How to: Grow Date Palms from Seed

Phoenix is a genus in the family Arecaceae which is composed of about a dozen species. The most economically important of which is Phoenix dactylifera, the true date palm. Fruits of the date palm contain very high sugar content and are prized for the energy they provide.

Date palms generally require very warm and sunny summers with mild winters, typical of many regions of the Middle East. Dates are commercially cultivated in the Middle East, parts of Africa, many islands and subtropical locations, but also in the United States. Dates are cultivated commercially in many states including California and Arizona. In order to ensure successful harvests, dates must be grown in arid regions that have hot summer temperatures and only mild freezes in the winter months. On top of that, fruit production requires a lot of water, despite the fact that dates can withstand long droughts.

Date trees are versatile, serving as much more than a shade tree that provides fruit. Sap can be tapped from the trees, which can then be used as a sweetening syrup or fermented into an alcoholic drink. The leaves are used for a variety of purposes such as roofing for houses, and crafts such as baskets. Seeds can even be used as a feed-stock for animals.

Table could not be displayed.

There are over one hundred cultivars of dates grown around the world and the differences between them can be quite stark. For instance, the Deglet Noor date is generally light in color with firm flesh where as Medjool dates have a dark color with thick and soft flesh. Some dates are small, some large, while others are moist with sugars and syrup others can be dry to the touch. Quite possibly my favorite dates are the Jumbo Medjool dates which are especially large compared to typical Medjool or Deglet Noor dates.

Growing date palms from seed:

This method is quite easy but actually yielding fruit from your trees will be a bit more challenging. To grow a date palm simply eat a date, remove the seed and wash it clean of any excess flesh.

Next soak the seeds in water for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours), which will allow the strong seed coat of the date seeds to imbibe water.

There are many methods for germinating date seeds, but there are two easy methods for most date seeds. The first is to sow the date seed (rough side down) about 1″ into a small pot filled with soil. Lightly water the soil occasionally ensuring moisture at the seed’s depth, while being careful not to over-water the soil.

The second method is to wrap the date seeds in a slightly moist paper towel and put them in a plastic bag. Place the bagged seeds in a warm place, at least 75°F and small white roots will begin to appear from one side of the date seeds. The germinated seeds may then be planted in a small or medium sized pot filled with a palm or cactus potting soil.

Date seeds are really picky when it comes to moisture, they want to be only slightly moist so be sure not to over water the seeds. Other germination methods work better for tricky seeds, and these include the incorporation of sand and vermiculite to help regulate the moisture of the soil.

Potting soil for date palms:
Palm or cactus potting soil mixes are a good choice for planting date palms in, and they are usually available at home and garden stores. Alternatively you may add sand and/or vermiculite to a generic potting soil (in a 1:4 or 1:3 ratio) to provide good aeration and drainage. Adding peat moss to the soil will help the soil retain moisture if it is draining too well. Most palm or cactus potting soils have a good mixture of sand, vermiculite, perlite and peat moss and will be the most suitable for date palms.

Once you have a date palm seedling established, you must cater to its growth by transplanting it gradually to larger and larger pots. Transplant your date palm when you notice that it is outgrowing its container or growing roots out from under the container. Be sure to water the palm well before and after transplanting and avoid transplanting into a significantly larger pot. Alternatively the palm may be transplanted into the ground if your climate supports its growth. Otherwise date palms may be kept in large pots outdoors, on a porch or somewhere receiving maximum sunlight. It may be possible to keep date palms indoors near a window that receives direct sunlight, although its growth will likely be severely hindered.

Date palms are dioecious, meaning that each plant is either male or female. Females are more desired because they will bear fruit, while the males only provide the pollen to fertilize the females. This means that only one male plant is needed to pollinate many females. The pollen grains of date palms are small and can easily travel by wind to pollinate the females, but commercially it is hand pollination that is the method of choice to ensure maximum fertilization.

Growing date palms by seeds results in plants that are not true-to-type, meaning the seedlings will develop into palms with fruits that may be smaller and of lesser quality than the parent. On top of this, only about half of the seeds that germinate will be the desired females. Therefore vegetative propagation is the preferred method of many commercial farms and nurseries. This can be done through tissue culture in a laboratory setting or by offshoot rooting of young date palms.

Date palm propagation by offshoots:
Young date palms, about ten years of age, will begin to send offshoots from the basal portions of the trunk. These offshoots are directly connected to the parent plant, and thus receive all of their nutrients and water from the parent. Overtime they will develop roots that will bury into the soil to support their independent growth. This may be facilitated by building soil up around the offshoot if it appears close to the parent trunk. Over time these may be severed from the parent plant and potted in a process that should only be done by experts to ensure success. Although this is a long and time consuming method of propagation, it results in true-to-type clones of a female plant that will have a head start over date palms started by seed.

Above are ripe fruits of the Silver Date Palm (Phoenix sylvestris) which is a date palm with a sweet sap that is used to make palm wine. The fruits are edible but have only a small layer of flesh, though I find them to be delicious.
This is an inexpensive box of Iranian dates the cultivar of which I do not know. There is a huge difference between these low quality dates and those that fetch over a fifty dollars a kilogram. I found these dates to have a soggy texture and a thick outer skin.
Green, firm immature fruits can be seen on this date palm (Phoenix dactylifera)
Bestseller No. 1
Costa Farms Money Tree Pachira, Medium Ships in Premium Ceramic Planter, 16-Inches Tall, Gift
  • Is this a gift? Please choose "this is a gift" at check out to add a personalized message.
  • The Money Tree is an easy-care houseplant that is said to bring prosperity and good luck to its owners
  • Add life to a brightly lit room at home, a lightly shaded porch, or share the green with the office
  • The Money Tree grows best near a sunny window, not in direct sunlight and thrive with a weekly watering
  • Height at shipping is approximately 16-Inches tall, measured from the bottom of the pot to the top of the plant
SaleBestseller No. 2
Costa Farms Clean Air 3-Pack O2 For You Live House Plant Collection, White Decor Planter, Green, Yellow
  • The Costa Farms Clean Air Plant Collection includes three plants from a grower’s choice assortment of small foliage plants. See image description of possible varieties that may be included; plants are selected by our expert growers based on seasonal availability.
  • The O2 for You Clean air Plant collection are the most efficient plants around to filter indoor pollutants, allowing us to breathe clean air in our homes and offices, according to NASA studies
  • Care varies from plant to plant, in general place the plants in a bright room and water weekly
  • Height at shipping is ranges from 8-10 Inches tall, measured from the bottom of the pot to the top of the plant
  • Each plant ships in a lightweight, 4-inch decor planter; made from a 100% recyclable #5 material. To help with water drainage, these containers have holes
Bestseller No. 3
Costa Farms White Bird of Paradise Strelitzia nicolai, Indoor Plant in Décor Planter, 24-Inches Tall, Fresh from Our Farm
  • A character trait of the white bird of paradise is split-leaves or foliage. As the leaf matures it will begin to split and new growth Should appear. Its large leaves were designed to split, splitting is normal and part of the growing process. A mature White bird of paradise houseplant can grow 6 feet or more.
  • Stunning tropical plant, easy to care for, excellent houseplant. Used in home décor and design. Ships well-rooted in grower pot dropped into lightweight décor planter. Height at shipping is approximately 28-Inches tall, measured from bottom of pot to top of plant.
  • Water regularly; water when soil dries out. Can hold up well to drought. Place in a well-lit room; does best when receiving bright filtered light.
  • Grown by the experts at Costa Farms; ships fast, direct from our farm to your home.
  • For questions about your plant please don't hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *