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Emergent palms - landscaping-gardening



Everybody recognises palm trees, they are the common character for the tropics but many are hardy adequate for our composed climate gardens. Until a moment ago New Zealand gardeners have had only a very incomplete range of palms to desire from. In the last five years the range has grown enormously as nurseries have been buoyant by gardeners eager to experiment.

Nevertheless, palms are, on the whole, a little tender plants. Those that will tolerate conventional frosts of -6°C. or more are few in number. If your bare minimum heat does not drop below -2°C or if you are in a frost free area the range of apt plants increases considerably.

There are two main styles of palms; the fan and the feather. The names refer to the arrange of the fronds. Fan palms have the leaflets of the frond approved just like a hand operated fan. The most extensively grown fan palm is Trachycarpus fortunei, the Chinese Fan Palm. Spike palms have the leaflets of their fronds prearranged along a rigid midrib like a bird's feather. The most regularly grown barb palm is Phoenix canariensis, the Canary Island Date Palm.

Palms are exceedingly critical plants to the world's economy. The true date palm or commerce, Phoenix dactylifera, is hardly ever seen in New Zealand but is the most customary commercially grown palm. The coconut, Cocos nucifera, is not far behind. Maybe more considerable than fruit crops is the use of palms for shelter. Almost every hot third world village relies on palms as a roofing material.


Although palms are coupled with sun and sand most species be aware light shade when young. Shelter from wind is chief if the fronds are to look their best but as the plants in the end befall quite large they will finally have to tolerate exposure to sun and wind.

When siting a palm bear in mind to take into balance the apply of the crown. This is not so hefty with a mature plant as the crown is customarily well above most obstructions. The challenge is pubertal plants, which tend to have much the same broaden as adults devoid of the height. They take up a huge area until the trunk begins to develop.

Soil conditions

Palms by and large do best in a rich, moist well-drained soil. They have absolutely biting roots that attach them firmly. The roots of many palms can hold up a large quantity of abuse, which enables the trees to be in safety transplanted at approximately any size.

Climate adaptability

Many palms are frost tender but there are quite a few that tolerate moderately tough frosts. The best known are Phoenix canariensis and Trachycarpus fortunei but you ought to also believe Jubaea chilensis, Chamaerops humilis, Butia capitata, Washingtonia robusta and Brahea armata.

Palms often grow well in coastal circumstances but charity performance from infrequent wash downs to amputate any salt spray deposits.

Container growing

Palms often make superb container plants, both in the house and outdoors. Many are cushy and tolerant of neglect. In cold areas it's often best to keep young palms in containers until well established. That way they can be moved under cover for winter. Once they have a apply of over 1. 5 m or so they must be hardy an adequate amount to plant out but if it's not inconvenient it's develop to wait as long as possible.


Palms are near continually propagated by seed. They as a rule have only one budding point so vegetative broadcast is not practical. Irregularly suckers form at the base of recognized plants and may be cautiously aloof for emergent on but this is not a steadfast logic of propagation.

Palm seed varies critically in its ease of germination. The most customary challenge is very hard seed coats. No sum of scarification or soaked will alleviate the toughest of them. From time to time acid action is resorted to but patience is the usual method. Some, such as Butia capitata, may take upwards of a year in the soil already germination but in the end with the right blend of moisture, high temperature and time they sprout.

Pests and diseases

Palms are not prone to any abnormal pests or diseases. Frost destruction is far more expected to the main problem.

Palm selection

Do not anticipate to find all of the species at your local plot centre; many of these palms are only accessible as seed. If not or else avowed all of these palms have panicles of small blond flowers.


The King Palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) is a prominent aspect in many humid and sub-tropical areas but it is too tender for all but the very far north. Archontophoenix cunninghamiana is a change for the better bet but it still requires a near frost free climate with warm summers. It is a barb palm with long arching frond. It can reach 20 m high but on the odd occasion exceeds 7 m in New Zealand gardens. The vegetation are followed by a load of small red berry-like fruit. Archontophoenix cunninghamiana may be grown inside but it needs high light and clamminess levels. The seeds develop easily.

