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Growing Palms

Tamara Josh

Palms are evergreens, mostly tropical, with wood like stems belonging to the Arecaceae/Palmae family. There are about 2800 species and 300 genera of palms. They have an exotic appeal which makes them a perennial favourite. Most palms are like tree with single trunks. In palms, the leaves will develop from a single bud atop each stem, unfolding like an accordion or a fan. Leaf bases encircle the stem, at least early in their development. The stems of mature palms are tough and woody.

The palm leaf consists of a petiole (leaf stem) and blade (the main body of the leaf). Based on their leaf structures, palms are classified into two basic categories; i.e, fan shaped (palmate) or feather shaped (pinnate) compound leaves. Each type has its own kind of structure. In most pinnate palms, the blade is divided into leaflets and they attach to the rachis, an extension of the petiole through the blade. Most palms grow as single-stem trees, but some develop multiple stems from a single root system. The thickness of the stem ranges from a pencil to more than a meter.

Propagation and Growing
Palm's Shoot
The propagation of most palms is through seeds. Fresh ripe seeds are used for this. The fleshy or fibrous fruit pulp frequently contains growth inhibitors and so the pulp must be removed before planting. Methods of removing the seed coat vary with the quantity and type of seeds. In some species, the fleshy fruit can simply be rubbed away from the seed under running water. Seeds can also be cleaned with a knife or using other sharp tool. After cleaning, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours.

Clump Division
A float test can be performed to check the viability of the seeds. Good quality seeds tend to sink in water, while seeds which are not fully developed or are pest-infected will float. Before planting dip the seeds in a 10% solution of bleach. i.e one part bleach to ten parts water. This is to disinfect the seeds, and then rinse it thoroughly.

Palm's Sheeds
For proper germination, palm seeds require high temperature. The seeds can be sown in a container or directly into the ground. Enrich the soil with well rotted manure and compost. Palms need abundant water but only a few tolerate soggy soil. Plant the seeds in such a way that top of the seed is slightly exposed above the soil. Water regularly and let the soil to dry out thoroughly before watering again. Germination will take place depending on the palm varieties used. Palms are well-known for their erratic behavior in germinating. Some may take weeks to show any sign of sprouting. Once seeds begin to germinate, it requires more frequent watering. Palms do not mind being root-bound, and can be kept in the same container for several years. Or it can be transplanted to the ground with enough space.

Palm in Container
A good drainage must be provided during the growing period. Palms appreciate a good-quality potting mix and require light fertilizer. They are slow growing and basically never need to prune. Pruning lower leaves will not make the plant grow faster. Trim off dead leaves only when they are brown and crispy. Practically palms are pest-free and easy to grow.

Palm Album

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