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Trachycarpus fortunei

Chusan Palm

There is not much to say about the humble 'Trachy' that has not been said before. This most popular of the hardy palms has been cultivated in the West for a hundred and fifty years since the explorer and adventurer Robert Fortune first saw it growing (though not wild) on Chusan (now Zhousan) Island off the east coast of China. Cultivated on the mainland for much longer than that, its origins are obscured in history. Its hardiness against cold is legendary, as is its easy care nature, and its wide availability means it is often the first hardy palm that many of us own. It is also probably the palm species best tested and documented for its frost resistance.

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germination comments by our visitors
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Seeds from this species ...

... are easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Eleven years ago we planted five trachycarpus fortunei in our garden with 35cm stems.They have grown a lot and have stems of over 2 meter now. We have 3 female and 2 male palms. They started flowering when their stem was about 1 meter. They produce lots of seeds that sprout eveywhere in our garden. The seeds have to be collected after winter. Seeds that are collected before winter will not germinate. Fresh seeds germinate very fast, but some seeds even germinate after a second year in the garden soil.When I collect seeds to be sown in pots I first soak them 24 hours in cold water. Then i scratch them clean with my fingernails until the seed is light brown.I plant them in individual containers with a dept of 10 cm. They germinate at a temperature between 18 and 21 degrees c. When the temperature is higher or lower they will not germinate.I always put the pots outside because sowing inside Results in fungal growth on the seeds.Fresh seeds germinate better and faster than old seeds.We live in Belgium and have cold and wet winters (zone 8a), but trachycarpus fortunei is very happy in our climate!Good luck!
Submitted on 23/09/2013 by Jan Franck

... are easy to germinate and need up to 1 year to sprout.
EASY to germinate because they don't need high temps or much care in order to germinate. I have 3 Methods for germinating trachy seeds, before i used these methods i had countless dormant batches which wouldn't germinate. Method 1:Sow outdoors in a layer of light soil ( coccopeat) and apply a good layer of mulch ( 1 to 2 inches ) - Best time to sow is in autumn ( mid or late). In spring after the last freeze remove most of the mulch. ( i sow in USDA ZONE 7A/7B ) seedlings need mulch in order to survive a winter IF they germinate in autumn. Method 2:Get a flat plastic container for seed sowing, fill with Sterilized coccopeat ( use microwave ) let it cool, put the seeds in the container and give it a good mix/stir - it's ok if the seeds are deep in the ground. Fill it with water - not a bit of water but alot! FILL the whole container with water and simulate a swamp. Put it on a cool place with an average temperature of 20 C DON'T put it into full sun because high temps(fluctations) prevent germination in most cases. if you decide to put the container outdoors ( in late spring average 15 to 20 C ) put it in full shade on the ground ( under bench on concrete etc AWAY from Sunlight AND RAIN - YES NO RAIN because we need controlled watering ) Every month you dig/Stir the seeds up GENTLY remove the soil bit by bit and repot seeds that have germinated containing a root. Leave the ones that haven't germinated - Now water the container again and repeat the whole process every month. AGAIN FILL THE CONTAINER WITH WATER ONCE A MONTH and let it dry until you hit the next month. Don't throw away the original soil.... it now contains alot of important microbes which interact with the plants. The native habitat where the greatest density and survival rate is present is in areas like and around the himalaya ( and footing) - which is prone to mudslides and slight temperature fluctations. Winters are cold - (it would be logical to give the seeds a 4 week stratification. ) the above methods simulate those enviroments... mudslides - cool summer - wet terrain ( monsoon etc) it also knows short periods of drought. Seeds are probably buried deep in the fertile soil and are uncovered by mudslides - rain or other soil disturbments. High/great temperature fluctations PREVENT the seeds from germinating. Common mistakes when germinating trachycarpus:High temperatureTemp fluctationControlled nutrient poor enviroments (baggie- spaghnum etc) Indoor enviromentNo water fluctation.... sunlight or lots of light--My methods gave me:strongest plants ( nature selection)Best germination rate VS time (3 to 8 months)Time efficiency - no need to clean or control every day - it's just sow and go. Trachycarpus does well in a forrest (floor ) enviroment - if sowing in forrests for ecosystem supplementation; sow in early autumn when leaves are starting to fall. good luck
Submitted on 09/02/2011 by one of our visitors

