Grow Baobabs From Seeds at home

Baobab – grow your own from seeds from Heike Pander on Vimeo.

Follow these steps to grow baobabs from seeds successfully:

  1. Baobab Seeds: nowadays it is easy to buy baobab seeds online. The seed coats or shells are very hard and make germination difficult. Slightly crack the outer seed coat and let it soak for two days in lukewarm water.
  2. Give it a “Boost”: Take the seeds out of the water. After soaking them they should have reached twice their original size. Look for the spot where you have cracked or scratched the outer seed coat. Carefully peel the brown outer shell off the seed with your fingernail. You should see where the seedling has started to build a root and where the leaves will be.
  3. Support Germination: Take a bowl with a lid. Soak a paper tissue (or similar). Put the seeds in and cover them with another soaked paper tissue. Leve them for another 1 – 2 days. The moist and warm environment helps the seedlings to get stronger. If you do not want to wait that long you can skip this step and proceed to step 4 immediately.
  4. Soil: Your best choice is cactus soil. Mix it with sand (preferably coarse-grained river sand because it helps with drainage) . The ratio should be 2:1. Garden soil is ok as well – the mixing ratio is the same as with cactus soil.
  5. Pot: From early on, little baobabs form taproots. Thus, the plant needs plenty of room. Therefore, take a pot that is at least 10 cm high, a higher pot than this is even better. Fill it with soil and spare the top three centimeters.
  6. Sowing: take the soaked seeds and put them on top of the soil in the pot. Cover them with a two-centimeter-thick layer of sand. This helps to avoid waterlogging which baobab do not like at all. In addition, it keeps away little black flies (Dark-winged fungus gnats).
  7. Care: Water the seeds regularly – about every two to three days should be alright – at the latest when the sand gets dry. Do not allow the seeds to dry out. If possible use rainwater.
  8. Light: to germinate, baobab seeds need a combination of warmth, nutrients and sufficient water. Best place the pot on a sunny spot at a window, on the balcony or the terrace.
  9. Heat: Seeds require a warm environment – make sure that the temperatures are around 20°. I have read that they need constant 24 °- I cannot confirm that. My baobab seeds have germinated despite somewhat lower and varying temperatures.
Baobab Seeds

Baobab Seeds

Being patient is very helpful for your “Baobab” project. Sometimes it may take weeks and months for the seeds to germinate – they follow their very own schedule. From others I have heard that they have watered their seeds for up to one year on a regular basis and had almost given up when the seeds finally germinated.

Baobab Seeds soaking in water

Baobab Seeds soaking in water

It seems that I was lucky this year: one of the seeds drove out a leaf after about a week, the second a week later. After six weeks, the third seed germinated.

Baobab Seedling, a few hours old

Baobab Seedling, a few hours old

Even after germination the little baobabs need to be watered regularly. But they have a tendency to develop root rot if drainage of the pot is not good. If they have made it through the first three months they are likely to survive.

Baobab Seedling, two days old

Baobab Seedling, two days old

Although they grow rapidly during the first few weeks, they invest a lot of energy in their taproots. There they store water and nutrients that will help them in times of scarcity to ensure their survival.

Baobab Seedlings 2016

Baobab Seedlings 2016

If you planted several baobab seeds in one container, you can repot them after about three months. Baobabs are “loners” and do not like the close company of other baobabs – even if one sees small groups of baobabs in the “wild” every now and then.

Baobab Seedlings 2016

Baobab Seedlings 2016

A word about the pests that affect baobabs outdoors. As you water the small seedlings regularly, Dark-winged fungus gnats might settle in. The flies like it warm and moist and place their eggs in the soil. The larvae attack the roots and can cause damage. As mentioned above distribute a two centimeter thick layer of sand on top of the soil in the pot. Flush lice and other pests from tender baobab leaves with water. More options are described here.

98 Replies to “Grow Baobabs From Seeds at home”

    • Dear Stef, Dear Stefan,

      yes, correct: take the seeds and place them on the soil. Cover with a layer of approximately 2 centimeters of sand. That helps the drainage. Once sprouted, the seeds get nutrients from the soil and do not dry out because of the sand and do not get too wet either.

      Good luck with your baobab project!

      • I buried mine a 1/2 inch in seedling soil. One of mine just Burst through today 6-9-20. I planted 6 seeds March 17th. Do I need to transplant the seedling to a mixture of cactus soil and coarse sand in 3 months??

        • Hi Mark, thank you for your comment. As I was travelling, I am not sure whether I responded to your question yet. If your baobabs look healthy & happy in the soil you planted them I would leave them where they are for now (and maybe even during their first year). Just be careful with watering – make sure you pour new water only once the soil feels dry (poke your finger into the soil near the roots to check). Once you repot them you can use the mixture of cactus soil and sand. All the best & good luck with your baobabs – Heike

  1. I was very lucky I planted 4 seeds and one germinated the 5th May which was very unusual to me.
    I am in Gauteng area S.A.

    • Dear Johann, congratulations, that sounds awesome! Sometimes none germinate – I am still waiting for those I planted this year to show some signs of growth. Enjoy your little Baobab. All the best, Heike

      • I got two other Baobab trees 3 months old must I water them, because the leaves are still very green.

