Depending on whether you’re trying to grow a fruit-bearing avocado tree or growing it as a houseplant only, the indoor avocado tree care needed will be different.
While most varieties, including the Wurtz, can bear fruit, the care the plants need differs by species and based on whether you want to grow fruit or just grow the tree as a spectacle of a houseplant.
Any avocado tree species can take upwards of 7-years to bear fruit, which is why most people will settle to grow these as houseplants.
However, with the right indoor avocado tree care, you can encourage your plant to eventually fruit, while simultaneously growing other types of fruit indoors under your tree.
How to Care for Avocado Trees Grown Indoors (Even from a Pit)
It all starts with the right pot size. Plant/pot ratios are often used when discussing the visual aesthetics of container plants. However, in the case of avocado trees, the size of the pot plays a much more vital role for the plant’s survival than merely how good it looks.
Avocado trees develop deep roots so they need big pots. All too often with these trees grown in containers, it’s easy to make the mistake that potting in a larger container will save the hassle of repotting it more frequently. Instead, why not just go large with the pot from the outset and be done with it.
The reason is that too big a container will make it harder for the tree’s roots to get the water and nutrients it needs to grow.
The right ratio to use is one-third pot to two-thirds plant as that ensures that there’s enough soil for the roots to develop and take up nutrients from the soil. Especially if you’re following good practice for fertilizing regularly and adding microazyll fungi to encourage faster nutrient update.
Avocado trees are naturally fast drinkers, but for them to take in the water, they need to access it. That’s not going to happen if the plant pot’s too large. Instead, the soil will become soggy and that’s what leads to root rot – bad times!
The golden rule for plant pot sizing is one-third pot to two-thirds plant.
Mixing Other Fruiting Plants to Encourage Faster Water Absorption
While avocado trees go through a lot of water, there’s always going to be parts of the soil that’s more moist than other areas. No part of the container should have any moist soil, and the best way to ensure water is being used is by planting companion plants under the tree.
The upside of course is that since avocado trees will take a while to bear fruits, you can also use the same container to grow smaller fruits while still focusing on the longer term health of the avocado tree.
By growing other fruiting plants in the same container, water uptake will be faster, preventing any part of the tree’s roots sitting in soggy soil for too long.
The Light Requirements for Avocado Trees Indoors
Avocado trees are a full sun plant making them tricky to grow indoors, but definitely not impossible.
The best places for natural light conditions are in a conservatory or near a southern facing window. If you don’t have either, there is an alternative and that’s to use full spectrum artificial lighting.
LED lighting will be the most cost-effective solution to give the tree the light it needs indoors without your utility bills sky-rocketing.
Up to 8-hours a day of full spectrum lighting or full sun is ideal.
Watering Requirements for Avocado Trees
As avocado trees go through a lot of water, you need to find a good balance between regular watering while not providing too much that leaves the roots of the plants sitting in soggy soil.
Adding companion plants can help avoid the soggy soil problem, but you still need to continually water the tree.
The amount of watering needed will differ based on the growing temperatures. The hotter the climate, the more water that will be absorbed. Generally, you can expect to be giving the plant a good watering every two days during the summer months but that’s not a rule.
The only time to water an avocado tree is when the top two inches of the soil is dry to the touch. The most effective way to gauge the moisture of soil is to use a wooden dowel or a chopstick and poke that into the soil.
When it’s removed, if the soil sticks to the stick, it won’t need watering. It’ll only need watering when the soil is dry, which is indicated by the loose soil falling from the stick.
When watering, it’s important to use distilled water, or water that’s been left overnight to dechlorinate. Using rainwater, or unfiltered tap water, can cause salts to accumulate in the soil.
Those can be the cause of browning leaves, dry tips and curling. Using distilled water prevents mineral accumulation in the soil.
Fertilizing Indoor Avocado Trees
A crucial ingredient for indoor avocado tree care is fertilizer. These need a fruiting fertilizer added at regular intervals and it should contain microazyll fungi, which is an ingredient that helps the plant take up more water and nutrients than it would on its own.
