"Living fossil" is coontie's (Zamia floridana) nickname, as it is a member of the cycad family. Coontie is easy to grow, tolerating heat, drought and a variety of soil types. Closely related to the sago palm, with similar foliage, coontie is native to the U.S., primarily Florida. In fact, it is listed as endangered in the state of Florida and it is illegal to take specimens from the wild. Fortunately, you can still grow your own coontie from seeds, although it is a slow process. Cycads, including coontie, bear their seeds inside cones. The seeds are tough and need to be coaxed out of dormancy. Collect your coontie seeds in April.
Prepare a planting pot for the coontie seeds. Fill it with equal parts of sand and sphagnum peat moss, pour water over it until it is drenched and allow the pot to drain completely.
Remove the orange, fleshy outer seed covering if you have collected fresh coontie seed. Wash the seed under running water to remove all traces of the pulp.
Cut into the seed with a sharp knife or scalpel. You don't want to create a large hole, just a small wound that will allow water to penetrate and have access to the embryo.
Lay the seeds on the surface of the soil and cover with a 1/4 inch layer of moist soil. Keep the pots in an area that remains warm and receives light, but not direct sun. Near a lightly-curtained window is ideal. Your seeds should sprout within 6 weeks.
Things You Will Need
- Sphagnum peat moss
- 4-inch planting pots, one per seed
- Sharp knife or scalpel
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