... are average to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
It was so long to me, 3 mounth in summer! Before sowing the seeds were in water for 2 days. The seeds were in moist mixture of sand and perlit.
Submitted on 20/04/2009 by Mariann

... are easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Seeds soaked in water for three days with water change each day. Remnants of outer skin scraped off once it softened up in water. Seeds placed in moist vermiculite in ziplocks consistently germinate 80% within 28 days at 18C.
Submitted on 25/11/2008 by one of our visitors

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
I grew these from seeds fresh from a plant in london, I planted them in a ziplock baggie full of vermiculite, they all produced roots within three or so, i managed to germinate (roughly) eighty percent, seeing as i am quite inexperienced with palms in general I consider that to be easy. I potted some into pots of compost and perlite imidiately and left some to grow abit in the vermiculite, i found greatly enhanced growth rates and development with the potted plants and i have subsequently potted up all of the plants.
Submitted on 25/08/2008 by Steve

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
i found these seeds on a tree in Victoria BC Canada. I soaked them in warm water for 3 days. With a butter knife I scraped away the pulp around the seed so that I was just left with the tan coloured seed. I put them in a 2. 5 inch rubbermaid container with 50% cocopeat and 50% black gold soil. I made sure as i filled the container that i squeezed out any excess water (using a tight fist).... i kept the conatiner at room temperature in my spare room for 30 days. I have noticed that half have started a root. In the past I have not had alot of luck with the baggie technique, but the rubbermaid containers are working well. I have germinated date palms this way aswell, except with bottom heat.
Submitted on 12/05/2008 by Bradley Sharp

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Purchased these seeds and am very very pleased (so far) with the results. HIGHLY recommend!! Already starting to see shoots and am very excited to get them in the ground here in virginia. Good luck
Submitted on 19/07/2007 by brian keesee wahoo46@juno.com

... are easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Germinate easily in a zip lock bag at room temperature put out of direct sunlight. Make sure soil is moist not wet and sterile. Treat in funigcide for about 15 minutes. Easy!
Submitted on 18/03/2007 by SAM MCCORMACK muel_25@hotmail.com

... are easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Soaked in tapid water for 5 days, planted in standard potting mixture with some cocohum added for better drainage. They started germinating about 50 days after planting, and in they achieved a 75% germination within 3 months.
Submitted on 07/02/2007 by one of our visitors

... are easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Germinating Trachycarpus seeds are pretty easy. Be sure to use some sterile seed starting mix or potting soil to avoid any diseases. The seeds can be sown in a community pot about 1.5 inches deep. Keep them at room temperature and in about one month the first sprout should appear. They can be grown for a couple years before needing to be separated. When separating them, dunk the seedlings into a bucket of water to rinse off the soil. Carefully separate them being sure to minimize any root damage. Pot them up into 6 inch or one gallon pots. T. fortunei seeds can also be germinated using the baggie method where moist peat moss put into a plastic bag and the seeds mixed in. Check regularly for germinated seeds and pot them up in individual pots as they sprout. It's all pretty easy. A great cold hardy palm to grow in zone 7. Give them a try.
Submitted on 30/07/2006 by Austin Lovenstein austinl01@sbcglobal.net

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
The Trachycarpus Fortunei is very easy to germinate. I had very fresh seeds and soaked them for four days. I sowed them in march. The temperature during the germination was between the 5C and 35C. After 2,5 month the seeds began to germinate. It´s now June (tree months after I´ve sowed the seeds) and I can say that more than 90% of the seeds have sprouted and they are already between the 0,5 and four centemeters tall.
Submitted on 09/06/2005 by one of our visitors

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
First I soaked the seeds in water for three days. Then I took a tupperware container and made a bed with moisted cotton pads. I placed the seeds on top of this and covered them again with moist cotton pads. I closed the cotainer and put it away at a temperature between 20° and 25°C. I checked the container weekly by lifting up the moist pads and after three weeks i found the first germinated seed, i now hope that the rest of them will follow quickly. When the root will be about a few centimeters tall i will sow it in a 15 cm high container.
Submitted on 11/08/2004 by Joeri Seghers joeriseghers@skynet.be