        • Hello Johann, that is difficult to say from far away. I think in your part of the world you are approaching the cold period when baobabs mostly do not have leaves. The little ones need water regularly but should not be watered too often to avoid root rot. It helps to test the soil (not only the surface) with your finger whether it is still wet. Water them when the soil is dry. Hope that helps 🙂 Heike

  2. Hello Heike,

    you said you cracked the seeds open carefully, can you explain how? Using a nutcracker? I had only heard about filing them to make soaking easier. Im about to have my second try to get them to germinate, the first time all of my seeds rotted away, i guess my soil was too compact 🙁

    Thanks, Yannik

    • Hi Yannik, thank you for your question. No, I do not use a nutcracker. I learned from people in a Namibian nursery that they crack the seeds open carefully with secateurs. I have tried it myself but I find it difficult because you have to find the right spot for clipping a piece off and it is kind of a challenge to hold the little seed. I usually scratch the seeds open at one spot and for that I use a little saw. Then I soak the seeds for 2-3 days and place them ON TOP OF THE SOIL and cover them with a layer of 2 cm of river sand. Keep the sand wet – but not soaking wet. That should do the trick. Hope this helps & good luck with your second try! Heike 🙂

      • Using varous methods (sandpaper, scratching with secateurs and just soaking) 4/6 of my seeds have germinated. On 2 of them I tried your method with sand (1 has germinated, on the other one I’m still hopful), the other 4 I planted in coconut humus. Any dos or donts for the time after germination? Yannik

        • Hi Yannik, congratulations! That is quite a success! I am not so sure about the ones growing on coconut soil – I have not tried that. Best is to monitor how they develop and maybe replant to regular soil or cactus soil at a later stage. The sand method on top of the regular or cactus soil usually provides good drainage and helps to prevent root rot. You have to water the littel baobabs frequently but make sure that they do not stand in water. Particularly during the first 3 months they are prone to root rot. Replanting is best done after three months when they have grown a little tap root and can survive the procedure easier. All the best. Heike

  3. Hi
    I gave one baobab seed which has germinated a few days ago. The problem is that I did not realise that the seeds should have been planted into a cactus compost mixed with sand. Mine is now just in the normal all purpose compost. Should I repot asap? What would be the best way to get it into a best suited soil?

    • Dear Ivan, thank you for your post. The baobab seed has germinated in the soil you have used. If it looks healthy you could leave it. The best time to repot it is after approximately 3 months when the plant has formed a taproot. If you disturb it now you might hurt the little roots. Make sure it has enough water but not too much. Little baobabs tend to catch root rot if they get too much water. That is why the cactus soil helps – it has a higher amount of sand in it which helps to drain the soil. Maybe you can place a layer of river sand around the little plant to help the drainage. Hope this helps & good luck with your baobab! 🙂

  4. Hi Heike,
    I have a few big pods – as it is winter & cold (Highveld), should I rather wait until Spring before planting the seeds?

    • Hi Francois, thank you for contacting me. In their natural environments baobab seeds germinate with the onset of the rainy season because they like it hot and they need water on a regular basis. You might be lucky if you plant them indoors now but maybe it is a better idea to wait for end of September/October and start with your baobab project then. The little seeds like temperatures around 24° C and you need to water them daily in the beginning.

  5. Hello Heike,
    In S.A. Gauteng we start planting baobab seeds the end of Aug, i plan to plant a 100 seeds for this comming season.

    • Hello Johann, thank you for your comment! That sound like a lovely project. I have just returned from 6 weeks in the “bush” in Baobab country. Good luck with your boababs – I do hope they will all germinate! 🙂

  6. Thanks for all the explanation. I have also started a small baobab project in Kenya. I am worried about the gnat fungus things, and where you say they like to inhabit around the roots. How best to get rid of the gnats once and for all. many thanks, Nashon Wuon Hawi gi Teko

  7. There is a youtube video that shows a woman starting them by planting in soil in cups and watering them with BOILING WATER. She says they all germinate in a few days. Any experience or insight on this?

    Thank you, LJ.

    • Dear LJ, thank you for your post. Yes, I have heard that people throw the seeds in boiling water for some minutes or proceed as you described above. Some use acid to make germination easier. I have not tried those methods because as I write above scratching/opening the seeds works fine for me. Whether treating the seeds with boiling water helps to make them ALL germinate and survive I do not know. From my experience and what I hear and read from others: treating the seeds before planting usually leads to a higher rate in germination as if only planted in soil. All the best, Heike

  8. Hi everyone
    This is very interesting ive been growing adasonia digitata the African baobab since spring 2011 in Edinburgh Scotland and out of around 60 seeds i got 50 plants which were fast growing and had no space for them and gave away them all apart from four which i keep to this day and they are doing well. Let them almost dry completely between watering and if you don’t live in a tropical climate don’t put them outside they don’t like a cool breeze. They can take cool or even cold temperatures but don’t like any wind or breeze.

    • Hello Blair, thank you very much for your comment – yes, baobabs do not like wind although I have seen them grow on extraordinary windy places. But well, they grow where their seeds germinate in the wild… With respect to cold: they can tolerate it to a ceratin degree but I saw that some got affected and dropped their leaves. What was your method of making baobab seeds germinate? Best regards, Heike

  9. Also i use a sandy john innes peat bassed compost 1/3 to 2/3 grit sand mix and give half strength soluble fertilizer once in the middle of the summer to be safe not to burn the roots. Repot is best done every two years and take all earth away from the roots to start fresh to prevent mold or rot. Contrary to what you may of read these are very fast growing succulents not trees and take in a lot of nutrients.

