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Trachycarpus fortunei

March 1st, 2014

Common name: Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm, Chinese Windmill Palm

Family: Arecaceae

Synonymous:  Chamaerops excelsa
Chamaerops fortunei
Trachycarpus caespitosus
Trachycarpus wagnerianus

Trachycarpus fortunei

Trachycarpus fortunei

Distribution and habitat: Trachycarpus fortune is a palm native to central China, south to northern Burma and northern India, growing at altitudes of 100 to 2400m (328–7874 feet). It is one of the hardiest palms growing in the mountains of southern China. This brings it into a climate not only with cold winters, but also cool, moist summers.
Today, being widely cultivated throughout China, Japan and SE Asia for the fibres within the leaf stalk and it is rarely found in forests.

Trachycarpus fortunei is cultivated as a trunking palm in gardens and parks throughout the world in warm temperate and subtropical climates. Its tolerance of cool summers and cold winters makes it highly valued by palm enthusiasts, landscape designers and gardeners. It can be grown successfully in such cool and damp but relatively winter-mild locales as Scotland and British Columbia Canada, as well as in warm temperate climates in parts of the United States, Europe, New Zealand and Asia. It does not grow well in very hot climates.

Description: Trachycarpus fortunei has a slender stem that bears fan shaped leaves with finely toothed stalks a metre (3 feet) or so long. In wild Trachycarpus fortunei grows about 12m (40 feet) tall, but growth indoors is slow and plants are unlikely to reach a height of more than 2.5m (8 feet) in the home. When young, the leaves are pleated and they are covered with fine short grey or light brown hair. As the leaves ages, this woody covering disappears and the pleats divide almost to the base into many stout but pliant segments, each up to 30cm (12 inch) long and 2-3cm (1 inch) wide. Individual segments are sometimes pleated into two or three fronds. The mature leaves are up to 60cm (24 inch) wide and dark green above, bluish green below. The main stem which does not normally branch, becomes covered with a coarse brown fibre.
Eventually the leaves turn from green to yellow to brown, but they do not fall off. They should be gently pulled away or cut off when they become unsightly. The tips of the leaf segments, in particular, become discoloured with age and are liable to split along about 2cm (0.8 inch) or more of their length. This is natural and is not necessary a sign of illness. An affected tip can be cut off without detriment to the rest of the leaf.

The flowers and fruits which are produced by mature Trachycarpus fortunei palms are not normally found on indoor specimens. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants (dioecious). The flowers are densely arranged on 0.5-1m (2-3 feet) long branched stalks called an inflorescence. The Trachycarpus fortunei palm’s bright yellow inflorescence erupts from a packet-like bud in late winter and early spring and is held within the crown. On female plants the flowers are followed in late summer by round or oblong blue fruits that are about 1.5cm (0.5 inch) in diameter.

Houseplant care: Trachycarpus fortunei is the only species from its genus grown as an indoor plant.

Stand these palms when are not kept outdoor in the milder months in gentle rain or wash them carefully under cold shower in order to free them of the accumulation of dirt and dust that collects on the leaves.

Light: Throughout the year, Trachycarpus fortunei palms need bright light with three or four hours a day of direct sunlight. New growth will be limited if palms receive insufficient light.

Temperature: These plants not only grow well in normally warm room temperatures, but are also completely unharmed by temperatures down to 7°C (45°F). If possible stand the Trachycarpus fortunei palms outdoors in a sheltered but sunny position from late spring to about mid-autumn. This will promote new growth and encourage the development of stiff, healthy leaves.

Watering: Water actively growing palms moderately, giving enough water to make the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again. In a normally warm room temperature Trachycarpus fortunei will not have a regular rest period, but its growth will slow down or even stop whenever the temperature drops 12°C (54°F). At such times, it is best to water only once a month and sparingly – just enough to make the potting mixture barely moist throughout.

Feeding: Apply standard liquid fertiliser to actively growing plants about once every two weeks.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move small Trachycarpus fortunei palms into pots one or, at the most, two sizes larger every second or third spring until the maximum convenient size is reached (likely to be 25-30cm – 10-12 inch). Thereafter, it should suffice to top-dress these palms with fresh potting mixture.

Gardening: Trachycarpus fortunei palm prefers cooler, temperate areas and although it will grow in the sub-tropics, but it will struggle in the tropics. This is a hardy palm and can withstand subfreezing temperatures. In its native habitat, this tough palm is sometimes subjected to a cover of snow and ice. This palm should be planted in sheltered sites when grown in hardiness zone 7. Young plants are less hardy and can be damaged by only −8°C (17°F). Very young plants should be given some protection during their first winter or two outdoors.

Location: Sunny sheltered position, especially from the cold drying winds of the north and east in temperate zones or partial shade in sub-tropical zones are best for Trachycarpus fortunei palms.
This palm is moderately salt tolerant and can be planted behind the first line dunes or against a structure that will shield it from direct exposure to sea breezes. Protection from harsh winds will minimize leaf tearing and will allow this palm look its best. Individual leaves live for about three years if they are not damaged by wind.

Soil: Trachycarpus fortunei does best in well drained soils with above average fertility but it will survive in almost anything except perpetually soggy conditions.
These palms usually have deep penetrating root systems and generally establish best when planted out at a young stage. In areas at the limit of their cold tolerance, therefore, it is prudent to grow the plants in containers for some years, giving them winter protection and only planting them into their permanent positions when sheer size dictates. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
These palms can also be transplanted even when very large. Although the thick fleshy roots are easily damaged and / or desiccated, new roots are generally freely produced.

