Whether they are planted in urban areas or in gardens, palm trees, coconut trees or date palms give the impression of exotic surroundings. They are usually found in places where winters are warm. However, palm trees are not considered trees but instead monocotyledons. It is important to talk briefly about their characteristics before considering the various steps for planting and maintaining them.

It should be noted that the trunk of the palm is called the stem and its leaves, fronds. They come in two kinds, fan-shaped or palmate fronds, and those shaped like feathers, also known as pinnate fronds. They are called Phoenix in Latin because they were discovered by the Phoenicians (antiquity). Over 3000 species and 200 genuses are included in the palm tree family.

The only palm tree that is native to continental Europe is the European Fan Palm, also known as Chamaerops humilis. As for the Washingtonia filifera, also known as the Desert Fan Palm, it is native to Arizona, Mexico, and California. The Americans named it so in honour of their first President (George Washington). Filifera is a Latin word meaning “produces fibres”. Other palm trees come from Asia, North and West Africa. These are tropical plants that enjoy the Mediterranean climate and the sun. Most palm trees do not tolerate the cold but there are exceptions such as the Trachycarpus fortunei, more commonly known as the Chinese windmill palm, which is a very hardy type of palm tree. They are usually found in the Himalayas.

Planting palm trees

If growers resort to propagation by seeds in a greenhouse, they are likely to have to wait up to 2 years for the first seeds to germinate. These then take a few extra years to have the appearance of a real palm tree. It is thus recommended to transplant shoots produced by mature palm trees. Make sure that the selected shoot has roots, as well as more than 2 fronds. Cut off the shoot with a knife, being careful not to damage the tissues. Take the shoot that has a healthy terminal bud.

Since palm trees cannot stand the cold, place the shoot in a mixture of moist sand and peat, at room temperature, between 70 ° F and 75 ° F in the shade, and under a dimmed bright light. Growth generally resumes after 3 months. Transplantation will occur the following spring once the ground warms up. Planting palm trees can be done in any season if you live in an area that has mild climate.

To do this, prepare the ground by making a large hole for transplantation. This hole should be wide and deep enough to favour growth resumption. Remember to take care of drainage by adding fertilizer, potting soil and peat. If you plant in a container, place sandstone fragments at the bottom. To choose the appropriate container, you need to know how big the palm tree will be once it reaches maturity. The size ranges from 6.5-10 feet to 80-100 feet, with 20-30 inches in diameter. Mild climate and well-drained soil are the factors most suitable to the needs of palm trees. Plant them with other shrubs, perennials or even next to a wall because the surrounding vegetation will protect them against sunburn and strong winds. If planting is done in a container, do not fill it completely; leave 1 to 2 inches for irrigation. This will also depend on ambient temperature. If the room is cold, you won’t need much watering although more will be required if the room is hot.

Palm tree maintenance

To successfully grow a palm tree, choose hardy species and refer to your palm tree’s technical data, as water requirements and general maintenance vary from one genus to the next. Below you will find a list of some palm trees that are especially hardy when planted in sheltered locations: Cycas, Livistona, Chamaerops excelsa, Phoenix roebelenii, Trachycarpus and Washingtonia. During winter, protect young palm trees with a layer of mulch containing oak and chestnut leaves and maintained by a net. If possible, place the palm tree indoors or use a protective tarp before the arrival of cold. Systematically add fertilizer annually. It is useless to transplant the palm tree every year, the timing of transplantations will occur between 2-3 years depending on its growth. During the summer, wash the leaves in the shower or tub regularly; you’ll have crisp and clean leaves without any dust on them.

Good things to know about the palm tree

Never cut the palm tree’s trunk. However, you can remove the dead or damaged palms (leaves). Palm trees can live up to a century (100 years). There are fruiting palm trees, such as coconut trees and date palms. For date palms, the average production per tree is 110 lbs. For 2.5 acres of land, one can expect to have approximately 13.200 lbs of dates per year. Palm tree leaves can also be used to cover huts.

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Published in Exotic trees by Alexander on 06 Jul 2011