Palms I Have Grown: A Look into Trachycarpus and its Intimates

 

Trachycarpus fortunei - My oldest tree.  The house's gutter is at 13'.  This is the most robust, stoutest, of the 5 T.f. that I have with the broadest canopy.  It's male.  I've just finished cleaning up its rattiest older fronds.

Trachycarpus fortunei – My oldest Palm tree. The house’s gutter is at 13′. This is the most robust, stoutest, of the 5 T.f. that I have with the broadest canopy. It’s male. I’ve just finished cleaning up its rattiest older fronds.  I remove 15-20 every year and have been annually while it’s been in its adult active growth phase.  It will slow down when it begins to approach its maximum height and maturity.

Trachycarpus fortunei, a more normal pattern of segmentation for all palmate Palms.

Trachycarpus fortunei, a more normal pattern of segmentation for all palmate Palms.

Looking up from beneath a Trachycarpus fortunei frond.  This one come from my one female tree.  All of its fronds tend to be fuller.  This one takes it further turning a palmate form into nearly orbicular.

Looking up from beneath a Trachycarpus fortunei frond. This one come from my one female tree. All of its fronds tend to be fuller. This one takes it further turning a palmate form into nearly orbicular.

Looking up from beneath a Trachycarpus fortunei frond.  This one came from my one female tree.  All of its fronds tend to be fuller.  This one takes it further turning a palmate form into nearly orbicular. A couple years ago Eric Blaser, here in Portland had several T. fortunei with fronds all of which were orbicular like this that he had for sale through his business, Evolving Gardens, he sold to PalmScape in Boring, OR.

Looking up from beneath a Trachycarpus fortunei frond. This one came from my one female tree. All of its fronds tend to be fuller. This one takes it further turning a palmate form to nearly orbicular. A couple years ago Eric Blaser, here in Portland had several T. fortunei with fronds all of which were orbicular like this that he had for sale through his business, Evolving Gardens.  He sold it to PalmScape in Boring, OR, but is still very much enamored with Palms while he works in tree care.

(Much of the body of the following text comes from an earlier HPSO Bulletin article)

Visual artists employ all sorts of little tricks to create an impression. A painting is an abstraction; it is not the place or thing that it portrays. As viewers, we respond to the visual cues we are given and our imaginations take us to a place. We don’t just see a flat piece of canvas and paint. As members of a civilized society, we share a set of tools that engage when we see a picture and we read it. A successful artist manipulates this visual language and shows us what we would otherwise never have imagined.

As an art form, landscape design is much the same. A designer who understands the cues that we respond to can take a visitor to another place. Unlike a painting, we can walk around and/or through this creation. It grows and changes seasonally and over the years. Even the quality of light will affect our experience. Whether we have been to a place or not, we have seen enough pictures, television programs and movies, read enough articles and books to have created an idea of what these places may be like. The designer taps into this language and, given the limitations of scale and climate, creates an alternative world that neatly fits within our shared larger world that is Portland and the Northwest.

The cues the designer employs need not be the genuine article, in fact this may be impractical or impossible. Because there is a wide richness of plant forms shared amongst the regions of the world, we can find a plant that possesses similar characteristics that will work. This plant then allows us to build an image and experience.

The Chinese windmill palm, Trachycarpus fortunei, is not a tropical, but it shares enough in common with many true tropicals that when we see it in the landscape, we prepare ourselves to believe that we could be there, especially if it shares space with other plants that have the color, texture, form and scale of plants we think of as tropical. Chinese windmills come from the mountains of southern China. Snow is not uncommon to their land of origin. They come from cool, damp, mixed forests where they share space with conifers. Sound familiar? And they are not unusual for Portland, having been grown here for many decades.

