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The avocado belongs to the family of the flowering plant, Lauraceae. They are also known as Alligator Pear in English and Aguacate in Spanish. The Aztecs called the avocado fruit as the fertility fruit, owing to its shape.

Avocado Tree

Avocado trees are found in South and Central America, and Mexico. They are cultivated in places like California, Florida, Hawaii, and the Gulf Coast, where the climate is mostly mild during winters. The tree is fast-growing and can reach anywhere between 60 to 80 feet in height. They are dense and evergreen, and shed leaves in early spring. Avocado flowers appear from January to March, in terminal bunches of 200 to 300 small yellow-green flower blooms. The fruit is expensive, but highly nutritious. They are either egg- or pear-shaped, bright green to green-brown in color from outside.

Growing an Avocado Tree

An avocado tree grown from a seed, will take anywhere from 5 to 13 years to flower and bear fruit. Following are the easy steps one needs to take to grow the tree.

Seeds are germinated using simple form of hydroponics gardening, that uses water instead of soil. Cut open the avocado fruit from the sides, so as not to injure the pit located in the center, and remove the pit from its center. Wash the pit gently under running water and remove all avocado flesh around it. Do not use any detergent to wash the pit. Add water in a slim, small glass container and place the avocado pit, pointed side up on the mouth of the glass container. You can use toothpicks to support the pit, in case your glass containers mouth is too wide. The pit should only be half-submerged in water.

Place your container near a well-lit window, as sunlight is essential for sprouting of roots and growth process. Water should be replenished every 2 to 3 days and container should be free of any contaminants such as mold, bacteria, etc. The base of the avocado pit should always be half-submerged in water, as it is the moisture that will start the sprouting process. The roots will sprout in about 3 to 6 weeks. When the stem has grown six to seven inches in height, cut it back to about three inches. Your avocado sapling is ready for transplantation when the roots are thick and the stem has leafed out.

The avocado tree loves the sun, but will also grow well in partial shade. The tree roots are highly competitive, and will damage the development of most plants grown in its vicinity. The shade under the trees is very dense, and the leaves that fall from it are slow to decompose. Hence, planting the tree requires forethought and planning.

These trees can be planted in a container as well as in soil. The soil should be loose, decomposed granite or sandy loam, and well-drained. They are also known to be tolerant of acid or alkaline soil. The avocado pit should be half buried in soil, such that the top-half of the pit is seen above the surface of the soil. This ensures that the base of the seedling doesn't rot under the soil.

Water the avocado seedling lightly, enough to keep the soil moist. Yellowing of the leaves indicate over-watering and will cause the plant to rot and die. One can feed liquid or composite manure to the plants after one year of growth, four times annually. The tree requires protection from frost for the initial 2 to 3 years of its growth. Once established, it grows fairly well. It is prone to avocado brown mite and six-spotted mite, which can be controlled by powdered sulfur.

Growing the tree is simple and it will bear its first fruit in about 5 to 6 years. One can enjoy these tasty and nutritious avocado fruits without ever entering a fruit market.