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 year to sprout.
I have found this spcies easy to germinaate . I just take fresh seeds and sow them in the my garden at varying depths from 2"-surface level and always get reasonable germination over a 2 year period. I would estimate 80%. My oldest specimen is 9 years old, 13' high, and has taken 5 degrees two nights in a row with no damage. It is planted in full sun on a very exposed hill top in heavy red clay in zone 7.
Submitted on 11/08/2004 by Snakeman thegreenplantmarket@charter.net

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Seeds were soaked in tap water for 24 hours, then transferred to zip lock bags. Medium was moist, 50% peat, 50% perlite at about 18C. Seeds germinated fairly quickly but the roots are quite slow growing by comparison with the C. Humilis Var Cerifera growing alongside.
Submitted on 13/07/2004 by Lucian Morris lucianmorris@hotmail.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Picked 500 seeds from a tree in town in mid Feb. Placed seeds in a ziplock bag and put in refrigerator for 4 weeks. Then took them and placed them in a small tray sized greenhouse with damp cocopeat (less chance of fungal growth), the only moisture that I provided after sowing was from an organic fungacide. Not in mid-June I have about 400 seedlings from the original 500.
Submitted on 16/06/2004 by Cheri Wilson Reininrabt@aol.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
The seed for T. fortunei germinates very easily. First, I soaked the seeds in purified water for 3 days, changing it daily. The final day, I used regular tap water since this may cut down on fungal diseases. I sowed mine at 73F in a plastic baggie with a mixture of 50% perlite and 50% peat moss. Make sure it is moist and not soggy! Within 30 days, I had several starting to sprout. As each seed sprouts, I will take it from the bag and place it in a deep pot or a tray of plugs (3 inches deep). Palms tend to have long roots, so providing it with a deep container will cause faster growth. I'm sure you will have the same successes I have had!
Submitted on 21/01/2004 by Austin L. AustinL01@comcast.net

...difficult to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Limited success with this species, much less than I expected. After being soaked for 2 days, 10 seeds were sealed in zip-bags in a pre-moistened mixture of 50% peat-based compost and 50% Vermiculite and kept at approx. 20 C. After 2 months, 1 seed germinated and is still doing well and growing vigorously. But no more seeds germinated and it has now been over a year.
Submitted on 30/11/2003 by D W Matzdorf davidmatzdorf@blueyonder.co.uk

...very easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
This is one of the easiest palm species to propagate. I am a grower of Trachycarpus on a big scale. Each Spring I sow thousands of local seeds that I collect. I sow approx. 1,000 seeds per flat. I use Pro-Mix HP as the growing medium. This is a sterilized peat base with heavy perlite. I keep the trays evenly moist and at temps. of approx. 20 celcius. Although T.fortunei will germinate at much cooler temps., it just takes longer. In my greenhouse the first seedlings will appear 3 months after sowing, but many can take several months longer. it is good to be patient. I have hundreds of seedlings growing throughout my gardens. This is a very good palm seed for beginners, because of it's high germination rate.
Submitted on 14/10/2003 by Joe Clemente bananajoe@saltspring.com

...need up to 1 month to sprout.
The seeds were so good they actually began to germinate while in postage. Excellent !
Submitted on 13/03/2003 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 year to sprout.
I have germinated T. fortunei at temperatures anywhere from 10-25C, but I would probably suggest about 18C as the ideal temperature. Often some stragglers will come up sporadically long after most of the others have sprouted.
Submitted on 01/08/2002 by Ian Barclay deus_vobiscum@hotmail.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Probably the most easy palm seed to germinate, but if it takes too long (or seems to), it can be made faster. Put the seeds on clean sand, moisture it and place the pot on the top of the aquarium. Threfore the aquarium lamp will heat up the sand and seeds might germinate in a week or two. Clean sand prevents seeds rotting. Remember to keep the sand moist so the seeds wont get too dry.
Submitted on 02/08/2002 by Olli Wuokko ollihenrik@hotmail.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
We cultivate T. fortunei for 7 years in the Alps in France. We have a lot of seeds and we could exchange them.Our palms have resisted to -15 until now, without no damage. But young subject died for less (between one and three years old).
Submitted on 15/04/2002 by de Looze delooze@wanadoo.fr

