Grow

Palms

Palm Lg

With the tropical look taking over gardens (even in less-than-tropical climates) palms have come right into vogue. These leafy plants, with their upright growth, fit perfectly into tropical gardens. They’ll also blend into other garden styles and, best of all, they’re relatively easy to grow and care for.

Growing palms

Palms are unfussy, but most need good drainage. If there’s any doubt about drainage, keep the palm in a container. Palms usually have a limited (though dense) root system, so they do well in pots. Yates Tuscan pots are available up to 500mm size, which gives larger palms plenty of room for growth. Make sure you choose a good quality potting mix – Thrive Premium Mix is ideal.

For in-ground planting, start by digging in some quality organic matter (such as good compost). Add an organic fertiliser (e.g. Dynamic Lifter pellets) and mix well so there’s no definite break between the improved soil and the original.

Because of their non-branching root system, palms can be transplanted quite readily but a large palm will need to be staked and supported while it’s re-establishing in its new position.

Fertilising palms

Palms are relatively slow growers so it’s important not to overfeed them. Ideally, look for a fertiliser that’s recommended for feeding palms. There’s a Nutricote controlled release plant food called Subtropical Fern and Palm that has a good nutrient balance and, because of its special coating, will continue feeding for up to six months. Yates Blood and Bone, Dynamic Lifter pellets or Garden Gold for Natives are other good options.

Palm pests and diseases

Scales are some of the worst pests to attack palms and they’re also some of the most difficult to treat. Palms are easily damaged by white oil (the standard treatment for scale) but, fortunately, Confidor will give good control of most types of palm scales. Some scales may need to be physically removed by scrubbing gently with an old toothbrush and soap. Confidor is also the best remedy for mealy bug, the sap-sucking pest that often attacks palms growing under cover or indoors.

Orange palm dart is a caterpillar that can eat whole sections of palm leaves during the warmer months. The grub wraps the leaf blade around itself and then begins eating the leaves that are forming its hiding place. Keep a close watch out for this pest and remove it by hand or by spraying with pyrethrum.

Mites, tiny, almost invisible sap suckers, cause the leaves to turn silvery. They’re most likely to attack indoor palms or those growing in dry situations. Treat mites with low toxic Natrasoap, the organic miticide from Yates.

Favourite palms

Kentia palms, originally from Lord Howe Island, are popular all round the world because of their slim good looks and their ability to flourish indoors. They’ll grow well outdoors but usually look better in a shady spot.

Golden Cane palm is a multi-stemmed variety that forms a clump topped with feathery, pale, yellow-green leaves.

Rhapis palm is a slow growing, low growing variety that makes an excellent container plant for indoors or out.

Cabbage palm (pictured) is a tall-growing Australian native palm that is very hardy. It can cope with damp or dry conditions and tolerates light frosts.


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