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Does anyone have an archontophoenix cunninghamiana (the "piccabeen palm") in Florida 9b/10a?


FlaPalmLover

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I feel like I hardly ever see any pics or posts about these in Florida. Do they not grow well in this climate? I know they do well in CA. They're supposed to be hardier than foxtails, so I was thinking of trying some in my 9b climate. But if they will just look stressed then maybe not.

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I have 1 Alexandrae, 5 Cunninghamiana, and 1 Maxima in the ground here in the Sanford area.  I bought a Purpurea at the Leu Gardens sale, but haven't decided where to put it. 

My experience has been variable, with several small Alexandrae seedlings dying in spots that were just too sunny or too exposed to frost.  But larger palms (2-3 feet tall) fared well with 27-29F and frost.  However, they all had overhead canopy from nearby palms or a ficus.  I haven't tried them out in the open yet, because they need shade when they are under 6' tall.  Foxtails out in the open I am now down to 2 big survivors out of more than 10.  I'd think if you have a semi-sheltered spot when they are <6' tall, an Archontophoenix would do okay for you.

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45 minutes ago, FlaPalmLover said:

I feel like I hardly ever see any pics or posts about these in Florida. Do they not grow well in this climate? I know they do well in CA. They're supposed to be hardier than foxtails, so I was thinking of trying some in my 9b climate. But if they will just look stressed then maybe not.

In my yard, I have both.  There are a lot of Archontophoenix species here, and a bunch of Archontophoenix cunninghamiana in front of City Hall in Orlando.  @Merlyn's observations are much more salient for growing them in Deltona though.  My recommendation is a yes under canopy so you can moderate the light levels and frost exposure.

 

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Lakeland, FL

USDA Zone 1990: 9a  2012: 9b  2023: 10a | Sunset Zone: 26 | Record Low: 20F/-6.67C (Jan. 1985, Dec.1962) | Record Low USDA Zone: 9a

30-Year Avg. Low: 30F | 30-year Min: 24F

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13 minutes ago, kinzyjr said:

In my yard, I have both.  There are a lot of Archontophoenix species here, and a bunch of Archontophoenix cunninghamiana in front of City Hall in Orlando.  @Merlyn's observations are much more salient for growing them in Deltona though.  My recommendation is a yes under canopy so you can moderate the light levels and frost exposure.

 

There’s a place down by South Florida I found that sells cunninghamiana I was considering. I definitely have lots of canopy, so that’s not a problem. Neither of the spots I have in mind are in full sun. There’s at least one spot I have in mind that I think would be good.  It’s discouraging that foxtails seem to not do too well once you get as far north as Sanford. My guess is that if I planted 5-6 foxtails, maybe one would have the genetics to make it long term, but I’m not sure I want to play that game. Meanwhile there’s areca palms that seem fairly mature and look good in several yards here.

I’m assuming afternoon/evening sun would be ideal with cunninghamiana just to maximize the chances of survival. 

Edited by FlaPalmLover
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11 minutes ago, FlaPalmLover said:

There’s a place down by South Florida I found that sells cunninghamiana I was considering. I definitely have lots of canopy, so that’s not a problem. Neither of the spots I have in mind are in full sun. There’s at least one spot I have in mind that I think would be good.  It’s discouraging that foxtails seem to not do too well once you get as far north as Sanford. My guess is that if I planted 5-6 foxtails, maybe one would have the genetics to make it long term, but I’m not sure I want to play that game. Meanwhile there’s areca palms that seem fairly mature and look good in several yards here.

I’m assuming afternoon/evening sun would be ideal with cunninghamiana just to maximize the chances of survival. 

With Foxtails, similar situation - they can handle chill better than frost.  Since Foxtails are easy to sprout from seed, look for some around your area that survived 2010 and try to grow from their seeds.  That will give you a shot at getting one that is just a bit stronger.  Definitely grow both under canopy to take frost out of the equation.  They'll grow slower, but you'll also have a shot at them hitting maturity at some point.

The portion of Sanford directly south of Lake Monroe is a pretty decent microclimate, so it's a case-by-case basis.  Orlando and Lakeland are similar in that what is able to grow inside of the urban portion is different than just a few miles outside of town.

The January 2022 freeze was primarily radiational, and you can see a very stark difference in the amount of damage in town vs. outside of the city limits:
https://www.palmtalk.org/forum/topic/72092-january-2022-florida-freeze-report/

 

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Lakeland, FL

USDA Zone 1990: 9a  2012: 9b  2023: 10a | Sunset Zone: 26 | Record Low: 20F/-6.67C (Jan. 1985, Dec.1962) | Record Low USDA Zone: 9a

30-Year Avg. Low: 30F | 30-year Min: 24F

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33 minutes ago, FlaPalmLover said:

I’m assuming afternoon/evening sun would be ideal with cunninghamiana just to maximize the chances of survival. 

I'd avoid strong afternoon sun for cunninghamiana if your palm is small - they prefer to grow into the sun from a young palm.  Other species of Archontophoenix are more sun tolerant.

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Jon Sunder

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I'd agree with @kinzyjr on the foxtails, for sure!  The ones that survived here (and are 15+ feet tall now) were under canopy when young, and are starting to peek out of the top now.  But they are close to the house (radiant heat) and have somewhat taller Queens and nearby oaks that are 70+ feet tall.  The ones out in the open had 100% mortality with frosts from 25-28F.  If you have canopy, pick a spot and plant a couple!

