Palm Tree Seedlings Not Germinating? Here’s Why

It can be very frustrating when you’ve spent a lot of time and effort planting your trees for them not to grow. There are many reasons a seedling might not germinate, but if you guess wrong, nothing will change, and the tree won’t grow.

Palm tree seedlings won’t germinate when they’re too deep in the ground, the environment isn’t humid or warm enough, or they’re not getting the right amount of water. You can help your palm trees germinate by changing those conditions.

In this article, I’ll go over why your palm tree seeds aren’t germinating, what you can do to help them grow, and how to prevent poor germination in the future. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s begin.

Why Your Palm Tree Seedlings Aren’t Germinating

Germination takes place when tree seeds become active and start growing. You’ll notice them starting to poke out of the ground after a while.

It takes about 100 days for a palm tree to germinate, so if you don’t see signs of your palm tree seedling after that amount of time passes, you’ll want to take steps to change its growing conditions. During that time, the palm seedling spreads its roots deep into the ground to seek nutrients to grow.

If your palm tree seedlings don’t germinate, you’ll want to know what you can do to get them to grow. First, I’ll go over why your palm tree seedlings aren’t germinating; then, I’ll explain exactly what you can do to help them.

Here’s what might prevent palm tree seedlings from germinating:

The Fruit on the Seeds Started Rotting

Rot can be a real problem when growing palm tree seeds. Since the seedlings like warm, humid conditions, it’s not uncommon for them to start rotting before they can germinate. They would quickly die and would never sprout if that were to happen.

Most of the time, the part of the seed that starts rotting is the outer layer of the fruit. You’d need to get rid of it to help prevent rot from taking over your palm seedlings.

The Palm Tree Seeds Are Buried Too Deep

Palm tree seeds won’t germinate if you bury them in the ground. They spread by being blown around or dropped by animals, so they seldom get buried naturally. So, the seedlings won’t “break out” of their shell if they’re surrounded by dirt.

Instead, most palm trees prefer to sit on the surface of the soil, making them easier to keep an eye on. You can also half-bury them or sprinkle a small amount of dirt over the seeds and get them to germinate.

The Environment Isn’t Humid Enough

Next, you’ll want to check the humidity levels where you’ve planted your palm tree seeds. Palm trees need to be in very humid environments, or they won’t germinate.

Most palm trees want to live in about 40-50% humidity conditions. They don’t do well in dry conditions, which can cause them to stop growing, dry out, and wilt very quickly. However, the seeds need even more humidity in the soil before sprouting from the ground.

Palm tree seeds will germinate when you keep them at 60-70% humidity. It can be challenging to keep your seedlings outside and have them grow unless you live somewhere very humid. Many gardeners have the most luck using either a greenhouse or a plastic baggie to start germination since these options trap humidity.

The Environment Isn’t Warm Enough

Next, palm tree seedlings must be in hot environments to germinate. Most species can grow in temperatures between 70°F and 100°F (about 21°C to 38°C). Although, keeping the seeds at 85°F to 95°F (about 29°C to 35°C) is ideal, according to the University of Florida.

If you live somewhere that doesn’t consistently stay within that range, your palm tree seedlings will have trouble germinating if you leave them outside.

The Seeds Receive Incorrect Amounts of Water

How much water you give your palm seeds can also impact how well they germinate. You usually need to soak the seeds before they can start growing. That additional water can help kickstart germination.

However, having too much or too little moisture can make it harder for the palms to sprout. They could be impacted negatively by root rot and other problems if they get too much. On the other hand, too little water can cause them to become dehydrated and die before they even get to germinate.

You’ll need to find a reliable watering routine for your palm tree seedlings to keep them in good health.

5 Ways To Help Your Palm Trees Germinate

If you’re sure that your palm trees aren’t going to germinate on their own, you can do a few things to help them along:

1. Remove the Outer Layer of Fruit Before Planting

You should remove the fruit on the outside of the palm tree seeds before you attempt to plant them. The seeds will germinate much better without the fruit, and there’s less risk of fungus and rot taking over.

