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Sabal Growth Rates Riddle


Cosmo

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Years ago I planted 3 container grown Sabals, supposedly all the same but I'm no expert. I buy on looks and they were pretty and sold as hardy for our area. Good enough for me. There was no difference in top growth. Palm #1 the largest was planted in what I would consider an urban environment - between the patio and pool deck. I figured that would serve to restrain the growth being right beside the pool gate. I was wrong, dead wrong. It is the largest and most beautiful of the 3. Palm #2 is nearly the same size, doesn't have to contend with concrete and stone but must compete with a 35+ year old ash tree. Both 1 & 2 receive 4-5 hours of direct sunlight each day. Palm #3 is an orphan. What you see is not much bigger than what it was when it was planted. Receives about 6 hours of sunlight a day. I've given it extra fert, micros and irrigation during the growing season. Palms 1 & 2 are working on their 4th and 3rd spear respectively this year. The orphan hasn't even put one out. There is considerable difference in soil types between palm 1 and the other 2. Palm 1 is in pure black gumbo and the other 2 are in a 25-75 mix of gumbo and broken up caliche with caliche cap rock within about 1' of the surface.

The orphan doesn't look diseased; it just doesn't grow - period. Beyond soil the only other significant difference is that 1 & 2 are planted below decidious trees so receive more direct sunlight during the winter versus #3 that still only receives the 6 hours because of the rose bush behind it.

Any ideas? Is #3 a different palm than 1 & 2 ? Need more pics, closer pics, let me know. I can understand how #1 could be stouter because it doesn't have to deal with the cap rock being so close. But between 2 & 3 the conditions are near identical, except for winter sunlight. My one mature needle palm is bigger than #3.

I think the trunk base gives you great perspective but for height reference, the top of the fence is just an inch or two over 5 feet.

Thanks

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Hard to say, can you post a closer picture of just the largest frond from Palm #3?

Edited by ArchAngeL01

Los Angeles, CA and Myrtle Beach, SC.

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Hard to say, can you post a closer picture of just the largest frond from Palm #3?

Here you go. These are the only 2 fully emerged fronds out on #3. Third pic is the emerging frond. The spear is firmly fixed. I'm about ready to pull it out and chunk it in the garbage.

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Some Sabals are simply faster then others, regardless of the species. All develop a subterranean trunk before they start their thrust upwards. #3 could be a Sabal minor. They all look healthy - nothing to fret about.

Coral Gables, FL 8 miles North of Fairchild USDA Zone 10B

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It looks like the same species (Palmetto). I think this one needs more time to establish. Were the roots disturbed during transplanting?

Los Angeles, CA and Myrtle Beach, SC.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have to agree with Moose about #3 being a sabal minor

Carlsbad, California Zone 10 B on the hill (402 ft. elevation)

Sunset zone 24

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  • 2 weeks later...

I planted all three of these S. palmetto in 2007 from a bunch of seed i collected from one plant in NC. They all were grown in pots for 3 years then planted at around the same size. I put a bottle in there for scale, and tried size the pics so they are roughly scaled equivalent to each other. Plants 1&2 are planted about 15 feet apart in almost the same lighting conditions and get 5ish hours of full sun (with plant 2 getting maybe 1 less hour of full sun per day). Plant 2 is also closer to a mature tree. I watered them for the first year, and now maybe give them some water when I might be watering stuff out n that part of the yard. Plant 3 was an experiment planted out in the wooded part of my back yard, and probably gets no direct summer sun or no supplemental water. Variations in site conditions definitely play a role in Sabal growth rates.

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