Germinating Corypha seeds

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This comes from an email to the PalmSociety email list, 16 June, 2000, in reply to an enquiry regarding the germination of Corypha umbraculifera.

I germinated some of these a few months ago. I had quite a lot of seed, so tried different methods with them. I put half in ziplock bags (baggie method) and the other half in a polystyrene broccoli box. The mix I used in the broccoli box was 60% potting mix and 40% course river sand. I buried the seeds 3/4 their depth in the mix, then covered the remaining 1/4 with course sand. I placed the box outside, receiving morning sun and afternoon shade, watering every couple of days.

My results were interesting..

The seeds in the peat baggies were placed on bottom heat, from 25C to 30C in a dark closet. First germination occurred only 20 days after sowing. Only 2 seeds germinated from 140, and none since.

The seeds in the broccoli box received far higher temperatures. My first chance to observe the seeds was the following weekend. It was a (typically) sunny day and I was horrified to see that the sand on top of the box was very hot, about 65C. The soil 10cm further down was only 45C. The following morning I measured the soil at 10cm depth and it was still 29C.

I figured that a week of these temperatures must have roasted the seeds, so gave up on them and left them alone. Several weeks later, approximately 60 days after sowing, I noticed that there were a few shoots appearing. Over the next 2 weeks, 51 seeds germinated out of 60. I left them in the same position, in full sun all morning, and they were all fine.

Well, that's my story, and my observations were:

The more heat the better!
Use a loose mix to let the seeds breathe.
Not too much water, just moisten mix.
First root goes down about 250mm very quickly.
The roots all grew through the foam bottom of the box before the top growth was noticeable, so allow for deep roots.

Contributed by:

Daryl O'Connor

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