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Livistona Chinensis suckers: How to remove permanently? +MORE


Sandy Loam

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Here is the background: Four years ago, I unwisely planted a row of livistona chinensis along the edge of a fence dividing my property from someone else's. The adjacent house had been abandoned at the time for a couple of years, so no one was living next door.

I planted the livistona as very juvenile palms and assumed that they would be single-trunk specimens, so I planted them only about a foot and a half from the fence (50 centimetres). Four years later, these trees have grown quickly (wet soil, sunny location) and some fronds are now ninefeet tall. They are not trunking yet, but it is becoming clear that they are all suckering Livistona Chinensis! I would not have planted the suckering species in this area if I had known that they were not the single-trunk species.

Clearly, I will have to start removing some of the suckers before they turn into big, thick trunks which force down the property fence. I can probably do some serious damage with large pruning sheers and a chain saw, although the chain saw would be difficult to get into this area without damaging the fence. As the photos (below) show, these trees are now quickly approaching the fence. There is now no more than a foot (30 cm) between the trees and the fence!

I don't think I can wait any longer. Some of the suckers have to be removed now. I can keep a sucker or two which will foreseeably grow in the opposite direction, but not toward the fence. I may even have to turn all of these into single-trunk trees.

Does anyone have suggestions for removing the suckers so that they don't keep growing back? If I remove the suckers now, can I prevent the width of the base of the tree from expanding? Around here, suckering livistona chinensis can grow to be four feet wide at the base, even with just three trunks. Below in the photos, it appears that I have one specimen with three trunks and one with five trunks. They all vary in trunk numbers, but they all will destroy the fence if I don't take action now. I think there are nine of them in a row along this fence! A single-trunk livistona chinensis seems to be only about a foot wide at the base, which is what I was hoping for. These are sold as juveniles with labels like "Chinese Fan Palm" and "Livistona Chinensis", so there is no way of knowing what you will get a few years later.

Another consideration is that suckering livistona chinensis seem to have very curved trunks, unlike single-trunk livistona chinensis which are upright with no curve at all. I only have about five feet of space between the house and the fence, so this could also be a problem, at least for several years until the trees grow over the roof line. I am not sure how to play my cards here. I only wish I knew which direction each trunk was going to grow in the future. I think I will try to remove any trunks facing the fence and also facing the house so that (hopefully) only trunks which grow in the sideways direction (parallel to the fence) will remain (?) This may be wishful thinking though.

....or maybe they all need to be dug up now before it's too late.

Your advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Click to enlarge the photos, as needed (see how they are suckering now and how close the fence is!)

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Edited by Sandy Loam
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The L chinensis NEVER suckers, it's srictly solitary. In fact I am not sure whether even one Livistona sp is caespitose. Something else must be happening, I am not sure what; a multihead production as is the case on other solitary spss in Florida, or a new growing point or another palm sp...

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Never heard of one sucker either? To take care of the suckering of Chamaerops humulis I have a buddy who cuts the suckers and then sprays Glyphosate (roundup) on them. It works.

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When you buy from the box stores they almost always sell multiple palms in a single pot. Probably not suckers but multiple seeds sown together.....I would use a recipricol saw to remove the offending trunks...spray with something to sterilize the cut....shouldn't affect the rest of the palms. The curving trunks is natural when group planted for almost every palm I can think of.

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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OK. I will try that as a solution.

As for the suckering vs. not suckering phenomenon of Chinese fan palms, I am amazed. I believe what you all are saying, but it is extremely common to see these trees suckering as triples in South Florida. I suppose they must all be grown from three different seeds conjoined together in the same pot when this happens.

Even my neighbour down the street has a cluster of Livistona Chinensis and several of them are suckering as doubles. Here are some photos of the neighbour's trees (up close and far away views; click to enlarge). The close-up view shows a couple of double-trunked livistona chinensis suckering. Is this the product of two seeds that grew together? If so, wouldn't the trunks just grow away from each other in the ground instead of growing out of a common base, like in the photo?

I have other Livistona Chinensis triple-trunk trees elsewhere in my yard and they all had a single rootball when I planted them.

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Agreed, the palms in those photos aren't suckering...they are separate seeds/plants.

Ben Rogers

On the border of Concord & Clayton in the East Bay hills - Elev 387 ft 37.95 °N, 121.94 °W

My back yard weather station: http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/hdfForecast?query=37.954%2C-121.945&sp=KCACONCO37

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I am growing some right now that I personally grew from seed from a neighbors solitary fruiting tree. I intentionally separated the community planted seedlings into triples and quintuples because I'M they look better this way as they develop the aforementioned curving trunks.they are pretty large now and are growing like the ones posted above. Singles are never offered for sale in the box stores up here anyway.

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these three were planted as three separate seedlings in the same pot....they have the illusion of a suckering single because the one in the middle is much bigger than the smaller one on the right and the tiny one on the left. This would grow much better in the ground.

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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Livistona chinensis is not suckering palm.

Edited by Cikas
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