Growing Plants from Seed

by Jeff Wasielewski

cleaning palm seeds

Growing plants from seed is a very natural and easy process. It is important to remember when collecting seeds to be propagated that there are two main types of seed: fleshy and dry. Fleshy seeds are packaged inside fruits and are usually dispersed by animals. The fleshy portion needs to be removed before the seed is sown.

When collecting fruit,, look for mature fruit which are usually very colorful and somewhat soft to the touch. A seed may go from green, to light red to dark red before it is fully mature and ready to be sown. Dry seeds are usually dispersed by wind and sometimes need their seed coats to be worn away in order to germinate. When collecting dry seeds look for seed pods to become brown and withered and ready to open to disperse the seeds. 

planting palm seedsOnce the mature seeds have been collected and cleaned (with fleshy seeds, clean the flesh away from the seed), they are ready to be sown. Seeds with a very hard seed coat may benefit from being soaked in clean water for 24 to 48 hours. It is important that a well draining, aerated, sterile media-mix is used. Seeds may be sown directly on top of the media in a container about 3-4" deep and then lightly dusted with media. Seeds should be just below the surface of the media. Multiple seeds may be placed in a single container.

Once in place, the seeds should be lightly watered. Smaller seeds should be misted so that they are not displaced by the flow of the water. The container should then be placed in a protected area with dappled sunlight. The temperature of the seeds should remain above 70 degrees. Seeds of some species may take several months to germinate. Once the seed germinates it can be removed from the community container and placed in its own container. The container should be deep enough to house the full depth of the root system. Once the new container begins to fill with roots, the seedling may be placed in a larger container or in the ground. It is crucial that the seedlings are not left in a container that is too small for them for an extended period of time. This will cause root binding which is detrimental to the plant.