Palms

Jubaea chilensis

The Jubaea chilensis is a slow growing palm, but it is so nice and rustic honestly I think that should give you an opportunity in every garden, whether medium or large. Its pinnate leaves have the elegance of tropical palm trees, and its trunk, although thick, is highly stylized.

Its easy maintenance makes it one of the most interesting species, since with a minimum of care we can have a spectacular plant. Do you want to know what they are?

Origin and characteristics

Our protagonist is a palm native to the southwest of South America, where it is endemic to a small area of ​​central Chile that corresponds to the Coquimbo Region, Valparaíso Region, Santiago Metropolitan Region, O’Higgins Region and in the Maule. Its scientific name is Jubaea chilensis, and it is known by its common names Chilean palm, honey palm, coconut palm, can-can or lilla.

It reaches a height of 30 meters, with a thick trunk composed of fibers that can thicken up to 1.3 meters at the base. The leaves are pinnate, 3 to 5 meters long and are composed of linear-lanceolate leaflets with a glaucous underside and measure up to 0.60m. The flowers are grouped in interfoliar inflorescences protected by a spathe, and are unisexual. The fruit is yellow in color and measures about five centimeters when ripe.

It has a very slow growth rate, growing a maximum of 20 centimeters per year, reaching 6 meters at 40 or 50 years of age.

What are their cares?

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

Location

The Jubaea chilensis is a palm tree that has to be placed outside, in full sun. It does not have invasive roots, but for it to have a good development it must be planted at least 2 or 3 meters from paved soils, houses, etc.

Earth

  • Garden: grows in all types of soils as long as they have good drainage. In the event that the soil on your land does not have good water filtration capacity, make a hole of 1m x 1m and mix it with perlite (you can get it here ) in equal parts.
  • Pot: it can be kept for several years in a pot with a universal growing medium (you will find it for sale here ) mixed with 30% perlite.

Irrigation

It is a palm tree that does not tolerate waterlogging. Being adapted to living in an area with a Mediterranean climate, which is characterized by very hot and dry summers, it is not necessary to water it a lot, otherwise its roots would rot immediately. Therefore, it is highly advisable to check the humidity of the soil, for example by doing some of these things:

  • Use a digital moisture meter: as soon as you enter it, it will tell you how wet the soil that has come into contact with the meter is. To make it much more reliable, it is important that you reinsert it but further/ closer to the plant.
  • Dig about 10 centimeters around the palm tree: the soil on the surface dries very quickly, but the soil just below does not. Therefore, nothing better than digging a little around the plant to see if it is really wet or not.
  • Weigh the pot once it is watered and again after a few days: this can only be done when the plant is young, of course, but since dry soil weighs less than wet, this will serve as a guide to know when to water and when not.

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From the beginning of spring to summer (you can also in autumn if you live in a mild climate) it must be paid with organic fertilizers, once a month. From experience I advise you to use guano, since it is rich in nutrients and its effectiveness is very fast. You can get it liquid (for pots) here and powder here.

Multiplication

The Jubaea chilensis is multiplied by seeds in spring. The step by step to follow is as follows:

  1. The first thing to do is put them in a glass of water for 24 hours. Those that remain floating can be discarded since they will not be viable.
  2. Then, a pot is filled with universal growing medium mixed with 30% perlite, and watered.
  3. Next, the seeds are placed leaving a separation of about five centimeters between them, and covered with a layer of substrate thick enough so that they are not directly exposed to the sun.
  4. Finally, it is watered again, this time with a sprayer, and the pot is placed outside, in full sun.

They will take a long time to germinate: from 4 months to a year.

Plagues and diseases

It is quite resistant, but especially when it is young it can be affected by:

  • Mealybugs: they can be cottony or limpet-like. They feed on the sap of the leaves, but can be avoided with an anti-mealybug insecticide.
  • Grasshoppers and locusts: they feed on the leaves. It can be avoided with these remedies.
  • Fungi: if overwatered they will appear. You have to control the risks and treat with fungicide if you have run out of water.

Rusticity

It supports well the cold and the frosts of up to -20ºC. It also withstands high temperatures of up to 35-38ºC.

What uses does it have?

Apart from being used as an ornamental, it has other uses:

  • The rind of the fruit is edible. It can be eaten fresh but is also used in confectionery.
  • With the leaves they used to make houses next to the adobe, and it was also used for hats and decorations.
  • The sap is extracted to make a very sweet honey, but only in the palm groves intended for them.

It is a palm tree in serious danger of extinction due to loss of habitat and uncontrolled use, so it is important that it is used only as a decorative plant.

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