    • Hello Blair, you are right with the repotting and that baobabs grow fast – this is up to approximately 200 years. After that their growth “speed” reduces drastically. With respect to succulents or trees: baobabs contain wood which makes them trees with very special features. I know there is a debate whether they are succulents or trees – I have spoken to several baobab experts and they agree that baobabs are not succulents.

  10. I grew a baobab a few years ago, from a twig bought in Dakar. It grew well, but when we moved house it complained and left us.

    I thought I’d have another go, from seed. I bought five on line, and followed the instructions to the letter, planting them individually in gritty soil in pots, and then putting clear plastic bags over them to prevent them from drying out. Placed on a warm windowsill I sat back and waited. And waited. And waited.

    At the beginning of the summer I got fed up with them cluttering the place up, took the bags off, and stuck them out in the garden, which is sunny and walled. I forgot about them. But a visitor spotted a shoot yesterday, one year and one month to the day since I planted them.

    We are having a warm and moist Autumn here in London, which undoubtedly helps. I wonder if the others will follow?

    • Dear Jonathan, thank you very much for your comment. Yes, it can happen – as your baobab has just proven – that they lie dormant in the soil for more than a year and suddenly decide to grow. I have heard that from different sources. A friend who run a nuresery told me once that whenever she planted baobab seeds some would not grow in the first year but grew shoots in the following year. Mostly as soon as the soil was disturbed when she tried to plant something else. Maybe you are lucky and the others grow as well. To germinate they like to have temperatures around 20°C and more. So – they would have to be quick… You write that you live in London – maybe temperatures get too cold for residing in the garden in winter. Are you planning to take the baobab inside? Otherwise it might freeze to death. They do not thrive in temperatures below 12° C. All the best, Heike

  11. I live in Exmouth Western Australia. I have planted 22 seeds (Adansonia Gregoria) spelling may be wrong 4mounths ago in temps 24-28. so far 18 have germinated and growing well. In the first 4 weeks I placed pots in deep water just below top of soil for three days and left in the open until seedlings appeared. how can I transplant to larger pots 20cm high and avoid damageing seedlings. Started with 1/3 Pindan (red course soil) 1/3 cheep potting mix and 1/3 good potting mix

    • Hello Jim, thanks very much for your comment & question. Congratulations for your success with germinating Adansonia gregorii – that seems to be quite an impressive quota!
      Once the baobab seeds have germinated they need to get water regularly but they should not be left in water as you describe above because that can cause root rot. The container you keep them in should get dry inbetween watering the little baobabs.
      Generally speaking it is best if you leave the baobabs in the environment they germinated in for the first three months – this is the time when they produce the little tuber roots that help them store nutrients & some water for “winter” (dryer times). Then carefully dig the little plants out but leave enough soil with their roots. That helps to avoid damage. With respect to the soil – I am not familiar with Pindan soil and I would not use cheap potting mix although I think that the baobabs will be able to cope with the latter. I use a specific cactus soil and river sand mix for my baobabs and the results are very good.
      Good luck with your treasures & all the best.

    • Hello Kim,
      I am sorry to hear that your boab has died. Yes, overwatering can cause severe problems – particularly root rot. Baobabs do not like standing water at all over longer periods. Adelaide sounds Australian – boabs should grow there quite well I assume. If you want to make sure that your next attempt is a success check with your finger before you water the plant: poke your finger into the soil – if it is dry you can water. After watering leave it for a few days (depending on the heat) and check with your finger again. Hope this helps & good luck with your next try. Best regards, Heike

    • Dear Adebayo Joseph B., I am sorry but I do not understand the question – what exactly would you like to find out?

  12. Dear Heike I live in Queensland Australia , a friend has given me 11 boab seed pods to see if i can get some of the seeds to germinate… however she just told me that she collected them 7 years ago … will they be too old to even try now ?

    • Dear Cheryl, wow, what a wonderful gift your friend gave you! Boab fruit pods can be kept for a long time if the shell is intact and they are stored in a dry place. Nature has arranged that they can be kept for a long time – I think it is the same for the Australian boab and for the African baobab. 7 years though sounds a bit long – I would probably not eat the fruit powder any longer. But why not give it a try with the seeds? I would certainly go for it! Good luck & please let me know if you succeed! All the best & greetings from Berlin 🙂 Heike Pander

      • For information sake, I just found a pod I’ve had for around 30 years. The pod was still completely sealed so I thought I’d have a go at planting.
        I followed all the instructions about soaking, drying and then after sandpapering about 15 of them (just one edge because they were so hard and I was getting tired) I potted the lot. There were about 100 or so seeds I guess.
        I now have about 35 seedlings and it’s taken about 3 weeks. More seem to be coming up every couple days.

        • Hi Thomas, Congratulations to successfully growing baobabs from seeds! That is incredible as the seeds are that old! What are you going to do with all of them – 35 and more coming sounds quite a lot… Best regards, Heike

  13. I tried opening the seeds which worked for 3 out of 5 the others i broke a part of the white soft inside will the seed still be able to sprout?