Irrigation: Plants should be watered faithfully. Water the base of palms thoroughly but do not keep wet. Form a small basin around palms to hold irrigation water longer. Mulches help keep shallow palm roots from drying out quickly. Trachycarpus fortunei has moderate drought tolerance.

Fertilising: Fertilize the palm regularly with granular fertilizer intended for palms and follow the label rates and directions.

Propagation: Trachycarpus fortunei are propagated by fresh seed sown in early spring. Seed takes up to a year to germinate, however and the seedling are also slow growing – they may take several years to assume palm like characteristics. The best way to acquire Trachycarpus fortunei palms, therefore, is to purchase the young plants from nurseries or garden centres.

Problem:
Scales and palm aphids are pests of Trachycarpus fortunei.
Treatment: Inspect the palm regularly for insects and use a suitable spray insecticide when necessary.

Trachycarpus fortunei may be infected by root rot, moderately susceptible to lethal yellowing disease and leaf spots caused by a number of fungal pathogens.
Treatment: Avoid over-watering the palm, as this leads to root rot and decay. There is to date no cure for lethal yellowing. Sanitation and water management are critical for leaf spot disease management. Avoid overhead irrigation. These fungal infections are difficult to treat and an accurate diagnosis is essential for proper treatment.

Note: The names Chamaerops excelsus and Trachycarpus excelsus have occasionally been misapplied to Trachycarpus fortunei; this is correctly a synonym of Rhapis excelsa, with the confusion arising due to a misunderstanding of Japanese vernacular names.

Usage and display: Trachycarpus fortunei palm makes a great accent which fits well into small areas like courtyards and entries. It is a tough plant and survives in hot urban landscapes and even thrives there if watered and fed. It is a perfect palm for containers. It is very attractive planted in groves and groupings especially when plants of different heights are staggered in irregular patterns (plant the tallest palms in center of the groups and shorter ones at the edges). These palms can be used successfully lining an entry walk to a large building. This adds a formal elegance to any structure, especially one with glass façade. Also, Mass plantings of Trachycarpus fortunei palms around a patio or sitting area will create an luxuriate atmosphere.
As indoor plant Trachycarpus fortunei palm makes a great plant to any home or office. It will fit into narrow spaces and bring a sense of tropics to any place. Because of its compact foliage and slow growth rate it will make a nice potted plant for a patio, deck or pool.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 24°C (45-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Outdoors height: 12m (40 feet)
Outdoor spread: 3m (10 feet)
Indoor Height: 2.5m (8 feet)

Hardiness zone: 8a-11

Trachycarpus fortunei Trachycarpus fortunei multi-trunk Trachycarpus fortunei Trachycarpus fortunei in winter Trachycarpus fortunei inflorescence Trachycarpus fortunei fruits

Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Palms , , , , , , ,

Chamaerops humilis

October 10th, 2013

Common name: European Fan Palm, Mediterranean Dwarf Palm, Dwarf Fan Palm, Palm Cabbage

Family: Arecaceae

Synonymous: Chamaerops arborescens
Chamaerops bilaminata
Chamaerops conduplicata
Chamaerops depressa
Chamaerops elegans
Chamaerops macrocarpa

Chamaerops humilis

Chamaerops humilis

Distribution and habitat: Chamaerops humilis is the only palm species native to continental Europe. It is mainly found in south-western Europe  – Malta, coastal Spain and Portugal, central and southern Italy, some parts of the southern Mediterranean coast of France – as well as northwest Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia). This palm has a stumpy, shrub like appearance, being usually found in extreme condition on sandy or rocky ground, appearing mainly on coastal fringe, on cliffs above the sea, on hillsides and in gorges, at altitudes normally below 1000m (3300 feet).
This dwarf palm tree can be considered one of the most representative of Mediterranean vegetation in the south-west of Europe. Sometimes they become great impenetrable palm colonies and others appear more scattered, in areas that are highly eroded and lacking in virtually any vegetation.

Description: Chamaerops humilis is a bushy shrub with stems up to 1.5m (5 feet) high and carries fan-shaped fronds with stiff, 38cm (15 inch) long, strongly toothed stalks. Each frond is about 60cm (24 inch) across, dark grey-green and cut almost to the stalk into many rigid, sword-shaped segments, which are usually split at the ends. Young fronds are often covered with fine grey hair, but this falls off as the fronds opens. Flowers and fruits are never produced on plants grown indoors.

Planted directly in ground, Chamaerops humilis grows clustering to 3m (10 feet) tall, but sometimes solitary reaching 7m (22 feet) tall and about 30cm (12 inch) in diameter. The stems are covered with dead leaves and persistent fibers. As they mature they will develop multiple stems surrounding the main stem and have a tendency to form suckers all along the stems which will make them appear very shrubby and can lead to them becoming 4.5m (15 feet) wide.
The inflorescence, which appears between the leaves, may be staminate, pistillate and occasionally hermaphroditic; all are about 15cm (6 inch) long, branched to two orders. Yellow male and female flowers are borne on different plants usually, although sometimes the flowers are bisexual. The spherical to oblong fruits, 1-1.5cm (0.3-0.5 inch) in diameter, may be yellow, orange or brown when ripe.
These palms are known as a very variable species.

