How to Grow Saw Palmetto Berries

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If you want to grow saw palmetto berries, you need to live in a warm area. The saw palmetto is a native American palm tree, which grows wild in many areas from South Carolina down to Texas. The berries are blue-black and often used for medicinal purposes throughout Europe and the United States. Once established, it's hardy. Honey from the saw palmetto is also highly prized. One drawback to growing the tree is that rattlesnakes like to hide in it and wait for mice. Another problem is the sharp-toothed leaf stocks that give the plant its name. Here are some helpful tips to ensure success when growing these berries.

Things You'll Need

  • Nursery stock of Serenoa repens or
  • Seed for Serenoa repens
  • Water source
  • Potting soil
  • Land for final planting
  • Shovel
  • Find the plant at a nursery. The Serenoa repens variety is the one that produces the saw palmetto berries. It is hardy through zone eight, which means you need warm weather to grow the plant, from 25 to 97 degrees F. The plant has a very slow rate of growth, about .1 inch of stem growth per year, so don't expect berries right away. A good specimen for the garden might take as long as 15 to 20 years but it produces berries in less time. You also can grow it from seed.

  • Start a plant from seed. This plant is very slow to germinate because of the hard seed coat. To help it along, soak the seed in warm water for 24 hours. Some people also slightly score the seed coat. Sometimes it takes as long as a month for the seed to sprout. Grow the seed in a container for two to three years before you transplant it.

  • Select an area that has partial sun and shade. While this hardy plant grows almost anywhere once established, it prefers partial sun and shade. It will, however, grow in full sun and shade, but not as hardy. Since the plant is slow growing and relatively small, it is also ideal for pot growth.

  • Dig a hole larger than the root bulb. The plant needs space and while it tolerates most types of soil, a slightly sandy soil is probably the best. It thrives in places that are burnouts, so if you have an area you want to vegetate this is the plant.

  • Space plants 36 to 60 inches apart if you plant more than one. Most people plant twice the number of saw palmettos as they want since they don't establish easily.

  • Water the plant regularly but don't over water it. A soil saturated with water actually retards the plant's growth. A good soak once a week is plenty. This plant tolerates drought well once it is established.

  • Wait for up to three to six years before you have saw palmetto berries. The berries are the size of cherry tomatoes and purple when they are fully ripe. Early settlers and Seminole Indians used the berries for food. As late as the early 1900s settlers that had access to the fruit, used it in soft drinks. Wild life also like saw palmetto berries.

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