Yesterday I received a question from M.S. about germinating tropical almond seeds:
“I am about 10 pages into your book about crazy easy FL gardening. I read in the early pages of your book how (tropical almonds) are a good tree to grow in these parts and would like to know if you have any tips regarding putting these seeds in the ground. The seed seems to be in a husk and some seem real ripe or even rotting so I don’t which ones to really focus my efforts on.”
Good question. Today I’ll share how I germinate tropical almonds. It may not be the best way or even the “proper” way, but it’s easy as heck and takes very little time.
The Two Steps to Germinating Tropical Almond Seeds
My method of germinating tropical almond seeds is easy. Here it is in two steps.
Step 1: Get yourself some tropical almond seeds!
Tropical almonds are easy to find if you live near a tropical beach. The species is spread all over the place. Infogalactic reports:
“The tree has been spread widely by humans, so the native range is uncertain. It has long been naturalised in a broad belt extending from Africa to northern Australia and New Guinea through Southeast Asia and Micronesia into the Indian Subcontinent. More recently, the plant has been introduced to parts of the Americas.”
The ship has sailed on the plant’s introduction to the Americas. It’s everywhere now! Part of the reason for its success in spreading are the seeds. Notice the fibrous husk on the seeds? That allows them to float like corks on the waves, taking embryonic trees to shores unknown.
Even if there isn’t a tree growing on the beach in your area, seeds can often be found. Avoid seeds that look old and beat up and try to find fresher looking specimens. According to this report:
“The seed storage behavior is unknown, but seeds appear to lose viability fairly rapidly under storage. Until effective medium term seed storage procedures are developed it is recommended that seeds be sown within 4–6 weeks of collection.”
Plant ’em if you got ’em!
Step 2: Plant Your Tropical Almond Seeds and Wait!
I don’t do anything special when I plant tropical almonds. I just throw some soil in pots and stick them in the ground. Alternately, you can just plant them where you’d like a tree to grow.
Green Deane reports “The germination rate for whole fruit is 25%,” though the report I referenced above states that “Germination typically commences in 3–8 weeks, with a germination rate of greater than 50% for freshly harvested fully mature fruit.”
That means you should plant more than one. I planted something like a half-dozen I found on the beach to get the one sprout you see above.
BTW, that tree got big fast. Here it is less than two years after planting:
Jam multiple tropical almond seeds in some moist soil, whether in a pot or in the ground, then wait a couple of months. Thin out or transplant multiples, leaving one behind.
Why Plant a Tropical Almond?
First of all, it’s a beautiful tree. Here’s a big one growing behind some palms at a beach resort:
If you prune out the center of a tropical almond when it’s young, you can keep them much smaller than that. They’ll spread instead of going straight up, giving you a pretty and controllable tree.
However, if you do have space and can let tropical almond trees reach their full potential, they will drop tons of nuts. Which brings me to another reason to grow tropical almonds: they’re edible!
Here’s a video I made on the tree I planted. In it I also show you how to crack open the nuts.
Here’s a beautiful tree growing on a beach near me:
Yet another reason to grow tropical almond is its usefulness as timber. The wood is hard and beautiful. I built a small bookshelf from it, which you can see in this video:
Here’s a beautiful bench a carpenter in South Florida made.
It’s for sale, too – go see the listing here and you’ll see the beauty of the wood even better.
If you have space to grow a tree, go for it. Germinating tropical almond seeds is easy and the trees are beautiful, very fast-growing, have edible nuts and are useful as timber.
I plan to plant some when I get my own property. Some I’ll experiment with as chop-and-drop pollarded trees, others I plan to grow large so I can harvest nuts, then use some of them as timber later.
Finally, you can get my book Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening here.
It has helped thousands of Florida gardeners so far and continues to be one of the best selling books on Florida gardening.