Hydroponics have become one of the easiest ways to grow popular fruits and vegetables indoors such as tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, and a variety of peppers.
However, when discussing what’s best for hydroponic systems, avocados are rarely thought of. With that being said, it’s possible to grow these delicious fruits with some careful consideration.
Yes it is possible to grow avocados using hydroponics if you:
- Regularly prune the trees to fit your grow space (4-5 feet tall).
- Provide full natural or artificial light.
- Keep the temperature above freezing.
- Maintain the ph level between 6-7.
- Use a hydroponic system that provides good drainage (Ebb and Flow or Drip).
- Minimize salt buildup on the root system.
There’s no way around it, growing avocados in a hydroponic system can be challenging and requires extra attentiveness.
If you’re determined, though, this guide will help you grow the best tasting avocados hydroponically.
How to Grow Avocados Hydroponically
Avocado tree flowers have both male and female parts in the same flower similar to growing tomatoes or peppers. However, you should plan on growing both type A and B avocado trees as the male and female parts are accessible at different times of the day.
Type A trees shed pollen in the afternoon, and can be pollinated in the morning hours, while type B sheds in the morning and is receptive to being pollinated during the afternoon. Having both types allows cross pollination because the Type A male pollinator is open while the Type B female flower is open and vice versa.
If you plan on growing your avocado trees from seeds, keep in mind, your tree will not yield fruit of the same variety because avocado trees don’t breed as true to seed.
However, when you have two types of trees, these will grow and breed true to their variety.
When you consider this, on top of the fact that you will be running your hydroponic system for 4+ years before yielding any fruits, you need to try and mimic the conditions your trees would be in when growing in their natural habitat.
This means you need to grow your trees in warm temperatures with an abundance of light.
With this in mind, you should consider growing your avocados in the parts of your home that receive the most sunlight.
You’ll also need high quality grow lights, check out our complete guide to hydroponic lighting requirements for help in making the right choice. Any of the following light sources can work:
- Metal halide lamps
- LED grow lights
- High pressure sodium light fixtures
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Should You Grow Avocados From Seed?
Something to figure out before growing avocados hydroponically is whether you want to grow them from seed or buy trees that are already in the process of maturing.
As we mentioned earlier, trees grown from seeds won’t yield avocados of the same variety. This is why we recommend purchasing a tree instead.
Trees taken from grafts are much more effective at growing avocados (especially if you’re in a colder climate) and you can shop for many different varieties from specialty retailers.
How to Grow From Seed
If you do choose to grow from seed, then you need to understand that the process will take more time.
Nonetheless, here are the steps to growing an avocado tree from seed:
- Remove the large seed from inside the avocado you purchased. Wash off the flesh, but be sure to preserve the brown skin on the seed itself. Pat dry with a paper towel and set the seed aside to air dry for a couple of days.
- The pit of an avocado has a top and a bottom. Look for the end that is more pointed, with a base that has a slightly flat shape in comparison to the top. This is a critical step. If you happen to place your seed the wrong way up your tree will never grow.
- Place the seed with the bigger end at the bottom inside a floater (these can be purchased on Amazon) and float the container in another container of warm water. This should be around 65 degrees and should be changed often.
- In just a few days, roots will start to form. Then the first signs of a tree will begin poking out from the top.
- When your roots are almost filling the entire container, you should move everything to a pot.
Dwarfing Your Avocado Tree
When it comes to answering the question “can you grow an avocado with hydroponics?” the answer really hinges on your ability to successfully dwarf your avocado tree.
Even in hydroponic systems, fully grown trees can get up to 80 feet tall. Therein lies the problem. If you’re unable to dwarf your tree, then growing avocados indoors is essentially impossible.
However, dwarfing helps your trees grow to a manageable size while still yielding enough avocados.
To pull this off, you’ll need to impose restrictions on the tree growing space and the available water. You’ll also need to control the amount of nutrients you provide.
You’ll need to juggle these three elements at the same time to allow the tree to grow as quickly as it can while stunting its growth and making sure it survives.
The pot you choose to grow your tree in should be as small as possible, but big enough to carry the tree during the first year. 18 inches is the ideal size to begin with. You will need to increase the size as time goes on.
This growing space will dictate the final size of your avocado tree, so once the roots have formed enough, you’ll be able to move to a 5 gallon sized container.
Grow Medium for Hydroponic Avocados
The container should be filled with any of the following grow medium:
- Coco fiber
Hydroponic Systems For Avocados
For optimal effectiveness, you should use a flood and drain method as this will prevent algae growth. You can also use a drip irrigation system with three emitters per tree.
Regardless of what irrigation method you use, it’s critical to prevent the root ball from drying out. Be mindful not to damage any roots as well when transferring your tree to the growing pot.
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Pinching Avocado Trees to Size
To keep your avocado tree shorter and fuller, pinching is a necessity. You will need to pinch out the terminal bud, which will allow the buds that are dormant along the branch to spring to life.
These branches will grow outward (as opposed to upward), which will maintain a shorter height.
The final height of your avocado tree should be around 4-5 feet, even if you’re successful in dwarfing your tree.
Controlling pH Levels and Salt Content
You’ll need to control both the salt content and pH (or the acidity) in the nutrient mixture and growing medium.
A pH of between 6-7 is ideal for the best growth, however, the salt content needs to be kept to a minimum.
Dwarfed trees don’t take to higher salt levels, which is why most growers opt for the flood and drain system as it aids in keeping salt levels as low as possible.
In the beginning stages, the nutrient mixture should be at half strength while you use a digital reader to control your pH levels.
Once your avocado tree starts to grow larger (and stronger) you should increase the nutrient mix to full strength.
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Do You Need a Greenhouse to Grow Your Avocados?
While you can successfully grow avocado trees in your home, the goal is to yield as many fruits as possible. Unfortunately, you may not get avocados when growing indoors without bees and other pollinators.
With this in mind, growing trees in a greenhouse is recommended, as you’ll be able to precisely control the humidity and temperatures.
So…Can You Grow an Avocado With Hydroponics?
The answer is yes! However, you’ll need to take specific steps to ensure your avocado tree grows to a manageable size and yields fruit.
If you’re thinking of growing avocados hydroponically, remember to take your time and refer to this guide whenever necessary for the best results.