How To Plant a Pip

If you enjoy growing house plants from seed, and like saving money, then next time you eat exotic fruit, plant the pips or stones. Even if they don’t reach the fruiting stage – many need high temperatures and plenty of space to mature – you will have the pleasure of watching them grow and producing attractive foliage and, in some cases, flowers. The pips and stones are an extra bonus when you buy fruit, so be as adventurous as you like.

Some tropical fruits are available all year round, while others are seasonal. Fresh pips and stones are more likely to germinate than old, dried-out ones.

To grow your pips successfully you will need to use small pots and seed or cutting compost. Clay pots need a layer of drainage material in the bottom. First remove the pips from the fruit, and wash them if they are sticky or have bits of fruit clinging to them. Then plant them in the compost, covering them with their own depth of compost. Water them lightly, then put them in a warm place, in filtered Light. Normal room temperatures are usually fine, but see Suitable fruit on the back page for any special needs.

  • You can grow plants from the pips of many tropical fruits including lychee, kumquat, date, kiwi fruit, lime, lemon, pomegranate, avocado, mango, orange, papaya and grapefruit.
  • Keep the compost just moist, and be prepared to wait for up to two months or more. Once the young plant appears, gradually introduce it to brighter light. When its roots fill the pot, move the plant into the type of compost used for that particular mature plant, and treat as an adult.
  • Many tropical and semi-tropical plants prefer a humid atmosphere, especially in hot weather, so it is a good idea to mist them daily in the summer months. Giving tropical house plants a holiday in the garden is also a good idea, as the sun helps to ripen the wood and encourages the production of flowers.

Growing Avocado From A Pip (Stone)


  • To prepare an avocado pip for planting, cut open the avocado and carefully remove the pip from the fruit. Then strip off the dark-brown outer covering.
  • Plant the pip, pointed end up, in a small pot filled with seed or cutting compost. The point should stick out of the compost. Keep the compost moist.
  • You can also start an avocado pip in a jar of water. Suspend the pip over the jar of water, using toothpicks to support it so that the base of the pip is under water.
  • Avocado can be planted in compost or sprouted in water and transferred to a pot once it makes strong roots. Pinch out the growing tip when the plant is 15-20cm (6-8 inches) high, to encourage it to form branches.


A friend of mine grew a little apple tree from a pip, and keeps it on his kitchen windowsill. Will ever fruit?

You can grow plants from apple, pear, peach, cherry, grape and plum pips, but like all hardy plants they need to be outdoors or, in the case of peach and grape, in a cool greenhouse. Also, plants grown from seed may take many years to flower and fruit, and be different from their parents, but this doesn’t matter with house plants grown for their foliage.

I would like to grow an orange tree but am afraid that it will get too big. Can I prune it?

A citrus tree grown in a pot is unlikely to grow taller than 90cm (3ft). If need be, though, you can prune it in early March.

Exotic house plants can be grown from the pips and stones of tropical fruit brought from the greengrocer – even orange, lemon and grapefruit pips produce beautiful shrubs.

Suitable fruit for growing from pips


Citrus fruit includes oranges (Citrus sinsensis), lemons (C. limonia), limes (C. aurantifolia), grapefruit (C. paradis) and kumquat (FortuneIla margarita). The dwarf Calamondin orange (C. mitis) flowers and fruits when only 30cm (12 inches) high, but is a hybrid and best propagated from cuttings. Seedless citrus fruits are popular nowadays, so buy varieties with seeds. Provide a temperature of 21°C (70°F) to encourage seeds to germinate. Seedlings usually appear in 4-6 weeks.

Lychees (litchi chinensis) are Chinese fruits that grow on a glossy-leaved shrub which needs high temperature and humidity to flourish. Start the shiny seeds in a heated propagator. Dates (Phoenix dactylifera) grow on palms. Use fresh, not dried, dates, and plant the pip vertically, lcm (1/t inches) deep, in the compost. Provide a temperature of 21°C (70°F). A single leaf will soon appear, but it takes 2 years to look like a palm.

Kiwi fruit (Actinidia chinensis) is a fairly hardy climbing plant, so place the pot in a cool but frost free-spot, such as a sun porch. You need a male and female plant to get fruit.

Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) makes a handsome foliage shrub or small tree with sweet chestnut-like leaves. Pomegranate (Punica granatum) makes a shiny-leaved, fairly hardy shrub. Plant pips 5mm (1/4 inches) deep, 3 or 4 pips to a 10cm (4 inches) pot.

Mango (Mangifera indica) is a huge, evergreen tree with pointed, dark- , green leaves, but it stays small in a pot. Provide high humidity.

Papaya (Canca papaya) makes an evergreen bush or tree with deeply lobed leaves. Provide high humidity. Its large, bold leaves make the loquat a decorative plant worth growing for display. It is very unlikely though that any plant grown indoors will bear fruit.

It is easy to grow a Date Palm from a pip, although it takes two years or more to look like a palm. The mature plant makes a handsome addition to any room.

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