PLANTING & CARE

Planting Guide

Ground Preparation

  • Prepare your holes for planting. Holes should be three times the width of the pot and twice as deep. This gives the roots lots of juicy, rich soil to get growing quickly.
  • Mix a good quality and quantity of soil improver into the soil. Water crystals/gels or bentonite clay can also be added at this stage. Soil improver and water crystals/gels/bentonite clay will greatly assist in the water holding capacity of the soil. Be careful not to overdo it though.
  • Place a small quantity of slow release fertiliser into the hole (contact us for more info on this).
  • Remove the plant from the pot and plant into the improved soil.
  • Backfill the hole with the improved soil and avoid pressing down on the top of the plant itself. The top of the rootball should be sitting just below the soil surface (as it was when it was in the pot).
  • NOTE: For sandy soils more soil improver will be required and for soils that retain a lot of moisture e.g. clay soil, you will need to ensure adequate drainage as some plants do not like ‘wet feet’.

 

PALMS FOR COASTAL AREAS

When selecting palms to plant along the coast here in Perth there are a number of important factors to consider that will adversely affect palm growth.

SANDY SOIL

Perth has some of the poorest quality soils on the planet and most of it is nothing more than sand. However we can bring the soil to life with the addition of soil mixes that retain water and add essential nutrients. The organic matter in these mixes will dramatically improve the sandy soil and bring it to life. Bentonite clay can also be added to improve the water holding capacity of the soil. Once the soil has been amended and planting is complete it is critical that a ‘chunky’ mulch be applied to the surface of the garden bed to prevent moisture loss.

WIND DAMAGE

First and foremost you need to select suitable palms for these conditions. Positioning of the palm is also critical and wind damage can be overcome by selecting positions that are protected by other objects such as your house/shed, tall trees or buildings. Most palms will tolerate some wind, but the leaves of certain species are delicate and damage in strong wind.

SALT AIR

Wind coming in off the ocean can be salt laden and only palms that will tolerate this air should be considered. There are some species of palms that will not tolerate any salty air. While the palms are still small it is a good idea to wash the foliage down with some fresh water from your garden hose every so often to help them establish.

LIMESTONE

Soils that surround areas of limestone have a high pH and make the soil alkaline. This problem can be overcome at the initial planting stage by ensuring that ample soil preparation has been conducted and that an adequate amount of soil improver has been added. Palms planted in alkaline soil need to be supplied with additional nutrients, especially iron, manganese and magnesium. Sulphate forms of these elements can assist in lowering the pH level. Most of our coastal areas have bore water that tends to be quite alkaline and acidifying chemicals may need to be added to fix this problem.
See the following information related to this – pH of Soils and Fertilisers..

Soil pH

Most plants will grow best in well-drained, fertile soils, and they generally prefer pH neutral to slightly acid soils. pH is a measure of the acidity and alkalinity of the soil using a scale from 1 to 14; where 7 is neutral, less than 7 is acid and greater than 7 is alkaline. For best results use a pH test kit to identify your soil pH.
Acid soils with a pH of less than 6 commonly have deficiencies in:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Molybdenum

Alkaline soils with a pH of more than 7 commonly have deficiencies in:

  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Boron

If your soil pH is low, add lime or dolomite to increase the pH of the soil.
If your soil pH is high, add sulphates of iron and ammonium, elemental sulphur and organic matter to lower the pH of the soil.

Gypsum (calcium sulphate) does not alter the pH of the soil but can improve aeration and reduce compaction in a clay soil. Most plants will suffer root damage if submerged in water for several weeks. Drainage may also be improved by building the soil up before planting.

Planting in Pots or Containers

If you are planning to grow your plants in pots or containers, make sure to use a good quality premium potting mix. The soil you use should both drain well and retain moisture.
It would be advisable, dependent on pot size, to remove the plant from the pot every 3 to 4 years to avoid becoming pot-bound. Once you have removed the plant you can re-pot it into a larger pot. The use of an annual drenching with a soil wetter is also beneficial to ensure that the mix does not become hydrophobic.

Watering of Palms

As a rule of thumb, and for best results, always keep your palms well-watered during the warmer months. Most palms love a regular deep watering, at least 12 inches deep. Remember, good drainage is essential for the health of your plant. With ground plantings, I usually recommend a deep soaking but less frequently.

NOTE: Soil prep prior to planting (and lots of it) is essential to having a palm that can cope well in times of extreme heat. If you don’t do enough soil improving you will find that you need to water your plant more often than you should be.

We strongly recommend the use of drip irrigation as this will deliver the best results using the least amount of water. Water simply drips, or flows slowly, from the dripper and is delivered directly and deep into the root mass. Your overall growth will be greater on a drip system. Additionally, and most importantly, setting up a drip line is both very easy and affordable.