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Transplanting Avocado Trees

Avocado trees make beautiful house plants. Countless guides online walk you through how to germinate an avocado pit from store-bought fruit. Once the pit has a well-developed root ball and starts sprouting leaves, you may want to move it from water to soil.

An indoor avocado tree.

But how do you know when an avocado plant is ready for transplanting?

Read on to learn more about transplanting avocado trees and how you can keep your little tree growing for years to come.


3 Stages of Transplanting Avocado Trees

In recent years, germinating pits from store-bought avocado fruits has become a popular trend. If you are just getting started, check out our guide on how to grow an avocado tree from seed.

Additional videos and articles all over the internet can walk you through the basics of getting an avocado pit to sprout in a glass of water.

After a year or so, the avocado pit will develop a root ball and tiny stem with leaves. Does this mean that your avocado tree is ready to transplant into soil?

An avocado pit rooted in water sprouting a seedling.

Transplanting avocado tree saplings is a bit more complex than just tossing them in soil once they have a few leaves. Furthermore, if you want to harvest delicious fruits from mature avocado trees, you’ll need to select your seedlings wisely.

The avocados you purchase at the store are grown on hybrid plants. When you plant a seed from a hybrid avocado tree, it doesn’t typically produce fruit. When it does, the avocado flesh has a different flavor and texture that many find unappealing.

You need to look for special saplings if you want reliable yields of larger fruits from a mature, productive tree. Nursery avocado trees are clones of popular varieties of avocados. With proper care, these homegrown avocados will provide you with years of abundant harvests.

You might not care about fruit production if you are growing an avocado tree as a beautiful house plant. In that case, any pit will do. Once you understand the best process for transplanting avocado tree saplings, you can keep these attractive evergreen trees flourishing for many years.


Stage 1: Transplant Avocado Tree Seedlings into Pots

Germinating an avocado pit is a fun and easy project you can do at home. You can sprout an avocado seed on your windowsill with just a glass of water and a few toothpicks.

After about a year, the pit will develop a root ball and a tiny stem bearing leaves. Most varieties of plants are ready for soil once two sets of young leaves emerge from the stem. Transplanting avocado tree seedlings is a little different in this regard.

An avocado sprouting and growing roots in water.

An avocado sapling can stay in a pot with water for over a year before needing soil. The young avocado tree should remain in the water as long as the leaves look healthy.

When the sapling is ready to transplant, you will notice signs of overwatering. Look for curled leaves with brown tips as a sure signal that the avocado tree is ready for soil.

Select a container with excellent drainage that is at least twice as deep as the root ball. Potted avocado trees need light, airy soil to develop healthy roots. Read our post about the Best Soil for Avocado Trees to learn more about getting the perfect soil mix.

Fill your container with lightweight potting soil combined with enough sand to form a loamy texture. This can usually be accomplished by adding one cup of sand for each gallon of lightweight potting soil and mixing thoroughly.

Water this mixture to get the soil moist and crumbly, then dig a planting hole in the center. Carefully place the entire root ball in the hole and cover with more potting mix to the crown of the avocado sapling.

A young avocado pit seedling planted in a pot, the first stage of transplanting avocado trees.

Stage 2: Transplant Avocado Tree Saplings into Larger Containers

Are you planning to grow your avocado tree indoors as a houseplant? If so, you can start by transplanting avocado tree saplings directly into their final container straight from the water.

Still, many gardeners prefer to wait until young trees mature in a small pot before moving them to larger containers. Each method has pros and cons that you need to consider before transplanting avocado tree saplings.

An avocado tree growing in a container.

Potted avocado trees need excellent drainage. While the initial germination period relies on full saturation for development, the avocado plant is sensitive to moisture.

Some people find it easier to control the moisture level in a container sized for the plant. This way, you can closely monitor conditions to ensure that the root ball isn’t sitting in soggy soil.

Oversaturated avocado roots can develop root rot, which could kill a young avocado tree. Whatever size pot you choose, ensure it has drainage holes to keep the soil damp but not wet.


Stage 3: Transplant Avocado Trees Outdoors

Do you live in an area with mild winters and no frost? If so, you might look into transplanting your avocado tree outside. An outdoor avocado tree can reach a mature size of 20 feet, and the evergreen foliage makes a gorgeous addition to lawns and gardens.

When transplanting avocado trees outside, you need to be mindful of the composition of your native soil. Since avocado plants are sensitive to moisture, you will have to ensure adequate drainage for the plant’s life.

A man planting a young avocado seedling in a garden.

