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How to Germinate a Date Palm

Date-palm image by Kristina Ubaviciute from

The best part about starting date palm trees from seeds is that the seeds are readily available. Your favorite produce retailer offers the delectable little fruits, complete with viable seeds intact. While germinating seeds is the simplest method of propagating these majestic palms, commercial growers don’t favor it. Sprouting palm seeds means waiting for six to 10 years for the tree to mature enough to set fruit. There’s also the little matter of the relatively low 25 percent germination rate, so this method isn’t effective for most growers. For the patient home gardener, however, germinating date palm seeds is an enjoyable and rewarding project.

Eat the dates and reserve the seeds. Drop them into a glass of water to soak for 48 hours. Change the water about once every 12 hours.

Scrub the seeds briskly with a stiff toothbrush to clean off any fruit residue. Use a sharp knife or tweezers to remove the tiny hairs growing on the seeds. Soak them for another 24 hours, changing the water once. Scrub the seeds with the brush again. Inspect them carefully for any remaining hairs or residue, which will cause them to rot during germination.

Moisten several paper towels and squeeze the excess water out of them. Cover the bottom of a sealable clear plastic container with several layers of moist towels. Arrange the date palm seeds in a single layer on the paper toweling with their grooved sizes facing up. Cover the seeds with a moistened paper towel and secure the lid on the container.

Place the seed flat in the warmest spot in your home. The top of the refrigerator or above a hot water heater are good choices. Ideal temperature is 65 to 77 degrees F.

Check on your date palm seeds every few days to make sure the paper toweling doesn’t dry out. The moisture within the seed flat should be all the water your seeds will require for germinating. If the towels feel completely dry, replace the cover layer with a fresh moist one. You can expect germination in two to 12 weeks.

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