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Germinating Florida coontie seeds

Posted by palmcityfl 10 (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 10, 10 at 17:44

Coonties (zamia) in Florida are once again spilling their bright red seeds on the ground. I scooped up a bucketful today and they are soaking overnight. I know that coonties are difficult to germinate and very slow growers. I never had much success with them before, but want to try one more time. Does anyone have a sure-fire method of germinating coonties? Do they require bottom heat as palm seeds do? Temps in South Florida are still lower than normal, with temps in the 30s expected tonight.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Germinating Florida coontie seeds

Try this site it has lots of info. And I don't know them and I am not trying to sell anything for anyone. I just think they have a lot of good info.

Here is a link that might be useful: cycadpalm articles.

RE: Germinating Florida coontie seeds

Some help here from a little birdie who speaks to me on occasion when the need to help arises:
Coontie seeds are easy to germinate, you just have to do the right things. One time, 97% germination took place in a 3 week period on a batch of 3000 seeds. Soaking the seeds for a couple of days this time of year is NOT the way to start unless you want to rot your seeds. For BEST results, you should hold them for another couple months until it warms up a bit. You want to keep the orange seed coat on them because this keeps them from drying out on the inside. Put them in a nursery pot so that if they get wet, the water will run off-it also keeps enough air on them so they do not get moldy (like they would in a sealed baggie).
Around April, clean all the orange fruit off the seeds right before you plant them. Use a pocket knife if there are 100 seeds or less. Once they are cleaned, you can soak them in water for a day. Plant them in coarse sand-you do not want to bury the seeds. The sprouting end is the pointy end-if you look closely, the butt end will have 2 or 3 little dots on it, which is a scar where it was attached to the cone. Plant them half way buried in the sand with the top half or sprouting end up above the sand. Keep these in the shade and lightly water every few days, but you only want your sand slightly moist, just where the end is in the sand. If 85F or more, they will start coming up in a few weeks. If warmer, like 90F, you might get germination right in the water where they were soaking. The seeds will be standing straight up-when you see a seed sprout, just lean it over sideways, and the root will come out and naturally go down to root deeply in the sand. Plant in 3 gallon containers and put about 30 in a community pot. The multiple seedlings use up more water so that the medium does not get too wet and rot the seeds like they would do if one to a pot. These seedlings can stay in that pot for 2-3 years until the roots and stems are thick enough to allow them to thrive on their own. Taking them out too quickly might damage the thin roots, and besides, they grow thicker in sand than they do in potting soil and have less chance of rotting. Good luck with you seeds.

RE: Germinating Florida coontie seeds

Bunster, thanks for sharing your method! Several cycad websites have germinating methods, but they aren't specific to coonties, so they are slightly different than yours. Many of these websites advise scarification of the seed with a file or knife. Since you didn't mention it, I'm going with your method. Coontie seeds are plentiful right now, I think I'll scoop up another bucketful. But temps here are too low to plant them, 45 expected tonite.

RE: Germinating Florida coontie seeds

Bunster, I just got two cones from my mother's cooties. I am so glad I found your instructions! I am going to hold them until April or May, when it is warm enough, and then plant them according to your directions. Thank you, again, for taking the time to post them.

Palmcityfl, how did yours turn out? Did you get germination? How many plants did you get? I hope you had some success.


RE: Germinating Florida coontie seeds

Thanks for the great information on germinating the seeds.

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