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Separating Pups from a Large Potted Rhapidophyllum


Bigfish

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I bought this in Knoxville, TN from a nursery about 7 or 8 years ago, and it has been sitting in a pot since then in my mother's yard in Gainesville, FL. I finally got around to separating the pups today.

Here's what it looked like stilll in the pot. I think it's a 15 gallon, maybe 20 gallon pot.

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Closeup.

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Took it out of the pot and it was clear I had a job cut out for me!

big%20needle%20out%20of%20pot_zpsxl8ibs8

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Washed as much soil as I could from the rootball with a high pressure hose attachment.

big%20needle%20hosed%20off_zpsro2cgekt.j

Now out come the weapons...er...I mean tools, LOL. The roots were just a tangled mess, and no way was I going to be able to do this easily.

I just tried to find a spot where I wouldn't be cutting into any stems and carefully hacked through the rootball with a saw. Notice I have a good pair of heavy duty mechanic gloves on...those needles are painful when the tip breaks off in your finger.

big%20needle%20saw%20in%20half_zpsmrbavw

First cut was nice. No damage to any trunks, just some sawed-off roots and a much easier to work with plant! Again, I hosed all of the soil off that I could from both rootballs at this stage.

big%20needle%20in%20half_zpskcl4lzss.jpg

I quit taking pictures here and proceeded to get dirty. A good pair of handheld pruners and brute strength is really all you need next. Not gonna lie, it got ugly a couple of times. I believe I may have had my foot on one trunk while grabbing another one and pulling with all of my might, lol. Needle Palms are extremely resilient palms and can take a fair amount of abuse. I did use a pair of loppers once to separate a rhizome that was just out of reach of my pruners. Needle Palms can grow new adventitious roots along the trunk, so don't get scared of damaging quite a few of them in extreme cases like this.

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Here's the results after some cussing, cajoling, sweating and getting a little dirt in my eyes. 24 new potted Needle Palms!

Big%20needle%20separation%20results_zpsp

Every new palm still had roots and will regrow new ones provided plenty of water. I was a little surprised I got that many palms out of there, but happy about it! All in all, completely worth the effort.

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Great documentation! Keep us appraised of how they do!

-Krishna

Kailua, Oahu HI. Near the beach but dry!

Still have a garden in Zone 9a Inland North Central Florida (Ocala)

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Interesting, didn't know you could do this....learn something new every day. The needles would be tough to work around but 24 "new" plants is cool.

David Simms zone 9a on Highway 30a

200 steps from the Gulf in NW Florida

30 ft. elevation and sandy soil

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Interesting, didn't know you could do this....learn something new every day. The needles would be tough to work around but 24 "new" plants is cool.

It's a whole lot easier to do if the plant isn't huge and severely pot-bound for the past 8 years or so. This was an extreme example. I typically like to do it when the main trunk has three or four pups that are at least a year or more old, so they are on their own roots.

Yes, having 24 "new" Needle Palms is pretty slick, lol! I'm probably going to end up selling them or giving them away to friends after a year or so. Gotta give 'em time to grow some!

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Wow! You got all of that from one palm. That’s really great…I never thought those were hardy here in WA but after seeing on another board one that looks really good and big I may have to try one someday. I never ever see them for sale here so it may be awhile. LOL!

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Nice Needle! Kind of hard to get a sense of scale in the picture though, but I'm guessing it's 3-4 feet tall? The only issue you would run into there is lack of summmer heat. Winters would be a breeze for a Needle Palm there. They would just grow slower than they do in the Southeast. That one has a ton of pups. I guess I prefer Needles with fewer pups or no pups...that's why I end up separating them, LOL.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for starting this thread, Frank. I finally got some motivation and time off to proceed with the operation. Before I can even get warmed up and after getting stabbed 5 times in seemingly the same place on my index fingers, I came across this:

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I tugged at it a bit and the pup seems to be connect right to the main parent. I feel like if I did cut away at it, I'd kill it.

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It seems that the main "trunk" of the pup is connected to the parent. Should I proceed with the operation or plant as is?

011_zps3xglambb.jpg

Edited by smithgn
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Wash the soil away at the base and see if the pup has its own roots. If so, you can clip it off of the mother trunk with a pair of sharp pruners (or break it off with your hands), and gently tug the entangled roots away from each other. If not, pot it back up and leave it alone for another year. I've separated them smaller than that with their own roots and they don't seem to mind. It'll grow a little slower since it isn't connected to the mother trunk anymore though.

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Just got done. There was some carnage. The pup wound up having a pretty good root system. I pulled it apart from the parent palm and proceeded by untangling the roots and pulling them free from the parents roots. There were some cut up roots from the yanking and pulling and I felt like I was killing the palm the whole time I was doing it :bummed:

But for now, they're separated and potted back up. I'll probably allow them some time to mend up and maybe plant them in ground in the heat of summer. A new medium and some root stimulator should help. I'll post some pictures tomorrow. Thanks for the help Frank!