    • Dear Jakob, thank you for contacting me. I would suggest you do not try to open them but rather scratch the surface that it gets a little crack and soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours. I had the same problem with some seeds – some still sprouted, others did not. It depends whether you have damaged the spot inside that makes the seed sprout. I suppose you’ll have to try and see if they still are strong enough to sprout. Good luck! Heike

    • Dear Jakob – have you tried to water the seed that broke apart and put it in water? The same happened to me and the seed still germinated. It really depends at the spot where it broke. Best regards, Heike

  14. watching the utube site how to grow a baobab in 5 days, once the root and leafs are formed
    it is ready to plant in soil, is the hole thing buried 1 to 2 inch under the soil or just the root alone?

    • Hello Shane, thank you for your comment & congratulations for successfully germinating baobab seeds. If you’d like to watch how to plant them, visit my video from Minute 4:14 (as your baobab seeds have sucessfully germinated). Here is the link: I prefer to put a mixture of soil & river sand into a pot. Then I place the germinated seeds on the soil and then I cover them with a layer of approximately 2 centimeters of river sand – for better drainage. You could use the soil/sand mixture as well. The pure sand has the advantage that it keeps the little black flies away… Water the little baobabs regularly but make sure that they do not get too much water. Hope this information helps you & good luck with your baobabs! Best regards, Heike

  15. Hi HP,
    I am from India where Baobabs grow in Bhopal. I am in Gujarat. 10 months back, I got Baobab fruit from Nairobi and I planted the seeds just for the sake of knowing whether they grow or not. Originally, I am from Beira, Mozambique and I am much fond of Baobabs as I have played under them in my holidays.
    Recently, the edges of the leaves have started drying and I am much worried about this three trees planted in different pots. They are around four months old by now.
    Kindly advise me.
    I will be much thank full to you.

    • Hello Sunilkumar, thank you very much for your comment & congratulations for growing baobabs from seeds successfully. It is a bit difficult to send a “diagnose” from far – would you mind sending a photograph? I’ll send you my mailaddress. Best regards, Heike

      • Good Morning,
        Kindly do send me your email address to enable me to send you the photographs. Recently, here we are just enjoying the first wintery days.


        • Hello Sunilkumar, I had sent an email to you on October 12th answering your first inquiry – did you receive it? Maybe it landed in your spam or ‘unknown’ folder… please let me know if it has not arrived. Thank you & best regards, Heike

  16. This weekend I decided to work on some baobab seeds I have. I took a dremel mini grinder and milled through the back of the 5 seeds to export the cream inner part.. Then I soaked them for an hour in hot water after which I put them in a hot wet cloth in a plastic tub , into my germination cabinet which can sit at 25 to 30 deg on sunny days. The covered with black plastic to encourage heat retention. I will check in a week and see the change. I still have 50 or more seeds to use and will try the other methods shown on this site to see what seems to work the best.

    • Dear Bob, sorry for my late response – I travelled in the land of the baobabs. Thank you for sharing your information & please let me know about progress – it is always interesting to exchange experiences with other baobab enthusiasts! Best regards, Heike

  17. Dear Heike I live near Genoa Italy I have two Adansonia digitata three years old one meter tall recovering the container at home when the temperatures drop below 5 °C in winter. I wanted to know if you think is possible warm up the ground, so that it does not fall below +10°C and leave them outside with temperatures up to four degrees celsius below zero for for 1 to 2 days in a worse year and a certain degree of humidity ‘ in the ground. maybe with some kind of protection?
    Thanks Fabrizio P.

    • Dear Fabrizio, thank you for your comment. As Adansonia digitata is very sensitive to frost I do not recommend to leave the trees outside exposed to frost – not even for a few days. Particularly the small ones are sensitive and might die. Although they generally drop leaves during fall they only reduce their metabolism and are very unlike European trees – our trees go to sleep. Adansonia digitata still does photosynthesis with a layer of cells below the outer bark and it still draws water from the soil – just a bit slower than with leaves. If it is left outside in frost it will be frozen after a few hours. I hope this answer helps. Good luck with your trees & kind regards, Heike

  18. Hi HeikeI, I also tried to graft for proximity of two branches, Adansonia on Pachira aquatica, genetically very close, in order to obtain a plant with roots not subject to rotting and more resistant to frost, a few months have passed I still have to verify the result. Has anyone done similar tests?
    Thanks Fabrizio P

    • Dear Fabrizio, another interesting question. I have not heard of anyone trying what you try to achieve. I have only heard that the University at Rhein-Waal in Germany has projects in Kenya where they graft baobabs from different areas and of different production quality to get better fruit etc. Best regards, Heike

  19. Hi Heike, I’m surprised at the speed the Baobab grows. I sowed them around 20th of november, a week later 4 sprouted and now the biggest is already 15 cm with about 8 leaves. They are on a window sill above a heating element and a few days ago I also put a led growing light above them to keep them growing upright because it already gets darker around 5 pm these days here in Belgium. I use cactus soil but I would like to know if I need to use fertilizer at some stage and if so, what kind? Kind regards, Rudy

    • Hello Rudy, thank you for your comment & congratulations to successfully germinating baobab seeds! Yes, they do grow fast during their first years – later on only 2mm/year on average. They need to make sure to become tall as quickly as possible to survive – they are quite tasty and animals like to browse on the young shoots. I repot my baobabs into new soil every 2 years and usually do not fertilize them. I take a mixture of regular soil and cactus soil and it seems to be ok – one of my baobabs grew a branch of 90 cm this last summer. But I have grown them in cactus soil successfully as well – as long as I repot them regularly that seems to be fine. If you care to give them something extra you could use natural fertilizer – like made from nettles or manure or buy fertilizers available in stores. Hope this helps & enjoy your baobabs. Best regards, Heike

  20. Hello!

    I am also struggling with keeping my sprouts alive. Someone gave me a goodbye present of two Baobab plants in October. They grew rapidly day by day. Unfortunately, I had to go on a trip and I left them at a friends house. When I got back one of the two plants leaves had fallen and the plant was turning yellow and brown. They said they took care of them, and I believe them because the other one was just fine. I got them home and tired to save the one but I think it’s gone now. But I do have one sprout still a alive. My issue is it’s becoming brown like the other one. I’m terried that this is the end of this plant too. I would really love some help.

