Important Note: Most of the seeds on this page will benefit greatly from using the CAPE Smoke Seed Germination Primer that we use in our own greenhouses. We find we receive significantly better germination results when we use this primer on these types of seeds.
For years I have wondered why palms are not present in all homes where house plants are enjoyed. I have about come to the conclusion that price and a general misunderstanding about these wonderful plants are the main culprits. The price for a developed palm plant can be quite staggering. Even the smallest palm in a five gallon container can cost around twenty-five to fifty bucks. A mature tree palm delivered to your home can cost from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
A misconception about palms is that they will only grow in the tropics and deserts. While it is true that many of the over three thousand species of palms do thrive in these hot humid areas, it is also true that some are quite cold hardy and with some degree of protection can be raised in areas where it freezes. And it is very true that almost every palm makes a good houseplant although some of the tree types will eventually out grow their limited surroundings.
Another unknown about palms it that they can be easily raised from seed at a cost of less than a dollar each. They require little maintenance and add beauty and value to your home.
Here is a selection of my favorite palms. I hope you will try a few.
Metallic palm occurs naturally in thick wet forests along the Atlantic slope and lowland rainforests of Mexico. Metallic palm often grows in limestone soils up to 2000 ft (610 m) above sea level.
Metallic palm thrives in moist, humus rich soil and is tolerant of alkaline limestone soils. Naturally undemanding for nutrients, metallic palm responds very well to regular applications of palm fertilizer. Metallic palm grows naturally in the understory of dense forests, and is tolerant of deep shade and low light conditions.
Metallic palm grows well outdoors in deep shade or medium-bright light. As a houseplant, it thrives with 10-12 hours/day of artificial light.
Metallic palm prefers uniformly moist, not wet, soil that has good drainage. It grows best in moderate to high humidity and indoor specimens benefit greatly from daily misting.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 12. Mature and established plants have been reported to tolerate temperatures down to 28°F (-2.2°C) for four days with no leaf damage. They will not survive temperatures below about 20°F (-6.7°C), though.
Metallic palm's black fruits make snazzy contrast to the bright orange stalk. Usage Naturally tolerant of low light conditions, metallic palms are perfect for understory plantings and ideal as houseplants. Metallic palm stands out as a small accent plant due to its remarkable metallic evergreen foliage that provides spectacular backdrop for flowering plants in shade gardens. The metallic palm also will grow beautifully on the eastern side of a house where it will get little or no sunlight.
This well-known and much loved palm is an endangered species and the only known palm with leaves having a blue-green metallic sheen. The metallic luster shows up particularly well when the leaves are moist. This small unique palm is one of the easiest to care for and makes one of the most ideal and durable house or shade palms known! The genus name Chamaedorea comes from the Greek words that mean 'near-the-ground gifts', and refers to the easy-to-reach fruits (pronounce it "kam-ah-DOOR-e-ah").
WARNING: The fruits are NOT edible and the sap and juices may irritate sensitive skin.
The Texas palm is native to the southern part of Texas, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The natural habitat of the Texas palm is the rich soil of coastal bottom lands.
Texas palms tolerate drought and adapt to a wide variety of
soils including those that are neutral, acidic, clayey, wet and
slightly alkaline. Texas palms thrive in a humid atmosphere in
rich loamy, moist and well-drained soils. Texas palms are
traditionally slow growers, however regular fertilization with
palm grade fertilizer promotes maximum growth. A balanced slow
release palm fertilizer with minor elements, e.g., an 18-18-18,
may be used during the growing season. Potassium nutritional
deficiencies can develop on older leaves and may show up as
translucent yellow or orange necrotic spotting. Mineral
supplements should be administered in appropriate recommended
amounts to prevent or treat such deficiencies. Texas palm is
resistant to lethal yellowing disease. Light: Texas palm
thrives in partial shade, partial sun or full sun.