Arecastrum-see Syagrus Arenga

Two species of this genera are apt for budding in the open in mild areas. Both are spike palms with broad trees that have shiny undersides. Arenga pinnata requires near frost free environment but Arenga engleri from Taiwan will tolerate infrequent light frosts. Both species have attractive blossoming practice and fruit. Arenga pinnata is monocarpic; it dies after peak though it takes at least ten years to reach maturity. Arenga engleri survives to flower again but the leaf stem beside the flower stalk dies. Both species have fruit with exceedingly acid pulp. Both species are doubtful to exceed 3. 5 m high under New Zealand circumstances but Arenga pinnata may reach 18 m high in its native South East Asian region. Arenga pinnata seed germinates at once and certainly but Arenga engleri is irregular and may take a number of months to sprout. Not commonly grown indoors.

Blue Palm-see Brahea Brahea

These fan palms are attractive more customary in New Zealand gardens. Both of the collective species Mexican Blue Palm (Brahea armata) and Guadeloupe Palm (Brahea edulis), are convincingly hardy and compliant plants. B. armata has beautiful, discerningly not speaking glaucous fronds. It is the hardier of the two and will endure -8°C once established. It has a chunky trunk for many years but may in the long run reach 12 m high. Brahea edulis is tender when young but withstands -6°C once the trunk is over 10-15 cm diameter. It grows at a snail's pace to about 15 m high. Both species are tolerant of lack and low humidity. Brahea armata has 12 mm diameter brown fruit, while Brahea edulis has fit to be eaten 18 mm diameter blackish fruit. Grow in full sun. The germination of Brahea armata seed is very irregular and may take up to year. Brahea edulis is less tricky but still not very reliable. High light chuck make Brahea inapt for interior cultivation.


The Yatay, Pindo Palm or Jelly Palm (Butia capitata) from Brazil is a hardy plume palm with long baggy olive to bluish green fronds. It will bear up -10°C once customary and deserves to be more extensively grown. It grows to about 7 m high. The vegetation are followed by blond to red 25 mm diameter pulpy fruit. Grow in full sun. Seed germination is amply variable, it is dodgy to take less than two months and may be a year or more. High light chuck mean this palm is not very as it should be for emergent indoors.

California palm-see Washingtonia Canary Island date palm-see Phoenix Caryota

The Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) is often grown as a house plant and is dodgy to grow well out-of-doors apart from in the very far north. Caryota urens has a little lower heat food but will not tolerate any frost. It has very dark green, to some extent arching fronds. All Caryota palms have intricately cut bipinnate barb fronds. Most species grow to large sizes (over 18 m high) in the tropics but are dubious to exceed 8 m high under New Zealand conditions. They have fruit with acid pulp that be supposed to not be handled with bare hands. The seed germinates easily. Caryota palms grow well in but choose cordiality and high humidity.


The Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis) is a bushy fan palm that is commonly multi-trunked and will not exceed 6 m high. The trunks take many years to form and are seldom seen in gardens. Most plants grow to about 1. 5 m high x 5 m wide. The fronds are tipped with sharp spines. It is a very hardy palm that tolerates -15°C. Tolerant of low clamminess and drought. Grow in full sun. The seed evolve well and takes about six weeks to sprout. High light rations and sharp spines make it inapt for enclosed use.

Chilean wine palm-see Jubaea Chinese fan palm-see Trachycarpus Cocos

The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) is one the most chief business-related crops. It is basically a hot palm but will grow out-of-doors in frost free areas of the far north. It is a large quill palm that often develops a leaning trunk. It may grow to 30 m high in the tropics but not often exceeds 8 m in gardens. The fruit seldom will not advance to its common size in our climate but becomes large an adequate amount of to be a dialogue piece. Coconuts sprout well but take at least three months to sprout. They need constant cordiality and the whole nut must be planted, do not strip away the husk. May be grown inside but resents cold draughts.

Date palm-see Phoenix Euterpe

Although primarily a humid plant the Assai Palm (Euterpe edulis) will grow in the open in frost free areas with warm summers. It is a quill palm with arching fronds and beautiful floppy leaflets. The trunk is impossibly slim fro the size of the shrubbery head and may grow to 25 m high while it is doubtful to exceed 10 m high under New Zealand conditions. The fruit is black and about 12 mm diameter. The seeds grow easily. May be grown in the house when young.

