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Coastal Southern California smaller understory palm suggestions


Tracy

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I'm looking for suggestions on smaller understory palms that can be grown in Southern California's coastal zone.  I'm specifically interested in what others here (coastal Southern California) are growing that go beyond many of the Chamaedorea species we have been growing and are typical in our gardens.  I am already growing the most common Licuala tried in this zone, Licuala peltata sumawongii.  So suggestions of what is working among the other Licuala's, the Dypsis species that remained Dypsis after the reclass of the bigger ones to Chrysalidocarpus, or any of the smaller Pinanga's perhaps.  Not to snub folks from other area's but I'm specifically looking for input of what is working in Southern California's coastal zones influenced by the ocean and the marine layers that come along with proximity.  Plenty of options in other climate zones but I  want to stay focused.  Photos of the plants fitting this category that are working for you are a plus!

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33.0782 North -117.305 West  at 72 feet elevation

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Hmmm. Try Licuala ramsayi! 
 

Also Vonitras the hairy Dypsis, with branching trunks really freaky. Give a Kerriodoxa elegans or two three a try. Bet they’ll rock your world, and that of future  visitors to your glorious garden, gotta run out and scream some obscenities.

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Ptychosperma waitianum and burretianum. New copper red leaves! Swoon …..

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20 hours ago, DoomsDave said:

Hmmm. Try Licuala ramsayi! 
 

Also Vonitras the hairy Dypsis, with branching trunks really freaky. Give a Kerriodoxa elegans or two three a try. Bet they’ll rock your world, and that of future  visitors to your glorious garden, gotta run out and scream some obscenities.

Licuala ramsayi is a good suggestion, although gets to be bigger than what I was thinking of for smaller understory.  I should try Kerridoxa elegans again, but I did kill the one in the transition from Carlsbad to Leucadia a decade ago, while it was still in a pot.  I saw a nice example at Tim's aka "realarch" garden, but they too get to be pretty big.  On the Vonitra front, I have one of the Vonitra which was labeled as crinita when I bought it and I can stand under it now, all 4 trunks that it has split into.

Keep the suggestions coming.  Anyone here in So Cal Coastal have success with any of the species from the Genoma genus?

20 hours ago, idontknowhatnametuse said:

Wallichia Oblongifolia

Thank you, that is an interesting suggestion.  I'm familiar with some of the others in this genus, but not this species.

33.0782 North -117.305 West  at 72 feet elevation

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@Tracy have you thought about trying to zone push a bit? Your understory may produce a different microclimate allowing you the ability to grow plants not necessarily in our zone. I think I’d place an order thru Floribunda of some things not normally able to grow here and cross the fingers. 
 

Not that it’s an understory, but I noticed you don’t have Bentinkia in your garden(s). I’m sure you’ll figure it out. 
 

-dale 

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A few suggestions that I know work well in cool climates:

Caryota monostachya

Pinanga gracilis

Chuniophoenix (all 3 would work)

Most or at some some Lanonia sp (dasyantha and magalonii have proved quite cool tolerant. 
 

Most Linospadix sp. L. monostachyos is bulletproof and you should have any issues growing L. minor either and probably others. 
 

Guihaia argyrata

Maybe some of the smaller Basselinia sp (gracilis, eriostachys, possible pancheri and deplanchei at a stretch)  

The Syagrus sp which used to be Lytocaryum.

Brahea moorei can look good in the shade.  

Synechanthus has shown some cold hardiness if protected from frost.  

I don’t think your starved of options in your climate.  There’s probably heaps of others too.  

 

 

 

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Tim Brisbane

Patterson Lakes, bayside Melbourne, Australia

Rarely Frost

2005 Minimum: 2.6C,  Maximum: 44C

2005 Average: 17.2C, warmest on record.

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Tracy, don't be concerned that Kerriodoxa might get too big. Tim's are big but that's Hawaii. It might be many years before one would challenge your canopy, why not enjoy it if you can? I've seen many people succeed with "palms that don't grow here" in California. While they never grow as fast or as monstrous as their brothers and sisters in Hawaii, they can be enjoyed just as much. 

I won't make any recommendations, no experience, but the names from Tim in Brisbane seem realistic. I remember Matt Patricelli growing a nice Chryosophila warscewiczii in the shade of a larger palm, but can't say if it remained as an understory or not. Okay enough from me!

