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Baobab sowing instructions

Baobabs are quite easily grown from seed although they are seldom available in nurseries. Seed can be collected from dry fruits by cracking the fruit open and washing away the dry, powdery coating. The dark brown to black, kidney-shaped seeds should be soaked in a container of hot water and allowed to cool, they may then be sown after soaking for 24 hrs. Seeds are best sown in spring and summer in a well-drained seedling mixture containing one-third sand.

Cover the seed with sand to a depth of 4-6 mm, place the trays in a warm semi-shaded position and water regularly until the seeds have all germinated. Germination may take from two to six weeks. Seedlings should be carefully monitored for damping off fungus, which can be treated with a fungicidal drench.

Transplant the seedlings once they are 50 mm high into individual containers, preferably in a sandy soil with some well-rotted compost and bone meal. Baobabs grow reasonably quickly when they are young.

They will make a handsome addition to a large garden, estate, or large parkland providing the soil is not waterlogged. Baobabs cannot tolerate even mild frost.

When they are young, baobabs do not resemble their adult counterparts, the stems are thin and inconspicuous, and their leaves are simple and not divided into the five to seven lobes of the adult trees.

Saplings can be effectively grown in containers or tubs for many years before becoming too large and requiring to be planted into the ground. In this manner one can move them out of the cold into a warm position in a glasshouse or indoors behind a sunny window to prevent frost damage.