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Is My Avocado Seed Dead? 6 Signs to Look For

planting avocado into green pot

Starting an avocado plant from a seed is a trendy way to get delicious avocados on a regular basis from the comfort of your own home. There are many methods for starting an avocado seed that will sprout and eventually produce delicious results. However, not all avocado seeds take. Like any plant, starting something from seeds carries a risk of failure. Sometimes avocado seeds die, and usually, it is not your fault. If you suspect your avocado seed is dead, it likely could be. But how can you tell for sure?

Here are six signs to look out for that might give you an indication that your avocado seed has failed.

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The 6 Signs to Check to See if Your Avocado Seed Is Dead

1. The Seed Is Turning Black

One of the easiest ways to tell if your avocado seed is dead is by looking at the color. A healthy avocado seed is a light brown color all the way around. If your seed is turning black, it is usually an indication that something is wrong. If your avocado seed is more than 50% black, it is likely dead. Black often indicates rot and decay taking place within the seed because it failed and is now decomposing.

rotten avocado
Image Credit: possiblePricha, Shutterstock

2. The Seed Is Falling Apart

Another clear indication that your avocado seed is dead is if the seed starts to fall apart. If you move your seed or poke it to examine it and find that the seed is crumbling or breaking into soft pieces, it is dead. Like the black color, this is the result of natural rot and decay that takes place after the seed has failed.

3. The Roots Stopped Growing

If you manage to get your avocado seed to sprout, it will start growing roots. This is an initial indication that the seed was, for a time, successful. However, just because a seed sprouted roots does not mean that it will remain alive through the growing process. The roots can stop growing, and if that is the case, it means the seed tried to start and failed. This is most noticeable when the roots are very new. If your roots have remained short and refuse to grow to their proper length, it could mean that the seed is dead and no longer growing.

avocado seed germination
Image Credit: Halil Cihan, Shutterstock

4. The Roots Have Started to Rot

Even if the roots grow to an appropriate length, that does not mean that your seed is safe from failure. Long roots have the potential to rot. If you provide your seed with too much moisture or compress the roots too much, they could start to develop root rot. Rotting roots are black, smelly, and soft to the touch. If your seed’s roots are rotting, it will quickly kill your seed and any hope you have of having a new avocado plant in the near future.

5. The Seed Has Not Sprouted After Several Months

Sometimes your seed will look healthy and normal, but it will lay dormant for weeks or even months at a time. If you have tried repeatedly to get your seed to crack and sprout and nothing is happening, it might be a nonviable seed. If a seed is ready to grow, it should respond to your attempts to get it to sprout. If nothing is happening for months at a time, the seed is likely a dud and is unable to sprout into a new plant.

transplanting avocado seed in a pot
Image Credit: Mariia Boiko, Shutterstock

6. The Seed Does Not Grow After Being Planted

After your avocado seed sprouts and starts growing roots, it is time to move it to the soil. Transferring any plant can be a precarious act, and there is no guarantee of survival. Unfortunately, if you transfer your avocado seed to soil and it does not continue to grow, it likely died during the transfer or failed to take to its new environment. This is natural, if not disappointing. If you plant your avocado seed in the soil after it sprouted roots and it does not show any signs of growth after a week or two, it likely failed.

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What Causes an Avocado Seed to Die?

It can be disheartening to put effort into trying to get an avocado seed to sprout and grow. So, what causes an avocado seed to die? There are a few common things that you can do to your young seed if you are not careful.

Too Much Moisture

Seeds need moisture to stimulate root growth, but too much moisture can cause stagnation and rot. If you give your seed too much moisture and do not let it air out appropriately, it can lead to the rot that we discussed. This will turn your seed black as it decomposes and falls apart.

Direct Sunlight Too Early

Most people are told to peel their avocado seed before trying to get it to sprout. The outer skin of an avocado seed actually has a purpose, and that is to protect the seed from scorching sunlight. If you peel your avocado seed and put it in harsh light or direct sunlight too early, it can cause the seed to die and fail.

avocado seed in sunlight
Image Credit: John Hecker, Shutterstock

A Nonviable Seed

Some seeds are just nonviable. Not every seed in nature will sprout. This can happen for a variety of reasons, from genetics to the health of the parent plant to too much heat when the original avocado was stored or shipped. Nonviable seeds will simply refuse to sprout no matter how much you coax them.

Fungus or Mold

Another thing that can happen is that your seed will attract and grow a fungus or a mold. This usually coincides with too much water or moisture. The fungus will coat the outside of the seed and cause it to fail. Mold can also penetrate into the seed, especially if you are using the toothpick method, and wreak havoc on the sensitive insides of your seed. Keeping your seed appropriately watered and away from any sources of mildew can help prevent mold from taking hold of your seed.

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There are many different signs that your avocado seed could be struggling. The most common signs involve rot or fungus, but other signs are more subtle. In the end, if your avocado seed refuses to sprout and grow, it is likely dead. There are a variety of reasons that this could happen to you. Some of these reasons are preventable, but some are sadly unavoidable.

Featured Image Credit: UpAndUp, Shutterstock


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