Southwest Gardener

An Indoor Avocado Tree That Lasts All Year?

Avocado trees can be grown indoors in good potting soil, however it may take several months to germinate.
Marisa Thompson, March 2018

Q: I’ve sprouted an avocado pit, and now it’s a small tree with large leaves. Can I acclimate it to the summer heat and bring it in for winters, or is this an indoor plant?

A: You are right that you will need to bring your avocado tree inside during winters. Be gentle during the transition when you move it outside for the summer and back inside next fall. Many houseplants thrive when I move them to a shady place in the yard each spring. Others, however, do not fare so well.

The cold spring nights, even after danger of last frost, can be too much of a shock and cause leaves to drop, not to mention the wind. I practically cried when I took my prized bougainvillea outside after a long, cooped-up winter and within a few hours, all of the leaves were gone with the wind.

Even though avocados are, in nature, large tropical trees, they can be grown indoors ornamentally in a greenhouse or well-lit space. It will be difficult for the tree to get large enough to produce fruit.

Here are some pointers if you are contemplating growing your own avocado tree. You can plop the pit down in good, sandy potting soil and wait. To keep from forgetting to water, you can add another small plant or cutting to the pot. It may take up to several months for the seed to germinate and grow, so be patient.

If the “wow factor” of seeing the pit split and roots develop is what you’re after, you can also do the toothpick method in a clear drinking glass filled with water for maximum visibility —then plant the seed in soil after root emergence. Stick three toothpicks into the sides of the avocado pit, and place the apparatus in the glass so that the wide end of the seed is touching water.

Other food waste that you can grow into houseplants includes potato pieces with eyes and pineapple tops. A few years ago, I kept the top from a delicious pineapple, let it soak in water for a week, then planted it in a pot. During the soaking week, I changed the water out daily as the fruit portion of the base deteriorated. Now I have a lovely ornamental pineapple houseplant that I bring indoors each winter.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center. She can be reached at


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