Palms for Autumn Planting, Part V

The survey of palm species available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery in 3-gal. containers concludes this week:

Dictyosperma album var. album is commonly known as the Princess or Hurricance Palm. It is a pinnate, self-cleaning palm that features a yard-tall, waxy crownshaft. Endemic to the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean, it is reported to be nearly extinct in the wild due to farming activities. In southern Florida, this water-loving species matures to about 30 ft. and performs best in a sunny site. It is more capable of tolerating a cold night followed by a rapid warmup than sustained periods of cool weather.

Licuala grandis, the Ruffled Fan Palm, is native to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. It is a striking small species featuring nearly circular leaves that look as if they’ve been cut out by pinking shears. Best grown in shade when young, L. grandis tolerates more sun later. Given generous irrigation, it will reach 15 ft. slowly in southern Florida. Because it does not have an aggressive root system, it can be maintained successfully in a container, particularly if a saucer is placed underneath it to hold water.

Syagrus botryophora, known as the Pati Queen Palm, is a fast-growing species endemic to the coastal woodland of Brazil. It has a thinner trunk than the standard Queen Palm (Syagus romanzoffiana). Its crown contains graceful recurved leaves with ascending, or V-shaped, leaflets. Rainfall in its native range is even throughout the year, so irrigation during the southern Florida dry season is a must. It matures to somewhere in the 20-50 ft. range, and responds well to nutrition that includes minor elements. Plant in full sun.

Thrinax radiata, the Florida Thatch Palm, is native from southern Florida into the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Central America. Its palmate leaves are dark green on top, light green beneath. Pea-sized fruits ripen from green to white. Inground plantings mature to 30 ft. after many years. It is also recommended for both small yards and container culture. T. radiata is best grown in full sun to light or high shade. It is tolerant of winds, salt, drought and poor soils.

The series concludes with some recommendations on planting these palms in the ground, advice reinforced by our recent hurricane experience: Do not skimp on preparing a planting hole. Particularly in areas where limestone is near the surface, dig a large hole so that root system growth over the years will not be inhibited by the rock. However, it is better to refill the excavated hole with the broken pieces of limestone than to introduce a richer planting medium. The material within the planting hole should not be better than the surrounding soil, even if it is not highly nutritional. Nutrition can be provided through sound fertilizing and mulching practices.

Comments are closed.