Houseplant care: Chamaerops humilis is probably the best palm to grow in a container where it can survive drought, heat, wind, cold and long periods of neglect.
These palms have petioles armed with upward-pointing spines along the margin; use extreme caution when handling them.

Light: Give Chamaerops humilis palms three to four hours of direct sunlight every day. These palms will tolerate some shade, but their growth will be slower and the gaps between fronds will be greater if they receive too little light. However, they can acclimatise to an indoor environment in light that would prove insufficient for a great many plants.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable for these palms. It is best if the temperature does not go below about 10°C (50°F). If possible, give plants a winter rest period at about 13-16°C (55-61°F).

Watering: During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never allow the pot to stand in water. During the rest period, if any, water Chamaerops humilis sparingly, allowing the top two-thirds or so of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings.

Feeding: Make a regular application of liquid fertiliser to actively growing Chamaerops humilis palms about every two weeks.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Once every two years, in the spring, move Chamaerops humilis palms into containers one size larger, until the maximum convenient size – probably 20-30cm (8-12 inch) – has been reached. Thereafter, top-dress the plants with fresh potting mixture every spring.

Garden Culture: Chamaerops humilis grows best in Mediterranean climates like Italy, southern California, Chile, Western Australia and Cape Town, South Africa. Cool winters with plenty of rain (or not) and hot, dry summers are the best home for this species. It does not acclimatise well in tropical regions, as it prefers temperate or warm climates, where it has proved very easy to cultivate.
They can be planted year round and are easy to transplant as they have no need to form large root balls. Despite that their growth rate is slow, it is well worth the wait since even small plants will stand out nicely in almost any landscape. These palms will require a minimum of maintenance.

Unlike other trees, palms cannot be pruned. However, unsightly dead lower leaves can be removed; but do not cut them back flush with the trunk.

Position: Chamaerops humilis prefers full sun in a well drained position, but seems to adapt well to shade and damp locations where the soil is not prone to water-logging. It grows well in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. Their growth will be very slow when they are planted in the shade.

These palms are wind resistant once established as they, in their natural habitat, are growing usually in sunny positions that are exposed to winds. Also they are suitable for being planted near the sea and can perfectly withstand the salinity.

Soil:  Chamaerops humilis can be cultivated in all type of soils, from very poor or clay earth, to soil which is stony, sandy, rocky or very shallow. It prefers well-drained soil which is kept moist and rich – particularly, it grows well in lime.
These palms do well in both alkaline and acidic soil.

Irrigation: Chamaerops humilis prefers dry or moist soil. It will take severe drought, but is happiest with regular, if infrequent water.
Water once a week for the first year.

Fertilising: Its growth is slow or medium and its nutritional needs are low if it receives frequent watering in summer. However, young Chamaerops humilis palms should be fertilized with a high phosphorus fertiliser to improve their growth. Mature palms should be fertilized every few years with a general purpose fertiliser.

Propagation: Chamaerops humilis is possible to be propagated either seed or suckers. The fresh seed sown in early spring at a temperature of at least 18°C (64°F). The seeds will germinate in 2 to 3 months of warmth and humidity.

Chamaerops humilis can be propagated from suckers (basal growth) whenever these appear. Take a sucker 20-25cm (8-10 inch) long with some roots already attached, plant it in 13cm (5 inch) pot of moistened soil-based potting mixture and keep it at normal room temperature in bright filtered light. Water only sparingly enough to make the potting mixture barely moist, until such time as new growth indicates development of active roots. Thereafter, treat the young plant as a mature Chamaerops humilis.

Problems: Chamaerops humilis is not effected by pests and there are no plant diseases that affect these palms.

Scale may be a problem.
Treatment: Scale can be easily controlled by physical removal, wash off with high pressure jet of water or scrape off with cotton wool buds or by chemical control with appropriate pesticide

Recommended species:
Chamaerops humilis var. arborescens differs from the type species in having only one stem up to 2m (6.6 feet) tall.

Chamaerops humilis var. argentea (synonimous: Chamaerops humilis var. cerifera) has fronds that are silvery instread of grey-green.

Chamaerops humilis may be confused with: Serenoa repens is also palmate with a spiny petiole, but the teeth are small and crowded along the margin.
Acoelorrhaphe wrightii is similar, but the petiole spines are short and may be curved to point upward or downward.

Uses: Chamaerops humilis is used in gardening and landscaping in many parts of the world. In temperate regions it is usually cultivated as a houseplant, though in sheltered areas it will survive short periods below freezing point.
Since the leaf stalks are spiny, Chamaerops humilis may also be used as a barrier, planted 1 to 1.5m (3-5 feet) apart. It can also be planted in a mass on a large-scale landscape forming a fine-textured accent area.
Thanks to its rusticity and ability to regenerate after exposure to fire, Chamaerops humilis is ecologically very valuable against soil erosion and desertification.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy
Height: 1.5-5m (5-16 feet)
Spread: 2.5-3.5m (8-11 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 16°C (50-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 8a-11

Chamaerops humilis var. argenteaChamaerops humilis var. arborescensChamaerops humilisChamaerops humilis - femele flowersChamaerops humilis - male flowersChamaerops humilis - flower bud

Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Palms , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lytocaryum weddellianum

August 21st, 2013

Common name: Weddel Palm, Miniature Coconut Palm, Dwarf Cocos Palm, Wedding Palm

Family: Arecaceae

Synonymous: Microcoelum weddellianum
Cocos weddelliana
Syagrus weddelliana

Lytocaryum weddellianum

Lytocaryum weddellianum

Distribution and habitat: Lytocaryum weddellianum palm originates in South America. It grows naturally in the rainforests of Brazil. It is a medium altitude palm and it thrives in the humid shade of the Brazilian rainforests. It is closely related to the coconut palm, but is much smaller and more cold tolerant, taking down to about −4°C (25°F). The palm has a small stature, only growing to a height of 1.8m (6 feet). After flowering, it produces small edible fruits that resemble and taste like coconuts. This palm should be grown in well draining soil that is constantly moist, but not soggy, as this can lead to lethal root rot.
Due to forest destruction and over exploitation by seed collectors the Lytocaryum weddellianum is now considered rare in its native habitat.

