Alligator Alley/Amazing Gardens
Oklahoma's Reptile Experts!
(And Winter-Hardy Tropical Plants too!)
4636 NW 10th Street
Oklahoma City, OK
Germinating and growing Sabal seeds
If you purchased seeds from us, collected some of your own, or found some that Navi-Gator left in a Geocache, then you'll want to germinate them. Growing Sabals from seed is a slow process, but it is far cheaper than buying plants that someone else has spent several years growing to size.
For the best results, you need warm, moist well-drained soil. Moist and well-drained may seem mutually exclusive, but they are not. Use a good potting soil or seed-starting mix and make sure your pot, tray or other container has several holes in the bottom for excess water to exit. Too dry a mix may cause death of freshly sprouted seeds and waterlogged soil will cause seeds to rot.
Seeds may be started in flower pots, trays or even Zip-Loc bags. If you are growing just a few seeds, they can be sown in a 1/2 or 1 gallon pot and placed in a large plastic bag in a warm area (on top of the refrigerator works well). Alternately you can fill a large plastic bag about 20-30% full of soil and sow the seeds in it. If you are growing a larger quantity, some sort of seed tray will work best (although large, shallow nursery pots will also work). We use wooden boxes 6-12" deep. Seeds are placed on a bed of soil 4-8" deep, with 1-3" between seeds. If you want to grow them in the boxes for a longer period of time, use deeper soil and more space. If you plan to transplant within a year, shallower soil and closer spacing is fine. Sabal louisiana grows faster and larger than Sabal minor, so plant accordingly. Cover the seeds with 1-2" of soil, water well and keep them at about 85 degrees. A mylar heat tape in or under the box will help to maintain the soil temperature.
The seeds should sprout in 2-4 weeks, with the plumes (first seed leaves) emerging a couple of weeks later. At this stage it is important that the new plants are not only well watered and warm, but also humid and well lighted. If you have a greenhouse or sunny south window then the lighting is easy. If not, buy a cheap fluorescent shop light and hang it a foot or so above the plants. You can use special plant lights, but plain fluorescent bulbs work almost as well at much lower cost. You can increase humidity by stretching a layer of plastic film over the top of the box or pot. Saran wrap works well.
At some point you will want to move your plants outside. In warm,
humid climates, this can be done almost any age. In more northerly
and/or dry areas, small plants will be more vulnerable to desiccation and
freezing. If you have a greenhouse or ideal warm, bright, humid indoor
area to grow the seedlings for a season or two, they will have a much easier
time establishing. If you must plant very small seedlings outdoors,
keep them well watered for the first year or two and mulch heavily or cover
the small plants with a plastic bucket during extreme cold weather for
the first few winters. More information on establishing new plants
is on this page.
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4636 NW 10th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73127