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Rhopalostylis sapida Auckland

Nikau Palm

This lovely palm has received much publicity in recent years, and with good reason: it is one of the few crownshaft palms that can be considered even remotely hardy, and its feathery leaves add a really exotic touch to the temperate and cool subtropical garden. Easy to germinate but slow growing to begin with, it speeds up as it gets older, finally producing what is surely one of the most handsome palms of all. Coming from New Zealand, it thrives in moist conditions in deep, rich soil and is happiest in shade as a young plant. Mature trees can tolerate -4°C / 25°F or so. Our seeds were collected from populations in the vicinity of Auckland.

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germination comments by our visitors
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Also see plant cultivation comments below.

Seeds from this species ...

... are easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Arrived November 2012, first leaf up to 2" long now, 70% germination.
Submitted on 09/03/2013 by John O Wild

... are easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
I am very happy with the germination results of the Sapida seeds, about 25% germinated in only 3 weeks and the rest did it progressively in less than 3 months. The one to three days soaking is important, and it is also advisable to keep the room temperature between 25 to 30ºC. I can't wait to see the Sapidas growing in my garden!!
Submitted on 10/09/2010 by Sin Vilà

... are easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
left them soaking in a glass for three days and then planted in a pot....... more the 80 % has sprouted.... fantastic.. i could not believe it!!!
Submitted on 15/04/2009 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Very easy to germinate. Seeds where collected when fully red old dry seeds had a zero germination rate. The outer layer was removed from the seed and soaked in water for 24 hours and placed in a fridge for 1 month then placed in an air tight plastic bags with moist sphagnum moss and placed in a hot water cupboard with temps reaching about 30 deg. Germination was in 2 months and had a high strike rate, then removed from bag and placed in pots and covered with a light layer of potting mix and kept moist.
Submitted on 12/02/2004 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Seeds collected fresh were received within 4 weeks from NZ. They were cleaned to remove any dried remaining flesh and then soaked in dilute bleach for 20 minutes. After rinsing, the seeds were placed in a container of tepid (23°C) water and kept warm (approx 23 - 25°C). The water was replaced daily to prevent bacterial build-up on the outer seed coats. After 3 days, half of the seeds were sealed in a poly-bag part filled with lightly moist perlite and kept at around 25°C. The remaining seed was left in the tepid water close to a radiator. Temperatures fluctuated between 22 - 27°C on a regular basis and the water was changed daily - the seed being quite vigorously flushed each time. After 19 days, waxy-white 'buttons' were noticed on the soaking seeds. These had elongated to over 1 mm. long within 3 days. At this point the seeds showing activity (about 80%) were sown below the surface in a community pot comprising 3 parts perlite, 1 part sterilised multi-purpose (soil-less) compost. First aerial shoots appeared after another 20 days. The remaining seeds in soak all showed signs of germination within 10 days. Those in the poly bag took around 45 days to produce initial signs of germination, but all were germinating after 60 days.The young seedlings were carefully transferred to individual pots when showing second leaves and those which I have retained are developing into nice plants having just put down their heels‚. Interestingly, this form of R. sapida (seeds were collected by an acquaintance who lives near to Auckland) appear remarkably hardy. Although only about 4 years old, they have withstood 2 winters out of doors, unprotected here in the SW of the UK for the past 2 years. It is worth noting that by using the permanent soak method‚, I have had excellent results with Rhopalostylis baueri cheesemannii‚ (17 days), Archontophoenix cunninghamiana (16 days), Phoenix roebelenii (20 days), Phoenix reclinata x canariensis ( 26 days) Livistona decora (28 days) & Roystonea elata (13 days). I suspect that most small-seeded‚ palms will germinate well and more quickly and at lower temperatures when kept in permanent soak, than when sown in the more traditional way. Naturally it pays to be cautious when dealing with very rare and expensive seed and if only very small quantitesd are available, I would opt for a 3 day-long soak followed by the more traditional baggie‚ method.
Submitted on 30/12/2003 by Dave Poole daverpoole@hotmail.com

...not rated.
This palm seed is very easy to propagate. Collect the seeds in October to January, when they are "RED", (Old seeds are useless) , put them under a light layer of potting mix, about 1cm deep, keep the seed tray under plastic, so the seeds are warm and kept moist. Germination takes about 2 to three months and the strike rate is extremely high. I have a nursery and have successfully propagated about 3000 seed in the past two years, using this method. I have found that attempting to propagate old dry seeds is a waste of time.
Submitted on 11/05/2003 by Ian Plowman dreamsunlimited@xtra.co.nz

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
These seeds are very easy to propagate but they must be fresh, ie: still red in colour. Cover with a light layer of potting mix, up to 1 inch & germination takes up to three months. The strike rate is extremely high. Propagate in a seed tray, cover with plastic & keep moist. Using this method I have at present three thousand seedlings
Submitted on 07/05/2003 by Ian Plowman dreamsunlimited@xtra.co.nz

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plant cultivation comments by our visitors
Also see germination commnets above.

Plants from this species ...

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If you wish to read more on palm cultivation, we highly recommend Ornamental Palm Horticulture by Timothy K. Broschat and Alan W. Meerow, available in our bookshop.

Ratings and comments reflect individual experiences and the views of our visitors. They do not necessarily describe the most appropriate methods, nor are they necessarily valid for all seeds or plants of this species. Germination and plant cultivation success depends on many different factors; nevertheless, these experiences will hopefully aid you in your effort to get the best germination results from our seeds and the best growth results from your plants.

We recommend:
The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft, Scott Zona

2nd edition
Completely revised and updated

Hardcover - 528 pages
11 x 8.5 inches

Our rating:
Suitable for: all

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.
825 species are described in detail, including cold hardiness, water needs, height, and any special requirements. Generously illustrated with more than 900 photos, including photos of several palm species that have never before appeared in a general encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is as valuable as an identification guide as it is a practical handbook. Interesting snippets of history, ethnobotany, and biology inform the text and make this a lively catalog of these remarkable plants.

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