Sometimes the soil in your yard contains the correct percentages of sand, silt, and clay to support avocado tree root growth, but not always. The best soil type for growing avocado trees is sandy loam soil. Sandy loam soil typically comprises 50 percent sand, 45 percent silt, and 5 percent clay.

You can do a “jar test” to determine the soil composition of your planting location. Suppose you already have sandy loam soil with excellent drainage. In that case, you can go ahead and plant an avocado tree without amending the soil.

However, if you have composition issues like heavy clay soil, you will need to try another planting method. You can learn how to transplant an avocado tree outside in five easy steps.

Step 1: Dig a Large Hole

When transplanting avocado tree saplings outdoors, you need to start by digging a hole much larger than the root ball. You are creating an environment for your avocado tree to grow in, so you must consider the mature size of your tree.

Dig the hole to a depth and diameter of about three times the size of the root ball. Break up the native soil at the bottom as much as you can. You might consider adding a few inches of loose gravel to improve drainage. You can also add a slow-release avocado tree fertilizer to promote healthy growth.

Person using a shovel to dig a hole in a garden.

Step 2: Add Sandy Loam Soil

Start filling the tree-planting hole with a prepared sandy loam soil mix. Keep adding soil until the hole is slightly deeper than the avocado tree root ball.

Loosen the native soil along the hole’s edges and mix it with the sandy loam to about six inches in. This will help feeder roots adapt to the different soil types and allow them to extend into the ground.

Water the dirt until it is damp but not soggy. You may want to wait a few hours before planting to ensure the hole drains properly.

Step 3: Transplant the Avocado Tree

Loosen the root ball of your potted avocado tree by turning the container on its side and gently rolling it back and forth on the ground.

Once the soil is loose, firmly grasp the stem of the avocado tree at its base. Slowly pull straight up without twisting to free the root ball. If you encounter resistance, go back to rolling the pot until the roots are loose enough to pull out smoothly.

Place your avocado tree in the center of the prepared hole, paying particular attention to the root ball to minimize damage.

Step 4: Fill the Tree-Planting Hole with Sandy Loam Soil

Use a hoe to slightly loosen the native soil walls of the hole. Continue filling the planting hole with sandy loam while mixing some native soil around the edges. You should fill the hole to the crown of the young avocado tree, then water thoroughly.

Man watering a young avocado tree.

Step 5: Mulch Around the Avocado Tree

Cover the freshly watered soil with a layer of mulch to help with moisture control. Leave the area six inches around the tree trunk clear of mulch.

Dip your finger into the soil about two inches to determine if the tree needs water. You may need to shift the mulch out of the way to do this. The dirt should loosely cling to your skin when you pull your finger out.

If there is no soil at all on your skin, the tree should get about two inches of water. If you come back with a thick layer of mud, your plant has too much water.

Once the tree is fully established, you might consider adding some flowers or herbs around the base of your avocado tree. These plants can help absorb any excess water that could threaten the tree’s health and roots.

As your tree matures, you will need to protect it from common avocado tree pests. To learn more about caring for your avocado tree, check out more of our articles about growing avocado trees.


FAQ

When should I transplant my avocado tree?

A young avocado seedling should be left in a glass of water for as long as the plant looks healthy. If the stem and leaves of your avocado tree are still green and turgid, then they are receiving the right amount of water.

As soon as it shows signs of excess water, you should transplant the avocado tree to a small container with excellent drainage. Look out for curling along the edges of the leaves and brown leaf tips to signal the right time for transplanting avocado tree seedlings.

Will a transplanted avocado tree produce fruit?

Green avocado fruit growing on a tree.

The avocados you buy at the grocery store come from hybrid avocado tree varieties. Planting a seed from a hybrid plant will not produce a similar plant with consistent fruit development.

Transplanting avocado tree pits and letting them mature might not result in productive trees. Do you want a reliable harvest of delicious avocado fruits? In that case, you should select a nursery avocado tree instead of germinating a pit.

How long does it take for an avocado tree to mature?

Avocado trees can take a long time to mature fully. The time from transplanting avocado tree seedlings into the soil to harvesting your first fruit can take up to a decade. Learn more by reading our post How Long Does it Take to Grow an Avocado Tree.


Transplanting Avocado Trees is Simple!

Growing your own avocado tree is a fun and rewarding project that is easy to do at home. Now that you know how to transplant an avocado tree, you can keep your plant thriving for years.

A closeup of new leaf growth on a young avocado tree.

After successfully transplanting avocado tree seedlings, you may have additional questions. Visit our Avocado Trees page where you can check out more of our guides to learn everything there is to know about growing healthy avocados.