Description: Lytocaryum weddellianum is commonly used as an indoor palm. It rarely grows grows taller than 1m (3.3 feet) or so, with 60cm (24 inch) spread. Young plant are generally bought when they are only 22-30cm (9-12 inch) high, with three or four 20-25cm (8-10 inch) long fronds. As the plant age, the fronds lengthen and broaden; they can eventually become about 90cm (35 inch) long and 22cm (9 inch) wide. A potted Lytocaryum weddellianum rarely produces a trunk of any length. The shiny, dark green fronds, which are divided into many pinnae (or leaflets) spread out from a very short thickened base. Each frond, carried on a stalk 8-15cm (3-6 inch) long, has a central rib covered with black scales. There are 20 to 30 slender pinnae on each side of the rib and these are evenly arranged – though not quite opposite one another – in herringbone fashion. Flowers are not generally produced indoors.

Houseplant care: Lytocaryum weddellianum will live for many years, especially if it is kept in a well-lit position. It is an easy to care palm.

Remove any damaged or withered fronds with sharp scissors. An inevitable problem encountered when growing palms indoors is the dust that builds up on the leaves over time that may restrict the amount of light that gets through to the plant. Avoid to use chemicals to shine the palm leaves. The best way to refresh the palm is to wipe the leaves down with damp sponge or stand it outside during a summer shower.

Light: Give these palms bright light, but without any direct sunlight.

Temperature: Lytocaryum weddellianum do well in temperatures between 15 and 27°C (59-81°F). They should not be exposed for long periods to temperatures below or above that range. They are extremely sensitive to dry air, which will cause the fronds to turn brown and shrivel. Stand the potted plants on trays of moist pebbles throughout the year.

Watering: Water moderately at all times, giving enough to make the mixture moist, allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so to dry out before watering again. When temperatures fall below 15°C (59°F), allow the top 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) of mixture to dry out between waterings.
Lytocaryum weddellianum does not tolerate drought.

Fertilising: Apply standard liquid fertiliser about once a month throughout the active growth period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. It is vitally important not to give these palms larger pots than they actually require. Repotting becomes necessary only when the thickened base of Lytocaryum weddellianum begin to force its way up out of the pot. This will not happen more often than once every two or three years. Repot this palm in spring.
Older plants should not be repotted, but top-dressed once a year in spring.

Garden Culture: The Lytocaryum weddellianum cannot withstand full sun and needs to be protected by taller growing plants.

Propagation: Lytocaryum weddellianum are propagated from seed. This is an extremely slow process and is therefore not recommended for amateur growers. Usually Lytocaryum weddellianum is available throughout the year from garden centres and nurseries.

Problems: Most of the diseases of this plant occur when it is either overwatered or not watered enough and if it is getting too much or too little sun.

The only major pests are scale and mealybug.
Treatment: Scale can be easily controlled by physical removal, wash off with high pressure jet of water or scrape off with cotton wool buds or by chemical control with appropriate pesticide.
Mealybug can be removed physically but it usually requires chemical control. For total control use a suitable insecticide and apply it as a soil drench as mealybug often invades the roots of a plant.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy
Height: 1.2-1.8m (4-6 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 16°C max 27°C (61-81°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 27°C (61-81°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Lytocaryum weddellianum - fruits

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indoor Plants, Palms , , , , , , ,

Howea forsteriana

June 15th, 2013

Common name: Kentia Palm, Thatch Palm, Flat Palm

Family: Arecaeae

Howea forsteriana

Howea forsteriana

Description: Howea forsteriana is a relatively slow-growing palm, eventually growing up to 10m (33 feet) tall by 6m (20 feet) wide. Its fronds can reach 3m (10 feet) long.Under natural conditions, it grows as a solitary tree. Howea forsteriana has a slender trunk and a graceful crown of dark-green drooping fronds.

Indoors, Howea forsteriana will eventually grow up to 2.5m (8 feet) tall with a possible spread of up to 3m (9-10 feet). Its leaft-stalks, which may be grow to 90cm (35 inch) long, support flat-topped fronds tended midrib. The leaflets are spaced about 2cm (0.8 inch) apart on the extension of the leaf-stalk that forms the rib of the frond and they are held horizontally rather than nearly vertically. The way in which the leaflets are carried affects the shape of the whole palm.

Houseplant care: Howea forsteriana is an elegant plant and is popular for growing indoors, requiring little light. It can be grown almost anywhere as an indoor plant. The Howea forsteriana palm will withstand quite dark and dry corners of your house, and will tolerate a degree of neglect. However this palm grows best with good light and regular care.

