For good germination results, fresh seed is a necessity. Seeds that can’t be sown straight away are best kept in the frige for better conservation. Seeds harvest by yourself, with fleshy seed coats are best cleaned before conservation to prevent mold grow.
Certain species will have seeds with very tough seed coats (b.e. Jubaea). You can try to crack this coat however, the risk of damaging the whole seed is quite important and therefore this method is not recommended. You can also choose to scrub the end of the seed (scarification) so that the water can penetrate into the seed coat better. But this technique is definitely not necessary!
Soaking the seed
It is advised to soak the seeds before sowing for about 24 – 48 hours in warm water. This will soften the seed coat and accelerate the overall germination. Therefore, fill a cup with warm water, put in the seeds and cover up with some aluminum foil to conserve the warmth. Place the cup in the room where average temperature is 30-35c . A thermos bottle can also be used for this purpose but it may be to smelly to use for normal use afterwards. Renew the water every 12 hours or so.
Take a pot and fill up with a layer of quality seed raising mix. Then put your seeds on this mix and cover them with another layer of soil. A good rule is to cover them with a layer as thick as twice their own size. Humidify the soil but do not over water to prevent mold. Then you can cover up with some plastic foil to preserve humidity but ventilate enough to prevent mold grow. Humidify the soil when needed.
Tip: You can perfectly sow multiple seeds in one bigger container, this way you’ll economize space and energy.
Place the pot on a warm spot, close to a heath source if needed. 25-35°C (77-95°F) will do for most species (see exceptions on the bottom of this page!). The seeds do not need any light in this stage. The time required for the seeds to germinate varies form species to species and depends on multiple conditions. Generally it may take from 1,5 to 3 months but also can take for one whole year to germinate. Be patient, just hang on and keep providing the ideal conditions. Do need dig in to see if something happend yet. You will only risk to do damage on the germinating seeds. As soon as the first leaves are showing up you can remove the foil and place the pot elsewhere than on the heath source to avoid the ground from drying to quickly. From this stage on the plant needs sufficient light.
When the seedlings are big (en strong) enough, they can be transplanted. Generally this is when the have their second leaf. Take a container that is big enough and which has draining holes in the bottom. Use a good quality potting soil and mix in some perlite or grit for optimal drainage. Do not use (to much) fertilizer yet, to prevent to roots form burning.
When transplanting, try to plant the seedling on the same height as it was before. Now your palm tree is good to go for a while and only needs to be transplanted again when new roots will grow from the drainage holes in the bottom.
Add fertilizer in spring and during summer (growing season), during winter this makes little sense. Organic fertilizers are good fertilizers but be careful with non organic fertilizers which are more agressive. Do always respect the manufacturers prescriptions.
Some hardy species are perfectly suited to be planted out in the open (Trachycarpus b.e.). Other, more tropical, species can be cultivated in containers. Do inform yourself on the specific needs and especially on the hardiness and your local climat.
Bismarckia: sow the seeds only half-buried and half exposed.
Jubaea: sow the seeds in high pots with at least 18 cm (7 inches) depth.
Trachycarpus: keep the seeds at maximum 22°C (71,6°F) to germinate.