please help me germinate date palm seeds!

andyandy(6bMI)December 10, 2006

Ok I am going to try this agian. About this time last year I tried germinating some date palm seeds. I got a couple to shoot out a root but they did nothing after that. Should I put them in pure peat moss or a combination of peat and potting soil? Should I plant them right away (I bought 8 and am very much enjoying eating them) or should I let them dry out for a day or two. Suggestion are very much appreciated.


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Andy, it's been years since I started some date plants from some "organic' Medjool" dates years back and it seems I just put them in regular potting soil and almost forgot them til they came up. However, I have mixed impressions about using the regular unpitted dates in most stores to get the seeds, as those supposedly would be steam pastuerized, which does or sometimes kills the seeds. Also , the fleshly part must be removed before planting, though I wasn't sure from your post , if you knew that. At any rate, I couldnt' remember how long they took to come up or many other details, though one plant I saved and brought back to Michigan many years ago , did quite well, and I had to give it away, when it outgrew my house. Like many of my palms I found the roots always grew faster, than I could almost repot the darn thing and avoid it getting too rootbound.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 12:15PM
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Try using a mixture of 50% peat / 50% perlite. Make the soil moist and not wet.

Soak the seeds in water (good idea to add fungicide)for 3 days before planting them in the soil.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 3:58PM
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Thank you guys, I have no idea if they've been steemed. I did remove the fleshy part (I ate the fleshy part and they were great). I have the peat, perlite, and fungicide so I'm all set. I'll soak for a couple of days first.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 5:43PM
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I'd have to admit , living in CA where those dates originated most likely not far away, in one of the many date groves in southern CA, I couldn't have gotten any fresher seeds, and I guess some folks despite my thoughts that the pastuerized date pits may be sterile from the process, have claimed they use just "regular" unpitted dates from their local supermarket and got very good germination? I must say though, if you're a date lover, you'd never find plumper , bigger, or more flavorful dates than those I got the seeds from , though I did have a health food store nearby to purchase them. I'd estimate , unlike the pastuerized dates that may appear somewhat shriveled and dried , those looked not at all similar without the steam process. Delicious!!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 7:35AM
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Andy - following is a picture of my Medjool Date Palm that sprouted in May 2006. It took about 5 weeks to germinate. I bought what were labeled as Medjool Dates, ate them, soaked the seeds for three days in water, changed the water daily, and then planted them in potting soil with perlite added. The red plastic cup is about 6" tall so it give you an idea of how fast (or not) it grew this summer. I have 4 of these palms - every seed germinated.

If you look real close, you can see my small King Palm in the background. Grown from seed. germinated in Dec 05.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 9:03AM
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That date palm seems to grow faster than I would have thought. Your king seems to have thinner fronds than mine but is about the same height. We must have two diffirent types. Thank you for the suggestions. I placed the seeds in a plastic bag with some water yesterday. I will swith the water daily for a few days and then plant. Hopefully I'll get some this time. I currently have three royal sprouts doing well. They're over a heat mat and positioned where they are getting a lot of indirect afternoon sun. Thank you for the picture. What other type seedlings do you have?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 10:23AM
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I have had great success in planting date seeds from dates bought at a grocery store. You can buy fresh dates that are yellow on the outside and have not been processed in any way. You cannot find them in most grocery stores, but given that you are in Detroit, there are many middle eastern stores that would carry them or fancy supermarkets. If you can get your hands on them, simply remove the fruit and felshy material, soak them for a day and plant in regualr potting mix with perlite added. I had a heat mat and had 100% germination rate in 3-4 weeks with this method. I also did the same thing in a plastic baggie on top of my fridge (gives off heat) and this worked well too. The growth rate of these seedlings has been great and I have seen pinnate leaves in about a year. Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 12:48PM
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Andy - my seedlings list (plants less than a year old). I have stepped off the deep end and am growing lots of stuff

Adonodia Merrilli - Christmas Palm
Archonotophoenix Alexandrae - King Palm
Dioon Edule - Virgin Palm
Heterospathe Elata
Hyophorbe Verschaffeltii - Spindle Palm
Jubaea Chilensis - Chilean Wine Palm
Louisiana Sabal Palmetto
Macaruthor Palm
Medjool Date Palm
Phoenix Roebelinii - Pygmy Date Palm
Pritchard Hillebrandi - Hawaiin Palm
Syagarus Romanzoffiana - Queen
Texas Sabal Palmetto
Trachycarpus Fortunei - Windmill Palm
Wash Filifera - Calif Fan Palm
Wash Robusta - Mex Fan Palm
Wodyetia Bifurcata - Foxtail

Most all of thes palmn are looking very good this winter I have them under grow spot lights in my basement. I have not lost anything (knock wood) yet.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 2:08PM
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I do not know if these were processed in any way. They were mainly brown and shrivled. Like ginat raisins. I will Plant tomorrow and I guess will see in a month or so.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 2:08PM
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oppalm, do you have any Foxtails left?? I need some and can trade you some more Butia seeds for Foxtail seeds.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 5:50PM
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Florida wannabe - email me at kentp5121 at and we'll talk.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 7:27PM
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I must say, I do feel the "palm" bug once again this winter, which is sort of surprising since my tropical plant interests aren't limited to one favorite tropical, and my house is overflowering with many different kinds of tropicals, and considering how successful my efforts have been ,when it comes to growing plams that are often listed for full sun, even considering the somewhat low light levels in my home, I can equally as easy turn around and have probems with many that are listed as preferring lower light and not full sun sometimes!! At any rate looking at the huge number of varieties of seeds available to try many different ones, I feel like a kid who's "about" to walk through the door of a candy store, should I decide to take up the palm seed bug! It's certainly a way to perhaps "cheaply" grow many varieties of palms, though I can already see my electric bill soaring, as I'd have to add much more artificial lighting and perhaps lots of heat mats?? And then there are all tose tons and tons of special seed starting mix etc etc. Oh well , no hobby is cheap nowdays if you're truly infected with the bug!!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 9:07AM
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That is quite a collection, keep it up. I just planted my date seeds ah hour ago. Keep your fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 10:56AM
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It gets in your blood and stays till you die !!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 11:59AM
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It's in my blood that's for sure. I love growing plants. In the summer I have a garden with all sorts of veggies. I like germinating palms in the winter because it keeps me growing 365. In addition I get a real head start for the following summer. The Washingtonia Filiferas I started last winter are two feet tall already. I plan on getting them as large as possible before I try putting them ion the ground. It's amazing how fast they grow. It's hard to believe they could be four feet tall this time next year. Even here with the shortst days of they year I see weekly growth.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 1:50PM
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Wow ! man i hope i get lucky with mine I believe i am going to try the old ziplock- water heater trick. I hear this works well for washingtonias. It doesnt matter to me winter,
spring ,summer,fall I believe they'll grow all year as long as their kept in the right environment : )

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 12:14AM
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I'm actually new to growing palms myself, but with extensive researching and experiencing different methods, I think the best method for date palms, is a 3 day soak in water, buy yourself some dental tools, the kind they use on your teeth, and use that to scrape every single bit of fruit off the seed. I dunno, maybe I spend too much time on them. lol But after they are sparkling clean, dip em one more time to get em wet, use a pot that's at least 6-8 inches deep, fill the pot 3/4 full with potting soil, than use 50% perlite/vermiculte, mix em well. Water it until it comes out the bottom, place the seeds so they barely show through the top layer, mist the top with a spray bottle every day, put em on your gas stove or in it and you should get sprouts for sure. The main factor is good seed, followed by heat, planting medium, and wetness of soil.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 9:52PM
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OK I think I have already messed up with my date palms. But I just planted them the other day.
I soaked them for 24 hours (that's what my friend told me to do, they didn't come with planting instructions) then planted them in miracle grow potting soil just below the soil and am misting the top everyday.
I also did this with my parlor palm.
Is this ok or what do I do to fix it. Any help?


