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Monday, August 31, 2015

Select the Right Plants to Grow With Palms

Q.  I have had this palm for 10 years. Every time I add additional water with a hose or bucket I lose more fronds. Every year I cut higher on the palm to get rid of dead fronds. I drove a metal stake down 18 inches but did not pick up any visible moisture in 3 different places.  Any ideas on how I can go about this from a more scientific method?
Canary Island date palm with aptenia planted at its base
A. I did not see a whole lot wrong with your palm in the picture you sent to me. It is pretty normal for the fronds to begin to brown out and start to die once they drop below horizontal.
            In our climate it is also pretty common to have some tip burn on the leaves along the fronds, particularly as they get older and drop close or below horizontal.
            I did notice you have Aptenia, hearts and flowers, growing at the base of the palm. This plant is not complementary to a palm that has deeper roots. Aptenia has shallow roots so it is watered frequently with a small amount of water. Palms must be watered more deeply and less often.
            If you are going to plant something at the base of a palm, plant something with deeper roots that has a similar watering requirement. Replant at the base of the palm with something more deep-rooted that can give you some color.

            Select a woody perennial that give you season-long color in that spot or an evergreen with a deep root and a similar requirement for water.

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