The rare Trachcarpus princeps is real beauty and a good investment!
How to look after your palm tree
Well, there it is. You've purchased your palm as a seedling, or have just
taken delivery of and planted your magnificent Trachycarpus wagnerianus Windmill
palm. Or Trachycarpus princeps, or takil, or maybe a feather palm. You've
followed our advice regarding 'growing palms', have given your new palm a good
drink of Palmbooster and you've retired beneath the palm fronds with a nice beer or cup
Our palms are selected carefully for you from
nurseries all over the world where the palms are hardened to climates similar in
severity to our own. All we have to do now is understand how the plant grows,
what its needs are, and how to protect it in really severe weather.
Feeding your palm
How to nourish your palm
We're frequently asked how much food a palm tree should be given. This is dependant
upon the type of palm, its size and the circumstances in which it
is living. In particular, plants in pot or container can quickly become
undernourished. We would strongly recommend use of the 'Fertometer'; a device
which enables you to measure the nutrient levels in your pot.
A palm should be fed well during its growing season. You'd be
surprised how hungry a palm tree can become! Use a proprietary palm
fertilizer and mix in some general fertilizer (NPP 3-1-2). Scatter a
little potash next to the trunk in the autumn to help the plant prepare
itself for winter. Be careful to distribute fertilizer on the ground only; if
you spill onto the plant itself you can cause 'burns' and damage the growing
point (spear) of your palm!
Modern thinking suggests that if we enrich the soil too
close to the root ball the roots become lazy and don't develop. You are better
off mulching your plant substantially with wood chippings, lawn cuttings or
other organic matter in a large area arond the root so that the food is
distributed evenly and the roots are encouraged to develop well. You'll
find that if the roots develop well, the top foliage and trunk will respond a
year or two later.
The palms roots are important!
tree needs to establish its roots first. Only when the roots have developed
adequately does leaf development take place. We've already mentioned
Palmbooster as the solution for ensuring root development after planting or
transplantation. We would recommend continuing applying this excellent treatment
throughout the life of the plant (at a reduced dosage). Excellent results are
achieved with products such as Palmbooster if applied regularly and well. Most palms roots are still growing late in the year when foliage has apparently
stopped - keep giving your palm the necessary attention even in this period and
you will be well rewarded later on!
Most palms like a lot of water. It is a good idea to create a sort of saucer to trap water round the root by making a rim of soil around 40cm from the trunk. This will then trap water
and funnel it to the roots. If you have created enough drainage at the base of
the palm you will have created ideal conditions for your palm!
Plants are not only susceptible to cold in the winter. Wind and drought play
their part too! Cold in combination with
wetness is also often a killer; simply by thinking things through and protecting
intelligently you can achieve surprising results with your palms.
It's important not to use plastic foil or bubble wrap to protect the
top of your plant. It's essential that the plant breathes well; if you cover it
up with foil it will simply suffocate and rot
Protecting your palm in cold weather
temperature is going to drop below the level at which you should start
protecting your palm, you should act as follows:
First wrap the leaf crown with garden fleece, if necessary twice, then wrap the
trunk with bamboo mats. Tape the fleece overhang to the bamboo mats. Finally,
cover the ground to about 50cm around the trunk with a generous mulch. Don't over protect!
Once a cold snap has passed, unwrap
the palm as appropriate and let it breathe.
Just as any other living organism, your palm is subject to attack from a selection
various pests and diseases. Here'es a quick troubleshooters guide:
Take care of
the palm spear!
The spear is the
point where new growth occurs in your palm tree. It is the most vulnerable part
of the plant. This can appear rotten (worst case
scenario: it just lifts away if you pull it upwards). This can have a number
- fertilizer burn: if you apply fertilizer, make sure it is applied to the ground
around the plant and be sure not to scatter it on to the spear! If you think you
have, wash off as soon as possible.
- mould or bacterial infection: this does not usually occur in a healthy plant. There are sprays which are available
to treat your plant. We have good experience with a product called 'Baycor' by
- Cold and damp: if your plant becomes wet and then cold the expanding ice will
damage the cells of your plant.
It's a good idea to test the spear of your plant in the spring (pull
it reasonably firmly, if it's loose remove it) and to
remove any dead leaves; by doing this you can prevent the spread of rot
further into the crown of your plant.
Leaves often brown during a warm period following a cold winter. It is an indication that the leaves have not been optimally cared for; see our tips above. A case of prevention being better than the cure! Be consoled with the fact that new leaves are made each year!
If you follow our advice you should enjoy a fine, healthy palm for many a year!
© Gardenpalms.com 2012