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Just got done. There was some carnage. The pup wound up having a pretty good root system. I pulled it apart from the parent palm and proceeded by untangling the roots and pulling them free from the parents roots. There were some cut up roots from the yanking and pulling and I felt like I was killing the palm the whole time I was doing it :bummed:

But for now, they're separated and potted back up. I'll probably allow them some time to mend up and maybe plant them in ground in the heat of summer. A new medium and some root stimulator should help. I'll post some pictures tomorrow. Thanks for the help Frank!

LOL I know what you mean about feeling like you were killing the palm! Imagine what is was like separating 24 pups in a relatively small pot (for the size of the palm)! At one point, I had my foot on one trunk and had ahold of another with two hands, pulling as hard as I could. If I hadn't done it before, I wouldn't have recommended it. Rhapidophyllum is a tough plant, and can tolerate a pretty good amount of abuse. I've seen a plant yanked up out of the ground and lying in the hot sun for several weeks, and when someone tried to move it, it was evident that it had rooted into the ground along the side of the trunk that was lying on the ground! Just give it a little TLC, shade, and keep it well-watered and they should both recover just fine.

Oh...did you miss the part above where I mentioned heavy duty mechanic gloves? LOL! They are a must when dealing with Needle Palms.

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  • 4 months later...

I just received a needle palm i ordered through the mail yesterday. I already potted it today i am affraid its stressed already so i dont want to mess with the roots again. But i really like the one trunk look. Can i just cut the pups off or will it leave the tree vulnerable to infection. Thanks :)

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Yes, I did lose one or two of the smallest pups when I visited a month ago.  I'm not down there to take care of them, so all they receive is irrigation from a sprinkler and nobody every checks on them.  Most looked OK, but haven't grown much if any.  Cutting the pups off does leave the plant vulnerable to infection.  It's just a matter of risk/reward, and how much risk do you want to take?

Edited by Frank - Knoxville
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  • 8 years later...
On 9/13/2015 at 12:46 PM, Bigfish said:

Yes, I did lose one or two of the smallest pups when I visited a month ago.  I'm not down there to take care of them, so all they receive is irrigation from a sprinkler and nobody every checks on them.  Most looked OK, but haven't grown much if any.  Cutting the pups off does leave the plant vulnerable to infection.  It's just a matter of risk/reward, and how much risk do you want to take?

Any updates on your needle palm divisions?

Zone 6b maritime climate

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12 hours ago, Leelanau Palms said:

Any updates on your needle palm divisions?

Yeah, most of them survived and grew very well!  I have several of them still, and have sold a few.  

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2 minutes ago, Leelanau Palms said:

Got pictures?

No, but I might be able to get some in a few days.  The problem is that they are mixed in with other potted Rhapidophyllum, so not sure I could tell which is which.

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Forgive me for laughing being confused. You separated them only to pot them with other Rhapidophyllum?

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7 minutes ago, Las Palmas Norte said:

Forgive me for laughing being confused. You separated them only to pot them with other Rhapidophyllum?

I think he means he has a lot of different potted ones and doesn't know which is which

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YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@tntropics - 60+ In-ground 7A palms - (Sabal) minor(7 large + 27 seedling size, 3 dwarf),  brazoria(1) , birmingham(4), etonia (1) louisiana(5), palmetto (1), riverside (1),  (Trachycarpus) fortunei(7), wagnerianus(1),  Rhapidophyllum hystrix(7),  18' Mule-Butia x Syagrus(1),  Blue Butia odorata (1) +Tons of tropical plants.  Recent Yearly Lows -6F, -1F, 12F, 11F, 18F, 16F, 3F, 3F, 6F, 3F, 1F, 16F, 17F, 6F, 8F

 

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3 hours ago, Las Palmas Norte said:

Forgive me for laughing being confused. You separated them only to pot them with other Rhapidophyllum?

They are potted individually, amongst other individually potted Rhapidophyllum.  

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Thanks for the update. I wondered if you had replanted into the ground successfully. Any tips for growing needles in pots?

Zone 6b maritime climate

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5 hours ago, Leelanau Palms said:

Thanks for the update. I wondered if you had replanted into the ground successfully. Any tips for growing needles in pots?

I had them at my folks house in Gainesville, FL when I lived in Tennessee, and was planning on planting them whenever I bought a house in Tennessee.  That never happened, because I moved to Florida.  
 

My tips for growing in pots is plenty of water, some afternoon shade, fertilize at least once a year with a slow release fertilizer, and pot them up in larger pots when they fill out the pot.  They’re pretty easy.

I would also recommend to not grow them underneath a Live Oak tree, because the leaves fall into the pots and have a growth inhibitor for Rhapidophyllum (and some other plants too).  This is why you almost never see Rhapidophyllum growing under Live Oak canopy in habitat.

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Thanks again for information and advice. Starting on my own needle journey. 

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Zone 6b maritime climate

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