Moisture: The Texas palm is drought resistant when established, but grows faster and looks better when given adequate moisture. Texas palm tolerates moist, wet locations and occasional flooding.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. Mature and established Texas palms can tolerate occasional temperatures down to 12ºF (-11ºC), with minor or no leaf damage. More cold hardy data on the Texas palm is expected as its cultivation becomes more widespread. Some palm enthusiasts are reporting success with growing Texas palm in USDA Zone 7b.
Use the Texas palm for formal groupings, as a lawn tree, in large scale plantings and as that special accent tree. Texas palm is best utilized in medium to large yards as the palm may grow 50 ft (15 m) tall and 25 ft (7.6 m) in diameter. Texas palm may be used in a variety of locations as it is tolerant of many soils, wind, drought, and salt.
A very robust, stately and hardy palm, the Texas palm is now starting to receive attention from growers and enthusiasts. Once abundant in Texas, the Texas palm habitat is threatened. The Texas palm habitat has diminished from approximately 40,000 acres in 1925 to its present Texas natural habitat of 32 acres. Texas palm is utilized for thatching, making furniture, fans, hat making, and its rot resistant trunks are used as fence posts and for pilings in wharfs and piers. The Texas palm fruit is edible and called micharo. The Texas palm is one of only two palms that are native to Texas, the other being the much smaller dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor).
Unlike the royal palm, the cabbage palm has no crownshaft. Leaves emerge directly from the trunk which is often covered with old leaf stem bases that are arranged in an interesting criss-cross pattern. Depending on the individual these may persist to the ground even in very old palms. Other trees in the same vicinity may shed their leaf attachments or "boots" as they are sometimes called very early in life revealing a rough fibrous brown trunk. Eventually the trunk will age to gray and the surface will become smooth.
The cabbage palm's creamy white flowers are arranged on a long branched inflorescence that appears in summer. In mid-summer the cabbage palm bears creamy white flowers on a long branched inflorescence that is held completely within the crown. Flowers are followed in late fall or early winter by black spherical fruit that is about one third of an inch in diameter. Inside is a shiney brown seed that is about one quarter of an inch in diameter. Squirrels, raccoon and many other species of mammal and bird enjoy visiting the cabbage palm for dinner feasts of fruit and seed.
This southeastern U.S. native palm occurs near the coast, from the North Carolina barrier islands to South Carolina, to Georgia, down to the Florida Keys and then up the Gulf Coast to the northwestern Florida panhandle. Sabal palmetto is also native to Cuba and the Bahamas. It is often planted all along the Gulf Coast. Cabbage palm occurs along beaches, sandy bay and estuary shores. It inhabits the margins of tidal flats and marshlands where it often crowds into extensive groves. It's also encountered inland in hardwood hammocks and pine flatwoods.
Sabal palmetto is very salt and drought tolerant and can be used in beachside plantings. It is able to adapt to most types of soil. Cabbage palms are easy to transplant if they have at least six feet of trunk.
Requires Full sunlight to some shade. Trunk development is suppressed in heavily shaded specimens. Average moisture will do. Tolerates drought, standing water and brackish water. Hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. This is a hardy frost tolerant palm that can survive many degrees below freezing.
Two cabbage palmettos shade a bayside picnic area while framing Tampa Bay's Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The cabbage palm is used as an ornamental and street tree, well adapted for group, specimen or avenue plantings. This palm is very salt tolerant and can be grown on the beach or directly at the water's edge of bays and inlets. The state of Florida has been planting cabbage palmettos by the hundreds along the state's freeways. The palm groves refresh the eye and absorb the road noise providing a calming influence for both motorists and the environment. Cabbage palm is very low maintenance and drought resistant making if a perfect choice for urban plantings.
Young potted cabbage palms will take up to ten years before they begin to form a trunk. They grow slowly these first years as root system and the crown forms. Once the trunk does begin to develop the growth rate increases somewhat. The growth rate of cabbage palm can be significantly increased with regular watering and feeding.