    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 7:08PM
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Soaking was good, but in my experience with different Date species, which has given me 48 of 50 CIDP, 29 of 30 Phoenix Dachy., 88 of 100 Pygmy Date Palm seeds & 10 of 10 Phoenix Sylves. success is...
Take them out of that pot and put in an air tight container about 4"-6" deep. Fill 3/4 way to the top with a "seed starting" mix and Perlite at a 50/50 rate. Wet well but not to where you can see water gathering at the bottom of the container. Push the seeds half way into the mix. Take more mix and cover the seeds slightly. Wet the top by just taking your hand and sprinkling water lightly on top (doesn't have to be totally wet). Put the lid on and put on heat. Personally, I put them on my CATV convertor box. This heat is the biggest key BTW. Within 2 hours you can check and you will see moisture form on the lid, this is why I said sprinkle the top because this moisture forming on the lid will act as "rain" and keep the soil moist.
Depending on how fresh the seeds are, you can see results within 2 weeks. I actually bought some Medjool (Phoenix Dachy) Dates from the fruit section at the Supermarket and peeled the fruit and then took the seeds and did this with and in 9 days I had 18 Seeds pop.
Now a VERY important part of this is to check them Dailey after the first week. These have EXTREMELY big thick roots and can push the seed out of the ground which will "crush" the starter leaf against the top of the container.
Best of luck!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 10:16AM
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So what do I do once I see roots? Transfer to bigger pot or take top off? I am using gardenscape professional potting soil & sphargnum peat moss. If this is not good I will run and get the right stuff. Thanks for all your help.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 1:47PM
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Actually, I'de probably go ahead and try to go buy some "seed starting" soil by "Miracle Grow" & some Perlite. But thats just my thoughts.
OK, once you see roots, watch VERY close and once you see the seed being pushed up to the top of the container, go ahead and take the seed out.
Mix some potting soil (that gardenscape soil is fine) and some stuff called "Vermiculate". It is usually sold right beside the Perlite in stores. Mix that at 50/50.
I then take some root stimulater and slightly make the soil/vermiculate mixture MOIST, not wet. Then take a pencil and make a hole in the mixture. take the root and stick down in the hole and leave the seed ON TOP OF THE SOIL. DO NOT bury the seed. leave it on top of the soil. Then take some more soil mixture and sprinkle it into the void where the root is in the hole. I then water in to the point where it is moist.
Now here is where some differ from me, but I have had GREAT GREAT luck with this. the "pot" you plant the seed in, I use a styrafoam cup WITH NO DRAINAGE HOLES. I then water once every two weeks. I have no problems with root rot or anything. Once they get bigger, then of coarse I will put drainage holes, but for no, I use no drainage.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 5:39PM
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If anyone is interested in trading some seeds, I have organic medjool dates available.

Email me here, or wcentrale at

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 6:55PM
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Date palms are normally grown from shoots, but the palms that are grown from seed grow in sand. All the date farms in California grow in sand and the temperature is high. The sand needs to be kept moist at all times until they sprout. You eat the date and then place the seed in sand about 3/4" to 1" below the surface. If you want free seeds go to California Grown Medjool Dates and ask if you can have some free Medjool Date seeds. They will give you an address where you can send a self stamped address envelope and they will send you seeds straight from the farm. I am sure they will send you free seeds, as long as the number of requests don't get out of hand.

Here is a link that might be useful: California Grown Medjool Dates

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 2:00PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

This is an old post, almost 2 years old, but I'll chime in.
actually date palms do very well in heavy soil too. Lots of the medjool palms in AZ are in heavy soil and do very well.
You also don't need to worry about "fresh" seeds. I know of a date packing shed that used all the seeds from machine pitted dates as road gravel. Many years later, we had some heavy summer rain and they all sprouted. Millions of them, after being run over by semi trucks and baking in the summer days with day time temps of 128 and no water for a decade.
For germination, very moist is important and temp. Soil temp of about 85 will really get them going. They do not germinate well at cool temps.
if you want seed, you can order some dates from me and plant the seed, after you have enjoyed the wonderful dates first ::smiles his jolly smile::

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 10:53PM
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I heard while in Kuwait that the date palm must be planted a special way in order to get a female tree and that if you just plant the seed you will almost always get a male tree, thus no dates to eat. What is this planting method they are using? I'm going to assume most people don't have an answer since this is a technique from their country while everyone else just plants the seeds. Please email me at if you have an answer?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 11:48AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Whenever I've sowed date stones they've always taken forever to germinate. Then once i got a spear I potted them up into individual pots and treated like baby house plants. On a windowsill,not too hot,watered well(they're thirsty buggers). I never tried soaking mine before hand,maybe i should try that next time.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 6:50PM
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fr8train(4 Wyoming)