 

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Kim Cyr

Between the beach and the bays, Point Loma, San Diego, California USA
and on a 300 year-old lava flow, Pahoa, Hawaii, 1/4 mile from the 2018 flow
All characters  in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Lytocaryum hoehnei!!

A mini parajube, kinda thirsty, but purity as a picture. Maybe some of those speckled licualas or whatever they’re called now.

And, what @Billebsaid!

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Any data in this post is provided 'as is' and in no event shall I be liable for any damages, including, without limitation, damages resulting from accuracy or lack thereof, insult, or lost profits or revenue, claims by third parties or for other similar costs, or any special, incidental, or consequential damages arising out of my opinion or the use of this data. The accuracy or reliability of the data is not guaranteed or warranted in any way and I disclaim liability of any kind whatsoever, including, without limitation, liability for quality, performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose arising out of the use, or inability to use my data. Other terms may apply.

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@Tracyi second @Kim’s comments! If you get truly desperate for diversion, come visit and I’ll show you my kerriodoxa, which is a lot tougher than you think. Or I thought!

And, maybe something like those ankle biter dypsis. 
 

Genomas I’ve murdered, but you might do better. SO pretty!

Let's keep our forum fun and friendly.

Any data in this post is provided 'as is' and in no event shall I be liable for any damages, including, without limitation, damages resulting from accuracy or lack thereof, insult, or lost profits or revenue, claims by third parties or for other similar costs, or any special, incidental, or consequential damages arising out of my opinion or the use of this data. The accuracy or reliability of the data is not guaranteed or warranted in any way and I disclaim liability of any kind whatsoever, including, without limitation, liability for quality, performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose arising out of the use, or inability to use my data. Other terms may apply.

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12 hours ago, Billeb said:

Your understory may produce a different microclimate allowing you the ability to grow plants not necessarily in our zone. I think I’d place an order thru Floribunda of some things not normally able to grow here and cross the fingers. 

Dale, that was part of this Phishing expedition.  I was looking for some unusual suggestions for smaller under-story palms that have surprised people with success growing in this climate zone.  I know periodically I have seen someone from this area post on a palm that isn't normally considered to grow here, so am hoping that some of those people will share their surprises.

 

12 hours ago, tim_brissy_13 said:

A few suggestions that I know work well in cool climates:

Caryota monostachya

Pinanga gracilis

Chuniophoenix (all 3 would work)

Most or at some some Lanonia sp (dasyantha and magalonii have proved quite cool tolerant. 
 

Most Linospadix sp. L. monostachyos is bulletproof and you should have any issues growing L. minor either and probably others. 
 

Guihaia argyrata

Maybe some of the smaller Basselinia sp (gracilis, eriostachys, possible pancheri and deplanchei at a stretch)  

The Syagrus sp which used to be Lytocaryum.

Brahea moorei can look good in the shade.  

Synechanthus has shown some cold hardiness if protected from frost.

Thanks Tim, that is a great list you shared.  Pinanga gracilis was among the Pinanga genus I've thought about trying, as were the Basslinia since with the latter genus, I have had success with many of  the larger palms from New Caledonia.  The Chuniophoenix weren't on my radar at all, nor were most of the others.  I should try the Lanonia again, I think it was spider mites that were the problem with the one I got several years ago, that didn't survive.

 

12 hours ago, Kim said:

I remember Matt Patricelli growing a nice Chryosophila warscewiczii in the shade of a larger palm, but can't say if it remained as an understory or not.

Thank's for that suggestion Kim.  I'll have to reach out to Matt and ask him about that, as well as check in with him on other under-story palms he is growing since he has a well established canopy going in his garden.  I do have a young  Cryosophila stauracantha which I planted a couple of years ago that is chugging along fine and is still an ankle biter at this point.  I know Adam has been growing a Cryosophila stauracantha successfully here in his Mission Hills garden that has gained some size, but still is fitting well under his canopy.  

As cold as it has been lately, I'm not in a rush to get plants purchased and into the ground and have limited space when I do.  So for now, I just want to cast a wide net and filter through the catch to see what might be keepers to try for my garden. 

