Avocados have increased in popularity over the last few years. They are used in salads, dips, etc. Inside there is an added bonus. The pit or seed can be sprouted. The result is an interesting and attractive houseplant.
To sprout the seed, remove the large seed from the center of the fruit and wash it in water. For propagation purposes, the broad end of the seed is considered to be the bottom. The pointed end is the top. Insert several toothpicks into the sides of the seed. They should be placed about halfway up the pit. Then suspend the seed in a glass of water. The bottom one fourth of the seed should rest in water.
The seed should sprout within a few weeks. During this time, periodically add water to maintain the initial water level. If it doesn't sprout within 2 to 3 months, discard the original avocado and begin another. The roots are usually the first to emerge from the seed. The stem appears later. Pot the seedling when the root system has become well developed; the roots should be at least 2 to 3 inches long.
Remove the toothpicks and plant into a 6 to 8 inch pot using a commercial potting mix. Position the seed in the center of the pot. The top of the seed should be level with the soil surface. After potting, water thoroughly, then place the plant in a brightly lit location. A location near an east or west window is ideal. Water the plant regularly. Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Fertilize once or twice a month during the spring and summer with a houseplant fertilizer.
Avocado plants grow rapidly. They often have to be discarded after 2 or 3 years because they've become too large for indoors. (The avocado is actually a tree. It will never produce fruit indoors as it may take 20 or more years to bear fruit.)
This article originally appeared in the July 16, 1999 issue, p. 96.