    I usually keep the plants on my heater because I live in Chicago and it is very cold. They had no problem with that and we’re growing just fine but now I’m thinking it might be too much.

    I would love your help and I am open to sending a photo if necessary.

    Thank you,

    • Hello B., I am sorry to hear that one of your little baobabs has died – sad. Since it is very difficult to “diagnose” from far, yes, I’d appreciate a photograph. I have sent you my mailaddress.
      Thank you & kind regards, Heike

  21. Step #4 of your instructions for growing a boab states: “Soil: Your best choice is cactus soil. Mix it with sand (preferably coarse-grained river sand because it helps with drainage) . The ratio should be 2:1. ”

    It is not clear to me whether you mean 2 parts sand and 1 part soil or 2 parts soil and 1 part sand. Perhaps you could clarify that matter for me? Thanks! 🙂

  22. Hi heike,
    Congratulations for your very informative site with very good ideas like placing the seeds between 2 wet papers and covering them with sand in the pot. A French association for the growth of baobabs (INECOBA) gives another method: Put the seeds in a thermo bottle with hot tap water (but not boiling) for 24, 48 hours or more if the seeds are not double volume. Then the hulls are all tender and can be easily removed.
    Soon I will put the seeds in the wet paper and cover them with sand afterwards. Thanks for this good idea!

    • Dear Thierry,

      thank you so much for your words of appreciation – they mean a lot to me! It is a pleasure to publish on and I love to share information about the trees. And some of it I get from other people – like the one with the wet tissue. I remembered that we did the same in primary school with bean seeds 😉 A good layer of 2 cm of sand does not only help better drainage but keeps the gnats (little dark flies) away as well… Good luck with your seeds! Maybe you’d like to let me know about progress? Heike

  23. Hello Heike,
    Thank you for such an informative site. I am in Haiti and hope to try to grow a couple of trees here. I have not had very good luck though with your method of soaking in water after peeling the hard coating off. It seems the few seeds I have are all rotting very quickly on the wet tissue paper and never come up once they are planted. Could this be due to our hard water or something else? They seem to start to sprout but then get mushy.

    I also cannot get cactus soil here. What is another good alternative? We have lots of compost but I’m worried about the root rot you mentioned. All of our plants and soil seem to retain a lot of water.

    Thank you for your help!

    • Dear Meredith, thank you very much for contacting me. I am sorry to hear that your little baobabs all died.
      One of the reasons could be hard water – I recommend that you try to water the little baobabs with rain water and not with water from the tap. Another reason could be that the tissue is too wet. Maybe I should rather say the tissue should be moist? I usually soak a tissue and squeeze the water out, then place the germinated seeds on it. The steps are soaking seeds in warm water for about 48 hours, peeling seeds then putting them on moist tissue in a container and close the container with a lid and keep them for another 48 hours. Maybe you could try to soak seeds for 48 hours and peel them and instead of waiting for another two days put them on soil in a pot and cover everything with a layer of two centimeters of rough river sand – that helps the drainage. Put the pot in a warm spot. Soil: if you have rich soil take half soil and half rough river sand (no fine sand!) and place the seedlings on top of the mixture, then cover everything with rough river sand. If your soil is rather regular soil mix 2 parts of that soil with 1 part rough river sand and place the seedlings as described earlier.
      Watering: the little baobabs should not dry out completely – so you have to water regularly but you have to make sure as well that you do not overwater. They should not be kept dripping wet all the time. It is tricky to get the seedlings past the first three months as they are very sensitive. I hope this helps. Please let me know about progress. Good luck with the seeds – Kind regards, Heike

  24. Hi

    Out of four seeds only one germinated after 5 days and the others seemed to be very soft and mushy. Ive now transplanted it into a container with cocopeat. This is before watching your video.

    How much light does it require as a sapling?


    • Hi Ali, thank you for dropping a message & congratulations that one of your baobab seeds germinated. It is not a given that all the seeds germinate – no matter which “technique” you use. If seeds turn soft & mushy that usually means that they were kept too wet – it is quite tricky to give the right amount of water which the very small baobabs need regularly. Small baobabs require between 10 to 12 hours light/per day and they need to be kept at a warm spot – best temperature is about 24° C. They do not like draught/wind and they do not like it too wet around their roots. Please make sure that the drainage of the pot you keep your sapling in is good. Best is if you put a layer of pepples at the bottom of the pot. I hope this information helps & good luck with your little baobab. Best regards, Heike

  25. Hi
    Thanks for this page. It really helped when germinating my baobabs.
    After three seeds germinated in December, they started growing rapidly and too close to each other so I made the bad decision to repot them. In the process I damaged the roots so two of them didn’t make it and the remaining one has not grown at all for over two months now.
    It still has the two cotyledons and two leaves and it looks healthy. The new leaves that were coming out died off, the plant has turned a dark green and the stem is lignifying.
    I’m concerned because I had baobabs before and they grow very fast in the beginning. At the same time I’m happy it’s still alive, but I’d like it to keep on growing. It’s only around 6cm tall!
    I’m aware baobabs can stop growing in adverse conditions. Is there a way to help resume growing?
    I’m using cacti fertilising and hopefully with the Summer around the corner it’ll help.
    I live in the UK but my room is always around 20°C, it gets to 23°C sometimes. The pot is on the window sill, by the heater.