33.0782 North -117.305 West  at 72 feet elevation

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Im sure you're either already growing Pinanga Coronata; there is also Pinanga Phillipensis. I am growing a very young phillipensis and at least for now is a slow grower, but mine is still relatively young maybe (1gal - 2gal size) and its probably is a bit too protected and gets too much competition from other nearby palms. 

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1 hour ago, -2 brian said:

Im sure you're either already growing Pinanga Coronata; there is also Pinanga Phillipensis.

Well I was growing Pinanga coronata for several years then it went into decline and died.  The decline began after I moved out of my house in Carlsbad and it became a rental.  I provide the gardener for the rental, and my first guy really liked to remove every leaf showing a little browning on the leaflet tips.  Quite a few things suffered, but this is one that I flat out lost.  Thank you for sharing your experience with Pinanga philippinensis, I will take a look at that species.

Are you growing or have tried and failed with any Licuala, other Pinanga or any Genoma?

33.0782 North -117.305 West  at 72 feet elevation

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6 hours ago, Tracy said:

Well I was growing Pinanga coronata for several years then it went into decline and died.  The decline began after I moved out of my house in Carlsbad and it became a rental.  I provide the gardener for the rental, and my first guy really liked to remove every leaf showing a little browning on the leaflet tips.  Quite a few things suffered, but this is one that I flat out lost.  Thank you for sharing your experience with Pinanga philippinensis, I will take a look at that species.

Are you growing or have tried and failed with any Licuala, other Pinanga or any Genoma?

I did have a coronata as well that I lost a bit over year ago. It had snapped off at the base of the trunk in a wind storm. I also am growing Pinanga Javana (grows surprisingly well for me):  Licuala Peltata Sumowangii (slowest palm I've ever grown. Porbably over protected & too much root competition): Licuala Ramsayi (grows well): Lanonia Dasyantha (used to be categorized with Licuala, similar looking. slow so far) 

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7 hours ago, -2 brian said:

Im sure you're either already growing Pinanga Coronata; there is also Pinanga Phillipensis. I am growing a very young phillipensis and at least for now is a slow grower, but mine is still relatively young maybe (1gal - 2gal size) and its probably is a bit too protected and gets too much competition from other nearby palms. 

@Matt in OChas a nice Coronata. Definitely possible in your climate @Tracy . They get very full though. Legitimately a privacy shrub, but a cool looking one at that. 
 

-dale 

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Pinanga Coronata is pretty dang full proof for me.   I’ll try to get some pics of it tomorrow and of some smaller Dypsis and Basselinia. 

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I'm going to do a better photo session in the Summer (at the 2-year mark for most of my Floribunda purchases), but here are some quick snapshots of the smaller palms in my collection...

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Chamaedorea ernesti-augustii bought as 5g in 1/2021
A favorite - starting to develop an emerald green trunk. Was planted in full shade.

ernest.png.eb417b81af218796a707dd78cd0b6297.png

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Chamaedorea metallicabought as 5g in 3/2022
Possibly the deepest green of my palms, and shiny finish. Would love to have a forest of these.

metalica.png.80cb2f2925dd7837d987d17b1adef235.png

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Chuniophoenix hainanensisbought as 4" in 7/2021
Have grown just a few leaves in the 1.5 years I've owned them. Happy to sell one at low price - or trade for one - if you want a two-year jump on it. Obviously VERY slow growing... but hopefully cool someday.

chun.png.a7875f72150296fc705fea79d2b03775.png

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Dypsis maroantsetrabought as 1g in 7/2021
Dypsis roseabought as 1g in 2022
You NEED at least one of these! The curly leaves and straight stem are a nice contrast to other palms. I've had a bit of leaf spotting both winters (treating with Daconil) but otherwise trouble-free... and fast growers. They also show a new red leaf (similar to flamethrower), though mine haven't been as blindingly red as the one @Pando owns. Never seen one that intense... still great palms though.

maron.png.e828fb2db4f80cd23ef59a426e8859fc.png

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Licuala sumawongii (aka elegans)bought as 7g in 2022
Front palm is the rosea mentioned above, but you can see the sumawongii peeking out behind. This one wasn't cheap (was my birthday present last year), but I splurged since I heard they were slow growing.

rosea-sumo.png.248b09b79a890bbbcea1a9efdd2a6bfa.png

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Licuala ramsayibought in 6/2021
Has been trouble-free for me.  Hoping to pair with the sumawongii later (it's still in a pot).

