Palms & Cycads

Course CodeBHT233
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Become an expert in palms and cycads

  • Learn to distinguish between the characteristics of different types of palms and cycads.
  • Discover how to choose them s to suit different climatic situation 
  • Study how to use them in the landscape and their various commercial applications.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Scope and Nature of Palm Culture
    • Plant Naming
    • Species, Cultivars, Varieties
    • Characteristcs of Palm and Cycad Families
    • Botanical Characteristics
    • Review of Australian Cycad Genera
    • Australian Palm Genera
    • Review of Palms
    • Sub families, tribes and genera of palms\
    • Resources
  2. Culture
    • Cultivating Cycads
    • Understanding Soils, Nutrition, pH, etc
    • Soil Mixes for Palms and Cycads
    • Mulches
    • Fertilisers
    • Drainage
    • Planting
    • Water Management
    • Pruning Palms and Cycads
  3. Propagation
    • Overview
    • Propagating Palms from Seed
    • Propagating Media
    • Other Propagation Methods (for some palms); eg. Offshoots, layering)
    • Transplanting Seedlings
    • Cycad Propagation; seed, offsets, suckers
    • Transplanting cycads
    • Managing pest and disease
    • Propagating Equipment
  4. Selecting Suitable Palms and Cycads
    • Growth Habits; solitary, clumping, aerial branching, subterranean branching, climbing
    • Leaf Types; palmate, pinnate, bipinnate, fan
    • Review of palm genera
    • Cycad genera
    • Cold tolerant palms and cycads
  5. Pests and Diseases of Palms and Cycads
    • Scope and Nature of Pest Management
    • Use of Chemical Legislation
    • Common palm and cycad pests
    • Common palm and cycad diseases
  6. Using Palms and Cycads
    • Growing palms in a greenhouse
    • What palms can be grown in a greenhouse or conservatory
    • Environmental management and plant needs
    • Temperature, Ventilation, Light Management
    • Landscaping with Palms
    • How palms can be used for different affects
    • Planting Design
    • Preparing a Plan
  7. Commercial Applications For Palms & Cycads
    • Scope and Nature of Uses for Palms
    • Rattan
    • Palm Oil
    • Dates
    • Coconut
    • Coir Fibre
    • Palms as Indoor Plants
    • Species Suited to Indoor Plant Culture
  8. Special Assignment


  • Distinguish between the characteristics of different types of palms and cycads.
  • Determine general cultural practices, including propagation, for growing palms and cycads.
  • Choose palms and cycads to suit different climatic situations.
  • Determine treatments for palms and cycads suffering various health problems.
  • Specify appropriate landscape applications for palms and cycads.
  • Explain different commercial applications for palms and cycads.

Choosing Palms and Cycads

When deciding what palm or cycad to use in a particular situation, you should consider:

  • what the environmental conditions will be where you wish to grow the palm
  • what level of care it is likely to get
  • what soil (or potting media) conditions it is likely to contend with
  • size and shape of the species
  • growth habit
  • leaf type

Growth Habit
There are five types of growth habit, as follows:

  1. Solitary - these produce one single trunk with only one growth tip at the top. If that growth tip dies, the palm dies (which doesn’t happen as much with other types). This type looks clean, growth does not get out of hand, and it includes a large range of species; all of which go to make solitary palms common choices for use in landscaping or for other decorative purposes.
  2. Clumping - these produce multiple stems or trunks from the one root system (Suckers grow at or below ground level). Some produce lots of suckers, others only a few. Many can be propagated by division.
  3. Aerial Branching - normally this only occurs naturally in the genera Hyphaene, Dypsis, Korthalsia and Laccosperm. It can occasionally and abnormally be induced though in some solitary palms by tissue being damaged.
  4. Subterranean (under ground) Branching -this is known to occur in Nypa fruticans and Salacca zalacca. These can be propagated by separation.
  5. Climbing - around 15 palm genera contain species that climb, however few are of great significance with the notable exception of Calamus. This genus is in fact the largest palm genus (with well over 300 species), and the commercial source for rattan which is used to make “cane” furniture.
  • Landscapers
  • Hobbyists
  • Garden designers
  • Breeders
  • Nurserymen
  • Botanist
  • Horticulturist





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