Planting cycad seeds is a rather involved process, requiring several steps. First, the seeds must be pollinated and cleaned. They must also be kept moist until the embryo emerges. Then, the seeds should be planted in a sandy potting soil and given plenty of moderately rich nutrients. Cycads typically grow very slowly, taking several years to reach maturity — some can even take more than a dozen years to fully mature.
In many cases, cycad seeds will be un-pollinated when they are purchased or collected. It is possible to pollinate the seeds by hand, in those cases. This is usually done by mixing water and pollen in a small, sterile container. Then, the concoction can be placed on the female cone with a dropper. After pollination, the seed will be considered ripe in several months, though some seeds may take up to a year or more before they become ripe.
By cutting the seed in half and inspecting the internal embryo, a person can tell if it is ripe. Once the seeds are ready, they may be cleaned. This is done by carefully scraping the outer shell of the seed. At this time, the seeds can be placed in a bowl of water to test viability. If a seed floats, it typically means the internal embryo is damaged and a seedling may never emerge. If it sinks, it usually means the seed holds a viable embryo.
The seeds should be kept moist throughout the process. If a seed dries out, it might destroy the embryo. In the alternative, if the seeds are too wet, they can develop a type of fungus and die, so striking a balance is important.
Once the seeds are deemed viable, they should be placed in moist peat, vermiculite, or perlite. The temperature should be kept warm as well, usually about 100°F (37.8°C). While the seeds are in this moist pre-germination soil, they should be checked regularly for disease, such as fungus.
When the cycad seeds begin to sprout, they can be moved to sandy potting soil. This is done by pushing the sprouted part of the cycad seeds into the soil. The soil should be kept moist by watering it about three times per week. When the seedlings begin to emerge, they can be moved to an above-ground container or planted in the ground.
The seedling should be watered regularly, especially during the growing season. During their dormant season, they can receive less water. In addition, they should receive plenty of nutrients. This includes a fertilizer that is moderately rich with nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus