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Sabal minor

Dwarf Palmetto

Together with S. etonia it is the smallest of the Sabals and an important and popular species because of its legendary cold hardiness. Occurring naturally in the understory of deciduous woodland in the south eastern United States, it can be quite a common component of the forest vegetation. The long, upright inflorescences rising well above the leaves, together with the small seeds, adds to its attractiveness. Seed source selected for cold-hardiness.

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germination comments by our visitors
For general germination instructions click here.

Also see plant cultivation comments below.

Seeds from this species ...

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
I just planted a handfull of fresh seeds and in less than two months I have noticed the first roots showing from several seeds. I put them in a screened in greenhouse in a sandy mulch mix and kept them moist. I live on the Pacific coast of Guatemala and had no trouble germinating these seeds in a hot and salty climate.
Submitted on 12/12/2008 by Peter Beatty

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Took 2 weeks to germanite,very easy to germinate and need up to 6 weeks to sprout. in a plastic ziploc bag w/peat and soil mixture. 25C at all time. 80% sprouted.
Submitted on 31/07/2008 by Balder

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Very easy to germinate. I did not soak the seeds but planted them after cleaning in vermiculite.The day temperature was 27 °C and the night temperature was 16,5°C.The first seeds started to sprout after 12 days. After 4 weeks 80% was sprouted.
Submitted on 05/01/2007 by Marc Scholtes (The Netherlands) marc.scholtes@home.nl

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
50 seeds soaked in warm water with 300 ppm Gibberlenic acid for 24 h.Seeded by 28°C ground temperature.Germination started within 3 weeks
Submitted on 25/03/2005 by Michael Nippgen VetMed-M.Nippgen@t-online.de

...very easy to germinate.
only one week to sprout very easy.
Submitted on 21/01/2004 by gunnar sihlen mg.sihlen@telia.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Very easy to germinate. Germinated in three weeks, in a plastic ziploc bag w/peat spaghnum moss mixture. I just set them on a shelf in my garage where it was between 20-30degC all day and night. Kept little moisture in bag to prevent mold. They sprouted in a month with 100% germintation.
Submitted on 22/09/2003 by Zach Heern Wizard8458@aol.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Very easy to germinate clean seed in a large tub at least six inches deep. A 50/50 blend of peat moss and pearlite works well and should be kept moist. Seeds can germinate and sprout within six weeks, however, some will take longer. Can be germinated in full sun or part shade as long as the ambiet temp. is >25 degrees.
Submitted on 18/09/2003 by Renny Phipps rkphipps@ozemail.com.au

...easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
My experience has informed me of sabals need for compacted flood prone terrain and the sort of light only afforded by mixed deciduous forest and riverine locations.To the extent one can replicate that sort of environment (post germination) the seedlings wil do very well almost without care.
Submitted on 17/01/2003 by one of our visitors

...not rated.
The Sabal minor seed was placed in an air tight plastic storage container filled with peat/vermiculite mixture this container was placed into another container approximately 5 times larger than the smaller one the larger container was filled with just regular soil which I used to bury the smaller box so no air can get in. The larger box containing the smaller box is placed on a propagation mat or electric blanket. Within 2 weeks many seeds have sprouted. Average temperature is a steady 85°F day and night.
Submitted on 01/02/2003 by Jim Harris Northwestpalms@aol.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Seeds from this species are easy enough to germinate, but patience is needed for some seed batches. I always soak the seeds for 10 minutes in 10% household bleach and then rinse them thoroughly, in at least four changes of water with stirring. Then I soak them for about 36-48 hours at 70 degrees F before planting. I use a method sort of like the zip-lock method. I pregerminate the seeds in 50% perlite and 50% milled sphagnum moss, dry enough that no more water can be squeezed out, and I put them in plastic containers with a tight-fitting lid. I use the kind that is sold in grocery stores near the zip-lock bags, I use the square kind for sandwiches because they stack easily. If I have room I put them on top of the refrigerator, about 70-75 degrees F, and I wait, otherwise they go in an area that does not get below 65-70 degrees. It can take 6-8 weeks but more often they take 3-4 months or even up to 6-8 months. If they dry out I replace the missing water with distilled water. Sometimes I will soak the seeds for another 24 hours if they have not germinated by 3 months, and then I replace them as before but in new mix.
Submitted on 28/12/2002 by Joe Shaw jshaw1953@aol.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
In Jan of 2002 I sowed over 1,000 fresh Sabal minor seeds in sterile peat and perlite mix. Set the seed trays in my green house over bottom heat. Keeping the seed flats evenly moist and warm at all times . I saw the first seedlings appear within 5 months. I now have hundreds of Sabal minors sprouted. I recieved the fresh seed from North and South Carolina.
Submitted on 21/07/2002 by Joe Clemente bananajoe@saltspring.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 year to sprout.
Sabal minor can take anywhere from 1 month to 1 year to germinate depending on the ecotype. It is an extremely variable palm in all respects inculding germination time and seedling growth rate. Temperatures around 20-30C are ideal.
Submitted on 01/08/2002 by Ian Barclay deus_vobiscum@hotmail.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Just soak them in water for a few days approx. 32 hours or more. Plant in an airtight container (even a plastic bag will work) and ad just enough water that the soil feels slightly wet to the touch, not saturated and not totally dry. Then add bottom heat (by way of a heating pad like one you'd use in the winter) keep them out od direct sunlight (this will promote fungi growth and increase temperature in the bag !!!!. ... and wait... The seeds do no need any further attention until you begin to see the sprouts, then you should put them in a bright sunny location to help them develop. My sabal minors appeared in about 2 weeks, and at 2 months I discarded the 10% or so that did not germinate. ( I ended up with about 65 or so seedlings!!!)
Submitted on 03/11/2002 by Paul Chafe p_chafe@hotmail.com

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

Plants from this species ...

... are of low ornamental value
In Salt Lake City, Utah in USA they need very little care and grow very slow.
This sabal minor has been planted in the ground for about seven years next to my house facing S-W. in Kaysville, Utah (Salt Lake City) USA; zone 6-a very dry climate. My Sabal minor is approx. 9-10 years old total and only about two feet tall or less. It never seems to get much bigger! The soil is a sandy clay soil with some soil pep ammendments. Drainage is quite good. In summer it gets watered almost every day with the lawn sprinklers. The hot summer sun bakes the area in the afternoon and can reach 110-120F next to the house!!! In Winter, the palm is kept dry and protected by putting a large plastic flower pot over it and the bottom side is propped up an inch or two for air circulation. Even in winter, the south-west facing afternoon sun can warm up enough to the point of bringing the palm out of dormancy which has always concerned me. I'm surprised the poor thing keeps holding on each year. This past Winter of '07-'08 was one of the coldest long harsh winters we have experienced in decades. The lows being sub zero and never rising above the upper 20's for weeks at a time AND.... I decided NOT to cover the palm that Winter. It was left exposed the whole Winter (any snow cover insulation would melt off by the warmer exposure)! In Spring, some fronds were totally burned and others were burned half way and I thought wet snow melt would have rotted the crown and new spears, but later in the Spring a new frond came slowly up and grew over a foot tall (so far, August) with another spear following. This hardy palm may never get very large but it takes a beating and keeps hanging on in this harsh climate!
Submitted on 12/08/2008 by Monty Stewart

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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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