Palms and Cycads

Palms and Cycads

Course Code
Payment Options
Upfront & Payment Plans
Online & Correspondence
100 Hours

Palms and Cycads BHT233

Palm and Cycad Distance Education Course

  • Become a Palm and Cycad Expert
  • Learn to identify, propagate and grow lots of different species
  • Work in the nursery or interior plantscaping industries; find a job, start a business, build a career

Palms are a very important group of plants, primarily throughout the tropics, but also extending into cooler areas. There are some palms which will even grow very well in temperate climates. There are palms growing successfully in cooler places throughout the world, including Tasmania, England, Canada and Cape Cod in the USA. Many palms however are not particularly hardy to the cold, and will be injured by temperatures approaching freezing point. In temperate climates, palms are also often grown as indoor plants. 

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 & 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
    • A PBL assignment where you deepen your knowledge by planning the establishment of a collection of different cultivars of palms or cycads (your choice) that are suited to growing in a particular situation or locality.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • 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.

What you will do:

  • Distinguish between different plant families, including:
    • Arecaceae
    • Zamiaceae
    • Cycadaceae.
  • Distinguish between different major groups which the Arecaceae (Palmae) family is divided into.
  • Compile a resource file of sources for information on palms and cycads.
  • Prepare an herbarium collection of fifty palms and cycads.
  • Explain two different ways to plant different specified palm or cycads plants.
  • Compare growing palms in the ground with growing them in a pot as an indoor plant.
  • Explain appropriate techniques for watering palms and cycads in a specified garden, or collection of container plants.
  • Develop guidelines for preparing a specified soil for planting a palm in your locality.
  • Make a potting media suitable for growing palms or cycads in a 300mm container.
  • Evaluate the chemical analyses of five different types of fertiliser to determine their suitability for use on palm and cycad plants.
  • Prepare a maintenance program for a palm plantation which, includes:
    • Soil management
    • Pest and disease control
    • Weed control
    • Pruning
    • Irrigation
    • A twelve month work schedule.
  • Write a procedure for propagating palms or cycads.
  • Summarise common causes for seed failure when propagating palms and cycads.
  • Perform tasks associated with propagating a palm from seed, including collecting and germinating seed.
  • Identify different environmental zones, in your country on an unlabelled map, which are suitable for growing palms selected from a provided list of twenty species.
  • Determine palm and cycad species which are particularly hardy and adaptable to three different environmental zones within your country.
  • Determine six species of cold tolerant palms and cycads.
  • Prepare lists of five palms and cycads, suited to grow in each of a variety of different situations.
  • Determine the pests which commonly occur on palms and cycads in your locality.
  • Determine the diseases which commonly occur on palms and cycads in your locality.
  • Develop a checklist of things to inspect when making an assessment of the health of palms and cycads.
  • Evaluate the health of five different palms or cycads using a plant health checklist, developed by you.
  • Specify treatments for three different pests which are common on palms.
  • Specify treatments for three common diseases which affect palms.
  • Specify treatments for three common problems which affect cycads.
  • Compare alternative (ie. non-chemical) methods of treating five common palm or cycad health problems.
  • Determine five palm species which have spikes on the foliage.
  • Determine five palm species which have no spikes on the foliage.
  • Determine ten palm varieties which have distinct foliage colours other than green.
  • Determine ten self-cleaning palm species.
  • Determine ten palm species which are not self-cleaning.
  • Categorise twenty different palm species according to the texture of the foliage, including:
    • Broad leaves (e.g. fan palms)
    • Fine textured feather palms
    • Coarser textured feather palms.
  • Evaluate the use of palms/cycads in a garden which incorporates at least three different varieties, commenting on both aesthetics and function.
  • Draw a landscape plan, demonstrating aesthetic impact, for a 30 square metre garden bed, where palms and cycads comprise 75% of the total number of plants used.
  • Evaluate the use of palms in a commercial interior (e.g. office or shopping complex).
  • Develop a procedure for the production of a palm plant in a wholesale nursery, from germinating the seed to the time it is ready for sale.
  • Determine how a specified palm needs to be treated differently when grown in a greenhouse.
  • Describe commercial farming of palms including the production of coconuts, dates and palm oil.

<span style="\&quot;font-size:13px;" line-height:1.6em\"="">Scope of Studies

These plants are an integral component in creating a "tropical" appearance to a garden.

Where to Grow them:

  • Temperate, Sub tropic or tropical climates (some grow in even cooler temperate areas)

  • As Indoor Plants or Greenhouse plants anywhere

Most palms are truly tropical plants, preferring wet tropic or subtropic climates to do their best. Some palms and plants that have a palm-like appearance will grow under harsher conditions. These may be used in cooler climates, harsher inland areas (eg. deserts), or as indoor plants, to create similar affects when other varieties of palms become difficult to grow.

When you plant a new palm, it usually takes a period of time to settle in to its new position before starting to put on significant growth. In warm climates, most of the plants listed below should grow reasonably fast, once they have settled in (6-18 months after planting).


  • Self Cleaning Palms : These drop old fronds naturally.

  • Not Self Cleaning : The old fronds still cling to the trunk after dying. This is both unsightly, and provides places for cockroaches and other insects to breed. Fronds need to be physically removed, making more work for the gardener.


Most palms have either a solitary trunk (ie. one trunk to a plant), or develop multiple trunks from the base, to form a more bush-like clump.


Most palms have either fan-shaped fronds or pinnate (divided feather-like) fronds.


True palms (ie. Araceae family) are propagated by seed. Seed needs to be collected close to the time it is about to drop. If you pick it too early, it is less likely to germinate. Palm seed can be spasmodic in germinating. Generally speaking, some may germinate within a month or two of planting, but other seed from the same batch may progressively germinate over many months or even years. Seed needs to be kept moist and warm to achieve this progressive germination. Waterlogged or cold seed will tend to rot.


Cycads look like palms, but are not!  They are in fact more closely related to conifers. Cycads are "ancient" plants; sometimes called Dinosaur plants because they were around millions of years ago.

Who Should Study This Course?

  • Horticulturists, Gardeners, Landscapers, Nurserymen, Botanists, Plant Enthusiasts

  • Interior plantscapers, or anyone working in supply and maintenance of indoor plants

  • Keen amateurs with a passion for palms and cycads

Are you interested in this course?
Free Info Pack