Palms

What is the best time to plant palm trees

If you would like to have an idyllic garden, one of the things you can do is plant palm trees. These plants, many of them having a thin trunk and a very elegant crown of leaves, are perfect in any corner. However, in order to enjoy them from day one, it is important to choose the moment when you are going to land them well.

Sometimes we are in a hurry to see them grow, and it is not uncommon for us to plant them very young. By doing so, we run the risk of losing them since at such an early age they are very vulnerable to everything: excess watering, direct sun, frost, pests and diseases. Based on this, what is the best time to plant palm trees?

When to plant them in the garden?

It is estimated that there are more than 3000 species of palm trees, and each one of them has its own characteristics: some exceed 20 meters, others barely reach one meter; Some have pinnate leaves, others fan-shaped; and there are some that grow faster than others. In this sense, it should be known that, for example, a Washingtonia, and even an Archontophoenix, can grow around 30-50 centimeters per year, while a Caryota or a Ceroxylon do not usually grow more than 10-20 centimeters each season..

Therefore, when planting them in a garden it is very important to take this into account, since it could be interesting to plant a 40-centimeter-high Washingtonia in the ground because you know that in a few years you will have a beautiful specimen of a few meters. high, but if you plant a Ceroxylon with that height you will have to ‘pamper’ it a bit since it will take twice (or even triple) than a Washingtonia to reach 1 or 2 meters in height.

Anyway, if you don’t mind being a little aware of your plants, and if that is also something you like, I like to recommend planting palm trees when they are about 30-40 centimeters high. I think that at that height, first they are already quite visible from a certain distance, so the risk of losing them is very low. In addition, many species of that size are already beginning to put out true leaves, making it easy to get an idea of ​​what that area will look like in the near future.

But, it is also advisable to keep this in mind:

Keep them 1-2 years in a test pot

Image – Wikimedia/ Kahuroa

There are palms that grow quite fast, such as the Washingtonia, the Archontophoenix, the Dypsis and many Phoenix, among others. But for this reason we cannot pass them to the garden as soon as the seed germinates. Before that, we have to make sure that they are really able to withstand the climate that exists in the area, and for this reason I advise to keep them for at least 1-2 years in a pot, outdoors. In this way, we can discard those specimens that do not seem to like the weather conditions that we have too much, and keep the strongest ones, such as the Parajubaea cocoides that you can see in the image above.

Choose the best moment

During their first two years, the vast majority of palm trees can grow enough to be planted in the ground, so that if we have taken them by seeds from that age on, we can choose the location where we are going to put them. But what about the palm trees we have bought? Even if they measure 1 meter or more, I still recommend having them for at least one year of testing, because even Trachycarpus fortunei, which is one of the most resistant to cold (resists up to -17ºC), can weaken very quickly if it is not acclimatized.

After that time, then it will only be a matter of planting them in spring, since these plants will begin to grow at a somewhat faster rate as soon as the temperature rises above 15ºC, so that if we plant them earlier we risk them being exposed to frost, which could kill them, or strong winds.

How to plant a palm tree in the garden?

You have your palm tree acclimatized, and you are looking forward to having it in the garden. What you have to do? Well, the step by step to follow is the following:

Choose the location

Image – Wikimedia/ Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz// Chamaedorea cataractarum

Palm trees all need room to grow, and there are some that need a lot, such as the species of the genus Sabal or the Bismarckia. Therefore, before planting it in the ground you have to be clear about the dimensions that it will reach once it is adult, since it will largely depend on whether it can grow well. Thus, if for example you have or will have a trunk about 40 centimeters thick and 5 meter long leaves, the ideal would be to make the hole at a distance of 6 meters from the wall or other tall plants.

On the other hand, it is important to know in advance if it is a sun palm (Phoenix, Washingtonia, Chamaerops, Livistona, Bismarckia, etc.) or semi-shade/ shade (Chamaedorea, Rhapis, Rhopalostylis, etc.), or if it is one that needs young shade and adult sun (like Archontophoenix maxima for example).

Make the hole

The planting hole can be made with a hoe if it is not going to be very large (that is, if it is going to have dimensions equal to or less than a meter deep), but if the specimen is 3 meters or more it is probably necessary an excavator to do it. In any case, said hole has to be large, the more the better, because the more ‘loose’ soil the roots are, the better they will root. This is also highly recommended if the garden soil has to be mixed with others, for example to improve the ability to drain the water and/ or its nutritional richness.

When finished, add a bucket or more of water so that the ‘walls’ of the hole are well moistened, and incidentally to see how long it takes for the soil to absorb the liquid. If it takes more than a day, you should improve the drainage, introducing several layers of arlite or perlite.

Fill it with soil

Now the next step is to fill in the hole with dirt, but not completely. Think that when you introduce the palm tree in it, it does not have to be too high or low. To make sure you add the right amount, you can add enough, and then introduce the plant with the pot. This way, you will know if you have to remove or add more dirt.

If you want to improve the soil, mix it up before you put it in.

What kind of soil does a palm tree need?

Palm trees generally grow in loose, light soils rich in organic matter. However, there are some like the Washingtonia, the Chamaerops or some Phoenix (like the Phoenix canariensis or the Phoenix dactylifera ), which can grow without problems in land vulnerable to erosion, or with few nutrients.

Plant the palm tree

Image – Wikimedia/ Vengolis

As soon as you have the hole ready, with soil, carefully remove the palm from the pot. If it has roots outside its drainage holes, untangle them first. If they are thick, it is better to break the pot for example with a cuttex if it is plastic. I repeat: do it carefully. It is important that the root ball remains intact so that it can survive transplantation.

After removing it, insert it into the hole and fill it with soil. Afterwards, you have to make a tree grate (with the remaining land) and water.

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