ramsay.png.8d966d91bf55c151e3f06a682cf5ad65.png

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Licuala distansbought as 4" in 7/21
@akamu has a STUNNING one of these, and I have high hopes for mine (I bought 5). So far seems like a good grower.

dist.png.cab4996d4799a12a671957021ffdfd19.png

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Lanonia dasyanthabought as 4" in 4/2022
Nothing to write home about yet, but @Palm Tree Jim highly recommended these for our area.

lanonia.png.40818e30fde54567d91617a797f100af.png

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Johannesteijsmannia altifronsbought as 5g in 2/2021
My Joey Palm has been trouble free for me! Planted in a protected area in mostly shade.

joey.png.5ea7585a201e9f7c2e691a3c666cd453.png

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And now three slightly larger palms, which were mentioned above...

Bentinckia condapannnabought as 1G in 7/2021
You don't have one of these?!!! One of my top 3 palms, and the ones I bought from Floribunda grew really fast. Deep golden color - a favorite!

bent.png.406d6c482d678caa77dceb72ee8f34fc.png

 

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Pinanga javanabought as 1G in 7/2021
These came tall, and have gotten even taller. Just look like "sticks" so far, but hopefully cool someday.

javana.png.dfec26ac4a38aaa289fec36033f72968.png

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Pinanga philippinensisbought as 1G in 7/2021
These are not as tall as my other pinangas, which you might like. Seem happy so far.

phil.png.ebaf6b53047e4641a950a5123322f63c.png

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Hope that helps!!! You're of course very welcome to drop by if you'd like to see any of them in person (I'm in La Costa Valley).

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Stacey Wright  |  Graphic Designer

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I had to go back and see what some of these plants were. Hopefully the pictures do them justice. All of these have been in the ground at least a few years or so.

Dypsis(?) Soaniranaea in the center flanked by D. Forficifolias.IMG_1766.thumb.jpeg.6e9440ebbe6d87fdf5c9dda6e0aff690.jpegIMG_1768.thumb.jpeg.56515de671fac7d290bd5f020be8ff5d.jpegIMG_1769.thumb.jpeg.cb7029da7a249726bfbabc4c519a9ab1.jpeg

Basselinia Pancheri and Eriostachys (not sure which is which, honestly. Obviously very slow.

IMG_1780.thumb.jpeg.1c988f786a62fc58846e0c03c370f3a3.jpegIMG_1782.thumb.jpeg.3c3f53b8da9eb316de4005e930dfb1af.jpegIMG_1783.thumb.jpeg.2cf486d332e3fe7debfa4c07b3a71860.jpegIMG_1784.thumb.jpeg.a0e1556177775ae5e89135fd3b590d10.jpegIMG_1785.thumb.jpeg.b61caef71d2fb424432798ce91d90414.jpeg

Pinanga Sierramadreana (double)

IMG_1781.thumb.jpeg.7075ea4a09c50af623950ad99d43c028.jpeg

Finally, P. Coronata. Obviously been in the ground for several years, but easy and beautiful (IMO).IMG_1786.thumb.jpeg.f2406ee61f821394970f98dc913da70b.jpeg

 

Honorable mentions not pictured: Pinanga Speciosa (slow for me, but been in the ground a few years, very sheltered) and Lanonia Dasyantha (likewise).

 

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I like the Pinanga ideas. Phillipinensis would be the most petite of these 3 I would suggest:

Pinanga Phillipinensis:

7A584F8E-61E3-4C6E-9920-93B066F69978.thumb.jpeg.6dd3a2dd096ea37448edf81a5853f183.jpeg
600B801E-07D2-4292-9042-DBCD8B8C4235.thumb.jpeg.0683834b0139e8bed9028d1083e4ff53.jpeg

Pinanga Declinata - hopefully these will be available soon from Floribunda as I believe they are now seeding there. I don’t think they have been tried in CA yet, but they feel like a Coronata type to me, so might have a chance, especially on the coast. 
361DFA6E-3CBF-47DF-8E69-D68CF0CD592C.thumb.jpeg.2c0354ed8895c8af034a51431f0cde94.jpeg

01FAAE3F-4BE5-487B-9EA2-2897B930EE40.thumb.jpeg.b2a0dad02b3785ebbd061101a9f5d7a4.jpeg

Pinanga Sp Maroon Crownshaft - have California growers had success with this yet?

