Can You Grow Avocado Trees Indoors and Do They Fruit

If you engage with any type of gardening media, you probably already know that avocado pits can be sprouted at home. This is a fun way to repurpose kitchen waste and experiment with DIY germination. But can you grow avocado trees indoors past the seedling stage?

Avocado trees are, of course, commonly grown for their fruit. However, these evergreen trees can also make wonderful houseplants. (If you live in a cooler climate, growing an avocado tree indoors is likely your only option. I know this is the case for me and my local climate!)

In this article, I’ll answer your biggest questions about growing avocados indoors and offer some expert advice on the care and maintenance of avocado trees as houseplants.

Can You Grow Avocado Trees Indoors

Yes, avocado trees are actually very easy to grow indoors across any plant hardiness zone above 3. Avocado pips are fun to germinate over a 6-8 week period when they split to reveal a strong new shoot. The plant can grow up to 4 feet tall within the first year, but more typically 1-2 feet. However, you will have to wait between 3 and 10 years for the plant to mature and produce fruits.

Avocado trees make attractive houseplants that grow quickly yet can be kept small for many years. However, whether or not your indoor avocado will bear fruit is another question, but it is possible with the right conditions.

Young avocado plant
Young avocado plant

Where To Grow Avocado Trees Indoors

Avocado trees require a warm, sunny environment with moderate humidity. If you can meet these basic needs, growing an avocado tree indoors is absolutely possible. It is critical to avoid temperature fluctuations, especially temperatures below 50 °F, including cold drafts.

If you have the luxury of a sunroom, glasshouse, or similar open bright space then this is an ideal location to grow avocados. Failing that a bright position close to a south-facing window would also good a good option.

Conservatory or Glasshouse

In my experience, without a doubt, the best place to grow any indoor fruiting tree is a home conservatory or sunroom. If you live somewhere particularly warm, a three-season porch may also suffice, or an outdoor glasshouse, as long as temperatures do not drop below 50 °F, as this will kill most likely kill the tree.

Like a full-size greenhouse, these locations provide plenty of sunlight, warmth, and shelter. With a little planning, you may be able to recreate these conditions in a standard living space if you have large west or south-facing windows or French patio doors.

Growing In Bright Rooms Pots

You can grow most types of trees indoors as long as you have the right-sized container. I say ‘right size’ and not ‘large, as your goal is to limit the growth of the plant by restricting its roots. Smaller pots equal smaller trees.

When selecting a container for your indoor avocado, you’ll of course need to account for things like drainage holes and overall size. For the best results, however, I also highly recommend taking container weight, mobility, and material into consideration.

There’s a very good chance you’ll need to relocate your potted avocado tree at least once during its life, or maybe you want to move over winter. Select a container that weighs as little as possible to make transport easier, accounting for soil, moisture, and the tree itself. It is also a good idea to invest in a rolling base for your potted avocado.

Immature and dwarf avocado trees fare particularly well when grown in pots with certain varieties performing better than others. I can recommend the following:

  • Cold Hardy Persea americana this tree is fast growing and can grow up to 20 feet tall when planted in the ground, but will be limited to around 12 feet when potted and pruned
  • Condo Persea americanais has a moderate growth rate and will grow to around 8-10 feet tall with 5 feet spread.
large bright open patio doors
Large bright open space ideal for avocado

Keeping Avocado Trees Small

If you plan to grow an avocado tree indoors, it is important to select a dwarf or semi-dwarf cultivar. These varieties are naturally smaller but will still measure over 10 feet tall when full-grown.

There are some steps you can take to keep a potted avocado small for as long as possible.

  • Pruning back between January and April will keep your tree size in check
  • Pinching off new growth as it develops, is another option. Do this continually throughout the year
  • Using a smaller pot start small (approx 8-inch diameter pot) and you can increase the pot size if you want to allow the tree to grow larger

If your avocado tree outgrows life indoors, you can either transplant it outdoors (if your climate allows), discard it, or find a local greenhouse or atrium that can better house it.

Will Indoor Avocado Bear Fruit

Avocado trees that are grown as houseplants rarely bear fruit. When they do, the fruit tends to be small and lacks flavor. If homegrown guacamole is your goal, you might be disappointed. Trees grown within a glasshouse or home conservatory in a west or south-facing aspect are far more likely to produce a crop.