The genus Trachycarpus, of which there are ten or so species, with more being described, can be found across the lower Himalayas of northern India, Nepal and east through Myanmar, northern Thailand and China. Trachycarpus fortunei is one of the fastest growing palms for our climate. The three in Waterfront Park’s Columbia Circle were planted as five-gallon plants around 2001. Another species, T. takil, is arguably even more cold tolerant, though its validity as a species is in question. What ever its name, some prefer this form because its trunk is much smoother as it does not possess the coarse fibers that cover T. fortunei. I planted mine, around 2011, in the 5 Flags planter next to the river in front of the Riverplace Hotel.  All Trachycarpus are of the palmate group whose fronds have many narrow deeply-divided segments that radiate from a single point at the end of a stem.  In general the group of Palms recognized as a ‘palmate’ are, overall, more hardy than the others.  Please also note that there are more than 2,500 different species of palm in the world, the vast majority of which we can’t grow here in Portland, OR.

All palms are monocots. This means they share at least as much with tulips, lilies, grasses and bananas as they do with maples or fir trees. Palms don’t have bark or the cambial tissue that creates it, which adds wood and girth to a maple or fir’s trunk. You can’t girdle and kill them with a string trimmer, this is evidenced by all of those Palms growing in resorts with grass growing right up against their bases.  These trees often display string trimmer blight, but don’t suffer from it. Instead they have a uniform, unringed, woody cortex, scattered within which are hardened conducting vessels, phloem and xylem, carrying water and nutrients between the roots and foliage. Palms have one growing point from which all their growth emerges. They do not branch, ever. If you cut the top back, you kill the tree.

A young palm seems to grow slowly. Their growth appears to stall for a few years, but it hasn’t. During this period the plants grow their bases broader, including their meristematic tissue, adding girth without height. (Young palms are less cold hardy than mature trees because the meristem, the growth point, has less woody cortex surrounding and insulating it.) At a certain point the trunk, having reached much of its maximum diameter, begins to extend. The roots as well do not branch, all of them originate from the base not unlike an old kitchen mop.

The foliage emerges from the top of the trunk vertically as fuzzy spears, all of the segments folded tightly, accordion like. As the spear extends, the fans open and gravity and the continuing extension of the trunk push them over, eventually, into a horizontal position. They are arranged evenly around the trunk forming an overall rounded crown.   As an evergreen, the fronds persist for several years green, busily photosynthesizing, while the growing tip leaves them below. The foliage on all Trachycarpus persists hanging on long after it is dead loosely around the trunk (Some palms are self pruning, dropping their foliage cleanly when the reach the end of their productive lives.)  Cutting is required if you want to avoid the skirts that would other wise clothe them. These are also subject to wind damage folding or breaking down the petioles disrupting their perfect radial pattern.  In some areas these dead ‘aprons’ can, such as on California’s similar though more grand Washingtonias, provide ‘harborage’ for rat populations.  The petioles on all palms are quite hard especially if they have dried and browned completely.  They then are not easily snipped.

All Palms go through a juvenile phase as suggested above.  In the initial part of this the leaves are very different than the mature foliage.  The juvenile foliage of all Palms is very similar regardless of which species or even genus the tree is.  It unfolds as little pointy canoes ribbed lengthwise with up-turned bows and sterns.  Over time the newly emerging leaves begin to take on characteristics of the their mature form.  It can take many years in some species, i.e., genus Sabal, for their foliage to take on its full mature form and size.  There is a transition period where the foliage expands and begins to split before throwing fully mature fronds. The palmate palms, like the Trachycarpus, have mature fronds whose segments all radiate from their point of attachment with a long and hard petiole. The outline of the frond, its breadth and color, the depth of its corrugations and its number and length of its segments all vary between species.  Pinnate Palms, like my Butia capitata and Date and Coconut Palms have a rachis down the middle like any other pinnate plant with its leaflets arranged ‘feather’ like on either side.  Costa-palmate are kind of a mixture of the two, but to the untrained eye, they may look like just another palmate leaf.

The pinnate leaf of Butia capitata.  The rachis arching to the tip with leaflets alternating and nearly upright.

The pinnate leaf of Butia capitata. The rachis arching to the tip with leaflets alternating and nearly upright.

The costapalmate leaf of Sabal minor.  The difference isn't obvious on S. minor. You can also see a compressed unexpanded spear.