The best way to remove the fruit is to first soak the entire seed pod in water for several days. Doing so softens the outer shell, making removing and scraping the fruit easier. You’ll need to change the water every 24 hours to prevent the soaking seeds from rotting.

You’ll need to scrape away the fruit with a sharp knife until only the seed is left. You can also rub the seeds on a hard, scratchy surface like concrete. You should be able to see the fibers inside of the seeds without the fruit in the way. Then, you can plant them on the soil’s surface for the best results. 

This process also gives the seeds time to absorb ample water, which they’ll need to grow well. Palm tree seeds that had time to soak usually germinate much faster than those that still have the outer fruit layer.

This YouTube video describes how you can remove the fruit from the seeds in more detail:

2. Plant Them on the Surface of the Soil

Since the palm tree seedling can’t properly germinate if it’s too deep in the earth, you’ll want to ensure that you set them on top of the soil. You’ll want to plant them in an easy-to-move container, such as a fabric pot. Simply put the seed on the earth in the pot, and wait for it to germinate.

Using a container to plant your palm tree seedling is essential. Since you need to leave the seeds on top of the earth, they’re at risk of blowing away or getting eaten by animals. You can keep the fabric pot inside or somewhere with good growing conditions for your palm, then transplant the seedling outside.

That way, you control where your palm tree takes root without worrying about it getting moved. Plus, fabric pots make it easy to transplant any plant, including palm tree seedlings.

You must review what species of palm you have. Some palms prefer to be right on the soil’s surface, while others prefer a very light layer of dirt over them. Although, most won’t germinate if you bury them too deep.

If you’ve planted palm tree seeds, you can dig them up and leave them on top of the dirt instead. It’s probably not too late for them to germinate.

3. Keep the Seeds Humid

You’ll also need to keep your palm seeds humid until they germinate. They will only show signs of sprouting if the air around them is at a humidity level between 60% and 70%, which can be difficult if you don’t live somewhere that’s naturally humid.

Instead of leaving your seeds outside, you can grow them in a small greenhouse. The plastic greenhouses you can easily set up on your property usually have a humidity reading of 50% to 70%, which is suitable for palm trees. You can also control the humidity inside by watering the plants more or less often, allowing you to keep the conditions perfect for your seedlings to germinate.

If you don’t have space on your property for a greenhouse, you can still move your seeds to a more humid location. A great option is to use a plastic baggie. Humidity gets trapped inside, like a greenhouse, which helps the palms germinate.

Here are the steps to set up your palm seeds in a plastic bag:

  1. Get a sealable transparent plastic baggie, such as a Ziplock bag.
  2. Place a piece of damp moss in the bag. A damp paper towel or perlite will also work well.
  3. Put the seeds in the bag.
  4. Spray inside the baggies with 50% water and 50% hydrogen peroxide. The solution should prevent fungus from growing in the bag.
  5. Place the sealed baggie somewhere warm. You can keep it in a sunny window or near a heater.
  6. Make sure to check on the seeds occasionally. It can take months for them to start to germinate.
  7. Remove the seeds once they have some roots and a large stem. You may need to detangle them from one another, so be careful.
  8. Plant the seedling in a small, easy-to-move pot and place it somewhere the palm tree can thrive. After it gets large enough, you can transfer it into the ground or into an even larger pot.

4. Move the Seeds Somewhere Warmer

Palm tree seedlings germinate the most efficiently when you keep them at temperatures between 85°F and 95°F (about 29°C and 35°C). If you don’t live somewhere with those temperatures, you’ll want to bring the seeds inside or leave them in a warm greenhouse.