It’s also important to note that most avocado trees take a minimum of 3 years and often closer to 10 years before they will produce fruit-bearing flowers.

The truth is for edible avocados, you will need to be located in zones 9-11 and have the luxury of growing your avocado tree outdoors.

Care Guide For Indoor Avocado Trees

Caring for an avocado tree indoors is quite a bit different than growing one in the landscape. Even if you have past experience with outdoor avocado trees, I strongly recommend brushing up on your knowledge before taking on this new endeavor.

Follow these care guidelines to grow and maintain avocado trees indoors:

Hours of Direct Light

Avocado trees grow best in full sun and require at least 6 hours of direct light per day. Indoor avocados must be kept in a bright, sunny location such as near a south-facing window or in a glass sunroom. 

In my experience, home grows lamps aren’t powerful enough to support avocado trees on their own. However, you can certainly use a grow lamp to supplement your avocado’s natural sunlight intake.

Soil Type

Avocado trees prefer soil that both drains well and contains a large amount of organic matter. Some gardeners combine aged compost (or another rich, organic material) with a succulent and cactus potting mix to create custom soil for indoor avocado trees.

According to the University of California, avocado trees are very sensitive to alkalinity and prefer a soil pH between 5.0 and 7.0. Fortunately, nearly all potting mixes fall within this range. 

Avocado tree roots grow very shallow, so it is important to mulch around the base of the tree to help retain moisture. For indoor pots, you can use decorative stones or pebbles to achieve the same effect.

Temperature And Humidity

Indoor avocado trees grow best in temperatures between 60 and 85°F. Established trees can tolerate a fairly wide range of temperatures but should be kept away from near-freezing temperatures. Note that all avocado tree growth stages will typically slow at and below 50°F.

Your avocado tree will feel its best in moderate humidity. In my experience, indoor avocados generally fare just fine in average household humidity. However, you may want to provide supplemental humidity if your home becomes overly dry in the wintertime. 

Watering

Water your avocado tree so that the soil is consistently moist but never soggy. A good rule of thumb is to water only when the top layer of soil is dry to the touch. 

I know some gardeners rely on moisture meters to monitor their avocado trees’ watering needs. However, my experience with moisture meters has been hit-or-miss. I prefer to monitor the plant’s appearance. Yellowing leaves are a common sign of overwatering. Brown leaf margins, on the other hand, are a symptom of too little moisture.

Fertilizing

Feed indoor avocado trees in moderation using fertilizer for potted citrus trees. Fertilize in the spring and summer according to your chosen formula’s application guidelines. Avoid fertilizing in the wintertime when growth naturally slows down.

When it comes to fertilizing indoor avocados, moderation is key. Applying excess fertilizer will encourage rapid growth and could cause your avocado tree to outgrow its space prematurely.

Pruning

Routine pruning is necessary to maintain the size and shape of potted avocado trees. The best time to prune an avocado is immediately before the spring growing season begins.

Multiple sources, including The Spruce, recommend pruning your avocado tree when it reaches 12 inches tall. This initial pruning should take the tree down to just 6 inches tall and will encourage a fuller growth habit going forward.

Growing Avocado From Seed

I personally recommend sourcing your first avocado tree from a local greenhouse. You can find well-established dwarf cultivars that are grafted or grown on their own rootstocks — perfect for use as houseplants. However, you can also grow an avocado tree from a viable pit.

Note that avocado pits have a “top” and a “bottom.” The bottom of an avocado pit typically has a dent and must be submerged in water to encourage root development. 

Avocado seed sprouting
Avocado seed sprouting using cocktail sticks

The simplest way to germinate an avocado pit is by suspending it over a glass of water. Pierce several toothpicks into the pit and balance them on the rim so that an inch or so is submerged in the water. Place the glass somewhere that is warm and well-lit.

Transplant your avocado seedling when the root system begins to crowd the glass container. Select a pot with ample drainage that is at least 6 inches in diameter and depth.

You may also like to read 15 Fruit Trees That Grow In Zone 6

FAQ Growing Avocado Trees Indoors

Citation

University of California – Avocados

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.