Light: Howea forsteriana do well in either bright light or medium light. An ideal position is one that provide filtered sunlight. Howea forsteriana is a popular palm for indoors as it can tolerate much lower light than other palms. It will tolerate low light but do much better in medium light. This versatile palm can be used in low to high light environments (from 250 to 2000 lux). If it gets too little light however, it will slowly deteriorate.

Direct sun can burn young plants, so give Howea forsteriana palms some protection until they are about five years old. Coastal areas are ideal for growing Howea forsteriana palm outside.

Temperature: Howea forsteriana grows well in normal room temperatures and is able to tolerate reasonable dry air. It is better not to expose Howea forsteriana to temperatures below about 13°C (55°F).

Outdoors, it prefers a tropical region but will also grow in a cooler climate, and can tolerate temperatures down to -5 °C (23°F), but only for a few hours; normal temperatures should not go below 10°C (50°F).

Water: During the active growth period water plentifully, as often as necessary to keep the soil thoroughly moist, but never allow the pot to stand in water. During the rest period give only enough water to keep the mixture from drying out.

Do not overwater the Howea forsteriana palm because can lead to root rot. Also ensure that the soil has decent drainage.
Under-watering on the other hand can cause yellow tips that can eventually turn brown.

Howea forsteriana will benefit form misting to simulate humidity and to prevent pesky spider mites from infesting the palm. Misting will also prevent the dust build up.
Also, the Howea forsteriana palm grown as indoor plant benefit from regular time spent outside in a shady and moist position. Such a break will allow rain or hosing to wash the dust from the palm’s leaves, refresh the plant and encourage new growth. Do not use commercial leaf-cleaning products, which may damage the foliage of the palm.

Soil: Howea forsteriana prefers well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Mulch around the plants or encourage the natural mulch of fallen fronds to collect.

Soil pH requirements are 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic).

Fertilising: Apply a standard liquid fertiliser to actively growing plants about every two weeks.

Outdoors, fertilise Howea forsteriana at least once a year and water regularly, especially during dry periods.

Potting and repotting: Howea forsteriana palms will grow slowly in a tub for many years.  Use a soil based potting mixture. Move the Howea forsteriana into pots one size larger in late spring every second year until maximum convenient pot size was reached (usually 25-30cm (10-12 inch)). It is essential to press the pot mixture down firmly around roots of the Howea forsteriana palm.

To keep plants in the same container, replace old spent soil with new potting mix from time to time.
Avoid repotting if unnecessary and choose the right pot size for this palm. Do not choose a huge pot in the hope the plant will grow faster, as it will not!

Propagation: Howea forsteriana can be propagated only by sowing fresh seeds and keeping it to germinate at atemperature of 27 °C (80°F). Can be used a heated propagating case. It seems that germination rate is 50% or less. Seedling usually grow very slow. It may take about six years to produce a typical Howea forsteriana palm.

Uses: Howea forsteriana palms look best planted in groves or clumps with palms of different heights growing together. Howea forsteriana also make ideal patio plants or containerized specimens.

Problems: Most of the diseases of this plant occur when it is either overwatered or not watered enough and if it’s getting too much or too little sun. They are susceptible to Mealybugs, mites and Scale.

You might be tempted to prune your Howea forsteriana palm very often but try to resist the urge. Over-pruning may cause permanent damage to the trunk and may make your palm susceptible to fungal infections.

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13 °C max 18 °C (55-64°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16 °C max 24 °C (60-75°F)
Humidity – low
Hardiness Zone: 9b-11

Howea forsteriana  Howea forsterianaHowea forsteriana

 

Indoor Plants, Low Light Plants, Palms , , ,

Musa spp.

June 13th, 2013

Common Names: Banana tree

Musa spp.

Musa spp.

Description: Though they grow as high as trees, Musa spp. are not woody and their apparent “stem” is just the bases of the huge leaf stalks. Thus they are technically gigantic herbs.

Banana tree leaves are huge – depending on the variety, they can be up to 0.5 m wide and 2.5 m long.

Banana trees instantly bring a tropical feel to your garden.

Grow in a location where it will be sheltered from the wind – banana trees are very susceptible to being blown over.

Musa spp. require some special conditions and is unlikely to thrive without them.

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – spiral

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13C max 24C
Temperature in active growth period – min 16C max 24C
Humidity – high

Musa spp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palms ,

Chamaedorea elegans

June 13th, 2013

Common Names: Parlour Palm, Neanthe Bella Palm

Chamaedorea elegans

Chamaedorea elegans

Description: Very popular rainforest palm with small slender solitary trunk and griceful pinnate leaves. Warm-temperate to tropical climates.

Chamaedorea elegans grows to a maximum of 2m tall with very slow growth, and prefers moderate to high humidity, but will grow in low to average home humidity. It can be grown in low light, but it grows best with bright, indirect light.

Chamaedorea elegans require some special conditions and is unlikely to thrive without them.

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13C max 24C
Temperature in active growth period – min 18C max 24C
Humidity – high

Palms , ,

Caryota mitis

June 13th, 2013

Common Names: Clustering Fishtail Palm, Burmese Fishtail Palm, Fish Tail, Fishtail, Fishtail Palm, Miniature Fishtail Palm, Clumping Fishtail Palm, Tufted Fishtail Palm

Synonyms: Caryota furfuracea Blume ex Mart.
Caryota griffithii Becc.
Caryota griffithii var. selebica Becc.
Caryota javanica Zipp. ex Miq.
Caryota nana Linden
Caryota propinqua Blume ex Mart.
Caryota sobolifera Wall. ex Mart.
Caryota sobolifera Wall.
Caryota speciosa Linden
Drymophloeus zippellii Hassk.
Thuessinkia speciosa Korth.