Luckily, the seeds should be easy to move. You’ll want to keep them in a small, portable pot or plastic baggie until they’ve grown. Then, you can replant them in something larger. Keeping them in a small, portable container while they germinate makes them much easier to move, allowing you to keep them in consistently warm temperatures.

Overall, you’ll need to monitor the environmental conditions surrounding your seeds. Many gardeners keep a small thermometer near their seedlings to help with monitoring temperatures. The palm trees won’t start germinating unless they’re in their preferred temperatures.

5. Change Your Watering Routines

You’ll need to carefully monitor how often you water your seeds and how much water you give them. Since palm trees love humidity, they require slightly more water than other tree seedlings, but you still don’t want to drown them.

You’ll likely need to water the seeds multiple times a week. You need the soil to remain damp, but you shouldn’t fill their container with water. It shouldn’t be pooling anywhere or running out of drainage holes in your pots.

You can also cover the container with the seeds to help trap moisture inside. You wouldn’t need to water them nearly as often if you did that.

It’s worth noting that you don’t need to water seeds germinating in plastic baggies often, either. The water can’t escape from the bag if you seal it properly, so it won’t need to be watered again until you remove the germinated seedlings.

If you’re having trouble keeping a healthy watering routine for your seedlings, you should start keeping notes. Many gardeners like to record when they last watered their plants to see if there are any noticeable patterns to how long it takes the soil to dry. It also would help you set up a consistent routine, which allows the seeds to germinate.

How Frequently Should I Water a Palm Tree Seed?

Your palm tree seeds need the most water after you plant them, so you’ll need to mist them with water daily for the first week. From there, you can change your watering routine.

You should water a palm tree seed at least two to three times per week until they become an established seedling. These need to be in consistently damp soil to germinate and grow, so you must keep up this routine for about two to three months.

It’s essential to make a watering routine that you can stick to.

Preventing Poor Germination in Palm Trees

The best way to prevent poor germination in your palm tree seedlings is to ensure the seeds are in an environment where they can thrive. For palm tree seeds, that means:

  • Removing the outer layer of fruit
  • Not burying the seeds
  • Keeping the seeds humid
  • Keeping the seeds warm
  • Providing the seeds with adequate amounts of water

If you can do all that, your seeds are much more likely to sprout. However, you will need to watch them for rotting and fungus growth. Warm, moist conditions can attract fungus and lead to rotting, killing your seedlings.

Dealing With Rot and Fungus Concerns

Many gardeners prefer to attempt to germinate multiple palm tree seeds at a time. That way, if one of your seeds succumbs to rot or fungus, the others you planted might still survive.

You’ll want to keep multiple seeds in separate containers to prevent fungus and rot from spreading. Leaving your seeds somewhere they have ample sunlight can also help prevent these afflictions. Although, if one seed in a container is impacted, the rest could quickly follow.

Rot is also much more likely to happen if you leave the fruit on the seeds, so you should always remove it before attempting to get them to germinate.

(PAA) How Can I Get Palm Seeds To Germinate Faster?

You can get your palm seeds to germinate faster by providing them with better conditions. The best way is to move them to a greenhouse, although covering the seeds with transparent plastic also works. Palm seeds won’t germinate in dry or cool conditions but thrive in warmth and humidity. 

It can take about 100 days for palm tree seeds to start germinating, so you shouldn’t give up if you don’t see signs of germination after a few months. Instead, try moving the seeds somewhere warmer and more humid to get them to grow faster.

Palm seeds that are too dry and cold will take a very long time to germinate if they even grow. 

Final Thoughts

To summarize, several factors could cause your palm tree seedlings not to germinate properly. You’ll want to observe the seeds and their living conditions to determine the problem. Most of the time, the seeds are too deep in the ground, aren’t in their preferred weather conditions, or receive too much or too little water to germinate.

You can make changes that allow the seedlings to grow and thrive. Once you find out what was causing poor germination, you can prevent it from happening again the next time you plant a palm tree. Soon enough, you’ll see your palm trees growing!

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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