Germinating Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia Robusta)

carsoncitypalmsJanuary 5, 2014

I'm currently germinating 100+ mexican fan palm seeds. I've used three different methods for this.

The first method used was a ziplock baggy full of soil. I placed 110 seeds in the bag with some dank room temperature soil / perlite mixture, shook it up to evenly distribute the seeds and placed it in the cabinet above my refrigerate, hoping that it will be a little warmer in there.

The second method used was just placing some in the pot with my 2 ft mexican fan palm, and then placed some in a separate pot with soil.

For the third method I soaked some in water over night and then placed them on a damp paper towel, folded it over and put it in a bag to keep moist.

I've never planted any palm tree before, so I'm hoping these methods work out for me. The reason I've done three different methods is to find out weather or not one will work faster than another.

So, anybody who has experience. Which method do you think will work the best, and how long do you think these seeds will take to sprout?


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They are easy to germinate! They will germinate at room temp 72f., but bottom heat will help. Haven't germinated any recently, but I recall soaking overnight in water, then planting in a Sandy soil (just barely moist). I would be careful with that bag method (may be too damp). Still, be patient, but there none faster growing from seed in my opinion. Are you just planting robustas? If so, you might want to add some filiferas to your experiment (probably better for your climate anyway). Of course, they say most of these palms are filibusta hybrids anyway.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 12:33PM
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I am growing robustas, filiferas and trachycarpus fortunei. I haven't received my filifera and fortunei seeds in the mail yet, however I plan on keeping them in seperate zip locks. I learned this method from Banana Joe on youtube.

My soil is just moist, not mushy or wet. I keep the bag sealed to keep the moister in.

And uh oh when I woke up at 4AM the temperature was 62F, I'll make sure I keep the heater on from no on. Do you think one of those heat pads for backs and relaxing mussels would work for bottom heat, or would it be to hot?


Beatuiful palm by the way, I wish mine looked like that. Still only got one frond emerging. it's grown a half inch in one week ever since I've been keeping it in the south facing window from sun up to sun down. (:

This post was edited by carsoncitypalms on Sun, Jan 5, 14 at 12:42

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Never have used heating packs for this purpose but should work, they don't get that hot. I usually have resorted to radiator tops or the tops of fluorescent light fixtures (just be careful with the water there!). BTW, Washys are a bit unusual in germinating at room temps (most prefer a 90-95 range).

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 1:12PM
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I'm happy about reading that after I created what I liked to call "a heat box". I used a rubermade storage container, through the lid i have a heat light, and on the bottom of the container i have two strains of christmas lights, the box seems like it's a good 90-95F inside of it, maybe a little bit hotter. I put the ziplock bag in a stocking to prevent any light from hitting the seeds that are exposed on the sides of the bag. I put my small pot of soiled seeds in there, and a half a glass of water in there to keep it some what humid. should i take the glass of water out of there? or does that even really matter? Also, do you think I'll have a better germination success rate with this heat box, than I would just leaving them at room temp?

Thanks! (:

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 3:26PM
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I've always used the baggie method, and if they are fresh, they will sprout in a week to a few months max. Works every time for me. Just don't keep the soil wet.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 5:20PM
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The thought of anyone wanting germinate Mexican fan palm seeds is astounding. Here in Southern California we might pot one or two sprouts and throw away the other 1000 as weeds.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 11:43PM
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Next time just send me the thousand (1000) seedlings, I'd be more than happy to care for them and hand them out.

lol "weeds" :P

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 11:04AM
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Just an update,

I received my Filifera and Fortunei seeds in the mail today.

I've created a "miniclimate" using a storage container and some christmas lights, it's actually working out nicely. Keeps it between 90F - 95F inside of there. I checked on the robusta seeds and they've swollen up, I broke one open just out of curiosity, and there was a little tiny root in it. (:

Here's some pictures:

I'm keeping the bags exposed to the light, should I keep them like this, or cover them with something so that they are not exposed to it?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 8:09PM
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Washingtonia Filifera seedlings

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 8:10PM
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Temperature gauge

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 8:11PM
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And here's a picture of my mexican fan palm which I obtained from the backlot of a gas station in Los Angeles.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 8:13PM
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I started out joking, but seriously, that could be done. I am supplied with propagates by New Life Nurseries in Perris. They are set up with the USDA and ship as far as Texas. They don't do Mexican fan palms because they would not believe that there is a market. But they could have 1000 sprouts to you by next season for $500 plus shipping.

