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Dioon spinulosum

In nature, this extraordinary cycad can grow to 16m (50 feet) tall, making it one of the tallest cycads. In cultivation it is easily germinated, easy to care for, and fast growing. It is an attractive species with a regular crown of long, shiny green leaves with wide segments. It provides a very exotic but nevertheless formal touch in any garden in a warm temperate or tropical climate, and also makes a perfect pot plant for the conservatory or terrace.

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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 difficult to germinate and need up to 1 year to sprout.
This species was a mixed bag for me. All of the seeds were rattling upon arrival and almost half remained floating even after 2 days. I found many dried and mouldy endosperms after cutting the floaters open. Very disappointing. This species seems to be very prone to drying out. Out of those which sunk most germinated in a month, placed on the top of moist sawdust in a plastic house. They germinated when the temperatures were in the low 20 ties... but seedlings refused growing until the daily temperature increased to 25- 27 deg C. After 3 months there are still no leaves only hairy caudex base but the roots seem to grow happily.
Submitted on 25/03/2007 by Marian Kubes maros@ltc.sk

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
soaked 100 seeds for 2 weeks, changing the water daily. Some of the seeds started to sprout in the water. Placed the seeds in a bottom heated propagator. Temperature was set at 32 degrees celsius. In a few days some already started to sprout and in about 3 months nearly all 100 had germinated. Fresh viable seeds, thanks toby !!
Submitted on 20/07/2005 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
I bought 1 seed, soaked 5 days in warm water to start, placed in baggie with moist mix of river soil, moss peat, leafy compost. Put in warm cupboard next to fireplace, fat white root emerged in about 3 weeks. I placed the very large seed on top of compost in deep pot with root end pushed slightly into compost, left in warm spot near fire to develop root. Placed pot in sunny greenhouse on bench for Summer (temp gauge up to 50C at times, outside mostly low 20'sC, night around 10C). The root continued to fatten for about 6 months before the starts of a leaf showed, then it was slow, by the end of October in Autumn it had 1 leaf with a long stem and nice pale greenish frond. This has since been in my corrugated iron (dk green) garage with south facing window for Winter, has been thru 4 frosts of -3 to -5C, looks good other than slight browning on tips of fronds. In England, Z8-9
Submitted on 18/02/2005 by Janet Rowley garymitsi@aol.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Easy to germinate if first soaked for 3 days then placed in the airing cupboard in a just damp bag of perlite and multipurpose compost that was first steralised for a minute in the microwave. Germination after a few months keep in the bag until the radicle is a few cms long.
Submitted on 03/07/2004 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Here is an update to my previous entry:It is now nearly eight months since I sowed my Dioons- and only now are they sending up the first leaf! All winter I have watched the taproot into the soil become thicker and thicker, and this first leaf looks very strong and healthy.
Submitted on 26/04/2004 by will willgillis@aol.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Eady and relatively quick soaked for 3 days in warm water then into multi compost and perlite mix in airing cupboard
Submitted on 26/03/2004 by one of our visitors

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Germination was very fast. I started with five seeds which I soaked in water for two days. Four of the seeds bobbed, and a fifth seed floated high. I then placed all seeds in a baggie with a moist cactus mixture. Four seeds germinated within one week. A fifth seed started to smell rank after two weeks and was thrown away. Therefore, I had an 80% germination rate. Note that the seed that did not germinate also was the seed which floated high in the water. It is now two months later. One of the seeds 'stalled' in its germination- the radicle did not anchor in the soil. The other three have not sent up a leaf yet, but are green and otherwise look healthy.
Submitted on 25/10/2003 by Will willgillis@aol.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Seeds were soaked in warm water for 3 days after receiving the seeds. Water was changed 2 to 3 times a day. Seeds were then places in a tupperware container in 100% perlite over a heat vent (during winter) approx. 75F. Seeds were kept moist. 3 seeds sprouted in 2 weeks and the rest are just showing signs of growth 2 months later. Seeds were then placed in a regular potting mix halfway in, laying them down sideways for the tap root. The first seeds sprouted are just now showing signs of a leaf 2 months later. It will probably be another 6 months before the leaf matures. Cycads are slow growers, be very patient.
Submitted on 23/03/2003 by Peter Chang goofybb@yahoo.ca

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Seedlings may sit for 6 months after transplanting without pushing a leaf, so don't give up. Remember this plant is from lowland rainforest and needs warmth and water. Seedlings less tolerant of drying out than other cycads. Soaked 2-3 days in warm (80F / 25C) water changed daily, then to baggies with barely moist coconut fiber kept at 30C / 90F. Transplanted out when shoot 1 inch / 2.5cm long. Do not let seedlings dry or they will die.
Submitted by Leo Martin leo1010@attglobal.net

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

Plants from this species ...

... are of excellent ornamental value
In Southampton in England they need little care and grow normal.
This is a truely beautiful cycad with large blue-green leaves with toothed margins, that emerge in an attractive rosette each summer. I water this cycad relatively frequently during summer, but do allow to dry out between waterings. My cycad is in a pot in the greenhouse, and also receives a weekly feed. I use a very free draining gritty compost such as that used for cacti, to prevent waterlogging around the roots and prevent rotting. The pot I use is also deep to allow plenty of depth for the main tap root to grow down, very important during early growth stages immediately after germination, when this root is fragile and can easily be broken. Keep the seed attached to the plant, until naturally shed as the seed continues the nourish the plant for 6-12 months after germination. During winter I water much more sparingly in our cool english climate, watering perhaps once every 2-3 weeks, and allowing a good spell of drought inbetween waterings. This species can take some drought, however is not as drought tolerant as some other cycads so should be watered frequently in summer for best growth rates. My Dioon spinulosum has taken temperatures down to 0c for short periods when dry, therefore on my experience can take a slight frost if dry around the roots. However tolerance of subzero temperatures for longer than a few hours is likely to be low. Overall a beautifull species requiring little care if placed in th correct growing environment. I've had no problems and the plant provides a very attractive centrepiece in my greenhouse.
Submitted on 17/01/2009 by James Barnet

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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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