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Bridget Guzzi, Owner

btg@gardensofcalifornia.com
925-698-6222

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Indoor Avocado Plants

You may want to consider growing one of nature's best food sources indoors .. an avocado tree. You may start your planting anytime of the year with a fertile pit.

With just a few basic steps you can have a new house partner within a short period of time.

According to Hazel Perper, The Avocado Pit Grower's Indoor How-to Book, 1965 "Avocado-growing is really very simple". Here are some recommendations by Hazel to get your started.

There are two varities, Florida and California. Hazel suggests the Florida is easiest to work with.

To start the seed (the pit) you first must identify which side is down.  This is the side where a folded in dimple can be seen on the bottom of the pit.

You then wash the pit with tepid or warm water (never cold as this is a tropical plant). Dry gently and remove any shreds of skin.

Place tepid water in a large mouthed glass at least 5 " high.

Use four toothpicks to place into the sides of the pit at regular intervals which you will use as a framework to hold the pit over the glass allowing about 1/2" of water to cover the pit's base.

Place the glass in a warm place away from light so the root growth will not be disturbed and maintain a constant level of water at all times ensuring the pit is always immersed.

Once the roots emerge the pit is now a seed. This may occur anywhere from a few days to four weeks. As long as the water remains clear the seed is still sound.

The seed will begin to split and your first tendril will appear and a good growth of roots will develop along with the greenery. To ensure better root development when the main shoot reaches 6-7" cut it off midway between its top and bottom, leaving about 3".  Do not cut the side shoots. This will slow growth for awhile but soon new shoots will appear along the stem.

You can keep the plant in water for up to 6 weeks but then must transplant it to a soil medium, usually 2 weeks after you have first cut back the main stem.

Transplant into a pot (preferably unpainted terra-cotta) with at least an 8 to 10" diameter. Use shards at the bottom of the pot base to ensure good drainage before filling with soil. The dish can be a pyrex glass plate or high grade stainless steel aluminum that you will keep filled with water. Select an organic humus rich soil.

Plant the seed shallow, and leave at least half of its upper mass exposed when it is potted. Water from the top with tepid / warm water and keep about a 1/2" in the dish.

You will now put the plant in as much light as you can, but must keep it away from cold windows and doors. Artificial light may be needed, (several hours from a frosted white flourescent tube is excellent) and turn the plant as needed to ensure full coverage.

The plant will thrive when kept moist with good drainage and loves drafts of hot air and flourish in them. Feed after the first week and after that as needed. A plant will often tell you if it needs nutrients. As it grows, place a dowel / support in the soil, taking caution not to disturb the roots. Attach with a soft fabric.

As the plant grows a second stem will grow. Do not cut this back as it will be an adjunct to the main stem. Let the plant grow to a suitable height and cut back and prune to encourage dormant stems and branches and to fill the area in which you will keep it. This plant can grow to 40 feet outdoors, and you will top it to keep it withing your growing area.

If you have had success with your plant and it grows too large for the pot, it is time to transplant into a larger tub. If the plant looks too large for a pot it probably is and a plant that is six feet tall in an eight inch pot needs to be moved fairly soon.

There will be a resting period for the tree which is usually the dry season but indoors it may be either summer or winter. While the plant is resting care for it as you would when it is growing. Keep the leaves clean with a slightly moist cloth, and be tender with them.

Hazel Peper has grown many of these trees indoors. Thank you Hazel, for sharing your expertise.
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