Easy and Effective Avocado Seed Germination using the Paper Towel and Plastic Bag Method.

Avocado seeds grown using the paper towel and plastic bag method.

Germinating avocado seeds is really easy to do. But if you’ve tried the water and toothpick method, you might disagree. I’ve had many avocado seeds sit for six months or more before doing anything, and from the messages I receive from other Avocado Enthusiasts, I know I am not alone in this frustration.

Fortunately, there are other methods of germination for avocado seeds. But before we discuss one of my personal favourite methods, let’s first think about germination.

What is germination? Germination is when a seed is triggered to start growing. Until germination, a seed lies in wait. Germination is when the internal biological switch of the seed is turned from ‘off’ to ‘on’. Germination requires certain elements – otherwise seeds would be growing at the wrong time or in unsuitable places.

What does a seed need to germinate? Typically, seeds need three things to germinate:

  • Heat
  • Water
  • Oxygen

Different seeds will have varying needs – but generally, all seeds need these three elements in different amounts before they will germinate and begin growing. Having the right combination of these things tells the seed that the environment it’s in is suitable for it to grow. These elements show that the environment can meet then needs of the plant.

The water and toothpick method – perhaps the most common way of germinating avocado seeds by Avocado Enthusiasts, does provide these elements. But heat may be an issue. Through evaporation, water is very good at cooling itself. If the weather or the room a seed is set up in is warm enough, the water in a jar will be warm enough to trigger germination – but through evaporation, if the room isn’t warm enough, the water will also not be warm enough to trigger germination.

If you live in a cooler climate (like I do, here in Melbourne, Australia), often room temperature just doesn’t help avocado seeds germinate.

The paper towel and plastic bag method provides an advantage here. By placing seeds in a plastic bag, you are creating a miniature greenhouse. When the bag is heated up, even though water will lose heat energy through evaporation, much of that energy is maintained by the bag. This causes the temperature inside the bag to be warmer than if it were just left open in the room.

How to Set Up Avocado Seeds with the Plastic Bag and Paper Towel Method.

There are a few things you will need:

  • A plastic zip-lock bag
  • Paper Towel
  • Avocado seeds (preferably peeled)
  • Water
    (yep, that’s it)
You will need a plastic zip-lock bag, paper towel, avocado seeds (peeled) and water

To set them up:

  1. Place your avocado seeds on a few sheets of the paper towel. You can pre-moisten it so it’s damp but not soaking. I generally only do 3 or 4 on each paper towel.
  2. Fold up the paper towel with the avocado seeds inside and put it in the zip-lock bag.
  3. If you haven’t already moistened the paper towels, give them a liberal spray of water. They should be wet, but not have puddles of water in the bag.
  4. Close the bag without squeezing the air out.
  5. Find a warm spot to leave the bag.
  6. Check every couple of weeks to add moisture and monitor seed growth.

I find that seeds will begin cracking and growing seeds in around a months time – if it’s winter or you live in a cool climate, it may take slightly longer. If it appears to be slow, find a sunnier spot for the bag to rest in. You don’t want it to get too hot, full sun in summer may cook your seeds.

Once you have germinated your seeds, you could choose to use the water and toothpick method to continue growing them, use some other method of growing avocados, or just put it straight in soil.

The plastic bag and paper towel method is a super easy, yet effective, method of avocado seed germination. Good luck, and have fun!

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