I'm also germinating some Phoenix this year (though I just planted them, so nothing yet)...
Phoenix rupicola
Phoenix theophrasti

Also germinating since February:
Butia eriospatha 0/10
Butia purpurascens 0/~30
Chamaerops humilis var vulcano 6/~30
Guihaia argyrata (Trachy white dwarf) 0/~50
Sabal minor ~20/30 (too many!)
Sabal X texensis ~15/20
Trachycarpus martianus - 20/20 up
Trachycarpus nanus 0/~50
Trachycarpus oreophilus 0/~50
Trachycarpus princeps (blue form) 1/20 up
Trachycarpus princeps (green cult form) 3/3 up :)
Trachycarpus wagnerianus 3/~20 up
Trachycarpus sp. Manipur 0/~50
Trithrinax schizophylla 0/~30

I got some more but I can't remember them all...

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 9:51AM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

I am familiar with what some in middle east do to get more female palms, but it's all fairy tails. Doesn't matter what you do, you will get half males and half females. And of course, all seedlings that are female will produce a wide variety of fruit quality, and perhaps less than one percent will be a variety worth growing for fruit. If you want fruit, get an offshoot. If you just want an attractive palm, almost all seedlings will be fine.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 2:12PM
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I see above how so many people have had a hard time germinating their date pits, two sprouted for me after I neglected them in my sink drain for a couple of days (complete with scalding soapy water!)
Now that they are on their way, I've noticed that some leaves are puckering, it's like the central vein is shorter than the leaf, and pulling the leaf onto itself.
Also, my pits have produced a plant with more leaves, than fronds (I know what you're thinking, it was in your sink, you must not remember what you actually planted... but I'm positive, I know what a date pit looks like!)
I was wondering if anyone else has had this puckering?
(I have a pic that I'll post it if I figure out how to!)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 10:33PM
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OK, so I'm really impressed by all of you major growers and this is my call for help. I haven't grown much. all I've ever grown is a couple vegi plants in a wheel-barrel and a few fruit tree's but i never started any of it from seeds so I don't know what I'm doing here. I have a huge backyard but it's on a mountain so there are lots a rocks and clay soil, and i live in San Diego, California, where it's HOT. Not very ideal for gardens I think. I had never eaten a date before a couple weeks ago, but i went to a farmers market and we picked up some, and they were delicious. So I decided to try and sprout the seeds and plant them. The problem is, i have no idea how to do that. I looked at a couple of the post but a lot of it is really confusing. I would really appreciate someone experienced explaining it step by step. Right now I have two seeds in condiment cup wrapped in a wet napkin and I keep watering it. It's been there for like two weeks. Did I ruin them or can they still work. They have a small sprout coming out of the top(or bottom, I don't know) but I don't know the next step. I'm a little tight on money but I can buy the essentials. Thanks sooo much.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 4:55PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

Hi bekah and welcome to the forum. I am a date grower in Indio CA and thank you for supporting local farmers at your farmers market. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, soil temperature is the main think that holds back most efforts to sprout date seeds. They like warm temp, like 80 is great. I'm guessing that the water evaporating off of your wet nap napkin is keeping those seeds way too cool.
Use any sort of cup (used fast food?) with a hole punched in the bottom for drainage. Put some sort of soil in it, just dirt from the back yard will do fine. Then plant the seed about 3/4 of and inch deep or more, keep it wet, and in the sun so it gets good and warm. I think you will see green very soon.
Arthur the date palm guy

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 1:32PM
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I've grown a bunch of date palms and had almost 100% germination from supermarket "Medjool" dates here and in Pennsylvania. They make a good houseplant until they get too large, and outdoors they can be planted pretty much everywhere inside of zone 9.

My method of germination is pretty prescriptive but does seem to speed up the process. Usually 2 to 4 weeks germination with this method:

1) Get the seeds. If you get them out of store bought dates, soak them for two days, and change the water every couple of hours.
2) Put a heating pad inside an aquarium and then put the soil mix on top. I usually use 50/50 potting soil and perlite.
3) Push the seeds down in rows so they are easy to find. They only need to be about 1/2" below the surface.
4) Turn the heating pad on and cover the top of the aquarium with a towel. I keep a thermometer in the aquarium, and my avg. temp is about 85F-90F. If it starts getting above that, I turn the heat off.
5) When you see the root coming out, put them in a deep container. A small plant still has a very extensive root system.

