Seasonal Palm Growing

(page 4)

I‘ve found that 4-6 weeks is the usual incubation time, although some do take longer. These include Attalea, Acrocomia, Jubaea, and Allogoptera, which can take anything up to 2 years, although so far I have managed to get at least one of each to germinate in less than 6 months. Phoenix, Washingtonia, and Copernica seeds are about the easiest seeds I have ever germinated; they usually taking less than 4 weeks. Trachycarpus and Jubaea can be germinated in the same way although I would recommend a temperature of around 20-25°C, as they seem to germinate better. The only seeds I would recommend sowing in a soil based compost are those seeds that grow long tap roots, such as Borassus and Bismarckia. These need a deep root run into the soil, but can be fooled into thinking that the roots are deeper than what they actually are. The growers in the US actually use a process of raising Borassus seeds by growing them in pots about 18" deep. The tap root will eventually hit the bottom and form a "blob." The pot is then carefully knocked out, the seed and root are repotted with the blob just below the surface, and the seed is allowed to hang free attached to a frame or some other kind of support. The first leaf will then emerge from just below the surface allowing the root to grow down another 18". I have used this technique with some success, although the roots do tend to rot easily. However, damage to the tap root is not terminal as long as the seedling has developed some fine roots.
Bismarkia is similar in some respects and can be risen up, though they only require a root run of about 12" in the initial stages.
Living in our part of the world isn‘t such a bad thing. There are days when my enthusiasm subsides, but for the most part I‘m always kept going by the fact that there is so much to learn and there are so many palms to try. The way global warming is coming along, in years to come maybe many of us won‘t have to worry about hard frosts threatening our prize palms. Who knows, maybe our part of the planet will become a flowering tropical oasis. But as for me, I can‘t wait that long. Experimentation is part of the fun, and as they say, "If you never try, you will never know."

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