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dalmatiansoap

What are your expiriences with clay soil for growing Palm trees? Most of my yard is clay and I know Olives like it but for example my Bananas dont. Im planing to plant few Palms there and would like to avoid eventual misakes.

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Vidalii

the only way is mounding with lots of sand and mulch

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tjwalters

the only way is mounding with lots of sand and mulch

I wouldn't mix sand with clay - the result may be akin to concrete.

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DoomsDave

Dalmatian soap:

Clay can be the most fertile soil you can get.

It holds water, and it's full of nutrients.

The catch is that it can drain badly.

My whole place is nothing but clay, and I dug it to a depth of .6 m and buried any organic matter I could find (dead leaves, etc.) and waited a couple of months.

You can use compost, etc.

It's hard work, but much better for the plants than amending each hole.

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Tyrone

There are some clay pockets around here and one guy I know field grew foxtail palms in it and they look great. Easy to transplant too from clay into sand as the root ball stays nice and intact and of course holds moisture. His foxtails would have been at least 9m tall in some cases with 6m of clear trunk to the crownshaft. Ravenea rivularis tends to like clay too coming from rivers.

The amount of sand you'd have to add to clay to make it drain better is astronomical. It's many times the volume of the clay. Totally impractical. As Dave said adding compost and lots of it will give it better structure in the end.

Best regards

Tyrone

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Patrick

I have clay and some palms are fine with it, and some just hate it. I'm re-working my front yard and I'm finding queen palm roots very far away from the tree about a foot down- they seem to get through it fine. If I know a palm needs a little drainige, I'll amend the soil a bit by mixing organics in.

I add lots of good top soil on top and hope for the best. Good topsoil/ mulch is especially helpful because it provides better drainage to the young crown which is at ground level. I usually mix the clay and organics up when I'm going to plant something in a certain spot, down maybe 1 meter max and 1m x 1m out. Usually less though. I try to make a bit of a mound because the organics do break down over time and drop the overall level over time.

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BeaumontTropics

lots of good tips above, but if you can't do what dave did and have to excavate each hole, I'd recommend adding gypsum to the bottom of that clay hole, along with other organic amendments, to help break up some of that clay to allow for drainage.

My clay here drains worse than solid concrete, so gypsum is an absolute must for me here! Good luck with the plantings!

-eric

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Tropicgardener

Cuban Royals do pretty well in clay. I planted a few at my parents home in Brisbane many years ago and they are thriving in the heavy, gluggy clay. The coconuts I planted there hate it and refuse to thrive. Some of the Dypsis I planted are going ok but not thriving.

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dalmatiansoap

Thanks folks,

Soil doesnt have drenage problem becouse its quite rocky, I allready planted few Phoenix there and was in a doubt about others till now :).

Didnt know about gypsum, sounds good, how do U dosage it? Just a sprinkle or more, in planting hole or all arround it?

IMAG2096.jpg

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Tyrone

Gypsum works well on certain clays but not all. I think non-dispersant clays don't respond to Gypsum. It may be the other way around though. I should take a look at the text books and see which is what. Clay has some nice properties, but some nasty ones too.

Best regards

Tyrone

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Tyrone

Just did a bit of research and dispersing clays can be helped with Gypsum whereas non dispersant clays are not helped as much. How to tell the difference. Take a spoonful of the soil you have and put it in some water for a few minutes. A dispersing clay will cloud the water up as it dissolves. A non dispersing clay will just sit there and not dissolve. There are many shades between the two extremes though. Basically the more your clay disperses or dissolves the more it can be helped by Gypsum.

Best regards

Tyrone

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Manolitus

I have sometimes thought what would happen if the clay that was used for planting/amending the ground, was the material used in baseball in fields ?

It doesn't seem to be as heavy and it looks like it may drain better than "regular" clay ?

Anyone has any kind of experience with this ?

In Fairchild, they have a Morojejya growing outside which is planted in a section with other plants that NEED clay soils, or benefit greatly from clay. It is the only Marojejya that I know of in south Florida that is doing reasonably well. I think part of it has to do with the acidity too.

Thoughts ?

Manny

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Palmzilla

Years of mulching turn clay into great soil. Clay is the building block of great soil!

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Pedro 65

Years of mulching turn clay into great soil. Clay is the building block of great soil!

My Thoughts exatly Braden, try growing a Monster Raphia with little clay. Licuala Ramsayi relishes in pure clay as do many Licualas. Our Largest, Fastest and Healthiest palms are grown in clay. Once Dolomite is added to clay to palms can tap into all the minerals that are locked up.I should add all our land is undulating but even with an average rainfall of 2mtrs Palms in the deep red soil are miles behind palms grown in clay. Pete

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Pedro 65

Years of mulching turn clay into great soil. Clay is the building block of great soil!

My Thoughts exatly Braden, try growing a Monster Raphia with little clay. Licuala Ramsayi relishes in pure clay as do many Licualas. Our Largest, Fastest and Healthiest palms are grown in clay. Once Dolomite is added to clay to palms can tap into all the minerals that are locked up.I should add all our land is undulating but even with an average rainfall of 2mtrs Palms in the deep red soil are miles behind palms grown in clay. Pete

Heres a good example. These palms were planted on the same day 15years ago. 1 in clay 1 in deep red. post-5709-056679600 1303089674_thumb.jpg

post-5709-068556000 1303089681_thumb.jpg

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sonoranfans

Years of mulching turn clay into great soil. Clay is the building block of great soil!