As for myself, I have trimmed about 15,000 palm trees in my carreer if you count trimming the same palm each year for 20 years as 20. My records are over 900 in on summer season and 132 in two days on Catalina Island.

A prime selling point to the hotels and commercial properties is that if they trim between June 15 and July 15, that they won't have to deal with the seeds. It is not unusual to walk on to a hotel property that has not listened and find several hundred Mexican fan palm sprouts in the gardens that they expect the landscapers to weed out.

If they wait to August, the trimmer and ground crew has to deal with 75 pounds of green seeds on each tree which explode and spread as soon as they hit the ground. Since the daily quota is 20 70-foot palms, this can be 1500 pounds of seeds. By late September, the seeds are ripe, gooey and sticky.

Here is another idea. Load the family up in the car and take them to Disneyland at the end of June. Attach a trailer with potting soil and propagate trays. After going to Disneyland, go around to the hotels and offer to weed their gardens for free. Write the whole trip off as a business expense.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 11:06PM
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That's awesome man, cool line of work. Would it be hard to get myself a job doing that down there? From my understanding the job market down there is much better than it is up here.

No family. However I like your way of thinking. When I was in Valencia last May, I was at Wal-Mart and all there were hundreds if not thousands of mexican fan palm seedlings everywhere. I was going to take some, but I had no where to put them, and I was broke, so I couldn't afford a propagation tray to put them in.

That's where that Mexican Fan Palm in the picture above came from, I ripped it out of the ground in the back lot of a gas station and put it in a mcdonalds cup with some dirt. Lol.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 7:04PM
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There are jobs and the economy is slowly picking up. Orange County is best followed by San Diego. Los Angeles County is very large with some spots thriving and some depressed. Most of the Inland Empire is still lagging.

Landscape is not what it was in the 1980's. The wages and prices are lowered dramatically by illegal labor. But there are few places so dedicated to landscape as the LA area.
I would pick out a list of prosepective companies you want to work for and contact them from where you are. Then contact them all again each month until they know you. Then when someone hires you, you can move down. Save a day each week to do side work when you are here.

What are your skills and experience? What do you want to get into?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 12:50AM
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That's unfortunate with the illegal labor, but expected. Everybody in the world wants to live in LA.

As far landscaping skills, I've done quite a bit of work in that field. Ground Leveling, Heavy Lifting (boulders etc), Transplanting, Planting, Potting, Trimming (bush and tree), Weed Whacking/Pulling, Watering. You know, the basics. Though physically demanding, the job more-less just consists of common sense. As you know lol.

And I'm interested in landscaping, mainly what you're doing. I love palm trees, they are my favorite thing to look at haha. Plus I love making stuff look nice and clean. It's like giving the city a haircut. Lol.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 6:32AM
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A few of my seeds sprouted a root. Now As you can see in the photos above, I have them in a lil "miniclimate". I've put the sprouted seeds on the surface of the soil and just covered them with a small amount of soil.

Should I leave them in the box, or should I take them out and put them in the window for natural sun?

I'm confused.

Please somebody tell me one simple thing, should I
A) keep the sprouted seeds in the "miniclimate"
or B) take the sprouted seeds out and put them in the window where sun comes through..

Thank you!!!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:52PM
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What are the temps like outside? I think your older palm would be happier outside during the day as long as temps are warm-ish (50f's/60f's). Now I don't know what the ideal temps are for seedlings that just sprouted so it would probably be best to put them in a warm window with direct light. Although they can take cool temps with no problems,I'm sure they would grow best with warmer temps.

- US_Marine

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 2:43PM
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Hi, I am on Pico island in the Azores and there is never frost here nor below 45F but never or rarely above 77F either. Most of the year it is 60s here and the most popular palm here is the CIDP (Phoenix canariensis). Also there are a few of Pindos (Butia capitata) here and some tropical palms as well. Bananas grow here but not large ones. I've had Washingotnia seeds in the pot outside for maybe 3 weeks now with no germination so far. I germinated them in a hot climate 80-90% germination rates, but here they probably do not germinate when it is almost always 60s (F). I see a bunch of Washingtonia filiferas here, but not Washigtonia robustas for some reason. It is a weird and rare, unusual climate here with high and low normals between 50F and 77F (10C to 25C), but most of the time is 64-68F most of the year. I will be testing what seeds germinate in this cool climate and what palms grow best apart from the usual ones. Any ideas, info or requests, do let me know.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2014 at 6:46AM
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