If you’re a big fan of dates, did you know you can grow your own date palms at home? You can easily grow a date palm from scratch by using store-bought dates – here’s how!
To cultivate a date tree from a date pit, begin by soaking a handful of date seeds in cold water. You’ll need to do this for a week or two, changing the water every day. This simple method deters bacterial contamination and mold, increasing the likelihood of germination.
The next step requires you to invest in an ample sized pot and some potting soil. You should place this container in an area that is sheltered from cold temperatures.
Planting several seeds will increase your chances of them germinating. To improve these chances, ensure the soil remains moist but not oversaturated, as this can cause mould.
For best results, place the pot on a windowsill that benefits from bright sunshine. It’s important to be incredibly patient when growing dates from a date stone as it can take several weeks for the seedlings to show.
You’ll begin to notice a series of single green shoots, which will later transform into tall, flat leaves measuring between 12 and 18 inches in height.
When the date leaf measures between six and eight inches in height, cautiously remove the leaf and its seed from its container, placing it into a new, larger pot.
This new home should be at least eight inches deep. Don’t worry if you begin to notice the leaf growing a little way away from the seed, as opposed to immediately above it, as this is completely normal.
To avoid damaging the plant, take care of removing the leaf and root system. It’s a good idea to invest in a few different-sized pots as you will need to transfer your date palm as it grows.
Don’t give up!
Despite what many think, date palms are extremely easy to grow from seed. One of the first-ever date palms to be cultivated in Israel was grown from a seed that was 2,000 years old! That said, not all date seeds will boast successful germination.
If you don’t have much luck, try purchasing certified organic dates or look to import some from locations such as Israel and Jordan, or from the US states of California or Arizona.
Preferred growing conditions for date palms
Dates tend to prefer slightly dry soil growing conditions in order to thrive, which drains well and has high levels of magnesium – magnesium sulfate fertilizer can help. Full sunlight is recommended, while younger date palms need to be protected from frost.
They can be grown indoors or out, depending on your local environment, but you should keep in mind that they normally grow in hot, arid environments.
Traditional date trees can grow up to 30 feet in height and boast an expanse of up to 20 feet. Pygmy dates, on the other hand, are better suited to smaller spaces as they grow up to 10 feet tall, offering a spread of just eight feet.
Ultimately, the trees will need plenty of space to grow and spread out, so you should consider this when switching your date palm between pots or if planting it in an outdoor space.
Encouraging dates to produce fruit
Date trees are female or male. However, it’s impossible to tell the difference from the seed alone. To encourage date palms to produce fruit, you’ll need to invest in a tree of each sex, which is why it’s important to plant several seeds in the initial growing process.
Only one male tree is required to fertilize a multitude of female date palms, but you’ll need to know which trees you have.
In their natural environment, the wind plays a vital role in pollinating date palms. To ensure fruit forms, you’ll need to hand pollinate female blooms with male pollen. When grown in the correct climate, a date cultivated from seed will take around eight years to produce fruit.
For those looking for a quicker rate of growth, opt for cloned date trees, which tend to produce fruit in just four years. In cooler climates, the date palm may be entirely unsuccessful in producing fruit, even if it appears healthy.
Hand pollinating a date palm
Every spring, male date trees will produce pollen in sheaths. When the pollen is ready, you will need to collect this using a bag. The next step requires you to lightly dust the female blooms with the pollen. This method should be completed as they begin to open.
Caring for a date palm
As your date plant begins to mature, lengthy, spiny thorns will start to show. Many choose to remove these sharp thorns as they can get in the way, and rest assured that doing this will not harm your date palm.
If you’re growing your plants in pots indoors, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for whitefly or spider mites. To ensure they remain void of pests, invest in insecticidal soap.
These pests are less likely to attack outdoor plants, however, wildlife such as birds and squirrels can cause damage, particularly when the fruit begins to ripen.
Growing dates in pots
When your date tree reaches a certain height (around several feet), it’s time to transplant it, moving it outdoors. Large date trees can be planted directly in the ground, whilst Pygmy dates should be grown in a large container such as a half-barrel.
There are many species of dates to choose from, including some 20 varieties, the majority of which are cultivated across the globe. One of the most prevalent dates is the Medjool date.
This semi-sweet variant is often found in supermarkets and boasts a firm texture with a sweet, moist flavour. Other popular variants include Barhi dates, Halawi dates, Deglet Noor dates, Khadrawy dates, and Zahidi dates.
The next time you’re enjoying fresh or dried dates, take the time to plant a handful of date stones. If you’re successful, you’ll eventually end up with an entire date tree.
With their unique hue and beauty, even in cooler climates, where producing fruit is often impossible, these trees will still add colour and class to your home and garden.
Sources: joybileefarm.com, gardeningknowhow.com, handyman.net.au
Image by Forest and Kim Starr