Family: Arecaceae

Caryota mitis

Caryota mitis

Distribution and Habitat: Caryota mitis is native to southeast Asia where it grows as an understory plant in tropical rain forests.

Description: Stems clustered, leaves bipinnate, leaflets or pinnules fish-tailed shaped hence the common name. Caryota mitis is an upright plant with a semi-vase shaped growth habit. Indoors usually not over 2.5m (8 feet) in height and 1.5m (5 feet) in width. Caryota mitis may carry six to eight deeply arching, bipinnate fronds on 30-60cm (12-24 inch) long leaf-stalk and these form a sort of crown to the plant. Several smaller fronds are also generally clustered around the base of the main stem. The largest fronds may be as large as 90cm (35 inch) wide with each light green secondary leaflet about 15cm (6 inch) long and 12cm (5 inch) wide; the leaflets grow close together in clusters of 20 to 30.

Houseplant care: Caryota mitis is  slow growing palm – no more than few centimeters (one inch) a year for a stem that may reach an ultimate height indoors of 20.5m (8 feet) or more.

Because it is shallow rooted, Caryota mitis should be planted in an area protected from wind. This palm is perfect for understory planting in woodland areas.

Light: Caryota mitis palm grow best in full sunlight filtered through a translucent blind or curtain.

Temperature: Caryota mitis likes warmth and cannot tolerate temperatures below 13°C (55°F). In very warm rooms, however, increase humidity by standing the pot on a tray of moist pebbles or damp peat moss.

Water: Caryota mitis should be watered plentifully, as often as necessary to keep the soil thoroughly moist, but never allow pot to stand in water.

Potted Caryota mitis are not likely to have well defined periods of growth and rest, but growth may be slow during the autumn and winter periods. In period when plants appear to be growing slower than usual it is advisable to allow the top 1cm (0.3 inch) of the potting mixture to dry out completely before waterings.

Fertilising: Apply liquid fertilizer once a month from early spring to mid-autumn only.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Caryota mitis like to have their roots constricted and should therefore be grown in pots that seems too small for them. Move these palms into pots one size larger only once every two or three years at the time they are just breaking into fresh growth.

Put clay pot fragments in bottom of the pot for drainage and pack the potting mixture firmly around the roots taking care, however, do not break any of the ticker roots in the process. Once the plant is in a pot of maximum convenient size, give it an annual top dressing.

Propagation: It is possible to propagate Caryota mitis from seed sown in spring at a temperature at least 24°C (75°F). Seeds take 4-6 months to germinate. Flowers and fruits are never produced when Caryota mitis is grown indoors.

Caryota mitis can be propagated from suckers (basal growth) or offsets. Detach the growth when it is 20-30cm (8-12 inch) tall, retaining some of the attached root and plant it in a 8-10cm (3-4 inch) pot of barely moistened soil-based potting mixture. Stand the top (uncovered) in warm place where it gets filtered light and water only enough to make the potting mixture barely moist, allowing the top 1cm (0.3 inch) of the mixture to dry out between waterings.

New growth will indicate that rooting has occurred. thereafter, the cultivation needs of the yang plant are the same of a mature Caryota mitis.

Use: The Caryota mitis palm can be used in shrub borders and outdoor container plantings. It tolerates heavy shade and is often used in interior plantings in commercial buildings. It does well in indoor containers.

The leaves can also be used as floral decorations.

Toxicity: Avoid contact with the red fruit produced by Caryota mitis palm. It contains oxalic acid which is toxic when ingested, and contact with skin may result in severe chemical burns.
Fruit, leaves and stems contain various alkaloids. Pulp of mature fruit contains calcium oxalate crystals. Fibrous hairs of the leaf stalk produce skin irritation.

Problems: Brown leaflet tips and attacks of spider mites usually indicate that the air is too dry. There is no need to worry, however, if an occasional frond turns entirely yellow and than brown before dropping off.  It is entirelly natural for one old frond of a Caryota mitis to die off every years or so.
Spider mites are the most common pest problem of the Caryota mitis.
Treatment: Toughly hose them off or Spray the plant with an insecticidal spray.

Pseudomonas disease: brown and wet lesions that usually run parallel to the leaf vein.
Treatment: Remove the infected leaves to stop the disease from spreading.

Interesting facts: Caryota species differ from other palms in that their fronds are bipinnate – each primary leaflet (pinna) is divided into secondary ones (pinnules). The grey-green leaf-stalks vary in length according to species, but the stalks of all species carry these bipinnate fronds, which are divided in herringbone fashion into sections that are again subdivided into many wedge-shaped; each secondary leaflet is folded into a V-shape with ragged edge like a tattered fishtail.

Caryota mitis palms are interesting in that they are monocarpic.  After flowering, the plant dies, fruiting from the top down.  But Caryota mitis are also suckering so the entire plant does not die, just the stem that flowered. Other trunks of suckering Caryota mitis would survive. These facts makes Caryota mitis one of the shorter lived palms,  sometimes living out their entire natural life in ten to twenty years.

