Palm trees are extraordinarily decorative plants. We like them so much that we do not hesitate to put one (or several) on our patio or terrace. However, there are many species that, due to the size they reach once they reach adulthood, they are not suitable to keep in pots throughout their life.
Therefore, I am going to talk to you about potted palms. I will tell you if they can be had or not, for how long, and the care they require.
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Potted palm trees: yes or no?
For several decades we have found in nurseries 4 species of palm trees (sometimes 6) that we will later have as inside plants, which are the Howea forsteriana (kentia), Dypsis lutescens (areca), Chamaedorea elegans (living room palm), and sometimes also the livistona rotundifolia, Phoenix roubleni and Cocos nucifera (coconut tree).
But Are they really suitable for potting? Let's see it:
- Howea forsteriana: this palm reaches a height of about 10 meters, with a very thin trunk of just 20cm thick. Its leaves have a length of 2m. Their growth rate is extraordinarily slow, and despite their height they can be grown indoors or outdoors in pots for many, many years. See file.
- Dypsis lutescens: multicaule species (that is to say, of several trunks) that reaches a height of about 5-6 meters. It needs space to grow, so it can only be kept in a pot for about 5-6 years, even less if the climate is warm, since the mild temperatures will make its growth rate rapid. See file.
- Chamedorea elegans: small palm with a single trunk (although pots full of seedlings are sold, this plant is unicaule) of slow growth that grows to a height of about 5 meters. Its trunk is very thin, less than 20cm thick. It is perfect to have in a pot throughout its life. It is one of the most recommended palm trees for pots. See file.
- Livistona australis: tropical species with very pretty palmate leaves. But… it grows to a height of about 10 meters, with a trunk thickness of about 30-35cm. It can be kept as a houseplant for a few years, but sooner or later it will have to be planted outside if the weather is warm. See file.
- Cocos nucifera: the coconut palm is a palm tree that has a really hard time in temperate climates, so it is grown as if it were a "seasonal plant". It grows to a height of 10 meters, with a trunk thickness of 30-35cm. Due to its lack of resistance to cold, it can only be kept in a pot in tropical climates when it is young, or as an indoor potted palm in other climates. See file.
- Phoenix roubleni: This small palm tree is perfect for a pot on the terrace. Its growth rate is slow, and its adult size does not exceed 3-4 meters. In addition, its trunk remains thin, with a thickness of 30-35cm. See file.
Be careful: kentia and areca are sometimes confused when they are young. Watch this video so you know how to differentiate them:
How are potted palm trees cared for?
If you would like to know the care that you have to provide them, then we are going to explain everything you have to do so that they are always beautiful:
Pot-grown palms need a well-draining substrate. I recommend putting a first layer of volcanic clay, and then finish filling the pot with 60% black peat, 30% perlite and a little earthworm humus. Or put substrate for green plants, such as this. It will always have to be kept slightly moist, except in winter when we will water only when the soil has completely dried.
Transplant or repot
Generally, they will have to be transplanted every 3 years, depending on how fast they grow, in spring. Thus, if roots come out of the drainage holes or if we see that they have not grown for a long time. In this way, we will make them become beautiful plants. And it is that if we always leave them in the same one, in the end they would weaken and die due to lack of space.
Palm pot: which is the right one?
Palm trees are plants that they need wide and tall pots, with holes in their base so that the water can flow out. And it is that their roots do not tolerate waterlogging, hence it is a very serious mistake to put them in pots without holes or with a plate under which we always leave full of water.
But how big does it have to be? Well, The most recommended thing is that the new pot measures about 7-10 centimeters wider and higher than the one it has at the moment. For example, if the one you have now is 10 centimeters in diameter by about the same height, the new one should be approximately 17-20 centimeters in diameter and height.
The material with which it is made does not matter.The only thing is that the mud allows the roots to "grab" better, something that helps the plant grow a little faster. But if you plan to have several copies, or if you are a collector, plastic pots are more affordable.
Throughout the growing season (from spring to the end of summer), we will fertilize using a specific fertilizer for palm trees like this one from Flowerthe with liquid guano. Thus, we will have a palm tree whose growth and development will be excellent.
And if we talk about pests, you have to be very vigilant about mealybugs, which we will see especially when the environment is dry and warm. These parasites settle on leaves and stems. By the way, there are two types of cochineal that affect them equally: the cottony one, and the one known as Piojo de San José. Both have the same treatment: remove them with a swab moistened with soap and water, or if the plague is widespread, use an insecticide whose active ingredient is Chlorpyrifos. Remember that if you have to use chemical insecticides, You must put on protective gloves and follow the recommendations indicated on the container.
Other enemies of your palm trees are paysandisia archon and Rhinchophorus ferrugineus. Although the plants that we have indoors will not be affected by these two pests, it is important that we do preventive treatments in the same way. Visit your nearest nursery or farm store to purchase specific insecticides. Thus, your palm trees will be protected.
Do you have potted palm trees?