A few years ago, I found out that it’s possible to grow an avocado from seed. So I removed the pit from my grocery store Haas avocado, jabbed some toothpicks into it, suspended it in a glass half-full of water, and left it on my patio until it grew mold.
Green thumb I am not.
Toffer Ross, Gulfport’s horticulturalist, assures me it is possible to grow an avocado from seed.
“It is one of the rare things that you can actually grow an avocado tree from seed and get fruit,” Ross told The Gabber.
“Unless you’re me,” I replied. “Mine rotted.”
“And then there’s that,” Ross said. “It all depends on what it was you tried to root. There are so many variables.”
Let’s say that you actually manage to grow a little tree from your avocado seed. How long will you have to wait for fruit?
“I am told and believe It takes about 12 years to get an oil content that is mature enough to be yummy,” Crea Egan, the Food Forest creator, contributed. “So I suggest you purchase a grafted tree that is at least 6 years old, [anywhere from a] 7-gallon up to a 30-gallon tree.”
Jené VanButsel of Jene’s Tropicals also recommends grafted trees.
“[This] will ensure that the tree’s on a durable rootstock, so it stands a better chance in our poor soil,” she told The Gabber. “Plus they fruit quickly.”
Florida avocados come in many varieties, too.
“At any time, we at least have 12-15 varieties, ”VanButsel told The Gabber. “And there may be more than that, but a lot of them are very tropical, so they would [grow] further south.”
“Picking a variety that grows well in our area is a good start,” Egan contributes. “We have self-pollinating Winter Mexican and Wurtz Avocado in Gulfport Food Forest – their oil content is excellent… Other varieties that do well here are Joey, Dwarf Maria, Brogdon and Choquette.”
Once you’ve selected or grown your tree, it’s time to plant.
“You can plant avocado trees all through the year in our climate,” Ross tells me.
A sunny location with wind protection and good drainage are important.
“For a grafted tree, don’t plant the tree any deeper than what you see in the pot,” VanButsel told The Gabber. “The entire graft has to be planted above the ground. And you should get it on a fertilizer schedule – at the least three times a year to keep it healthy. Generally people lose them due to overwatering or that the area holds water. The other thing is do not add a bunch of potting soil, manure, and top soil, because they do very well in the native ground. You don’t want the tree sitting low in the ground. If anything, mound it up a little, then enjoy your fruit.”
Last week, The Gabber reported on Florida’s “Year of the Avocado.” Next week, we’ll show you how to put all those avocados to good use.