October 28, 2016

Cycad Seeds

Some years instead of sending up new fronds, a Sago Palm will 'bloom.' The male cycads make a cone. Female cycads make a round structure. If there's a male plant within a reasonable distance so the wind can blow pollen to it, eventually the female structure is full of orange seeds.

  Hiding in that soft, fluffy nest are dozens of orange colored seeds bigger than the end of my thumb.
The orange coating on them inhibits growth, so they must be soaked and scraped before planting.
It takes months before the seed coat cracks and a root emerges, then a tiny frond. Exciting.

A squirrel destroyed my first successful seedling when I put it outside for the summer.

I started over when there were more seeds. These seedlings are 2 years old, a long wait.

 This one has the center tuft typical of a cycad from which the fronds grow.

This one still has the seed attached.

I have not decided whether I'll try to grow more cycads from this year's seeds. There's a little new plant  growing beside an azalea I planted nearby the original cycad that I think came from a seed I disturbed when I dug there. I may try just putting them into the ground, using enough seeds so the squirrels and I can share.

Another way to grow cycads is by division of the pups growing around a plant. I successfully rooted 4 pups off Mrs. Cotele's cycad one year, then destroyed one by tugging it out of the pot to look at the roots. I put the pup into the ground, anyhow. This summer the remains of that pup put out a new frond. I still don't know whether the pups that did root and grow are male or female, they've never bloomed.He-Who-Mows ran over the smallest one with the mower. I'd cut the cold-bitten fronds off and I guess he thought that meant I didn't want it despite it having a little clump in the center. I'm waiting to see what comes from the roots next spring, if anything. It was cut awfully close to the ground.

1 comment:

outlawgardener said...

Sweet baby cycads and fun story about your various trials with them.

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