Microazyll fungi is found naturally in 95% of soils and it’s what encourages plant growth in forests. For growing indoors though, the soil often lacks this. Without it, or if it goes dormant due to temperatures or other climate conditions, the tree will grow slower.
The instructions for most fertilizers will state that it’s enough to sprinkle granulated fertilizer over the top of the soil. For avocado trees, it’s better to get the fertilizer deeper into the soil to make sure it reaches the roots.
The simplest way to do this is to poke holes around two to three inches deep, feed in the fertilizer and then water it.
The upside to going deeper into the soil with a granulated fertilizer is it encourages faster absorption so that more nutrients reach the trees roots and will be used.
Given that avocado trees can become quite tall, granulated fertilizer added to the soil may not be enough to keep all the leaves healthy and green. If you notice leaves beginning to lose some of the green and starting to yellow, a spray fertilizer can be applied to the leaves.
Pruning Avocado Trees
Avocado trees take a fair amount of pruning but never frequently. Hopefully you started pruning your tree early because these are fast growers but indoors, you can encourage the plant to grow bushier foliage rather than growing tall and slim to ceiling height which can wind up with a straggly looking tree without many leaves.
If your tree is already looking tall and thin without much foliage, prune it back gradually by limiting the amount you trim to one third of the plant’s size at a time, preferably only a few times per year.
The only other pruning requirements will be snipping any discolored or otherwise unhealthy-looking leaves, which can happen on areas of the plant that don’t get as much light as they need.
With sufficient fertilizer added to the soil and a spray fertilizer used on the leaves, discoloration will be limited.
Understanding the Sex of Avocado Trees
A-Type, B-Type: Does it Even Matter?
Avocado trees throw a spanner in the works because all other plants can be described as male or female plants, but avocado trees are both – just at different times of the day.
The only exception to that is the dwarf variety of the Little Cado, otherwise known as a Wurtz. The Little Cado maxes out around 10′ high and it’s the only type capable of producing A and B type flowers simultaneously, avoiding the need to hand pollinate.
If you’re growing anything other than the Wurtz variety of avocado, you’ll have either a type-A or a type-B.
- Type-A avocado trees produce female flowers in the morning when they’re receptive to pollen, then shed pollen in the afternoon.
- Type-B avocado trees work the opposite by shedding pollen in the morning then turning receptor (female) in the afternoon.
If you want to have the best chance of growing a fruit-bearing avocado tree indoors, you might want to consider growing two trees – A Type-A and a Type-B.
Avocado trees with type-A Flowers are
Avocado trees with Type-B flowers include:
Both types flower between January and March when the temperatures are kept above 70oF (21.1oC).
When temperatures drop below that, it affects the plant’s reproduction cycle, disrupting the fruiting cycle so when your tree starts producing flowers around January to March time, hand pollinate it, then keep the room temperature over 70oF.
How to Hand Pollinate Your Avocado Tree
If you’re fine growing an avocado tree as a houseplant only, you can skip this part, but for your tree to eventually produce fruit, hand pollination is an essential part of indoor avocado tree care. Without it, your tree won’t be able to produce fruit.
Outdoors, the bees and the wind take care of this. Neither of those are present indoors, leaving it up to you to intervene.
The simplest method for hand pollination of any fruiting plant is to use a Q-tip or a small artist’s paint brush to take pollen from the male stamen and pair that with the female stigma.
The first sign of your tree being ready to produce fruit is when small white flowers appear. Male flowers are usually the first and it’s those that you’ll rub with a paintbrush or Q-tip to collect the pollen, then transfer it to the female stigma.
The female flowers are easy to spot as those have only one anther that sits alone, while the male flowers have multiple anthers.
When your tree is flowering, give it a lending hand by hand pollinating it, and then keep the room temperature above 70-degrees Fahrenheit to give it the best chance of producing fruit.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.