The costapalmate leaf of Sabal minor. The difference isn’t obvious on S. minor. You can also see a compressed unexpanded spear.

Because of all of this Palms all attain mature canopies when they are quite stubby and are still low to the ground.  Over the years, the trunks lengthen (not all Palms form above ground trunks and so don’t become ‘trees’) while the canopy remains essentially the same diameter.  Remember they do not branch.  They can become quite tall and ‘leggy’.  There is a Wax Palm native in the mountains of Columbia that can grow over 200′ tall while it retains the same simple canopy form and size. There is also the Chilean Wine Palm, Jubaea chilensis, that grows to 100′ with a stem that can be 5′ in diameter, a diameter it had when it likely had only 10′ or so of trunk length.  One needs to keep this in mind when planting out next to paths, patios etc.  Eventually the canopy will clear the space, but may likely crowd you.

Trachycarpus fortunei inflorescence, probably male

Trachycarpus fortunei inflorescence, probably male

The flowers, of which there can be thousands in a single inflorescence, emerge annually just below from where the frond spears stretch up.  On most Palms flowering may strike the temperate gardener as odd emerging directly from the trunk.  Each species is slightly different.  On Trachycarpus fortunei they emerge in spring held tightly in creamy yellowish clumps that look somewhat like what I picture as lungs might before they expand. Palms are monecious, each plant producing only male or female flowers. Trachycarpus females will ripen fruits that look much like juniper berries, at the same time they are flowering, the following spring. In the irrigated garden many of these will germinate on the ground in Portland. Both the male and female inflorescences dry up, harden and persist on the tree. To me they look messy.  The males do this during the summer after flowering, the females a year later after ripening their fruit. Both structures are quite hard and are best removed with loppers or a saw. Bracts surround the pedicel (?) that separate and slide off once cut from the tree.

As evergreens, palms are ready to grow year round when conditions allow. Temperatures are most amenable for Trachycarpus growth late spring into mid fall so the best growth is obtained with some summer irrigation. Drought stressing a palm, especially in its juvenile years will stunt it. A mature palm can show the effects of drought the remainder of its life in a narrowing of its trunk diameter that will never thicken or fill out later.  This gives the trunk a corseted or hourglass look.

A few years ago I bought a selection of Trachycarpus fortunei from Plant Delights named ‘Raleigh’ (now known as Taylor’s Form) which did especially well during one of our particularly bad winters. This one seems to keep growing later into the fall and is the only one I’ve had, so far, to suffer significant winter damage here. Apparently, while still trying to grow, one of our erratic cold snaps did some damage to the crown and two of the emerging spears, held vertically, died and were easily pulled away from the plant. Fortunately no rot or cold then got into it to further damage the apical meristem. It turns out that this was just a little hiccup along the road.

This response is typical in palms that are pressed to their colder limit. If the meristem is killed, the tree is dead.

My largest T. fortunei was planted from a five gallon pot about sixteen years ago. Today the fronds reach out forming a canopy 12 feet in diameter, the top of the trunk has passed the 13′ gutters with its new fronds stretching its height another five feet up. It’s a beautiful and very healthy tree.

I grow several other Trachycarpus spp. including T. takil, T. wagnerianus, T. martianus and T. latisectus described in their captions. Unfortunately it is only T. fortunei that can be found in any size.  T wagnerianus is becoming more available here with some size.  You should always check the inventories of our local specialty growers before you look too far afield.  I planted a  T. latisectus out earlier in the middle 00’s and lost it, which taught me, again, not to be too hasty when planting these out. It was too small and was killed by what I would call a normal winter with its share of freezing temperatures without dipping too far down. I replaced the it the next summer and have since planted it out again early this last fall ’14.  I also lost my Jubaea chilensis the same winter to impatience.

