Palms

Archontophoenix cunninghamiana

The Archontophoenix cunninghamiana is one of those lucky few who has managed palms quickly become popular in temperate-warm regions of Europe. Its rapid growth and its thin and slender trunk make it an ideal plant to grow in small to large gardens and even in large pots.

Although it is not as resistant to the sun as its sister Archontophoenix alexandrae, it is of incalculable ornamental value. Do we know it?

Origin and characteristics

Our protagonist is a unicaule palm tree – with a single trunk – originally from Australia, whose scientific name is Archontophoenix cunninghamiana. It is popularly known as the Cunningham palm, seafortia, bangalow palm, or King Palm. It grows rapidly to a height of 20-25 meters. Its leaves are pinnate, up to 4 meters long, normally green in color, but may turn out reddish.

The flowers are grouped in inflorescences that arise from the stipe, and are purple. The fruits are red, measure about 1 centimeter, and have an oval shape.

What are their cares?

If you want to have a copy, we recommend you provide the following care:

Location

  • Outdoors: grows best in semi-shade. In full sun it burns easily and has a hard time adjusting.
  • Indoor: You can be in a bright room, away from drafts.

Earth

  • Garden: it is indifferent as long as it is fertile and has good drainage.
  • Pot: universal growing substrate mixed with 30% perlite.

Irrigation

Image – www.jardinbotanico.uma.es

The frequency of irrigation will depend a lot on the location, as well as the weather. Therefore, the ideal is to check the humidity of the soil before proceeding to water it to avoid problems. For that we can do the following:

  • Introduce a thin wooden stick: we can get it in any Chinese or Japanese restaurant or shop. If it comes out with a lot of adhering soil when it is removed, we will not water since the soil will still be very wet.
  • Use a digital humidity meter: as soon as we introduce it, it will tell us what degree of humidity has that portion of earth that has come into contact with it, but for it to be really useful it is important that we introduce it in other areas (closer to the plant, further away).
  • Weigh the pot once it is watered and again after a few days: wet soil weighs more than dry soil, so this difference in weight can serve as a guide to know when to water.

Anyway, to get more or less an idea, I water 4-5 times a week in summer and the rest about twice a week, living in an area with a dry Mediterranean climate (maximum annual temperature of 38ºC and minimum of -1 ‘5ºC, and with about 350mm of precipitation per year).

During the warmer months, if you have it in a pot you can put a plate under it.

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From the beginning of spring to the end of summer (you can also in autumn if you live in an area with a mild or warm climate) it must be fertilized so that it can grow well. For this I advise using organic fertilizers, such as guano, worm humus, bone meal…

Chemical fertilizer for palm trees is fine, but incomplete, so we can use it in combination with others that are organic, one month yes and another not. You should never mix them since if you did, the leaves would see that they would not resist it.

Multiplication

The Archontophoenix cunninghamiana multiplies only by seed in spring or summer. The way to proceed is as follows:

  1. The first thing we will do is put them in a glass of water for 24 hours. The next day, we will discard those that have been floating because they will probably not germinate.
  2. Then, we prepare a pot with a universal growing substrate mixed with 30% perlite and water it thoroughly.
  3. Next, we place the seeds on the surface, placing them at a distance of 2-3 centimeters between them. It is also important not to put too many in the same container, since if we do it later, when putting them in individual pots, we could lose more than one. So that this does not happen, you have to put 2 or 3 in a 10.5cm pot.
  4. The next step is to cover them with a layer of substrate, especially so that they are not exposed to the sun directly.
  5. Finally, we water again, this time with a sprayer, and place the pot outside, in semi-shade.

Keeping the substrate moistened, the seeds will germinate in 2 months maximum.

Plagues and diseases

It is a very resistant palm, but it can be attacked by:

  • Mealybugs: they can be cottony or limpet-like. They are sap-sucking parasites that we will find in the most tender leaves. We can remove them by hand, with a brush soaked in pharmacy alcohol or with an anti-cochineal insecticide.
  • Red palm weevil and Paysandisia: these are two pests that are wreaking havoc. The first is a weevil (a species of beetle but thinner) whose larvae excavate galleries in the palm of the palm tree, and the second is a moth whose larvae excavate gallery in the trunk and make fan-shaped holes in the leaves. It is necessary to do preventive treatments in spring and summer with imidacloprid, and with these remedies.

Pruning

You don’t need it. If a case you have to remove the dry leaves in autumn.

Rusticity

The Archontophoenix cunninghamiana resists even the -4ºC.

What did you think of this palm tree? Did you know her?

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