...very easy to germinate.
In the early 1980's, I gathered seeds from the ground underneath a large pair of _Trachycarpus fortunei_ palms at the old Post Office in Anderson, SC, USA. At the time, I was a graduate teaching assistant with the English Department of Clemson University, where I shared a sixth-floor corner office of Strode Tower with two other teaching assistants. I kept a lot of tropical plants on my desk and, knowing nothing about _Trachycarpus fortunei_ seeds, plunged several of them into the potting soil of one of the tropical plants. In almost no time at all, _Trachycarpus fortunei_ seedlings were sprouting underneath the surrogate mother plant. I removed them from the pot and planted them in small individual containers. Over the few years,I grew them in containers and moved them up into larger containers as their size increased. During this time, they resided in Valdosta, GA, which has summer heat that's a little too intense for _Trachycarpus fortunei_; but they tolerated four years of South Georgia heat--like it or not. Theyresided another couple of years in Athens, GA, home of the University of Georgia. In the late eighties, I thought they had grown sufficiently large to be planted in an outdoor garden location and planted themon our farm, three miles east of Pendleton, SC, where two of them have thrived and grown to an admirable size. Some of the other plants were given away to friends. I would say that germination of _Trachycarpus fortunei_ is simple, and the seeds have a high rate of germination.
Submitted on 07/03/2002 by Jay Evatt jevatt@andersonlibrary.org

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
One of the easiest palms to grow if you know how. Most important: germinate at room temperature only (around 70°F/21°C). Do not use tropical greenhouses or similar! Remove flesh, clean fruits and presoak 1-3 days in water at room temperature. Then put them in germination pots, water them so they get moist, not wet. Then put them somewhere in the room. Check from time to time. Water only when they get dry. Be sure not to add too much water. At room temperature, 80% will germinate within 3-6 weeks.
Submitted by Thomas Foltyn t@chello.at

...difficult to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
first batch end may 01 from rarepalmseeds, three germinated within four weeks, the other rotted. I lost one seedling in my tropical chamber, it seems to be too hot. Second batchof 14 seeds from an other palm-seed-dealer, they all rotted during the next weeks.Pre-soaking during one day, germination at elevated room temperature, (20-25°C) used Kokohum slightly moist.It seems to be very difficult to germinate them (some internet sources made same experience), I think only seeds fresh fallen from tree will have a good and fast germination result.
Submitted by Jens JensBluetling@onlinehome.de

...easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Seed was roughly cleaned and boiled water poured over and left to cool overnight. Later drained and soaked seed in 2 tablespoons Captan " fungicide to 1/2 Litre (1 pint) water for three days. Then rolled drained moist seeds in two tablespoons "Captan" fungicide and planted in an ice cream bucket filled with 50% peat/perlite mix wetted down with Two tablespoons of bleach to 1 gallon of hot water (Drain well -to damp consistancy)......after two months at 70-75 degrees germination rate was easily 90%. Good luck with yours."
Submitted by Gefry Stone gefrystone@telus.net

...easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Soak seeds in hot water for a few days, then clean the seeds (removing the pulpous mesocarp is great help for germination). Disinfect with diluted chlorine for 15 minutes, rinse. Sow in individual pots or freezing bag in part composted pine bark and peat. Add a fistful of garden earth per litre of sowing medium (better lime than acid soil) ; fill in pots with the mixture (filling the pot to the top will help you not over-water your sowings) cover the seeds with 1 cm then water with diluted fungicide (benlate or thiram) provide some heat (20°C-25°C more can cause germination delay), optionally cover with glass. Germinates freely within 2 months to 3 months.T. martianus seedlings are very sensitive to lime (avoid absolutely) and damp soil (water few).
Submitted by one of our visitors

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
I put my seeds in locked plastic containers of some size in a mix of sand and peat moss and put them above the fridge in 80F 25C, and they germinated like crazy. No mould because of the dark and the hygienic soiltype with few nutrients for mould and algae. Good luck
Submitted by Jonas Grund jonasgrund@tjohoo.se

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

Plants from this species ...