The rest of this post describes some of my other experiments, which I plan to continue.  Their are other Trachys, Sabal, hybrids and maybe even another Butia worth trying.  Peruse the growers on the internet, their info is often enlightening, if not a little too ‘rosy’, because there are new species and populations available now that haven’t been.  Promise is out their lurking. And always take the comments of others with a grain of salt.  Because a plant worked or failed for someone else does not mean you will obtain the same result.  Ask questions.  Be critical. Use your noggin!

I anyway am still trying to ‘tropicalize’ my back garden and always, always, always, keeping the naysayers, boobirds, negative nellys and dream killers at bay.  We have a lot to do in this world!

Sabal x 'Birmingham' - Another young experiment for me.  This is its second winter in a pot.  These love heat and can form palmate fronds several feet across, much larger than the Trachys.  I will keep this in pots, periodically up-potting for several more years. It's origin is confused.  Some palm experts think one parent is S. minor which is very slow.  In North Carolina these can take 13 years before they start to form a trunk!  So, ten more years??? No problem!  On the plus side, S. minor has added considerably to this palm's hardiness.  I have a vision of this at the top of my retaining wall when we redo the fence.

Sabal x ‘Birmingham’ – Another young experiment for me. This is its second winter in a pot. These love heat and can form palmate fronds several feet across, much larger than the Trachys. I will keep this in pots, periodically up-potting for several more years. It’s origin is confused. Some palm experts think one parent is S. minor which is very slow. In North Carolina these can take 13 years before they start to form a trunk! So, ten more years??? No problem! On the plus side, S. minor has added considerably to this palm’s hardiness. I have a vision of this at the top of my retaining wall when we redo the fence. Take a look here to see a series of photos over several years of this palm.  It’s going to be amazing!  Oh, that’s an Echium wildprettii to its right, still doing well in late January.  Maybe I’ll have flowers this summer!

Chamaerops humilis cerifera - The Blue form of the Mediterranean Fan Palm from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.  I planted this one out the summer before last and protected it by packing it in leaves last winter.  Chamaerops form multiple stems at the base.  This plant rebounded from significant loss last winter.  This winter, so far so good.

Chamaerops humilis cerifera – The Blue form of the Mediterranean Fan Palm from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, reputed to be slightly more cold hardy than the ‘normal’ green of the species. I planted this one out the summer before last  very much aware that it was on the small side and protected it by packing it in leaves last winter. I do sometimes worry about plant theft in very public areas like this next to sidewalks.  A larger plant might attract unwanted attention.  Generally on higher value plants I will skewer the root balls in place with 3 or 4 shafts of bamboo on angle.  And, yes I have had plants stolen/ripped out along here in the past and at work in the Parks.  Chamaerops form multiple stems at the base. This plant rebounded from significant loss last winter. This winter, so far so good. These aren’t as hardy as T. fortunei, T. wagnerianus or T. takil.  Some keen observers, like Greg Shepherd at Xera Plants, has observed more mature specimen in Portland that seem to take the cold in stride.  Here again is that maturity/caliper of trunk thing again.  Eric Blaser swears by the Christmas twinkle light technique wrapping the trunk and emerging spears to provide a tiny bit of heat.  It is also thought on many more marginal palms and/or smaller plants that have been set out, that they will be aided by a ‘tent’ of some sort to minimize water moving down the emergent spears of new growth and thereon to the bud, where a winter freeze and/or rot can be devastating.  Remember these come from the generally very dry Mediterranean area of southern Europe and northern Africa.  That is winter blooming Iris unguicularis at the left of the frame.Chamaerops humilis - This Mediterranean Fan Palm probably has a virus which gives it a very distinctive 'tie-diyed' effect to its fronds. I've never planted it out. I lost its parent plant 8 years or so ago messing around, dividing off 'pups' before I tried the mother plant in the ground, so I don't want to screw it up and wait another 8. This was the only pup with enough roots to survive. All of the other plants, mom included, died after the procedure...I'm not a propagator. These are slow. Got the original plant from Sean Hogan.

