Avocado ready to be picked.
image by Emdot: Flickr.com
Avocado trees, also known as butter pear or alligator pear trees, are fruit trees that grow mostly in warm climates like Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. Avocado trees can be grown in cooler climates, but should be grown in a container that is brought outside before the winter frost.
Purchase a grafted avocado sapling. Although it is possible to grow an avocado from seed by placing the pit on four toothpicks, half-immersed in a glass of water, this method almost never produces avocados. Purchasing a grafted tree from your local nursery will make sure your tree produces frequent, quality fruit.
Decide if you would like to grow your avocado tree in a container or in the yard. Some avocado tree varieties, like Don Gillogly or holiday trees, can be kept in a container because they will only reach about 6 feet tall. Bacon, another tree variety, can grow to 40 feet tall.
Fill your container or growing area with cactus soil if you do not already live in a climate with dry soil, like Arizona or New Mexico. Avocado trees require very good drainage and do not thrive well in moist or sticky soil. If you are planting your tree in a container, place several large holes in the bottom of the pot to allow for adequate water drainage.
Fill your container or hole about 1/3 full of cactus soil, then place your tree roots inside. Fill up the container or hole until it is 2/3 full, then water thoroughly. Place the rest of the soil over the plant, leaving the avocado pit where the root meets the stem exposed about an inch on the top. Water the plant again and gently pack the dirt into place.
Water your avocado tree once every two weeks at the most. Even if the soil surrounding the tree feels dry, it is better to underwater than to over water your plant. When you do water your avocado tree, really saturate the ground as thoroughly as possible, and if you have your tree in a container, make sure the pot drains completely.
Harvest your avocados. In most cases with grafted trees that have been planted in coarse, dry soil, you will start to see avocados on your tree within one to four years. Avocados should be removed from the tree when they are dark green or black and feel firm, but have a small amount of give when you squeeze it. The size and shape of the avocados depends on the type of avocado tree you are growing, but most avocados that are ready for harvest are between 4 and 6 inches long.