This is true, but I mulched AND added sand to pretty much pure construction clay in arizona. Dont worry, clay+sand doesnt get you concrete, LOL! :lol: When you start with clay you should ammend, dig deep, and add sulfur(or gypsum). Sulfur is typically better for ammending clay than gypsum(CaS04), no kidding. If you have calcerous clay, adding sulfur leads to gypsum(Ca+S+02(bacteria)-> CaS04. In the process the calcerous clay is broken up as its the calcium that causes the soil compaction. It also works for sodium rich clay. If you plant to grow lots of palms in clay, do perk tests, ammend and test soil pH to determine how often you should add sulfur. The best thing about clay soils is that they generally are mineral rich and also they dont lose the micros from your fertilizer so fast. I wish I had some clay here in florida, my soils are almost all sand. :(

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PalmGuyWC

I have adobe clay, and the palms seems to love it. I always like to add amendments when I'm planting a palm, but the truth is the roots soon grow out of the amended soil into pure clay. I honestly can't say palms grow any faster in my amended soil than if they are just slipped into a hole just big enough to accommodate the root ball. The secret for fast growth is to get the palms in the ground as soon as possible. Most palms need a lot of root room to grow fast, and I've found most palms send their roots out well beyond the drip line of the palm.

Dick

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Palmzilla

If you mulch a ton it will bring in herds of earthworms which will make the soil psychedelic! Takes time though. I recently accepted about 100 yards of fill dirt thinking it was good soil. After it was dumped it basically was pure clay! So I mixed about 100 yards of mulch in it to try to make it better. If you add fertilizer to the mulch it helps break the mulch down faster which turns the soil better faster.

Braden

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dalmatiansoap

But I still dont know how to apply Gypsum? :blink:

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Daryl

Buy it in powder form and sprinkle...you do need to use a lot of it though, and keep re-applying. We have mainly clay here as well, and *most* palms are happy in it. Some refuse to deal with it though. The alternative to amending with organic matter and gypsum etc is to build elevated mounds/beds with stone/rock/boulders etc and plant in them. Saves the digging and adds some interest to a flat garden if that is the case.

Daryl

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BS Man about Palms

Daryls got it right on of course... :D

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BeaumontTropics

I have adobe clay, and the palms seems to love it. I always like to add amendments when I'm planting a palm, but the truth is the roots soon grow out of the amended soil into pure clay. I honestly can't say palms grow any faster in my amended soil than if they are just slipped into a hole just big enough to accommodate the root ball. The secret for fast growth is to get the palms in the ground as soon as possible. Most palms need a lot of root room to grow fast, and I've found most palms send their roots out well beyond the drip line of the palm.

Dick

Great thing about adobe is, it can be "worked" and softened with a shovel, so I have to think it's better for the roots, seeing how at some point they will have to grow into that soil. Bad thing about adobe, it is sticky! When adobe just gets a slight bit damp, my goodness, you'll need a shovel and a knife to dig a hole. So much of what you dig sticks to the shovel, thus making it nearly impossible to excavate.

Spraying WD40 on the shovel does help considerably.

The clay that I have is nowhere near adobe, something much harder, almost a rock like mixture, that makes the soil a pottery brown color mixed with a concrete gray. Even digging bars are no use. Anytime a hole is excavated in my yard, it had better be after serious rain, otherwise a pneumatic clay spade is the only thing that will penetrate the soil. I guess on the bright side at least my soil won't stick to the shovel.

-eric

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AJQ

Last week I tried the water test. I placed a small lump in a pint glass of water. After about 30 minutes the water was still clear as crystal. I then swirled the glass and the water clouded up and the clay began to break down.

What's the verdict on this then?

Regards Andy.

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dalmatiansoap

I did some tests with gypsum and results are very good for now even after few waterings.

Will try the something more seriously this mid week. Still have to find out whan do I need to reapply it.

:greenthumb:

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palmcurry

Hi Dalmation soap. I'm almost 2 years into my clay garden revival. Here is a link to the thread that has lots of usefull info:

http://www.palmtalk.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=19582&st=0&p=326630&hl=preparation&fromsearch=1&#entry326630

or click here

Raised beds are the best bet.

Other than that I would say good long term consistent soil preparation. Gypsum and compost for sure. Just today I dumped 2 large garbage containers of compost and a garbage bag of horse litter through out my garden. The clay in my area is particularly dense: about 2 feet down it gets so hard that it has the gray color of concrete and is cement like in drainage. To counter act this I've become a full time composter year round and I buy bags of horse litter and soil regularly.

When I first started out I used a 24" pick and did my whole yard by hand, covered it with gypsum and compost and did the whole thing over again. It was worth it, my plants are doing great so far for the most part.

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Rafael

Did it work Ante?

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dalmatiansoap

Did it work Ante?

Yes it works but not for whole yard, smaller areas can be treated with gypsum but its just to expensive for some serious usage.

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richnorm

Gypsum should be very cheap but garden centres tend to charge 10x the price of horticultural suppliers!

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KennyRE317

we have some horrible clay soil that used would hold water until they evaporated if there was a puddle, pretty much wouldn't drain past 3" from the surface. I think around july/august I put in 2 yards of straight compost with some gypsum and all my soil drains pretty well, some areas still get kind of mucky/sludgey but the parts where I planted my palms is real rich and haven't had any issues with drainage since. after any rainfall I would go out and see if there's any puddling and if there was how long it would take to drain out and they drain out pretty well, I can now actually walk on the wet dirt where I would slide everywhere because the top layer was so slick

Edited by KennyRE317

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