Seasonal Palm Growing

(page 3)

Like most of you I long for spring and the return of warmer weather, watching as our beloved palms spring back into life, rewarding us with the new growth that we seem to have waited half a year for. But, call me mad, in a way I am looking forward to next winter so I can begin my experimentation process again! I‘m looking forward to trying some of the Andean rain forest palms, such as the high altitude Ceroxylon varieties and some more unknown forms of Chamaedorea. Indeed there are quite a few species that look promising, such as Geonoma weberbaueri and jussieiana, found growing at elevations of over 3000m up in the Andean mountains where it is cool and cloudy for a good part of the year. Also worth trying are some varieties of Attalea, Allagoptera, and Acrocomia that come from various other locations in South America. Hedyscepe canterburyana and Lepidorrhachis mooreana from Lord Howe Island also seem to have a lot of promise. If I manage to obtain these palms, I will keep you posted on the results.

Palms in the summer

I personally think seed propagation is great when it comes to growing palms, and late winter/early spring is a time when I like to really get going sowing all those new palms seeds you just seem to keep acquiring. I‘ve almost perfected the art of palm seed propagating (well I got there eventually), but there are a few rules to follow that you may well know. For those of you who don‘t, the most important rule of all is to buy fresh seed. The best sources are usually suppliers that sell them in bulk, or give an availability period, as they are more aware of the loss of viability in palm seed thus only keeping fresh stock at the times of year that they are available. Second, forget the myth that palm seed is impossible to germinate; about 95% of palm species will sprout without any problem at all. Personally I favour the sphagnum moss method: soak the seeds for a day or two in clean water, changing it every now and then (to remove any inhibitors) and checking that any old fruit flesh has been removed. Then take a zip bag, and half fill it with moss that has been soaked in water and then squeezed out (a rolling pin works well here), and don‘t forget to"fluff" the moss back up before putting it in the bag. Once this is done, place the seeds in the bag and put them in a warm place (between 30-35°C).
I actually have a daylight lamp in my germinating cupboard as well, which prevents any seeds that come up from getting elongated. I usually check the seeds about once a week. If the moss starts to feel a bit dry, I just tip the lot out (carefully!!!) and re-moisten it.

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