Separating Chamaedorea metallica in a Pot

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I recently bought a pot of Chamaedorea metallica, something I’ve wanted to try for a long time.  The plants look good, and the price wasn’t bad, but I am concerned because there were actually 12 plants in one pot!  Knowing that they are solitary, this bothers me.  I actually pulled one small one out and repotted it, but the other 11 seemed firmly anchored in the pot, which is about 9” diameter at the top.  Should I try to separate them?  Or would it be better to just cut some off and leave a smaller number?  What is the most that should be together in one pot?  Thanks for your help!

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I have some like that as a house plant. They actually do great planted on multiples. You could try potting them up and maybe separate a few.

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I would try to separate most of them, if you unpot them and soak them in water for a little while you should be able to tease and giggle them apart.

Looking ahead I would not leave more than 2 or 3 together.

Ultimately, you are right that they cannot all stay together and look good, Good luck.

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Chamaedorea metallica is a solitary palm and I believe it should be grown as one. Last spring at the Palm Beach sale I bought a 5g pot of 3 metallicas, one of which is the rare and desirable pinnate leaf form. When I got them home I unpotted them, rinsed off residual soil, then patiently and meticulously untangled and unwound their roots to separate them. Then I potted each in its own 3g pot. All are growing happily. If you are patient and careful, you should end up with 12 much happier solitary palms.

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@MGD’s Plants, welcome to Palm Talk!

@gtsteve, @PalmatierMeg and @Chris Chance are all correct. Chamadoreas are among the easiest palms to separate. Even if you damage the roots, they're tough enough to come right back.

Also, see my PM (private message).

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Having separated chamaedorea elegans and radicalis clumps its really not terribly hard if wet as they usually "wiggle" apart pretty well and come back easy if you are careful in the process. From what I have seen with radicalis and elegans the roots aren't terribly big in this species and as @DoomsDave said they are tough and will bounce back. 

Edited by mdsonofthesouth
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I just seperated a Chamaedorea cataractarum the other day, two healthy palms out of a 75% dead clump. It took a while to wiggle their roots out of the dead mass, but both are doing well and haven’t skipped a beat.

I finished repotting them only minutes before strong thunderstorms rolled in, sky got dark and the palms started getting blown around, thankfully the heavy rains settled the potting mix and anchored their roots.

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Thanks so much to everybody weighing in on my question.  You have pretty much confirmed what I thought, that for long-term health it’s better to separate the C. metallicas.  I am glad to know that others have done this with success in Chamaedorea plants — I was afraid, since I’ve heard some palms at least are really sensitive to having their roots disturbed.  

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