Speaking of these, supposedly scientists found a seed of a date palm that was 2,000 years old and they got it to sprout.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 11:54PM
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I am still in the process of seeing if my date palm will germinate but I dont think it will. One thing I must add is that the dates were in the refrigerator and now that I think about it, that might be the reason why they wont come up. They will take a long time to fruit (probably around 10 to 15 years from seed (maybe a little less in a really nice climate like san diego).
And about that 2,000 year old date palm, it came from a seed in a tomb. Even better it isnt just any date palm, but a judean date palm (not 100% positive about spelling) which is now extinct. So its really cool to think about bringing an extinct species back on the planet especially something that has been gone for 2,000 years. They had to treat it with some fancy chemicals and the first leaf was white and a little discolored, but all the leaves now are green and healthy. It is getting close to fruiting age and is around 5 years old so if its a female, it might make some fruit and seeds. Apparently it has lots of medical purpose so who knows what it can cure!
If a 2,000 year old extinct date palm seed can germinate so can yours! Heat is important and just waiting. I hear they can take a while to sprout, but if you see green shooting up, it shouldnt be long. They are nice plants and even though its great to buy an expensive date palm thats ready to fruit, its really nice to start one from a simple seed and watch it make fruit of its own.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 12:23AM
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It would be interesting to see the re-emergence of the species. Do you know if they went extinct due to disease, urbanization, etc?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 10:09PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

kinzyjr That sounds like a lot of extra work that is not needed. Any old pot and dirt will do just fine. The think that does help is soaking for 2 days (changing water is not needed) and most of all, the warm temp.

tropicalzone7 - the seeds were found at Masada, not in a tomb, but the rest is correct. The tested a sample of the seed casing after it sprouted and it does seem to be the Judean variety. They were lost because of the invasion of the Romans who did not cultivate them. Here is the most recent info I have been able to find on it's progress.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 3:35PM
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Thank you "softmentor" and "kinzyjr". I'm trying "softmentor's" way first but if that doesn't work I might try something like "kinzyjr's" way. I'm not sure my mom would want me having a heating pad on for a couple days straight under dirt. haha, OK I'll let you guys know how this works out. I have another question though. What about the male/female thing? I thought all trees produced fruit but I guess not. How do you tell what kind the seed is.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 9:21PM
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I just figured out that i'm in zone 10 if that helps.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 1:37PM
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You don't know the gender of the date palm until it flowers. Both genders flower but the flowers will look different and you can only get fruit from a female date that has successfully been pollinated from a male. I have only grown Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island) date from seed--due to the relative intolerance of the edible date (Phoenix dactylifera) to humid/wet climates. If dactylifera is anything like canariensis, they should be easy from seed.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 9:57PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

Yes, date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) are just like us humans. There are male palms and female palms. Njoasis is right, you can't tell until the palm flowers. Very easy to sprout, just keep the soil temp warm and the soil wet. you can even use warm (not hot) water to water them with.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 5:31PM
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hai friends..
i am new to this web page,
landed on the best portal somehow.
i have been seedling date seeds for the last 2 months and i got 5 healthy ones with a second leaf coming out right now.
what care is to be taken next..??
should i cut the former leaves to help new ..........??

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 10:16PM
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Very happy to see a recent post here! I am germinating dactylifera medjool date palms from seeds too. Desperately trying at least. Apparently after germination it is vastly important to provide growing space for those roots. Currently I am growing roots very well. It seems the first batch of roots before germination were tansplanted way too deep, and are not happy being 6 inches down. Congratulations on reaching to the point wether or not to trim a second leaf. My guess (not from experience) would be if it looks healthy don't trim it off yet.

Best of luck! Happy Plantings!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 11:45PM
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I have two date palm seedlings that I started last year from Medjool dates (from Sams Club). I forgot about them and left left them outside last winter and somehow they survived a few nights of 20F, even though my much larger Canary Island palm died.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 1:23AM
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