Share it! Science : Saturday Science Experiment: Grow an Avocado!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Saturday Science Experiment: Grow an Avocado!

We love avocado in our house. Do you? Do you ever wonder about the avocado pit, or seed, inside? Most likely it is simply the thing you discard along with the thick bumpy outer peel. Did you know you can grow an avocado from this seed? Yes, yes you can, would I lie to you?

We have tried this experiment many times. Sometimes it is successful, and other times it is not. This is science after all! If you are successful you can grow yourself a lovely houseplant. It is an awesome science project because you can see seed germination, a process that is normally under the soil, happen right before your eyes.

avocado pit experiment hands-on learning about plant seeds

grow an avocado experiment
Avocados (photo by Ms. Tea, Flickr)
Recently I was cutting an avocado and I couldn't slice into it very far. I was puzzled until I opened it up and found one of the largest avocado pits I have seen. The inside was more pit than avocado! Unfortunately I did not photo document this moment in history, so you'll just have to take my word for it. However, it did inspire me to try this experiment.

avocado pit experiment
The enormous avocado pit (right) and a relatively small one (left). ©SBF 2015



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In order to try to germinate this seed you have to submerge the bottom part of it in water. An alternative, as described in the book, Don't Throw it, Grow it! is to germinate the pit in a bag of sphagnum moss. As I was fresh out of sphagnum, the water method had to do!


All you need to do is stick 3-4 toothpicks into the bottom half of the pit to hold it up in a glass of water. Which side is the bottom? If your pit has a point on one side, that is the top. If it is round, like my big avocado pit was, you'll have to pay attention to which end came from the same side as the stem on the actual avocado. This side is the top.

avocado pit submerged in water grow experiment
©SBF 2015

Place the pit in the water, resting the toothpicks on the glass. Keep the water level high so that the bottom of the avocado stays submerged and watch what happens. The beauty of this experiment is that you can see all of the process through the glass. If you don't see the pit begin to split and roots forming after several weeks, try a different avocado pit.

Here is an avocado plant that we grew from a pit we found germinating in the compost bin. The large seed was split and roots were growing out of it. Due to my plant obsession, I quickly potted it and a few months later we have a nice new houseplant. As fun as it would be to harvest our own avocados, this plant will always just be for decoration. Without being in a hot natural climate it will never produce fruit.

avocado houseplant grown from avocado pit
Avocado houseplant ©SBF 2015

Avocado houseplant grown from avocado pit
Avocado houseplant ©SBF 2015

I enjoy seeing the plants you can grow from the seeds that you find in your food. If this sounds like a fun idea to you, you might want to check out my posts, "Saturday Science Experiment: Grow a Plant from Food Scraps"  and "See it? Share it! A Grapefruit Sprout and an Indoor Flower Garden"


Last winter I grew a grapefruit plant. Although my grapefruit sprout those old blog posts has indeed grown into a little plant, it is not very tall. It does have nice shiny leaves though!

grapefruit plant grown from a fruit seed
Grapefruit Plant ©SBF 2015
grapefruit plant grown from fruit seed
Tiny grapefruit plant! ©SBF 2015
 To grow more types of houseplants from food scraps and seeds you'll definitely want to check out "Don't Throw it, Grow it!" by Deborah Peterson and Millicent Selsam. There are ideas for 68 different houseplants from dates to beans, chickpeas and kiwi!


If you are fascinated by seeds or are teaching a plant unit, you might be interested in this lesson: Seed Size from the Lawrence Hall of Science. You need an avocado pit to do it!

You'll also find a ton of fascinating blog posts about seeds in Growing With Science's series "Seed of the Week".


2 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, I am so impressed with your avocado plant. We've tried this activity a few times but without success. After reading your post I am motivated to give it another try. We did grow a banana tree from seed and it's growing astonishingly fast.

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    1. There were certainly many attempts before this one! I've had more luck with them taking off in our compost bin, but it is fun to see it happen indoors too. I can't seem to get them to live more than a year or two though before they die!

      I'm impressed with the banana tree! Did you get the seed from a banana from the grocery store, or was it something you purchased? We'd love to try it! :)

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