Various parts of the plant have been used in many different ways by natives of countries where this plant grows in the wild. The kernels of the fruit and the terminal bud are edible but only after proper processing. The inflorescence can yield saps which can be consumed fresh as ‘nira’ or fermented to produce ‘toddy’, then distilled into potent ‘arak’. A process of refining the sap can produce sugar called jiggery which contains 2.3% protein and significant amount of vitamins. The core of the growing tip can be cooked and eaten. Starch (sago) can be extracted from the pith which forms part of the diet of the aboriginal dwellers of the rainforest.
Medicinally, the fibers are used to treat poisonous animal bites and insect stings.

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 21°C (55-70°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high
Hardiness Zone: 9b-10

Caryota mitisCaryota mitis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palms , , , , , , , ,

Rhapis excelsa

June 13th, 2013

Common Names: Lady Palm, Little Lady Palm, Bamboo Palm, Broadleaf Lady Palm, Fern Rhapis, Ground Rattan, Miniature Fan Palm, Slender Lady Palm

Synonyms: Chamaerops excelsa
Trachycarpus excelsa
Rhapis flabelliformis

Family: Arecaceae

Rhapis excelsa

Rhapis excelsa

Distribution and habitat: Rhapis excelsa is probably native to southern China and Taiwan. These palms are not found in the wild; all known Rhapis excelsa varieties come from cultivated groups. More than 100 named cultivars are available, most of then with Asian names.

Description: Rhapis excelsa is unlikely to grow indoors more than 1.2m (4 feet) tall. It grows in multi-stemmed clumps with glossy, palmate leaves. The thin stems of Rhapis excelsa can reach 25cm (10 inch) in height and up to 2cm (0.8 inch) thick forming clusters of foliage. These stems are wrapped with mats of brown fiber. As the lower leaves fall off, they leave scars on the stems, creating an attractive bamboo-like appearance. New foliage emerges from a fibrous sheath which remains attached to the base. Fronds grow in a fan pattern and are held erect on 30 to 45cm (12-18 inch) stems, each frond consisting of deeply veined leaflets. Each leaflet is composed of five to eight blunt-tipped, tooth edged segments 22cm (8.5 inch) or so long and up to 5cm (2 inch) wide. This palm is usually dioecious which produces a small inflorescence at the top of the plant with spirally-arranged, fleshy flowers containing three petals fused at the base. Ripe fruit are fleshy and white.

Houseplant care: Its ability to handle low light intensities, low humidity, varying temperatures plus its suitability to container planting, small to moderate size and slow growth rate make Rhapis excelsa ideal indoor plant.

Trim off lower leaves as they age and become discolored.

Light: Grow these plants in bright filtered light. During the winter months, however, provide them with three to four hours of direct sunlight each day.

Temperature: Rhapis excelsa will do well not only in normal room temperatures, but also in cool conditions down to about 8°C (46°F). Under the cooler conditions they simply take a winter rest or grow more slowly.

Water: Water actively growing plants moderately, giving enough at each watering to make the potting mixture moist throughout, but allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the mixture to dry out before watering again. During the rest period, if applicable, water more sparingly, allowing the top 5cm (2 inch) to dry out between waterings.

Fertilising: Apply standard liquid fertiliser about once a month to actively growing Rhapis excelsa.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Do not move these palms into larger pots more often than once in two years. Grow them in pots that look a little too small for them. After reaching the maximum convenient pot size (probably about 30cm (12 inch)), give the plants a top-dressing with fresh potting mixture every spring.

Propagation: Rhapis excelsa produce suckers from the base of the plant and these can be used for propagation in spring. Cut off a basal sucker preferably one with some roots already attached to it and plant it in an 8-13cm (3-5 inch) pot size of the recommended potting mixture for these palms.

Place the pot in a warm position in medium light and water the sucker sparingly. Give it just enough at each watering to make the entire mixture barely moist and allow the top centimeter (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out before watering again. As soon as new growth becomes apparent, the young palm can be treated as mature.

These palms can also be propagated from seed, but it takes a great deal of time. The propagation through suckers is both quicker and surer, especially for the amateur gardener.

Gardening: Rhapis excelsa can be used for a tropical garden landscape. This palm is adaptable to soil types, although neutral to slightly acid soils with good drainage and organic matter is recommended for best results. Choose a partially shaded spot under trees or a pergola to place the Rhapis excelsa. It can be grown in full sun as long as the soil have good moisture-retentive properties  and the palm receive plenty of water. The leaves, however, will lose their deep green colouring when exposed to full sunlight, becoming yellowish green and on the hotter days will probably burn.

Temperatures as low as -5°C (23°F) are tolerated by Rhapis excelsa as it is quite cold hardy, particularly when grown under shelter. It also grows in climates where it may be exposed to prolonged periods of cold weather. Very hot weather, particularly when the air is very dry, may cause damage which can be prevented by adequate watering, mulching and growing under other plants or pergolas. Occasional hosing of foliage with a fine spray or mist can also help to maintain a higher relative humidity.

When grown outdoors these palm can rich to a maximum height of between 3-4m (10-13 feet), each stem or cane is slender ranging from 1-3cm (0.4-1.2 inch) in diameter.

Problems: Rhapis excelsa has very few pests or diseases to trouble it.

The only major pests are scale and mealybug.
Treatment: Scale can be easily controlled by physical removal, wash off with high pressure jet of water or scrape off with cotton wool buds or by chemical control with appropriate insecticide.
Mealybug can be removed physically but it usually requires chemical control. For total control use a suitable insecticide and apply it as a soil drench as mealybug often invades the roots of a plant.

