The Q&A Archives: sago palm seeds

Question: I have alot of sago palm seeds and I'm not sure how to get them started. please help.
Michelle Howington
Charleston S.C

Answer: If a seed is tiny or floats when placed in water, then it wasn't pollinated and won't sprout. Remove the orange skin by soaking in a bucket of water for a few days (change the water every day), then peel off the skin. Use gloves, otherwise your hands might turn orange! Once the seed has been cleaned and allowed to dry a day or two, you are ready to plant them. (If the skin just won't come off, then you probably didn't leave them on the momma plant long enough to dry the seedcoat. Just plant them with the skin on). Choose a shady, protected area to sprout your seed since "first leaves" can be tender.

Fill flats or soil benches (they need to be about 5-6" deep) with well drained soil - you want the water to "perk" through fairly fast - and press the seeds 2/3 of the way into the soil so that only the top flat side can be seen. We use 50% perlite and 50% peat moss to root ours or course river sand.

Water well, press the seeds down again if some "bubble" up and water again. Use a "water breaker" - something that provides a gentle "rain", not a blast of water.

I've had lots of emails asking which end of the seed to plant. You plant sago seeds on their side. To demonstrate this, take a handful, drop them on a soft floor and watch how they fall -- they fall on their sides just like if they fell out of a mother plant in the forest. Only the top flat side of the seed should peek out of the soil. Mother Nature usually covers them with falling leaves and natural mulch, but we'll have to improvise with a little extra soil almost covering them.

Water the seed when the soil becomes dry about 1-2 inches down. You do not want to keep them constantly wet, yet you do not want them to dry out completely. Be sure to water the entire pool or pot thoroughly - we water ours once to "wet" the soil, then after the water has drained through, water them a second time to be sure the soil is completely saturated. Do not rely on a dripper or mister system since those methods may not drench the soil properly.

Seed usually puts down a tap root and then the first leaf rises upwards from the same point.

Best wishes with your seed starting project!

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