Chamaerops humilis – This Mediterranean Fan Palm probably has a virus which gives it a very distinctive ‘tie-diyed’ effect to its fronds. I’ve never planted it out. I lost its parent plant 8 years or so ago messing around, dividing off ‘pups’ before I tried the mother plant in the ground, so I don’t want to screw it up and wait another 8. Sadly, this was the only pup with enough roots to survive. All of the other plants, mom included, died after the procedure…I’m not a propagator. These are slow. Got the original plant from Sean Hogan’s Cistus Nursery.

Trachycarpus latisectus - This palm too is less hardy than the fortunei and wagnerianus.  I just planted it this fall from a 20 gal pot.  Its base is protected with fiberglass insulation and plastic to keep it drier this winter.  Considered experimental, 20F or so.

Trachycarpus latisectus – This palm too is less hardy than the fortunei and wagnerianus. I just planted it this fall from a 20 gal pot. Its base is protected with fiberglass insulation and plastic to keep it drier this winter. Considered experimental, 20F or so.  I’m hoping hardier.

Trachycarpus wagnerianus -  This palm has small, in diameter, fronds with segments that are deeply vee shaped forming a very stiff frond that is highly resistent to wind damage. This tree has been in the ground for 3 summers and is just starting to increase to its faster, adult, growth rate.  All palms take several years to grow their bases and root structures before they ever start to add elevation.

Trachycarpus wagnerianus – This palm has small, in diameter, fronds with segments that are deeply vee shaped forming a very stiff frond that is highly resistent to wind damage. This tree has been in the ground for 3 summers and is just starting to increase to its faster, adult, growth rate. All palms take several years to grow their bases and root structures before they ever start to add elevation.

Trachycarpus martianus - Still in a pot, about 20gal, this is my least hardy Palm.  Still debating about what to do with it.  All Palms increase in hardiness as the trunks increase in caliper.  The trunks serve as insulation for the bud at the tree's base.  My records are thin, but I believe this is the Nepal form that ordered some years ago from Plant Delights in North Carolina.  Tony says zn 8a, others aren't so 'generous'.  Growers in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. give it a thumbs down, they do T. latisectus also, but how big were there's when planted?  Can I find a superior micro-site?

Trachycarpus martianus – I love the red in the trunk and its lack of fibers!  This is often thought to be the most graceful of all Trachys.  Still in a pot, about 20gal, this is my least hardy Palm. Still debating about what to do with it. All Palms increase in hardiness as the trunks increase in caliper. The trunks serve as insulation for the bud at the tree’s base. Genetics will set the limit for hardiness.  Size, growing conditions…can only move you toward that…or away.  Many plants suffer and die well above their minimums because they grow with insufficient vigor, struggling.  My records are thin, but I believe this is the Nepal form that I ordered some years ago from Plant Delights in North Carolina. Tony says zn 8a, that’s 10F if you don’t recall, most others aren’t so ‘generous’. Growers in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., where there is an active and organized group of Palm aficionados, give it a thumbs down.  They do T. latisectus also, but how big were their’s when planted? What were their planting sites like…specifically? Can I find a superior micro-site?

Sabal minor McCurtain (from Oklahoma) - This is my third oldest palm, so, you guessed it, it's approaching 15 years old, a little younger than the T.f. next to the house.  It's very slow.  Planted out about 4 years ago.  It flowered the last two summers each inflorescence arising from the ground as a spike.  This species does not grow an above ground trunk.  Each year the individual fronds are getting larger.

Sabal minor ‘McCurtain’ (from Oklahoma) – This is my third oldest palm, so, you guessed it, it’s approaching 15 years old, a little younger than the T.f. next to the house. It’s very slow. Planted out about 4 years ago. It flowered the last two summers each inflorescence arising from the ground as a spike. This species does not grow an above ground trunk. Each year the individual fronds are getting larger. This particular selection, and there are several out there, is reputed to be way hardier than I need here, down into zn 6b, -5F.  Though do want summer heat, like all Sabal spp., and do best in well drained soil in winter wet areas.

Butia capitata - My only pinnate, feather type, palm.  This one has been here for 5 years.  It is in a very protected south facing spot.  I provide it with no additional winter protection.  See my earlier posting on this Butia.

