Whenever I cut open a fully ripened Avocado, I always find it a shame to throw away such a healthy looking seed. Yet despite the avocado's exotic origins it is surprisingly easy to germinate an avocado seed, and given the right conditions will produce a perfectly healthy avocado tree!

For best results you will want to remove an avocado seed from the fruit (yes, despite its popular vegetable classification it is a true fruit, although botanically a large berry) once it has fully ripened, You can tell this by gently pressing the stalk end with your thumb. If the skin and flesh behind it is hard and unyielding then the seed is not ready for removal. If the skin and flesh is soft and yielding then the seed is ready to be removed.

Unlike regular seeds that require pots or trays of compost, you only need a clear, plastic cup along with a few toothpicks.

1. First carefully cut open the avocado to expose the seed, trying to avoid cutting the seed. Now remove the seed with your fingers.

2. Clean off the seed with water to remove all of the slippery flesh. This is important as the flesh contains chemicals which inhibit germination and will also act as a substrate upon which fungal spores will take hold and grow.

3. The brown, skin-like seed coat should be removed to aid the emergence of the embryonic root and shoot. The skin can be peel off with your fingernails or a dull (as in not sharp) plastic spoon.

4. Upon investigating the seed you may well find that there is an indentation or line that runs around the seed. This is nothing to worry about as this is a natural fault where the seed will split allowing the stem to grow unimpeded.

5. You will need to identify the bottom end and the top of the seed as the top end will need to be uppermost for germination. The top of the seed will be the pointed end.

6. Push 3 or 4 toothpicks into the seed at equal spacing, but avoid piercing the fault line. Consider placing the toothpicks in at an upwards angle so that more of your avocado base rests in the water when you set this over a glass.

7. Move the cup to a warm bright position such as a windowsill, but one that does not receive direct sunlight. You will need to maintain a temperature of approximately 20-25 degrees Celsius and regularly replace the water. Always try to maintain a water level so that the bottom half of the seed is submerged. Never allow the seed to dry off as it will die.

8. You can expect the root to appear anytime from 2-5 weeks depending on available light and temperatures. That being said it can take up to 8 weeks so be patient. Germination occurs when the faultline develops into a full-blown crack and the seed splits into two pieces although remaining intact at the base where the root will emerge.

9. Once the stem reaches approximately 6 inches tall, cut it back in half to 3 inches. This may sound dramatic but it will encourage new growth. Once the height again reaches 6 inches the seed can be removed from the plastic cup, have the toothpicks removed and be potted on into a regular 8-10 inch plastic plant pot containing a rich humus soil. Be very careful when potting on as the roots are very delicate and can easily snap. Again, leaving the top half of the seed exposed above the surface of the compost and keep the soil moist, with an occasional deep soak, but avoid being permanently waterlogged. Place in a warm bright position. 

10. Pot on as necessary and harden off for a week or so before placing outside and only then once night temperature remains above 18 degrees.

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