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How to Propagate Cardboard Palms

palm image by Dave from

The cardboard palm is one of the oldest trees in the world, having survived virtually unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. Cardboard palms grow well in hardiness zones 9 through 11 but do not do well in temperatures below 28 degrees F. It is possible to grow a cardboard palm in an indoor container, so even homeowners in colder climates can enjoy this unique plant. Though the cardboard palm looks like a palm tree, it is actually part of a group of plants called a cycad. Cardboard palms are propagated by seeds.

Collect the small red seeds of the cardboard palm from an open cone on a female plant. Put the seeds in a plastic baggie to keep them fresh.

Soak the seeds in a bowl of water for 4 hours, then carefully rub off the red coating from the seeds between your thumb and forefinger. Place the cleaned seeds on a paper towel.

Choose a sunny, well-drained location in your garden. Loosen the soil with a spade and mix potting soil with the garden soil until you have approximately a 50/50 mixture. Break up any dirt clods. Plant the cardboard palm seeds 1/4 inch deep and cover with soil. Pat the soil down lightly. Plant seeds approximately 8 feet apart, as cardboard palms can eventually reach 6 feet in diameter.

Water the seeds with a sprinkler and keep the ground slightly damp but not soggy for several months. The cardboard palm is slow to sprout and could take as long as 3 to 4 months to sprout.

Cardboard For A Fire

When you're making a fire pit in your backyard or at your campsite, it can be helpful to recycle paper materials by burning them. However, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture's Burn Teaching Guide, you should never burn cardboard that is coated with a plastic-y residue, because this will release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Use cardboard as kindling to start an outdoor fire. You can add newspaper as well if you wish. Place split logs crisscrossed in the fire venue and light the cardboard. Blow on it to keep it from going out. Do not throw large pieces of cardboard on top of a fire because it will smother the fire and put it out.


Do not eat the seeds or allow your animals (especially dogs) to eat the seeds, as they are poisonous.

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