How can I germinate a seed from my Sega plant? For 3 years a large seed pod has grown in the center. - Knowledgebase Question

La Crescenta, Ca
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Question by fisked
September 12, 2008
For several years I have cared for a Sega plant. During the past 3 years it has produced a large seed pod. I have removed several seeds and tried putting them in starting pots but none of them have grown. Any suggestions on what I should try?

Answer from NGA
September 12, 2008
Be forewarned, this a fairly complicated process; but, once you've successfully grown a Sago from seed, you will definitely have bragging rights for life!! Just showing an interest in germinating a cycad seed, shows that you're up for the challenge and my prediction is that you'll do great. Just follow these steps:

First, Sago seed germination rates are around 50%, so if 3-5 seeds out of 10 germinate, you're doing well.

1. Gather the seeds when the cones fall to the ground. Some of the seeds can be as large as 3 inches long.
2. There will be a 'woody' casing around the seed that's also covered by a thin, red, yellow or orange pulpy substance. That fleshy pulf contains a germination inhibitor, so you'll need to wash it off well; first scrape off the flesh, then wash the seeds in water.
3. It will be well worth your time to test your seeds for viability. The best way to do this with cycads is to shake each seed. If you hear a rattle, the seed is no good.
4. The seeds have a very hard exterior, and water needs to penetrate it. So, using a small, sharp knife, nick a shallow cut in the seed coat at one end of each seed. Don't go too deep, or it will kill the embryo inside the seedcoat.
5. Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours. This will really improve germination for you.
6. Sow your seeds, one to a pot. Clay pots seem to work best for me. Sagos have long, brittle tap roots, and disturbing them by having another seed in the pot competing for space will usually kill them.
7. Your seed's 'soil' mix should be: one part compost & 3 parts coarse sand or perlite.
8. When you put the seed into the pot & soiless mix, make sure that they are half-exposed horizontally. In other words, you should always be able to see half of the seed on top of your germinating medium.
9. Keep the seeds misted and well watered. They need high humidity and heat. The easiest way to do this is to secure a plastic baggie over the top of the pot with a rubber band, to keep the humidity in.
10. The temperature needed to get the seeds to germinate is 70-86F minimum air temperature. The humidity level must be 60-70%. The baggie should provide that, but check each pot daily.
11. Now, remind yourself what a virtue patience will take anywhere from 3-4 months for the seeds to germinate.

Best wishes with your project!

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