Fishtail palm-see Caryota Howea

Very common at home but accomplished of developing in the open air in frost free areas, these palms were formerly classified as Kentia and are still far and wide known by that name. Two species, Howea belmoreana and Howea forsterana, are grown. Both are natives of Lord Howe Island. They are barb palms with deep green charmingly arching fronds and narrow trunks. Howea belmoreana grows to about 7 m high and Howea forsterana about 15 m high but both are doubtful to reach these sizes in New Zealand gardens. They have brown olive sized fruit that takes two years to ripen. Only very fresh seed will evolve and even then it is erratic. Both species need shade when young, which is why they achieve well indoors.


The Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis) is a hardy (-8°C) spike palm that be supposed to be more extensively grown. It has deep green arching fronds and a very distinctive trunk. The trunk becomes deeply enlarged, fairly like a baobab tree, so that when mature it may be up 2 m diameter. Contained by the trunk is a large coolness of sap, which may be tapped and fermented into an alcoholic drink, hence the name Wine Palm. This palm can grow to 20 m high or more but it takes many years to get above 10 m high. The 40 mm diameter fruit is blonde and the seed it contains germinates by a long way but takes about four months to sprout. May be grown in but has high light requirements.

Kentia-see Howea Lady palm-see Rhapis Livistona

These fan palms are native to South East Asia and Australia. Two species, Livistona australis and Livistona chinensis, are apposite for emergent al fresco in mild areas. They are very alike to one another. Both have deep green spiny fronds with leaflets that droop and fray at the tips. They have quite firmly built trunks that grow to about 12-15 m high. Under New Zealand situation it takes many years for them to reach 10 m high. Both species are hardy to about -5°C when well-established. Livistona australis has 18 mm diameter rosy fruit and Livistona chinensis has 25 mm diameter green fruit. The seed of both species germinates by far and quickly. May be grown as house plants but they have high light requirements.

Nikau-see Rhopalostylis Palmetto-see Sabal Phoenix

The Canary Island Date Palm is by far the most collective spike palm grown in New Zealand gardens. It has deep green arching fronds and a trunk studded with bases of old fronds. When young, the trunk tends to be quite round but as it gains height it becomes more tree-like. A mature tree may be up to 18 m high and have a very solid trunk. The fruit is about 40 mm diameter and yellowish orange. Phoenix dactylifera is the true 'Date Palm' of buying that is such a well-known emblem of North Africa and the Central point East. It has shorter fronds in a less dense head than Phoenix canariensis. It is much taller when mature, up to 25 m high. Both Phoenix canariensis and Phoenix dactylifera will hold out -8°C when reputable but must not be exposed to hard frosts until the have a short trunk. Phoenix dactylifera needs hot summers to grow well and is doubtful to bring into being fit to be eaten dates in a cool summer climate.

A third species, the Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelinii) is by far less hardy but it can be grown in the open in frost free areas. It is often used as a container plant as it only grows to about 3 m high. There are more than a few other species that would be apposite for increasing in New Zealand gardens but they are infrequently seen . Among those most liable to do well are Phoenix loureiri, Phoenix rupicola and Phoenix sylvestris. All Phoenix palm seeds germinates at once and easily. All species make exceptional house plants when young.

Queen palm-see Syagrus. Rhapidophyllum

The Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) is native to the south eastern United States. It is a hardy fan palm that ashes low emergent and bushy. The olive green fronds have sharp spines on the petioles and the tips of the leaflets are also sharp. It grows into a multi-trunked clump about 1. 5 m high x 4 m wide. Makes a vicious, near dense hedge. It is hardy to about -12°C but requires continuous warm summer temperatures to grow well. Has 18 mm long green oval fruit, the seeds from which sprout erratically. Grow in full sun. Its spines make it inappropriate as a house plant.


The Lady palms are multi-trunked fan palms that are hardy to about -3°C when reputable but command warm summers to grow well. Two very analogous species are grown, Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) and Meager Lady Palm (Rhapis humilis). They have small fronds on fibre roofed bamboo-like canes. They form dense bushy clumps to about 4 m high with plant life to broken up level. Rhapis excelsa has 12 mm diameter green fruit and grows cursorily and by a long way from seed. Rhapis humilis does not churn out seed and may not be a true species. It is grown from basal suckers. Both species are brilliant house plants that tolerate low light levels and neglect.


