What Is a Date Palm?
Date palms are trees belonging to the Arecaceae genus that bears sweet, pitted fruits called dates. The date palm tree is native to parts of the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq. These trees thrive in warm climates, and today they are grown in the Canary Islands, Mexico, and in the US states of California, Florida, and Arizona. Date palms are unique because they are either male or female plants, and they will need to cross-pollinate in order to bear fruit.
When to Plant a Date Palm
Date palm trees are native to the Mediterranean region and thrive in warm dry or humid climates. It does best in USDA hardiness zones 8–11 and requires full sun. They may take up to four years to mature, but they typically bloom in late winter or early spring.
How to Grow a Date Palm
1. Collect date seeds. Use the pits from any fresh dates bought from the grocery store to grow a flourishing date palm. Make sure to buy dates that haven’t been pitted. Remove the seeds from the fruit, and wash them to remove any excess fruit particles. Soak them in a bowl of cool water for 48 hours. Change the water once a day while you’re soaking. If any seeds float to the top, discard them.
2. Germinate your seeds. Germinate your seeds before plant them in any soil. Fold a damp paper towel around one of your seeds and seal it in a sandwich bag. Leave the seed bag in a warm dark place for 6 to 8 weeks. Every two weeks, check the seed and replace the paper if it is growing any mold.
3. Pot your seedling in the proper container. After 6 to 8 weeks seeds should have small sprouts, which means that they are ready to plant. Fill a medium-sized pot with well-draining sandy soil. Always use a palm soil mixture from the nursery. Plant seed about one inch beneath the lid of the pot, then cover the seed with a layer of sand so that sprout is above the soil. Only plant one seed at a time. Palm tree will likely take a long time to grow into a tree (potentially up to four years) but patience and regular care can pay off.
How to Harvest Dates From Date Palms
Date palm trees can grow up to 75 feet tall. If palm is short enough for to reach its fruit follow these steps to harvest the dates from palm tree.
1. Monitor the ripeness of the fruit throughout the season. Dates will ripen at different times throughout the growing season, so make sure to check the fruits regularly. Once they are a deep brown color and have a wrinkly appearance, they are ready to be harvested.
2. Cut a stalk with plenty of ripened dates. Test the readiness of a date stalk from one of your trees by simply pulling a ripe date. You should be able to easily pluck it from the tree if it is ready. Cut off a stalk where most of the dates are ripened.
3. Harvest your dates from the stalk. Pick all of your dates off of the stalk. Leave the unripened dates out on a tarp to ripen in the sun. Wash off your dates that are ripe and freeze them for 24 hours to kill any bacteria. You can now leave them out at room temperature for a few days, or they will keep in the fridge for up to a month.
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