Germinating Palm Seeds

Recently I was in Jacksonville FL on business. I grabbed a branch full of seeds from a Sabal palmetto in a restaurant parking lot. I think there were around 300 seeds or so. They are now in pots and should germinate within two or three weeks. The last time I germinated seeds was in 2003 when my Brazoria palmettos sprouted. I had about 50% germination rate. This batch of Sabal seeds should produce similar results.

Also, on a family trip to AZ back in Dec 2003, I snagged about 100,000 seeds from a Washingtonia filibusta, a hybrid between a filifera (California fan palm) and a robusta (Mexican fan palm). I germinated a dozen or so quite easily in 2004. At the time I didn’t know quite as much about the requirements for Washingtonia palms, and they rotted in the wet and humid Memphis climate due to poor planting conditions rather than well draining, dry locations.

I kept the huge bag of seeds all these years. They have sat dry in my garage until now. I did a test to see if they are still viable, not thinking very many would be. If you put them in water, the viable seeds sink while the duds float. I took about 10% of the seeds to test and much to my surprise, the vast majority sank to the bottom.

So I put those in a pot full of soil. All the rest went into the big bed beside my Sabal palmetto. They’ll get full sun and water everyday. So if any are good, they should be sprouting and filling the bed with palm straplings in a few weeks. Temperatures in the mid 80s, sun, and water ensure best chances for germination. Once they come up, I will carefully transplant them to small plastic cups. In a year or two, they’ll get permanent locations in the yard.

These things may come up as thick as grass shortly!

For an update please see Germinating palm seeds – Part 2.

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