Cold Temperatures?
An avocado tree prefers temperatures that are just right – not too hot or cold. They thrive in a range of 60°F to 85°F (15°C to 30°C).
Avoid Frosty Fingers
Avocados are tropical or subtropical plants, so they’re not big fans of cold snaps. They can start shivering if the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C). In frosty conditions, they might even lose their leaves or, worse, croak.
Warm Summers, Please
On the flip side, avocados adore a warm summer. They need those higher temperatures to kick into growth mode. Ensure your avocado plant indoors is in a sunny spot during those sunny months.
Keep an Eye on Indoor Heating
If you’re growing your avocado plant indoors, beware of indoor heating systems during the winter. They can dry the air and stress your tree. A little extra humidity and proper positioning can do wonders.
Local weather patterns create microclimates, and outdoor avocado trees may fare differently in a sheltered garden than in an exposed one. Choose the location wisely, like picking the best seat in the house.
The same goes for avocado plants indoors; if you have other potted indoor plants, you can group your avocado plant with them to create a microclimate and retain humidity.
Is Humidity Necessary?
Initially from the tropical regions of Central and South America, where the air is thick with humidity, avocados thrive at high humidity levels, ideally between 60% and 80%.
Indoor environments often lack the tropical humidity that an avocado plant adores. Central heating and air conditioning can dry the air like nobody’s business.
To combat this, you can use a humidifier or employ DIY tricks like misting the leaves or placing a tray of water near your tree to increase the moisture in the air.
When Should I Apply Fertilizer?
Look for a balanced, slow-release fertilizer for citrus and avocado trees. These fertilizers are like a tailored suit for your avocado houseplant, meeting its nutritional needs. The N-P-K ratio (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) should be balanced, like 10-10-10 or 14-14-14.
Feed your avocado tree monthly during the growing season, typically spring and summer. As the winter approaches, you can hold back on fertilizing as the plant will naturally slow down during this time.
- Don’t overdo it: You should follow the package instructions carefully and err on the side of caution. Over-fertilizing can lead to salt build-up in the soil, which can harm your plant.
- Slow and steady: Slow-release fertilizers are great because they provide a consistent, gradual nutrient supply. It’s like a steady stream of energy for your avocado.
- Foliar feeding: Occasionally, you can spray a diluted, balanced liquid fertilizer on the leaves. This can provide a quick nutrient boost.
- Monitor nutrient deficiencies: If your avocado’s leaves start turning yellow or you notice slow growth, it may be time for a little nutritional intervention.
What Method of Propagation Is the Most Successful?
There are two standard propagation methods if you’re looking to grow an avocado: from avocado seed (pit) or cutting. The method I have had the fastest success with was from cuttings, but let’s review both options:
Growing from Seed (Pit)
- Choose a ripe avocado and carefully remove the pit. Make sure it’s undamaged and fresh.
- Wash the avocado seed and let it dry. You can peel off any remaining flesh, but be gentle to avoid damaging the seed.
- Stick three to four toothpicks around the avocado seed, evenly spaced, and suspend it in a glass of water with the flat end down. Keep the bottom of the avocado seed submerged and the top exposed.
- Place the glass in a warm, sunny spot. It may take several weeks for the pit to split and a stem to emerge.
- Once the stem has grown to about 6 inches, transplant the avocado seedling into a pot with drainage holes and well-draining soil. Be careful not to damage the roots when you do this.
Propagation From Cuttings
- Cut a healthy branch or stem from an existing avocado tree, at least 6-8 inches long. The cutting should have several leaves.
- Remove the lower leaves, leaving a few at the top for photosynthesis.
- Dip the cut end in a rooting hormone to encourage root development.
- Plant the cutting in a pot with well-draining soil and water it. Cover it with a plastic bag to create a mini-greenhouse effect.
- Place the potted cutting in a bright, indirect light location, and keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
- The cutting should develop roots over time and grow into a new avocado plant. Once it’s well-established, you can transplant it to a larger container or your garden.
Avocado trees grown from seeds may not bear fruit identical to the parent tree, as avocados are often produced from grafted branches to maintain specific fruit characteristics. Propagation from cuttings can be a more reliable method for maintaining the desirable traits of the parent tree.
Are Avocados Toxic?
Avocado trees (Persea americana) can be toxic to certain animals, and caution should be exercised, particularly if you have pets or livestock. The main concern is the presence of a substance called persin, found in various parts of the avocado tree, including the leaves, fruit, and seeds.
For some animals, such as dogs, cats, and large livestock like horses and cows, consuming large quantities of avocado fruit may lead to digestive upset, including vomiting or diarrhea.
If you have pets, keep them away from the avocado tree and fallen fruit, leaves, or seeds. Even though many pets won’t be affected by small amounts of avocado, it’s better to be cautious.
What Pests and Common Problems Should I Look Out For?
Avocado plant care can sometimes be challenging due to potential pests and common issues that may arise, including flower dropping and pollination.