    Thanks very much,

    • Hi Fran, thank you for contacting me. I am sorry to hear that two of your baobabs
      did not make it through the repotting. You probably repotted them too
      early. During the first three months they invest a lot of energy to
      build their little taproot – it helps them to safe water and nutrients
      for the dry period in the wild where they do not get water. After three
      months or later it should not be a problem to repot. After all,
      repotting can mean stress to the little tree and it may be that it needs
      a little time (I cannot say how long) to recover from that. I’d like to
      suggest that you keep it in a warm spot and if you can, allow a spot
      with direct sunlight. Summer should help. I have 12 little baobabs and
      all of them behave differently. Some have their leaves out already,
      others are still “sleeping” – patience helps with baobabs. What you
      describe sounds promising and I think your little baobab will start
      growing once it is getting warmer. I hope this helps you – good luck and keep me posted about progress. All the best, Heike

  26. This was a excellent informative post you have shared on this page about exotic lace bugs in tree stumps but if They are plant feeding bugs. Most species have an elaborate net or lace-like structure that covers the upper-body, hence the common name. This can only really be appreciated when the insect is viewed under a low power microscope. There are about 2000 species of lace bug worldwide, all assigned to the family Tingidae; the majority are host-specific (feeding on one type of plant) and a small number of species are highly destructive plant pests.

  27. Hi Heike! I like the site…lots of interesting information here 🙂

    Last fall I started a quest to grew all 8 species of Adansonia! It took me quite a while to find reliable sources for seed but I managed to find seed for all 8 species. Thus far I’ve managed to get 6 of the species to germinate and I have a small and growing collection of trees on the deck.

    Thus far, I’ve been following roughly the same treatment process for all seeds which basically mimics your process: soak in hot water for a day or so, scratch the seed coat, soak some more, peel down to the white part of the seed, place on damp cloth until root growth is apparent then plant shallowly in coconut coif.

    Some observations:

    1) Some species germinate much easier than others. I get nearly 100% germination success with digitata and gregorii…I define germination as obvious root growth for reasons I’ll discuss below. Za, fony, perieri and madagascarensis are closer to 50% success rate. I have limited seed of grandidier and suarezensis but so far my germination success rate for those 2 species is 0%.

    2) I’ve started to NOT scratch all the way down to the white. Instead, I file the seed coat until it is flat. How much is hard to say but I leave the entire coat in tact. When I do this and have filed deep enough, or the seed was naturally cracked (sometimes just a soak without any filing of the coat will cause the seed to swell, but this is rare), the seed coat will swell and leave a hollow between the outer seed coat and the seed itself. That hollow tends to fill with water that remains in the seed when removed from the water. I haven’t done any testing on this yet, but I wonder if that’s the natural mechanism to support germination…the seed coat gets cracked or thinned somehow allowing water into the seed. The seed coat expands from the water and traps water inside next to the seed. Now the environment can dry somewhat but the seed will still have a reserve of moisture to support germination. I have lots of extra seed for the species I’ve already managed to germinate so I might play around with that idea and see what I can learn.

    3) The swelling of the seed itself is NOT an indication of germination. It seems to be more related to rehydration than germination. Suarezensis is a much larger seed to begin with…2-3 times as large as digitata. Once soaked, the seed expands a factor of 2-3. I can reliably reach this stage with suarezensis but I’ve yet to see any root lengthening or color change indicating chlorophyl generation. If I put the seed back into a dry environment, it shrinks again. This makes me think the initial swelling has more to do with water uptake than any indication of active growth which would indicate successful germination.

    Since I had limited seed for suarezensis and grandidier, I’ve mostly experimented on the other species that I had more seed for but now I’m starting to get more plants than I have room for and still need to somehow germinate 2 more species! I’ve only tried grandidier once (2 seeds) and failed. My source of seed that I trust has a new stock of grandidier so I hope to try that species again soon. I’m down to only half a dozen or so suarezensis seeds though. Not only has it proven the hardest to germinate, but it’s also the hardest to source AND the most expensive! I’d be greatly appreciative of any advice you o your followers may have on this tricky species!

    As far as the other species go, there are very clear differences between most of the seeds and plants. One thing I’ve found humerous is that my perrierie plants tend to have digitat (5 leaflet…like a hand) leaves startign with the 2nd or 3rd set. My digitata plants all have single leaflet (NOT digitat) leaves thus far. In fact, my digitata are the only plants that do not have multiple leaflets per leaf at a young age! I’m guessing an older specimen was used when assigning names 😉

    Anyway, I thought I’d add some of my incoherent ramblings to the body of internet knowledge about these cool trees!