1E65E100-8F93-4595-A023-B2A0C9207736.thumb.jpeg.9fdfebc8867f9473880bf18d57b621a2.jpeg
90000FB2-DCF8-4FC7-8702-4354204928AA.thumb.jpeg.ea777b0660773e298e4febdf60568075.jpeg

4507ACB1-C573-4106-949C-D40974528A98.thumb.jpeg.aba3e3bdf8f1d71914c4a952f0991710.jpeg

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On 2/16/2023 at 8:46 AM, iDesign said:

Dypsis roseabought as 1g in 2022
You NEED at least one of these! The curly leaves and straight stem are a nice contrast to other palms. I've had a bit of leaf spotting both winters (treating with Daconil) but otherwise trouble-free... and fast growers. They also show a new red leaf (similar to flamethrower), though mine haven't been as blindingly red as the one @Pando owns. Never seen one that intense... still great palms though

Thank you for the photos and suggestions Stacy.  I'm growing several of the Chamaedoreas already.  Dypsis rosea is one I forgot about.  I had one here in Leucadia before I moved into the house, when it was a rental.  It did fine in the shaded corner with fences to the south and west... until it got too high and the fences no longer provided shade.  It fried and died, but was fine for about 3 years before that.

The Joey palm was something I hadn't considered.  Glad to see you are having success with so many of your purchases from Floribunda.  It looks like you have started a small nursery under some of your older tree cover there!

On 2/16/2023 at 4:21 PM, Matt in OC said:

I had to go back and see what some of these plants were. Hopefully the pictures do them justice. All of these have been in the ground at least a few years or so.

Matt thanks for the suggestions and photos.  I like the little fences around some of these more fragile small plants too.  I just noticed my Chamaedorea ernest-augustii had it's crown snapped off last week.  I'm sure it was one of the dogs retrieving a stray ball that took it off while in the heat of the chase.

On 2/16/2023 at 6:11 PM, Hilo Jason said:

I like the Pinanga ideas. Phillipinensis would be the most petite of these 3 I would suggest

The Pinanga phillipinesis seems to be a consistent suggestion, so worthy of a go.  I don't know about the sp. Maroon being attempted here yet, but it is attractive and with slower growth here would remain a viable under-story option.  Thank you for the recommendations and accompanying photos Jason.

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33.0782 North -117.305 West  at 72 feet elevation

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1 hour ago, Tracy said:

Glad to see you are having success with so many of your purchases from Floribunda.  It looks like you have started a small nursery under some of your older tree cover there!

Amazingly only one of my Floribunda purchases have died... and that was the plant I was 100% expecting to perish (gotta zone-push at least one!). The pinangas were a particular surprise to me, since I heard they can be iffy here. That's one of the reasons I bought several of each (i.e., I wanted to cover some likely deaths). I did also buy a few extra of some of my favorites for future resale or trade. I'm indeed planning to join the "casual backyard grower" club at some point, though at a really low level. I've just done selling/trading of bromeliads (and other tropical plants) so far. Mostly to justify my never-ending plant acquisitions. 🌱

1 hour ago, Tracy said:

The Pinanga phillipinesis seems to be a consistent suggestion, so worthy of a go.

I noticed that Floribunda now lists "Pinanga philipinensis" and "Pinanga philipinensis compact".  For your needs I would assume the "compact" version would be best. In the photos though, the original seems to have a nice purple color to the crownshaft that is not shown in the "compact" photos. Wonder if there's a coloring difference between the two?  The ones I purchased did not list "compact" next to their name (it wasn't an option at the time).

1 hour ago, Tracy said:

I don't know about the sp. Maroon being attempted here yet, but it is attractive and with slower growth here would remain a viable under-story option.

That one has my eye as well (since my other pinangas have done so well).  I don't currently have enough plants to justify a Floribunda order though. If you happen to have extra room on your order I would be happy to gift you either a P. philipinensis (likely non-compact) a L. distans, or a chuniophoenix (all 1.5 years old) in exchange for letting me add (and pay for) a few small things to your order. PM me if that would happen to be a win-win (but no worries  if not).

Stacey Wright  |  Graphic Designer

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