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Starting Palm Tree Seeds

Starting palm tree seeds doesn’t have to be difficult if you know what to do. Learning these few things will increase your chances of success.

We’ll cover:

  • How to prepare the seeds
  • What soil mix to use 
  • How much light
  • Which container
  • Seed placement
  • Watering and more

 So let’s get started.

Cleaning

Before you begin make sure to wear gloves when handling any of the fruit or seeds. Some of them are very acidic. They will leave your hands itchy and cause some inflammation.The fishtail palm is a good example of this.

Purchased seeds will surely have chemical preservatives, insecticides or fungicides on them that could also irritate your skin.

If you have harvested the fruits from a palm yourself, then you will need to clean the seeds.

If you ordered seeds from a nursery then skip to the next step.

Cleaning the palm tree seeds involves removing the actual fruit, meaty part away from the core or actual seed part.

You can compare it to planting a peach or avocado pit to start one of those fruit trees. Even apples and oranges.

You wouldn't plant the whole fruit, just the seeds.

The best way to accomplish this is by soaking the harvested, ripened, fruits for at least 8-12 hours in water that is at least  74°F or 25°C or a bit warmer.

Don’t soak longer than 12. The fruit will begin to ferment in the pail if left longer. If this process starts the seed part dies.

This short soaking only helps with the removal of the fruit part away from the seed itself.

The soaking should make much easier to peel that away... either by gently rubbing the flesh off, or by carefully using a knife to peel.

Preparation of Palm Tree Seeds

We are right back to soaking the palm tree seeds for this step. Again use close to room temperature water but you will be soaking the seed itself for about 36 hours or so.

For purchased seeds it cleans off any reside left over from chemical like insecticides or fungicides used for storing the seeds.

Plus the seeds may have dried out somewhat after being stored and transported. This will provide the moisture needed to re-hydrate them.

5 tropical succulent plants fully rooted 5 tropical succulent plants fully rooted

Lastly this soaking will help to identify which seeds have a chance of growing and which ones won’t.

If after 48 hours there are seeds floating on the top of the water, throw those away.

Floating is an indication that the embryo of the seed is damaged.

Plant only those NOT floating on the surface.


Soil and Container

You’ll need to provide a better soil mix for propagating seeds than can generally can be found in your yard.

The best stuff would be a palm potting mix. Sometimes this isn’t the easiest to get depending on your area.

If you can’t find that then use a mix of peat moss—for moisture retention around the seeds and a sand/ small gravel mix or course material perlite. Both assist in very good drainage.

Make sure the container has at hole or two in the bottom of it and then add a layer of broken clay tiles or larger gravel in the bottom before adding the soil. Here's a large selection of containers for you to consider.

The container needs to be deep enough. Some palms have what is called an anchor root. This root shoots down deep and anchors the plant in preparation for growth. If you aren’t sure, then use a container that is somewhere between 12-18 inches deep to be on the safe side.

perlite potting mixperlite potting mix
2 gallon planter pots2 gallon planter pots

Seed Placement and Depth

Palms are a bit different than some other plants when it comes to just how deep to submerge the seed. Deeper is not the way to go.

Think of a coconut falling from a tree near the beach.

When it falls it may roll a bit then comes to rest on its side. The waves may bury it with sand half way, or not at all but it will still sprout.

Same thing goes here. All palm tree seeds should be placed on their side.

The larger the seed then the less it should be covered by soil. The smaller the seed the more soil you can use to cover it. At most, even for the smallest ones, they should only just be lightly covered with the mix. Pretty much anything bigger than an inch or so should be left with 1/3 to 1/2 of it exposed.

Don’t pack the mix and don’t fertilize until after the spout has gotten 2-3 leaves on it.

Just water and place your container in a warm area that has an abundance of indirect sunlight.

If you have the heat but are lacking the light then supplement with a plant growing light. 8-10 hours of quality light is required.

grass and trees

Water and Wait

Continue to water the container when the top of the potting mix is dry to the touch. No more. Too much and our poor seeds will begin to rot instead of sprout. The course mix we are using is a preventive measure and will help whisk away any extra moisture.

Now it’s time to wait.  Some kinds of palm tree seed swill sprout within a month, others 3 months and still others could be 2 years or more. You must have some patience for those ones.

CC  Original photo by: Kumar83

If you have planted many palm tree seeds in one container wait until they have the 2nd-3rd leaf on them before you transplant into a new container. Try not to disturb the roots as best as possible. This is extremely important when transplanting any palms with an anchor root whether in soil or a container. Cut that root too short and it will likely die. 

Hopefully with enough patience and endurance you’ll soon have a new group of palms ready to accent your landscape

Starting and growing a palm tree from a seed does give you a certain amount of satisfaction when you can point to a tree and say you started it yourself from a seed. 

Buy Palm Seeds

Explore more on growing palms

  • Planting Palm Trees

    Planting palm trees isn’t complicated if you follow a few simple guidelines, whether you purchase a container or field grown specimen.

  • Pruning Palm Trees

    There is a certain amount of skill involved in pruning palm trees, especially the large coconut palms.

  • Palm Tree Fertilizer

    Palm tree fertilizer plays a large part in the overall health of your tropical paradise. Learn how to calculate the amount, when and where.

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