Plants with Promise
In the world of tropical plants, palms are considered among the premiere icons of tropical landscaping. With more than 1,000 species of palms to choose from, there are myriad options. I chose eight species I feel have great futures in our area, which are available, with a proven history in our climate, and not unreasonably expensive. They are worth hunting down at a palm or botanical garden sale. Use a high quality palm fertilizer such as 8-4-12 on these plants every three months. A little extra care will help them make your garden special.
The unquestioned King of Palms, this imposing giant is suitable for large garden areas, estates, or to make a bold statement that you have a serious garden. The crown of this palm can span 40 feet. Pinecrest is one of the few communities with home sites large enough to grow this plant.
Red Feather Palm
A great palm for either shady or bright areas, the new leaves of this species emerge a deep red color, changing slowly to its normal jade-malachite green. Plant it where it will be well-watered and away from strong wind. Slow growing to about 12 feet, it makes a great focal point in a defined garden space.
Related to the more common Ruffle Fan Palm, this species grows faster and larger, with less fungus trouble than its cousin. It grows well in bright light with afternoon shade and plenty of water.
Barbados Fan Palm
One of the most useful and rewarding species I have ever grown, this versatile, vigorous palm grows in almost any conditions from rainforest to coastal areas, wet to dry rocky soil, and is very problem-free. We have some 10-foot tall plants that are just five years old from small pots.
Scheffer Cane Palm
Quickly becoming one of my personal favorites, this palm grows well in widely varied conditions, grows to 30 feet but in a very vertical profile, short fronds and a small “footprint.”
White Wax Palm
A fast-growing and compact palm, it grows in any conditions, including dry-rocky soil. It would be excellent as “security” landscaping; the dramatic black teeth on the leaves are effectively noticeable.
Brazilian Amara Palm
A long sought-after replacement to the Queen Palm, this robust species has none of the fertilizer deficiencies so common with Queen Palms in this area.
Fiji Dwarf Coconut Palm
A great replacement for the venerated Panama Tall coconut, this highly disease-resistant species grows tall and has a luxuriant, wide canopy. Look for this species at palm sales as it is worth every dollar spent.
Craig Morell is the head horticulturist for Pinecrest Gardens. You can follow his blog “Ask the Plant Guy” at www.pinecrestgardenguy.blogspot.com.