    • Hi Brian, wow, what a lovely project! Thanks for sharing your valuable information here. I have sent you mail. Kind regards, Heike

    • I have had the same struggles with A. suarezensis. I have manage to get the odd germination after lots of experimentation, but 90%+ of them rot.
      I am surprised you have struggled with A. grandidieri, though, as I have had success rates of 75-100% with that species. Of course, it may be the viability of your seed rather than your method and not your fault at all.

  28. Hi Heike, if the seeds haven’t germinated significantly as yours did after 2 days in the paper tissue, can you leave them longer? Also did you use hot water on the tissue or where did you keep it warm? Also did it need direct sun?

    • Dear Cashin, thank you for contacting me regarding your baobab project. I suspect that the smell comes from the baobab seeds. This can be the result of rot and can happen during this stage of developing seeds very easy. How long did you keep the seeds in there? Kind regards, Heike

      • Hi Heike, thank you for replying. I soak the seeds in water for 1 night after crack it a little. Then i place it between 2 layer of wet tissue inside small container for 1 night. When i were going to place it on the media, its so stinky

          • Dear Cashin, thank you for giving me these details. Leaving it between the tissue for 5 days is too long. I am very surprised about the small worms. I have not heard of that before and therefore I suspect that the eggs of the insects have already been in the seeds before you soaked them or that some insect got access to the container and laid eggs in there. The procedure that worked fine for me is scratching the surface of the seed, soaking it in water for 1 or 2 days, leaving it between moist tissue in a container for 1 or 2 days and then planting it. I have never had them rot before. I am sorry that your attempt to grow baobabs from seeds did not work. Could you try again? Kind regards, Heike Pander

  29. Hello there!

    Thank you for all the wonderful information, this is greatly appreciated.

    I live in Tasmania and have recently acquired 34 Adansonia Grandidieri, with 12 Adansonia Gregorii on the way, will the same method work for these seeds? Summer is ramping up her so I am hoping to start int the next few days, thanks for any advice you can offer.



    • Hello Will, sorry for my late response I was travelling & I found your message today only… If you have not started your project yet go ahead and try the same method with a few of the seeds. Just make sure that you do not keep the seeds in a warm place and not soaking wet. They catch root rot easily… Good luck & happy 2020, Heike

  30. Hello Will, sorry for my late response I was travelling & I found your message today only… If you have not started your project yet go ahead and try the same method with a few of the seeds. Just make sure that you do not keep the seeds in a warm place and not soaking wet. They catch root rot easily

  31. This was a excellent informative post you have shared on this page about exotic lace bugs in tree stumps but if They are plant feeding bugs. Most species have an elaborate net or lace-like structure that covers the upper-body, hence the common name. This can only really be appreciated when the insect is viewed under a low power microscope. There are about 2000 species of lace bug worldwide, all assigned to the family Tingidae; the majority are host-specific (feeding on one type of plant) and a small number of species are highly destructive plant pests.

  32. Hello,
    I really appreciate your site and responses to all of these comments and concerns. I have a unique situation. I was gifted a rather large baobab, perhaps 6 years old, as a house warming gift. It has been growing its whole life in New Mexico but now lives in North Carolina. I want this tree to be happy for generations to come and hope to bonsai it over time.
    Do you have a recommendation for the best set up to grow the tree indoors? Is there a specific grow light that I should get for the tree, if it does not get 6 hours of direct sunlight? Also, to keep it at a warm temperature, as North Carolina has freezing temperatures in winter, should I supply direct heat to the tree? A heating pad? Thank you so much!

    • Dear Sam, thank you for getting in touch & your interest in baobabs. I understand your quest and would therefore like to recommend that you read the blog posts (see links):

      Unfortunately, I do not have the time to elaborate a lot. It is important that you understand the annual cycle of baobabs and their reduced metabolism during winter months. I have never used growth lamps with mine but you can give it a try. Just make sure that you keep the baobab indoors once temperatures drop in fall. Baobabs like it hot & dry and thrive in temperatures above 25 ° C. They do not like wind and wet weather (unless a rainy season in the wild). I live in Germany and I do not use a heating pad and do not apply direct heat to my baobabs. As pot plants baobabs like to be kept at temperatures around 18° C during their dormancy phase where they drop their leaves (in winter). So, rather put them in a slightly cooler place during winter if you have that space. Mine live on the livingroom windowsill all year round and therefore do not drop their leaves and skip the slow metabolism phase… Nevertheless, they seem quite happy. Hope that helps. Good luck with your trees & kind regards, Heike

  33. Thank you for all of the amazing information! I just got into Bonsai and I want to grow a Grandidieri from seed. I got 10 seeds from India on Amazon and followed your process. I potted them and covered them with sand today. My question is about direct sunlight vs. full shade. I live in South Florida where this time of year it is very hot with intense sun. I am growing them outdoors. You mentioned placing the newly potted seeds on a balcony or terrance outside. Should they be in direct sunlight or in the shade? Also, once they germinate and break through the sand, should they be in direct sunlight or in the shade? Thanks again for your amazing information!

