Our protagonist is one of the plants that is most often included in urban design. It is very common to find a specimen in roundabouts, parks, and of course in Botanical Gardens. It is known by multiple names, although one of the most used is that of canary palm tree.
This is a plant that we can see frequently in parks and gardens in temperate and tropical regions around the world, as it is not only highly adaptable, but also has a very high ornamental value.
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Origin and characteristics of the Canarian palm tree
The Canary Island Palm, whose scientific name is Phoenix canariensis, is native to the Canary Islands. It is also known by the names of phoenix, támara, or palm of the Canary Islands. It is a species that can grow up to 13 meters in height, with a trunk thickness of up to 1 meter. Its leaves are pinnate, with a length of about 5 to 7 meters, and are dark green.
Blooms in spring, producing inflorescences (groups of flowers) branched between the leaves, yellow-orange. The fruits are ovoid, 2-3 centimeters long, and orange-yellowish. These contain a 1-2 centimeter seed, ribbed, and light brown in color.
Unlike the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), it is unicaule, which means that it only has a single trunk. It is very resistant to cold, being able to withstand temperatures of 5 even 7 degrees below zero; Furthermore, it also likes heat, since even if the thermometer rises above 30ºC it continues to grow.
This exceptional plant has a rather fast growth, but without being excessive. During the vegetative season -which is when the palm tree is growing-, depending on the growing conditions it will grow between 20 and 40cm.
How to take care of it?
Now Phoenix canariensis it must be planted in a location exposed to the sun directly, since otherwise it would produce increasingly decayed and long leaves, with broader than normal leaflets.
It is important, especially during the summer, water sparingly, for example 3 or 4 times a week. In the rest of the stations, between 1 and 2 weekly irrigations will be sufficient.
In any case, this will vary depending on the climate, that is, in those that are hotter and drier, the frequency of irrigation will be higher than in that of the more temperate and / or humid climates.
It is a palm tree to which it is recommended to pay biweekly during the spring and summer months. To do this, you can apply specific fertilizers for these palm trees, or opt for other organic ones, such as compost or herbivorous animal manure.
Planting or transplanting time
During the spring, as soon as the frosts have passed. It is a plant that, although it may be in a pot during its first years, there will come a time when it will need to be planted in the ground. But while that day comes, plant it in a pot somewhat wider than deep, using a substrate containing perlite and a little compost.
It is not necessary to prune the Canarian palm tree. Perhaps, the only thing would be to remove the dry leaves at the end of winter, but nothing more. If green leaves are removed from a palm tree, what is achieved is to weaken it, since it needs those leaves to be able to photosynthesize and, therefore, grow.
To this we must also add that the Phoenix canariensis is the main species (in Spain) affected by the red weevil, a pest that kills specimens in a matter of a short time, especially those that have been pruned since this insect is very attracted by the smell emitted by the wounds caused during the pruning.
The most dangerous pest of the Canary Island palm is the Red weevil. It affects adult individuals, damaging their main blade or guide, as well as the trunk. The population of this species in Spain has been greatly reduced as a result of it. Therefore, from a young age, it is very important to do treatments with Chloripiphos and Imidacloprid (once one, again another) in order to prevent these insects from killing your specimen.
Another one that we also have to talk about is the paysandisia archon. This affects the young specimens more and not so much the adults, biting their leaves when they have not yet opened. When they finally do, you see little fan-shaped holes. It is also treated with Chlorpyrifos and Imidacloprid.
But as if that were not enough, in dry and hot environments it can have mealybugs, of various types (cottony, limpet type, ...). They are parasites that feed on the sap of the leaves, as well as the trunk if it is still young. Fortunately, they are well treated with an anti-mealybug insecticide.
Does not usually have, but if it is watered in excess and / or if the humidity is very high the fungi could appear and damage it. There is no effective curative treatment. It is best to control irrigation and plant it in a land that drains water well.
If you want to have more copies, you can sow its seeds from spring to summer, in individual pots with universal substrate. They will germinate in about 2 months.
The adult specimens resist up to -7ºC, but suffer damage. It is better not to drop below -4ºC.
What uses is given to Phoenix canariensis?
It has several:
- ornamental- Usually planted in gardens as an isolated specimen, but looks great in lineups too.
- culinario: on the island of La Gomera (Canary Islands), the sap is extracted to produce palm honey. And, also, it must be added that its fruits are edible, but they are not of as good quality as those of the date (Phoenix dactylifera).
- others: its leaves are turned into brooms in their place of origin.
Do you have any in your garden?