Want to know how to grow palm tree seeds and don’t know where to start?
It’s easier than you might think!
Knowing how to germinate palm tree seeds for your garden is a simple task, suitable for all skill levels.
With a little bit of know-how, you can transform your landscape into something right out of the tropics.
I have found it very satisfying and a bit challenging at times to properly germinate palm seeds of various species.
Still, after 6 years of trial and error, it has become enjoyable and somewhat of an obsession!
I’ll provide clear, step-by-step instructions on my preferred method based on my own experience.
I will also include a couple of additional methods that you can try depending on the types of palm seeds you want to grow and what climate you live in.
- Soak seeds for 24-48 hours to hydrate. Sinking seeds are viable, but floating seeds may not be.
- Use orchid moss or a peat/perlite mix as the growing media in a plastic bag. Moisten lightly.
- Put seeds in the plastic bag, seal, and place in a warm area to germinate. Roots will develop.
- Once roots appear, transplant them into pots with well-draining soil. Keep warm and sunny.
- Avoid too much moisture as it can cause rotting. Allow growing media to dry a bit and change out if necessary.
- Using a heat mat speeds up germination. Mimic the native climate of palm seeds for best results.
- Have fun experimenting! Starting palms from seeds is easy with basic knowledge and the satisfaction of watching your palm trees grow.
What is the Best Way To Grow Palm Tree Seeds?
For starting most palm seeds the key to success comes down to two main things:
Heat & Moisture.
There is a balance to this and you don’t want the seeds getting too hot or too soggy during the germination process.
I will review my preferred method for starting most palm seeds and why I don’t always use this method depending on the situation.
Here are the main things you will need to consider to decide which method of germination will be most successful:
- The palm tree’s native habitat
- The specific climate and hardiness zone of your garden
- Moisture and temperature requirements
- Types of growing media and how to choose the best one
Reasons You Need to Know How to Grow Palm Tree Seeds
Palm trees are expensive and they are only increasing in value! This was the main reason I started growing palm trees from seed.
Here are a few reasons why learning this skill can be important:
- Palm tree seeds are inexpensive to purchase, especially when it comes to common and easy-to-germinate palm tree types.
- You can easily find and collect free seeds in areas where palm trees are commonly grown. This increases the chances of getting fresh seed since you already know the source!
- You can sprout palm seeds year-round no matter where you live.
- You only need a few simple items to start palm seeds anywhere successfully.
Let’s get started on my preferred method of starting palm seeds.
Not only is this method effective for most types of palm seeds, but it is also cheap and requires only a few materials!
How to Grow Palm Tree Seeds Using the Baggie Method Step-By-Step
I like to get a head start on the growing season, so I prefer to start germinating my palm seeds in the winter so that they are ready to plant outside in the spring.
This brings me to my preferred way to start seeds known as the “baggie method”. This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to start seeds regardless of the time of year!
There are some exceptions to this which I will get into a bit later, but overall this is the main method I use to start most of my palm seeds.
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Here are the materials you will need:
- Seeds (of course)
- 1-gallon plastic Ziploc bag – This will be your mini greenhouse!
- Growing media of your choice (I prefer orchid moss, but you can use a mixture of peat moss and perlite as an alternative)
- Heat mat (optional)
Now that we have our materials, let’s start the process of putting all of this together.
Step 1: Soak Your Seeds For 24-48 Hours
For this example, I will be using 5 Chilean Wine Palm seeds I recently purchased.
If you have seeds with the skin or “fruit” still on them, be sure to clean off any that’s remaining on your palm seeds.
You want the seeds to be completely clean!
Put the seeds in a small glass and fill the glass partway with warm water.
This is a good way to test seeds for viability and hydration. If the seeds sink, that’s a good sign that the seeds are viable and properly hydrated.
If the seeds float, DON’T PANIC!
They might just need some time to rehydrate after sitting for a while.
Another reason they may be floating is because the outer shell may need to be removed.
If after 72 hours the seeds haven’t sunk and are still floating, then the seeds may not be viable.
DON’T THROW THEM AWAY YET!
I will still soak them a bit longer and plant them anyway just in case…doesn’t hurt.
Now that your seeds are properly hydrated, it’s time to move on to step 2.
Step 2: Prepare Your Growing Media
For this example, I will be using orchid moss.
I like orchid moss because it is inexpensive, readily available, and allows great airflow in the bag reducing the risk of rotting the seeds during the germination process.
Even though orchid moss is less dense and lighter than other growing media, too much moisture can still cause issues for your seeds.
DO NOT use regular old potting soil as it is too dense and will suffocate the seeds leading to rot, especially if kept too wet.
The next step is to soak the orchid moss thoroughly and ring out any excess water with your hands. Make sure the orchid moss is just slightly moist.