Butia capitata – My only pinnate, feather type, palm. This one has been here for 5 years, since transplanting. We bought it at Dig Nursery on Vashon Island.  It is in a very protected south facing spot. I haven’t provided it with any additional winter protection the last several years. See my earlier posting referencing this Butia.  The following is from an article I wrote for the Spring ’04 HPSO Bulletin.  “Last spring, ’03, I planted a young, three-inch-plus caliper Butia capitata, a jelly palm, by my front steps. I put a cage around it earlier and filled it with leaves” (prior to the record week of cold we had the first week of January ’04! Remember when we had those three consecutive days with highs below freezing bracketed be more freezing nights?). It survived! It also survived being transplanted later when we remodeled the front of the house.

Trachycarpus fortunei Taylor's Form - This is the tallest, the top of the ladder, visible above the Pittosporum,  is 10', and is the fastest growing.  It is reputed to be the least susceptible to freeze damage.  It retains its fronds the longest before they droop.  You can see them attached to a significant portion of the straight trunk. This one suffers the most wind damage in the form of hanging browned tips, but that could be just because it retains them the longest.  I bought this tree, in a small, shippable size, from Plant Delights, two or three years after I planted my big guy by the house from a 5gal container.  So, it is a lot faster grower having passed its older brother.

Trachycarpus fortunei ‘Taylor’s Form’ – This is the tallest, at around 18′ of trunk, the top of the ladder, visible above the Pittosporum, is 10′, and is the fastest growing. It doesn’t add significantly more fronds per year than the others.  Instead, it adds to it’s trunk length more quickly. You can see the fronds attached to a significant portion of the straight trunk, each more separated by trunk than on any of the other Trachys. This accounts for the more elongated, less rounded, canopy.  It is reputed to be the least susceptible to freeze damage and retains its fronds the longest before they droop. This one suffers the most wind damage in the form of hanging browned tips, but that could be just because it retains them the longest. I bought this tree, in a small, shippable size, from Plant Delights, two or three years after I planted my big guy by the house from a 5gal container. So, it is a lot faster grower having passed its older brother.

Trachycarpus fortunei - My only female of the five.  This tree has the 'flattest' canopy as the petioles more quickly flop then kink and hang straight down.  I don't think this is characteristic for the girls.  It just shows more of the variability possible with seed grown plants.  I've just finished removing the 'worst' fronds and the remaining fruit structures which are amazingly heavy with fruit that looks like it could come off of a Mahonia or Juniper.  This tree tends to have the roundest fronds of my plants.

Trachycarpus fortunei – My only female of the five. This tree has the ‘flattest’ canopy as the petioles more quickly flop then kink and hang straight down. I don’t think this is characteristic for the girls. It just shows more of the variability possible with seed grown plants. I’ve just finished removing the ‘worst’ fronds and the remaining fruit structures which are amazingly heavy with fruit that looks like it could come off of a Mahonia or Juniper. This tree tends to have the roundest fronds of my plants.  It was the largest plant I have when I bought it from Sean, a tall 10 gal or  so.  The first two years after planting it sulked…the only T. fortunei ever to do that for me.  The smaller and younger Taylor’s form quickly passed it on its way up.

Trachycarpus fortunei - There are two more males on the street.  They were purchased at two different times but look and perform very similarly with a nicely shaped crown.  For the curious, I  planted 5gal plants. My strip is 4 1/2' wide. The mature canopy is 10' wide. The fronds are stiff enough that they can take quite a bit of abuse. For several years they 'pushed' pedestrians out of their paths and sometimes people would break or cut!!! the worst offenders off. No one turned me into the City's nuisance office. Thank you!  They would have given me 30 days to comply with the 7' head clearance rule or sent in a contractor, billed and fined me. Still, it didn't happen and they look great.  And, yes, that is Yucca rostrata 'Blue Sapphire' in the foreground, planted at the same time, like so many of my plants, over ten years ago.