Cabbage palm is the state tree of Florida and is displayed on the state flag of South Carolina whose nickname is the "Palmetto State". The durable trunks are sometimes used for wharf pilings, docks and poles. Brushes and brooms can be made from young leaves, and the large fan shaped leaves have been used by the Seminole Indians in Florida as thatch for traditional pavilions, called chickees.
Hardiness: Hardy in zones 8-10. Some varieties are hardy to Zone 7. Blue-stem palm is sometimes killed above ground by freezing weather, but re-sprouts the following spring.
Use blue stem palm as an underplanting or in front of a grove of tall palms. Blue stem is one of the hardiest palms in the world, and for many areas it is one of few palms that can be grown outdoors. Use it in mixed borders or hedges. Blue-stem palm is especially well suited for massing around the base of a large live oak.
Light: Prefers partial sun and can tolerate light shade
Moisture: Prefers moist soils but can tolerate drought
Give roots ample room to grow by picking a pot or container that is a minimum sixteen inches deep or more.
The Sago Palm can be grown inside the house near a bright window. Like other cycads, they do not want to be over-watered.
Let the soil dry out a bit before watering.
Try to avoid overhead watering; this may cause rot and possibly total decay of the plant. The soil mix should be quick draining.
The plants are quite cold hardy and can tolerate temperatures below 20°F. Overall, it is an outstanding species that is quite versatile and easy to grow. It is usually free from pests but can occasionally get into problems with scale or mealy bug, which should be treated.
Fertilizing with a balanced tropical fertilizer with microelements will usually suffice. Sagos typically throw a new set of leaves during the Spring or Summer.
It is quicker and easier to grow Cycas revoluta in the ground as opposed to a container. In general, Sago Palms need sun to grow well. In coastal areas, it is best to plant them in full sun.
In more interior locations or desert localities, they still prefer good sun or at least part day sun. Growing the Sago Palm in the shade typically gives one lanky, stretched-out leaves that are weak.
If in too much shade, this species can actually just stall and do nothing (such as refusing to throw any new leaves).
An attractive and easily grown plant, the fast growing giant dioon prefers well-drained soil with regular water. Giant dioon is the most commonly grown Dioon by a considerable margin. Giant dioon will grow in soils having few nutrients, in limestone-rich soils and on moderate slopes. Although tolerant of poor soils, the giant dioon's growth can be greatly improved through the application of fertilizers. Most growers find that a fertilizer having an even NPK balance, and supplemented with trace elements, provides a good start for cycads. Cycads may then be kept growing well with regular applications of a balanced slow release plant food formulations.
The giant dioon may be grown in partial shade, filtered sun or full sun. Giant dioon prefers partial shade or partial sun to full sun.
The giant dioon prefers moist to wet soil with good drainage and regular watering for optimal growth. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9B - 11. Mature and established plants have been reported to tolerate temperatures down to 25°F (-3.9°C) for short time periods, without incurring significant foliage damage.
Giant dioon is wonderful as a tub plant in a brightly lit spot in the home, on a porch or deck, or in a conservatory. The giant dioon provides an exceptionally exotic but nevertheless formal touch in any garden in warm temperate to tropical climates. A striking approach is to follow the Asian style, with large paired plants in containers or feature beds that flank driveways, doorways or gates. A single large giant dioon makes an excellent feature plant in a landscape emulating a tropical or desert setting, perhaps substituting for a true palm where a large crown is desired without a tall trunk. A giant dioon can also have a spectacular place in a small garden where space is limited. The giant dioon also makes an exotic striking understory plant beneath large trees or any structure that allows at least partial sunlight to pass through.
Use the giant dioon for that very special accent in your landscape. You too can own your very own living fossil, the name often applied to cycads because they have changed very little in the last 200 million years. Giant dioon is considered exceptionally easy to grow - it has not only outlived the dinosaurs but can survive many adverse forces of nature and oversights of the gardening impaired! The genus name Dioon comes from the Greek, meaning "two + egg", because the seeds are borne in pairs. The species name of spinulosum is derived from the Latin, meaning spiny or thorny. The leaves (fronds) of the giant dioon are used in decorations and arrangements.