    • Hi Zachary, thank you for your inquiry regarding baobabs and how to treat them. Generally, they can survive in direct sunlight as they come from regions where the sun is quite intense and in the wild I have seen quite a number of them germinating in very sunny spots. To me it is difficult to tell you what you should do. I have planted several adansonia digitata and did not pay much attention during summer months whether they were in direct sunlight or not as I do monitor them closely once they break through the sand in the pot. If they show signs of wilting I move them to a place with more shade – generally it is most important that they have temperatures above 24 °C – if the place in the shade has that, no problem. And that you make sure that they get the right amount of water – not too much and if you place them in the sun enough water that they do not dry out too quick… Hope that helps & all the best to you and your baobab-project! Heike

      • Thanks! As expected with most sunlight and watering questions, it’s a case by case basis based on environment. I have another question. My first seedling of 9 broke thru the sand today after only 2 days! Hooray! I noticed some pictures of 2
        month old trees on your website without sand covering the cactus soil. Do you remove the sand at some point as it’s hard for me to monitor the soil dampness with the sand cover even using chopsticks?

        • Hi Zachary, thanks for getting in touch & congratulations for successfully growing baobabs from seeds – wonderful experience, if it works 🙂 With the sand: I do not remove it – actually, that may be pictures of a phase before I started using sand. The sand helps to prevent sciarids/fungus gnats to get into the soil and reproduce – their offspring eats the roots and destroys plants. Therefore I leave the sand – even if it makes moisture monitoring a bit more difficult. But it will not harm the baobabs if you remove the sand. It just made my life a lot easier without the black flies… All the best to you and your baobab project, Heike

  34. Hi Heike, Our summer has started and I have a few hundred baobab seeds which I am going to try and germinate. I have soaked some for 2 days in hot water in a thermos flask and peeled them but they didn’t progress further in damp tissue. I am soaking some more at present. I have some concentrated sulphuric acid which I used to scarify palm tree seeds which I soaked for 6 hours and it removed their hard coat perfectly and they are in damp tissue hoping to germinate. I tried the acid on a few baobab seeds as I read a lab test that did this but after 24 hours there was no change to the hard coat so I am staying with your method and will do as many seeds as I can. I see a Johann from Gauteng is in contact with you , I am also in Gauteng and he may be nearby, if you wish you could give him my e mail. I am meeting a friend’s son this week who has qualified in geology and he is keen on growing baobabs as he has germinated many indigenous seeds already, we will get together this week , hope you are well and I’ll let you know of my progress, this is the first time I found this particular site of yours, Bi Bob

    • Hi Bob, thanks for getting back to me. I was not aware that you did not know about this specific page as we were exchanging information via my website earlier. Sorry to hear that your baobab seeds did not germinate. You might want to try and just open the seed coat carefully with a saw for example – but really carefully so that there is only a little opening. Then put it into lukewarm water for 48 hours. The seeds swell up to double their size and peeling can still be a challenge but is possible. Try to make sure that the tissue is not soaking wet. Place container at a warm spot but not direct sunlight. Maybe you need to take the lid from the container every now and then. Hope this helps you. All the best & good luck! Heike

  35. Hi Heike
    It is a pity i dind’t have this information before planting my boabab seeds. (The seeds are more than 10years old).
    However, 2 of 3 seeds did germinate and the little plants are now approx 4 centimetres high.
    I didn’t crack or peel the shell…. just soaked it in hot water for a little longer than 12hours, and planted it in potting soil.
    Now i wonder, is this the reason why the “shell” did not fall off? The shell is very hard and still stuck on the top of the leaves, seems like the leaves can’t grow loose. Will it fall off by itself? Should i try to remove it? There is a small crack in one of them and the leaf are yellow underneath…
    I still have hope that the third will germinate, but i don’t know if i should bother to crack the shell now?

    South Africa

    • Hi Joha, thanks for getting in touch & for your enquiry regarding your baobab seeds. You could get the shell off – but would have to be very careful as the first leaves are very tender and the shell – as you say – is still hard. If you are lucky it falls off by itself. But you could wrap it with a little plastic sheet to soften it and then carefully remove it. Usually when baobab seeds germinate they produce the first two leaves and shortly after the “next generation” of leaves – what I did with my germinating baobabs before I peeled the the seed coat entirely before planting: I left the shell stuck to the leaves and waited for the next set of leaves because I tried to remove the shell a couple of times and always tore the little leaves. The hard coat comes off eventually. Sometimes the little leaves shrivel and fall off after a while anyway. The important fact is that the seeds germinated and that they produce leaves at all. As you are moving into summer your baobabs stand a good chance that they will make it – if you water them properly and if they have enough sun/warmth. All the best & good luck with your baobabs, Heike

  36. Hi there! I found out I could grow these beautiful trees a few months ago and I was intrigued! I ordered 5 seeds and did step by step everything you mentioned in your video. 3 germinated but only one survived. I was wondering how much growth I should be seeing in a 3 month old baobab tree? It’s about 4 inches tall and has very beautiful healthy leaves but it’s not really growing anymore though. Are there tricks to speed the growth??

    • Hi Samantha, thank you for getting in touch & congratulations for growing a baobab successfully from seeds. Well, it is very difficult to “diagnose” from far. If you cannot detect any pests harming the tree and if you did not overwater – the little baobab should be fine. During their first three months they invest a lot of energy into the development of their little taproot. As I do not know where your baobab grows and what the climate conditions are at the moment, I cannot give you more detail. Maybe the temperatures have dropped significantly where you live or you are heading straight into fall – all those factors can contribute to the developement of little baobabs. All I can say is that when the point in time is right, they can grow like mad. They have a tendency to grow single stem as fast as they can. Mostly they do that when temperatures are around and even better above 24° C. Kind regards, Heike

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