Trachycarpus fortunei – There are two more males on the street. They were purchased at two different times but look and perform very similarly with a nicely shaped crown. For the curious, I planted 5gal plants. My strip is 4 1/2′ wide. The mature canopy is 10′ wide. The fronds are stiff enough that they can take quite a bit of abuse. For several years they ‘pushed’ pedestrians out of their paths and sometimes people would break or cut!!! the worst offenders off. No one turned me into the City’s nuisance office. Thank you! They would have given me 30 days to comply with the 7′ head clearance rule or sent in a contractor, billed and fined me. Still, it didn’t happen and they look great. And, yes, that is Yucca rostrata ‘Blue Sapphire’ in the foreground, planted at the same time, like so many of my plants, over ten years ago.

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6 thoughts on “Palms I Have Grown: A Look into Trachycarpus and its Intimates

  1. Nick Scott

    Hey what a website. I bought my Trachy about Feb – in England UK. I transplanted it from pot to ground. I watered it a lot and used palm food. I have placed the odd foilage around the base just lying on the ground for some mulch – but the leaves are so strong – I might as well not have bothered. The less I water it the greener it seems. It started out kind of mottled brown leaves which are now green and lush. We have had no rain here in Suffolk since February 2017. I don`t water every day anymore, but when I do I use a bucket (no hose here). anyway, the flowers which look like weird polenta have started to grow and sag down. I just wondered if it will crack on and get really tall. the ground it is on is not the best. its hard. There are lots of gravel pebbles. Its hard to dig. its kind of close to the house and surrounded by concrete this and that. I was digging about 4 feet from the tree and have seen the roots they are sailing on their way – they`re very progressive – like nothing will stand in their way. It seems very happy here. It stands about 7 feet tall.

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  2. Nick Scott

    Hey what a website. I bought my Trachy about Feb – in England UK. I transplanted it from pot to ground. I watered it a lot and used palm food. I have placed the odd foilage around the base just lying on the ground for some mulch – but the leaves are so strong – I might as well not have bothered. The less I water it the greener it seems. It started out kind of mottled brown leaves which are no green and lush. We have had no rain here in Suffolk since February 2017. I dont water every day, but when I do I use a bucket (no hose here). anyway, the flowers which look like weird polenta have started to grow and sag down. I just wondered if it will crack on and get really tall. the ground it is on is not the best. its hard. There are lots of gravel pebbles. Its hard to dig. its kind of close to the house and surrounded by concrete this and that. I was digging about 4 feet from the tree and have seen the roots they are sailing on their way – they`re very progressive – like nothing will stand in their way.

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    1. gardenriots Post author

      Trachycarpus fortuneii is a relatively fast grower for a palm. My two curbside palms I planted from 5 gallon pots 18 years ago and are 15 feet tall, to where the spear emerges. Your climate is quite different than ours as we tend to be wet from the first of October into June when it dries out. Our summers are Mediterranean with long stretches, several weeks and more, with no rain of any kind at all. My soil is a deep rich loam fairly heavy. My neighbor across the street has one probably five years older but it is shorter. I’ve noticed that these can have quite a bit of variation in their growth rate as they’re grown from seed, perhaps 20-30% or more.

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    1. gardenriots Post author

      I don’t know Julie. What will you do? I think I’m going to be looking into the regulations and practice of PGE line clearance via Asplundh. I doubt if the City and PGE have given any thought to them at all.

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  3. Loree / danger garden

    Very interesting! My current palm count stands at 4. One Trachycarpus fortunei, two T. wagneriensis, and a Rhapidophyllum hystrix which was a gift from Sean and just planted last spring (it’s very small). For 3 years I also grew a beautiful Chamaerops humilis, it was knocked back severely from winter 2008/9 and finally done in by 2009/10. My T. fortunei is the oldest and just started putting on serious growth last summer. I’ve also got the borrowed view of my neighbors 13ft (I’m guessing) T. fortunei next to their house. I’ve watched it bloom for many years and must say I am not looking forward to mine starting that. Messy!

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