Cultivating Avocado Seed

April 20, 2023


I love avocados. In salads, on toast, with eggs and, of course, mixed as guacamole and served with salty, crispy corn chips.  While the avocado is high in fats these are monounsaturated fats which, I have read, can protect us from heart disease and even lower blood pressure. Avocados are also an excellent source of potassium, folate, and fiber, which are good for the heart and cardiovascular system. The tree that produces the fruit probably originated in the highlands of central-south Mexico or Guatemala.

There is something else about avocados that has always interested me. This is the pleasure that comes from cleaning the large round seed, partially submerging it in water, supported by three toothpicks, and waiting for several weeks for the seed to crack open.

Last year on a visit to the Museum of Modern Art I noticed an avocado vase in the gift shop. The glass vessel is shaped at the top to fit the avocado seed. How could I not purchase one?  Not every seed germinates so it took a few tries before I found one that had cracked and could be placed in the vase.

Soon, over time, a long root appeared and eventually a stem sprouted enormous leaves, reminding me of an elephant’s ears. When the roots were strong, and the foliage was over ten inches tall it was time to transfer the plant into a crockery pot.

Now I had an empty vase.  Time to germinate another seed.  Then I bought another vase and now have two seeds just beginning to form roots. The top of the seed has cracked in both vases, but the foliage has not broken through.

What joy my collection of avocado plants has brought me.  I realize cultivating the seeds is also about patience.  I have read that it often takes 13 years for an avocado tree to bear fruit. While it is impossible to plant one outdoors in our cold northeast climate, we can keep the plants growing inside with proper watering, keeping the soil moist and repotting when necessary. Our indoor plants won’t necessarily bear fruit, but they will grow.

One of my favorite movies last year was the documentary, The Velvet Queen, a  French-language documentary film that follows Sylvain Tesson and Vincent Munier as they attempt to find a snow leopard in Tibet.  As much as the film is about search, it is about patience, silence and the awe and beauty we find in nature

In the “Handbook” for the avocado vase it points out that:

Plants have a sense of peace about them. Researchers have found that people who live with nature feel much happier.  Just looking at the greenery in your home will affect your mood, boosting focus and mental clarity.

And, of course, there is the reminder of the importance of patience.