Root rots can be avoided through proper cultural practices such as choosing healthy plants in the first place and watering only when necessary. Provide good drainage so that water does not build up and stay around the roots of the palms.

But if, despite great care, root rot symptoms do develop, such as wilting, excessive browning of leaf tips and loss of vigour, can be caused by root fungus.
Treatment: Firstly remove the plant from the soil it is in, wash roots bare of soil, inspect roots for fungus problems, remove black roots or reddish brown roots and replant into a raised bed of well drained soils. In the case of potted plants do the same but plant into a clean well drained potting mix and, finally, drench the soil with a systemic fungicide.

Brown or black fungal spot is usually caused by poor cultural practices.
Treatment: To prevent the disease, buy only good quality plants and do not crowd plants too much so as to allow unimpeded air flow to reduce conditions ideal for the fungus. If leaf spot does occur remove and burn the affected leaves. Thin out plants or space potted plants to improve ventilation and finally spray all affected plants with a preventative fungicide.

Brown leaftips are often caused by an excessive accumulation of fertiliser salts in the potting mix.
Treatment: Thorough leaching will overcome this problem. Soak the palm roots in water for a couple of hours to leach out accumulated salts, toxins and to carry oxygen to the roots. Refer to Fertilising section to prevent further fertilising excess.

Recommended varieties:
Rhapis excelsa Zuikonishiki has yellow markings on each of the segments and is rarely any taller than 60cm (24 inch).

Rhapis excelsa Koban is a popular cultivar with dark-green leaves.

Rhapis excelsa Gyokuhu is a dwarf variety. It slowly adds only a 5cm (2 inch) of height per year and produces numerous offshoots. This variety may only grow 1.2m (4 feet) of height after 30 or 40 years of age in outdoor plantation. Nicknamed the “bush baby”, this variety is excellent for collectors of dwarf specimens, bonsai gardens, or areas requiring small, very special ornamental palms. 

Rhapis excelsa Kodaruma is the smallest variety of Rhapis excelsa. This slow grower puts lots of energy into producing pups, so it grows out more than up. Small leaves on miniature canes personifies the word dwarf. This is another variety excellent for collectors of dwarf specimens, bonsai gardens, or areas requiring small, very special ornamental palms. 

Notes: May be confused with Serenoa repens or Licuala grandis, but both these palmate leaved species have spines on the petiole, unlike Rhapis excelsa which is unarmed.

Uses: Its low light and humidity requirements, dust, and drought tolerant make Rhapis excelsa a common feature in malls and offices.

This dwarf palm is commonly used as screen, border, mass planting, specimen plant, container or above-ground planter, naturalizing or accent plant.

They lend a rich tropical look to the landscape. Lady palms can be effective accents in a shrub border or near an entryway. Plant on 0.9 to 1.2m (3- 4 feet) centers to create a mass effect. Locate them in a low-growing ground cover such as Ophiopogon japonicus (Mondo Grass) or Liriope muscari (lily Turf) for a dramatic effect. This palm looks wonderful when it is lighted from below or silhouetted at night.

This exotic palm is one of the best plants for improving air quality indoors. It has one of the top removal rates of toxins such as formaldehyde and ammonia.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy
Height: 1.2m (4 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 16°C (45-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 8b-11

Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Palms, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Archontophoenix alexandrae

June 13th, 2013

Common Names: Alexander Palm, King Alexander Palm, King Palm, Northern Bangalow Palm

Synonyms: Ptychosperma alexandrae

Archontophoenix alexandrae

Archontophoenix alexandrae

Description: Archontophoenix alexandrae is a tall, solitary, handsome palm to about 25 metres tall with a spread of about 2 – 2.5 metres and a gracefull appearance. The leaves, up to about 2 metres long. It can reach about 1 / 3 meters in diameter.

Flowers are formed below the crownshaft with the creamy flower stalks holding amythest purple flowers. The round fruit, about 12 mm in diameter, turn bright red at maturity.

It is quite a fast grower, averaging about 1/3 – 1 metre per year.

These palms can be grown in full sun (if the water is kept up to them), or in the shade.

Archontophoenix alexandrae is extremely popular palm in Australia, becoming quite common now to plant in clusters and close groupings.

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 10C max 24C
Temperature in active growth period – min 16C max 24C
Humidity – high

Archontophoenix alexandrae

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palms , , , , ,

Livistona chinensis

June 13th, 2013

Common Names: Chinese Fan Palm, Chinese Fountain Palm

Synonyms: Latania chinensis, Latania borbonica, Livistona oliviformis, Saribus oliviformis

Livistona chinensis

Livistona chinensis

Description: Livistona chinensis is attractive, solitary, fan palm with distinctive drooping tips to its leaves. In the wild these fan-leaf palms can develop into tall trees, but those grown in pots do not usually become big enough to produce substantial single stems, and they remain small, stemless shrubs. Their fan-shaped leaves have toothed stalks, are up to 30 cm long and 30 cm wide and are deeply cut along much of their length into many 3 – 4 cm wide, pointed segments. The tips of these segments droop for the last 5 – 8 cm of their length. The uncut lower portion appears pleated.

Livistona chinensis require no special attention and is easy to grow it indoors.

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Shape – bushy

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 7C max 16C
Temperature in active growth period – min 16C max 24C
Humidity – low

Palms , ,