... are of high ornamental value
In Wilmington, Illinois in USA they need average care and grow normal.
In northern Illinois (41 degrees north, now zone 5/6) this species is not stem hardy. However, it makes a great house plant, especially for cool, poorly lit rooms. My largest plant (~4-5 feet tall) spends the summer (early April-mid November) outdoors in high shade, tolerating late/early frosts/freezes with no damage. Sometimes it goes out earlier or stays out later, depending on that season's weather. All my T. fortunei spend the winter in cool rooms with northerly exposures. I have germinated seeds of this species in outdoor beds - one year I experimented and simply mulched the seedlings; over 25% survived under mulch. However, that was a relatively mild winter with few extended periods colder than -20 degrees C.
Submitted on 28/06/2009 by Eric U.

... are of high ornamental value
In East TN-zone 6b, sunroom-zone 9b in USA they need average care and grow slow.
I bought two dozen bare-root, one-leaf seedlings over the internet last year. I didn't need quite that many, but they were suitably inexpensive. I planted the largest of the seedlings in 4 inch (10cm) pots. I stuck the rest in 1-3/4 inch (5cm) peat pots. I used commercial potting mix for both. The larger seedlings have done pretty well. Each has four leaves now. Most of the leaves are short, 2-6 inches (5-15cm). The plants are not that tall because the leaves arch downward. Unfortunately, the peat pots I used were too small. Most of the seedlings I put in them dried up and died due to a failure in my watering system while I was gone for 3 weeks. None of the remaining palms have more than two leaves. Rather than leave them outside, I kept them in my sunroom which gets supplemental heat. I'm pretty sure the temperature never dropped below 35 degrees F. (2 degrees C. ) this winter. They are in nearly full sun. I try to keep them moist but not soggy. Do not let yours dry out like I did.
Submitted on 08/04/2009 by one of our visitors

... are of high ornamental value
In Southampton in England they need very little care and grow very fast.
I have grown my specimen of Trachycarpus fortunei in the ground from a small specimen ~35cm tall, and in the 10 years it has been in the ground in my garden in southern England, the plant has grown at a miraculous pace, getting faster year on year. The plant now stands at ~2. 5 metres tall, with a thick wooly trunk and numerous sprigs of pale yellow flowers borne during late Spring-early summer each year. This is the fastest palm I've ever grown and can tolerate strong wind exposure with few problems and temperatures as low as -10c over the past 10 years, also completely tolerant of the winter wet. This plant needs very little care indeed, just the occasional pruning of yellowing or lower leaves to exposure the wooly trunk. I water fairly regularly during summer and mulch around the base with well rotted horse manure during spring, but other than that just leave the plant to its own devices. My plant grows well in full sun, but I suspect the plant would also do well in partial shade. A fantastic hardy exotic palm for beginners, where once established, it is very hard to go wrong!
Submitted on 18/01/2009 by James Barnet

... are of excellent ornamental value
In Stockton California in USA they need very little care and grow normal.
I collect seeds in the park in Stockton. The palm is growing outside in full sun, it is in dirt and some soil and the palm is about 2 years old by collecting seed slast year in 2006. The palm is cold and hardy and so easy to care about in cold places like in North California.
Submitted on 11/03/2007 by one of our visitors

... are of average ornamental value
In London in England they need very little care and grow normal.
T. fortunei is a very variable plant. My first specimen was purchased as a small seedling, 200mm high, in approx. 1997 and was kept as a pot plant until 2000, when it was planted out in heavy clayey loam and in a generally shady spot with occasional short periods of sun. The plant has unusually lengthy petioles - how much of this is due to the shady spot and how much to genetic variability is unclear, as it had rather long petioles even when it was a pot plant kept in Southwest facing spot. After a year of slow growth whilst it established its root system, the plant has made steady progress and is now 2.0m tall, with 500mm of trunk and leaves up to 700mm in diameter. It is completely trouble-free. My second plant is a 2 year old seedling, which started making pinnate leaves when less than 1 year old. It is also completely trouble free and has been left outdoors since Spring 2005, where it has grown slowly and steadily and has reached 250mm in height.
Submitted on 19/11/2005 by David Matzdorf davidmatzdorf@blueyonder.co.uk

... are of average ornamental value
In Hässlehom in Sweden they need little care and grow fast.
This 40 cm trunked palm has been overwintered in Hässleholm zone 7 last winter (-21 Celsius for several nights)with only 10cm of leaves and spruce on the ground. The frozen stem, and the strong sun in the day killed all the leaves except the spearleave. This year i have 7 new leaves in november.
Submitted on 20/11/2005 by Mats Carlsson maffa73@hotmail.com

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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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