You can achieve the ideal moisture content by ringing out the water until no drips are coming out of the orchid moss.
This is the same process with any growing medium you choose. Make sure it is just LIGHTLY moist.
Step 3: Fill Your Plastic Bag With Growing Media
Now we will fill up the Ziploc bag with well-drained orchid moss. I like to fill the bag at least 1/3 full.
This is especially important when placing the bag on a heated surface as it can easily burn seeds through the bottom of the bag.
Step 4: Place Seeds In the Bag and Seal Up
Next, we will place the palm seeds in the growing media.
Seal up the bag. This will allow humidity to develop inside creating a mini greenhouse for your palm seeds!
Don’t forget to mark your bag with the type of palm seeds and the date you put them in the bag!
Store the bag in a warm area of your house.
Just keep an eye on the bag for the following weeks and wait for roots to start developing.
Once they do, immediately transplant them into a small pot with lightly moistened well-draining soil and place them in a sunny warm area.
Problems Growing Palm Tree Seeds Using the Baggie Method
One of the main problems I had when I first started growing palm seeds with the baggie method was too much moisture build-up.
Draining out all of the growing media before putting it in the plastic bag is extremely important!
If there is too much moisture in the bag, the outside of the seeds can develop a white layer of “fuzz” on the outside.
If not taken care of, your palm seeds could eventually rot leaving wasted time and money!
If this happens during the germinating stage, I usually wipe off the seeds, let the bag air dry a bit, and put it back into a heated area.
Be sure to keep an eye out on them for the next few days to make sure they don’t start developing signs of fungus or rotting.
Another thing you can do is change out the growing media. Some seeds do better in certain types of growing media than others so experiment a bit!
A common and effective mixture to start seeds is a half-peat moss, half-perlite mix.
I have successfully started many seeds with this mixture, but be careful and make sure the seeds get enough air circulation.
If the seeds stay buried in areas of the mixture where it is too dense, it can cause your palm seeds to start rotting.
The Next Level: How to Grow Palm Tree Seeds Faster!
While optional, I advise using some type of bottom heat for the bag.
Usually placing the bag containing the seeds on top of a refrigerator or water heater can be enough to boost the speed of germination.
Another common and convenient method is to purchase a heat mat.
These heat mats are affordable and some will allow you to adjust the amount of heat that it creates.
Place your heat mat anywhere on a safe and flat surface, plug it in, and set the closed bag of seeds on top of it.
The bottom line is that you will get faster germination speed and better germination rates with increased heat, so your new seedlings will be ready to be set outside when the warmer weather hits in the spring!
Below is a video I did to demonstrate how quickly you can get palm seeds to germinate with the baggie method and a little extra heat.
In this case, I germinated some Silver Bismarck palm seeds in about 3 to 4 weeks using this exact method.
Alternatives to Growing Palm Tree Seeds With the Baggie Method
While the baggie method is an easy, convenient, and cheap way to start palm seeds year-round, there are some exceptions.
The main thing I consider when deciding if I should use the baggie method for seed germination is the native climate of the species of palm that the seeds are from.
Palm trees like the Brahea Armata and Washingtonia Filifera which are native to dry, arid climates are more susceptible to rot when started using the plastic bag.
This is because the bag will create a high level of humidity which these dry-climate palms will not like. Especially since they are not native to such areas.
For these seeds, I will start them in an open pot with some palm soil keeping it LIGHTLY moistened.
I will then place the pots in a warm area inside, preferably a southern-facing window where it will get decent sunlight.
This method of seed germination can also be used as an alternative to the baggie method if you would like to have more day-to-day control over the germination process.
You may also have better luck starting your seeds outdoors if you live in a climate that’s mild year-round.
In these areas, you can start your palm seeds outside, especially if they are more cold hardy palm varieties.
Wrapping Up and My Experience With Growing Palm Tree Seeds
As you can see, there are some things to consider when growing palm trees from seed. Here’s a recap of some important points to consider from my own experience:
- Know where the palm seeds are native to. Are they a dry climate-loving palm? Do they prefer humid, tropical conditions? Knowing these little details will help you determine if the baggie method or the regular open pot method is best.
- Become familiar with your hardiness zone and climate conditions to give your palm seeds the best chance for success long term.
- Experiment with different types of growing media and stick with what works for you, however, stay away from regular potting soil!
- Use extra heat if possible to increase germination rate and speed.
The most important part about learning how to grow palm trees from seed is to have fun and enjoy the process!
Feel free to experiment and see what works best for you.
Hopefully, you found this information helpful and have a better understanding that starting palm seeds is a pretty easy task with a little bit of basic knowledge.
Not only that, but you get the satisfaction of watching the palm grow and eventually become part of your garden landscape!