Here are some of the typical problems you might encounter:
- Causes: Avocado trees can be fickle when it’s time to bear fruit. Factors such as cold temperatures, wind, dry conditions, inadequate pollination, or nutrient imbalances can drop flowers.
Ensure your avocado tree receives consistent watering, adequate nutrition, and appropriate protection from harsh weather conditions. Ensure proper pollination (see the next point for details). Prune your tree to maintain a manageable size, encourage healthy lateral growth, and ensure good air circulation.
- Avocado tree types: Avocado trees can be categorized as Type A or Type B based on their flower biology. Type A trees open as female in the morning and male in the afternoon, while Type B trees are the opposite.
- Pollination challenge: To bear fruit, avocado trees often require cross-pollination between Type A and Type B trees due to their unique flowering patterns.
Plant a combination of Type A and Type B avocado trees for effective cross-pollination. Alternatively, if you have a single tree, consider grafting a branch from a tree of the opposite type to ensure better pollination.
When growing an avocado indoors, you may need to hand pollinate using an artist’s brush to transfer the pollen from one plant to another.
- Avocado Lace Bug: These tiny insects feed on the leaves, causing yellow spots and reducing tree vigor.
- Thrips: Thrips can damage leaves and fruit by feeding on them.
- Scale Insects: Scale insects attach themselves to leaves and stems, causing damage.
- Mites: Spider mites can affect leaves and fruit, causing discoloration and reduced growth.
Use natural predators like ladybugs or apply horticultural or neem oil to manage these pests. Regular inspection and early intervention are critical.
- Phytophthora Root Rot: This fungal disease can affect the roots of avocado trees, leading to wilted leaves and a decline in the tree’s overall health.
Ensure well-draining soil and avoid overwatering to prevent this disease.
Avocado trees are sensitive to nutrient imbalances. Common deficiencies include iron and zinc.
Regularly test the soil and provide the necessary nutrients to keep the tree healthy.
About Avocado Plant Indoors
Avocado plants, typically associated with sprawling orchards and sun-soaked groves, have found a cozy niche in the heart of your home.
Persea americana is the botanical name that defines this captivating green companion, and it’s the same species that yields the delicious avocados adorning your favorite dishes.
Avocado plants indoors are all about modesty, standing tall at an average height of 5 to 7 feet (1.5 to 2.1 meters). They exhibit a bushy growth habit, perfect for limited spaces. Think of them as a pint-sized version of their giant outdoor cousins, tailored to fit in your living room or on your sunlit windowsill.
Avocado trees typically produce small, greenish-yellow flowers. These flowers could be more showy but are needed to produce fruit. Cross-pollination is essential for the avocado tree to bear fruit. Hand pollination can be done in areas without natural pollinators by transferring pollen between flowers using a small brush or cotton swab.
What is the best indoor avocado plant?
The “Hass” avocado (Persea americana ‘Hass’) is a dwarf variety that thrives in containers, making it an excellent choice for indoor cultivation.
Do avocados grow best in sun or shade?
Avocado trees grow best in full sun, although they can tolerate some shade. They should receive 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and fruit production.
Where do avocado plants grow best?
Avocado plants grow best in tropical and subtropical regions with warm temperatures and well-drained soil. They thrive in California, Florida, Mexico, and other similar climates. However, when you grow avocados indoors, you can control the temperatures to keep them thriving.
Do avocados need heat?
Avocados are tropical and subtropical plants that require warmth (60 to 85°F (15°C to 30°C) to grow and produce fruit. They are sensitive to cold temperatures (below 50°F (10°C)) and frost, which can harm the tree and its fruit.
Do avocados go bad in the sun?
Avocado fruit should be protected from direct sunlight when it’s still on the tree. Sunburn can damage the fruit. However, avocados are best stored in a cool, dark place to ripen correctly once harvested. Excessive heat and sunlight can accelerate ripening and lead to spoilage.
Do avocado trees lose their leaves?
Avocado trees are considered evergreen, meaning they don’t lose all their leaves at once. However, they shed some leaves throughout the year as part of their natural growth cycle. This leaf drop is usually not a cause for concern unless it’s excessive and combined with other signs of stress or disease. Regularly pruning and maintaining the tree can help manage leaf density.
Time to Unearth the Hidden Guacamole Treasure
While they may be a tad fussy, demanding the right balance of light, humidity, and care, the effort is undoubtedly worth it. Avocado trees are not your average houseplant; they are resilient, adaptable, and can thrive when provided with the conditions they love.
Growing your avocado tree indoors allows you to enjoy the beauty of evergreen foliage while savoring the prospect of homegrown avocados.
This is especially appealing for regions with unpredictable weather patterns, as indoor plant cultivation allows you to control their environment. In turn, safeguarding your avocados from Mother Nature’s whims. You can witness your avocado plant flourish and yield delectable fruits with patience and dedication.
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