This genus is most normally represented in gardens by our only native palm, the Nikau (Rhopalostylis sapida), but also includes Rhopalostylis baueri, which is a akin species from Norfolk Island. At times known as Flake Brush palms since of the prominent bulge beneath the plant life head both species are elegant spike palms that grow to about 8 m high under patch environment though Rhopalostylis baueri can reach 15 m high or more in the wild. Both species tolerate only light frosts. Rhopalostylis sapida grows well in cool climates provided they are just about frost free but Rhopalostylis baueri needs steady summer warmth. Both species have 18 mm diameter red fruit. Seed germinates reliably but may take over three months to sprout. Seedlings are slow developing and need shade. Good house plants when young.


The Palmetto palms are native to the southeastern United States and Mexico. They are fan palms and often have large fronds. Two species are easily available. Sabal minor and Sabal palmetto. They are among the less significant species: Sabal minor is a bushy, often multi-trunked and grows to about 3. 5 m high while Sabal palmetto is more tree-like but not often exceeds 7 m high. S. minor has glaucous fronds. Both species are hardy to about -6°C once recognized and both have 12 mm diameter black fruit. The seed germinates at once and easily. There are quite a few other species creditable of difficult but they are seldom available. Of these Sabal domingensis is the most distinctive as it can grow to 25 m high. Sabal mexicana and Sabal uresana are also tree sized. S. uresana has silver grey fronds and is very lack tolerant. These palms have high light necessities and are doubtful to be good house plants apart from for conservatories.


The Saw Palmetto (Seranoa repens) is bushy fan palm native to Florida. It grows into a clump about 2. 5 m high x 4 m wide, often multi-trunked. The fronds are hoary grey to glaucous with sharp tipped leaflets. Hardy to about -4°C. Grow in full sun. The fruit is oval, about 18 mm long and black. The seed germinates well but may take a few months to sprout. Can also be grown from suckers. High light chuck would almost certainly limit this species as a house plant.


The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana [syn. Arecastrum romanzoffiana]), is often seen as a boulevard tree in humid and sub-tropical cities. This Brazilian native has very long daintily on bad terms arching plumose fronds that move in the slightest breeze. It has a little trunk that can reach 18 m high but is doubtful to exceed 10 m under New Zealand conditions. Hardy to -5°C when mature but needs defense from frosts until about 1. 5 m high with a good crown. Also needs warm summers to grow well. Has blond fruit about 25 mm in diameter and 18 mm long seeds that develop briefly and easily. It makes a good house plant when young but needs clear light and humidity.


The Chinese Fan Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) is doubtless the hardiest of the tree-like palms. It will tolerate -12°C from a young age. The fronds are deep green and quite dense on young plants grown in the shade but they hurriedly depreciate in full sun and brawny wind. The trunk is enclosed in fibre and the bases of old fronds and may be up to 12 m high. The small 12 mm diameter grape-like fruit is bluish with a grey bloom. The seed germinates at once and easily. As this palm prefers shade when young it makes a good house plant when young. There are other species worth growing, such as the very dwarf Trachycarpus nanus, but they are seldom available.


These palms are synonymous with Southern California. They are fan palms with very as the crow flies trunks. Two species are grown, one Californian (Washingtonia filifera) and the other Mexican (Washingtonia robusta). Washingtonia filifera can grow to 20 m high and is quite stocky. Washingtonia robusta, which is at times called Sky Duster, has a very narrow trunk and may reach 30 m high or more. Under New Zealand circumstances they are slow increasing and dodgy to reach such impressive dimensions. The fronds have long petioles for fan palms. Both species will continue -6°C once reputable but need summer heat to grow well. Both have 18 mm diameter fruit that is healthy-looking green when ripe. Both species be glad about light shade when young. The seed germinates abruptly and easily. May be grown as house plants until too large to keep on inside.

I am a patch book cause and horticultural photographer based in Christchurch, New Zealand. I run a stock photo documentation called Country, Farm and Plot (http://www. cfgphoto. com). This commentary may be re-published provided this in rank is available with it and is noticeably visible.


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