The fruit, called a date, follows the female flower. It is similar to the dates we buy in the store but is smaller and has less flesh and is mostly seed, they also don't taste very good although they are edible.
This tree is native to the semi-arid plains of Senegal, a country in the northeastern part of sub-Saharan Africa. It is now frequently encountered in warm region landscapes everywhere.
Drought tolerant. But looks more attractive and grows faster if periodically watered. USDA Zones 9-11 Can handle temperatures to around 25°F (-3.9 °C).
Use this tree as a dramatic specimen plant for large yards, parks, campuses and other spacious areas. The Senegal palm is particularly impressive displayed against large structures as backdrops where its gracefully curving stems are best appreciated. Makes a great potted specimen for the patio when young. This durable palm also thrives in large containers and other confined areas in urban landscapes.
This palm is drought tolerant and is perfect for low maintenance landscapes. It combines beautifully with grasses (like gamma grass and sand spartina), yuccas (like bear grass and Spanish dagger), wax myrtle and other drought tolerant species. Mature Hispaniola palms are monumental in stature and make impressive sentinel plants for driveways and entrances. Their drought resistant durability and hulking handsomeness make them perfect for lining streets and avenues.
The nuts of this tropical palm tree form the basis of the stimulant betel chew which has a reputation as a panacea and tonic throughout Asia. Betel Nut / Areca catechu is also used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat headaches, stomach pains, venereal disease, fever, rheumatism and a number of other complaints. Theophrastus made references to the betel nut which also appears in early Sanskrit texts under the name 'guvka' or 'pinlang'. In India it has also been integrated within the social and religious system, the gods are said to lack betel in heaven and that humans should offer them betel to keep them in a beneficial mood. Also used as a magical charm and amulet thought to protect against the evil eye and ward off demons. Indian cultures hold the knowledge of traditional preperation methods for betel nut as a nigh on a high art and specific variations of recipes are often passed on through generations as revered knowledge. Zones 10-11 outside.
Its evergreen leaves are fine in texture and resemble those of a fern. They are produced from a thick underground storage root in one or more flushes each year. This cycad has a much softer appearance and is without the sharp edges of some of the other popular cycads used in the landscape such as Cycas revoluta.
Once this immature pistillate (female) coontie cone is fertilized by the male's pollen the seeds will develop and ripen by the following autumn.
Zamia pumila inhabits a variety of habitats with well drained sands or sandy loam soils throughout peninsular Florida.
Coontie will tolerate some salt drift from the sea and can be planted near, but not directly on the beach. It will grow in full sun or dense shade.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8-10.
Coontie is perfect for woodland and shady gardens where it provides rich evergreen backdrop for flowering species all year long. It works well as a transition plant near larger specimens. Creates a tropical affect when planted by the trunks of pine trees in woodland settings. Coontie is perfect for xeriscapes and as a low maintenance ground cover. The coontie is one of the best ground covers as it evergreen and actually "consumes" trash which sifts down beneath its arching leaves where it is hidden from view to decompose, rust or otherwise degrade inoffensively.
The coontie is very happy growing in pots, urns and containers both indoors and out. It is a popular species for bonsai where it is grown in sand, often with its fleshy underground storage root artfully exposed.
In recent years the native coontie has become a favorite groundcover that is so tough and reliable it is is often planted on traffic islands like this one in Seminole County, Florida.
This is a rugged but subtle accent plant that boasts a deep green color and unique form. Although a slow grower, coontie is very tough, drought resistant and easy to maintain.
Florida's indigenous peoples and later European settlers processed the coontie's large storage root to extract an edible starch. For this reason the coontie was often commonly called Seminole bread during the late 1800s.