For Archontophoenix, mine suffered and turned lime green with mid-afternoon sun.  They seem to do great with AM sun...or late afternoon sun...but not so great with sun from around 11-3pm.  Coincidentally, directly overhead canopy would be great for frost protection too.  :D

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56 minutes ago, Merlyn said:

I'd agree with @kinzyjr on the foxtails, for sure!  The ones that survived here (and are 15+ feet tall now) were under canopy when young, and are starting to peek out of the top now.  But they are close to the house (radiant heat) and have somewhat taller Queens and nearby oaks that are 70+ feet tall.  The ones out in the open had 100% mortality with frosts from 25-28F.  If you have canopy, pick a spot and plant a couple!

For Archontophoenix, mine suffered and turned lime green with mid-afternoon sun.  They seem to do great with AM sun...or late afternoon sun...but not so great with sun from around 11-3pm.  Coincidentally, directly overhead canopy would be great for frost protection too.  :D

Is it helpful to be “canopy adjacent” as long as there’s canopy or a house on other sides (as it sounds like is the case with the foxtails you mentioned), or does a palm need to be directly under canopy to gain the protective effects? I have a spot by my house where the house would protect the cunninghamiana from the winds from the north while young and canopy would protect it from the south, for instance. 

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I'd think canopy adjacent would help, but the prevention of frost means it is to be pretty much right overhead.  If you know of spots in the grass where it doesn't normally form frost, that would be a great spot.  For my yard, it needs to be pretty close to directly underneath.  More than about 6 feet from the direct canopy = frost.

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8 hours ago, Merlyn said:

I'd think canopy adjacent would help, but the prevention of frost means it is to be pretty much right overhead.  If you know of spots in the grass where it doesn't normally form frost, that would be a great spot.  For my yard, it needs to be pretty close to directly underneath.  More than about 6 feet from the direct canopy = frost.

Here, it has to be directly overhead.  You can literally map the canopy of the oak in the front yard when we have frost on the ground.

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Lakeland, FL

USDA Zone 1990: 9a  2012: 9b  2023: 10a | Sunset Zone: 26 | Record Low: 20F/-6.67C (Jan. 1985, Dec.1962) | Record Low USDA Zone: 9a

30-Year Avg. Low: 30F | 30-year Min: 24F

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My yard has gained canopy from neighbors' laurel oaks over the past 20 years, so Archontophoenix tucker (3) and A. cunninghaminana (1) are poking through branches, and I've had a few of those branches trimmed back.  There was cold damage to leaves in the cold wet spell of winter 2010-11 when the airport a mile away fell to 26 F (-3 C).  One A. cunninghamiana had boron nutrient problems and was eventually euthanized.  The current A. cunninghamiana is nosing it way between two oaks and will be flowering fairly soon--it has more than enough trunk to do that.  

BTW, a palm grown from seed at Leu Gardens and sold as "A. maxima" is looking like a mini Archontophoenix but it's a cute full-sun item in the front yard.

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Fla. climate center: 100-119 days>85 F
USDA 1990 hardiness zone 9B
Current USDA hardiness zone 10a
4 km inland from Indian River; 27º N (equivalent to Brisbane)

Central Orlando's urban heat island may be warmer than us

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Id try a maxima w the cunningham

my maximas are still alive in E Tampa area

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   Here are some pics of my Archonto's  in Holly Hill , Volusia County .

Canopy does make the difference .    These are now all gone , not due to cold weather , but to necessity .

I may procure another soon . 

If you have sufficient moisture , and good wind / canopy protection  , go for it in Deltona .         Location , location , location .

 

Archontophoenix C. in Holly Hill Fla.jpeg

My big Archonto 20012.jpeg

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I live about 1 mile south of Wekiwa Springs, in Longwood FL still in zone 9b and have a group of 5 Archontophoenix (2 cunninghamiana, 1 alexandrae, 1 myolensis, and 1 mystery Leu gardens seed) by my pool that seem to be doing well in this particular spot under the edge of a heavy shaded live oak tree. The palms are positioned on the north side of the oak, resulting in mostly shade all day. Also, I keep this mulch bed heavily mulched (about 8” deep, also contacting the low trunks) throughout the year with extra wood chips and oak leaves. I hand water a little extra on dry days in between the 2x week irrigation schedule. As for fertilizer, I am also throwing small handfuls of palmgain or other granular palm fertilizers in the mulch bed throughout the year for micro feedings between the normal 2-3x year fert schedule. This first cunninghamiana was planted here in July 2021 as a small 3gal, and now it reaches close to 15’ tall with several feet of trunk. The elongated trunk-ring spacing also tells me they are happy here. I did protect these with wrapping the leaves up during the few 27-29 degree nights in 2021 and again in 2022 just as an attempt to get them to trunking stage for long term hardiness (hopefully). Now trunking, I think I will let them ride out future winters without protection. One day they will poke up above the oak canopy and they will be all on their own during frost events. For now, they will stay huddled up in the oak canopy and I will prune as needed to allow for future tall growth. I also believe that the best size for planting Archontophoenix is either from 1 or 3 gallon sizes, allowing the roots to establish before trunking size. Over the last year and half I’ve added about a dozen more different Archies around my yard in different sunlight and moisture positions to see how well they grow. Pics show first one planted in 2021, and the other pics from today. I definitely think these should be planted more in shaded gardens around central florida. 
 

If anyone is interested, I am selling a few dozen 1-3 gallon A. maxima, A. tuckeri, and A. Cunninghamiana for local pickup. PM me if interested. 

 

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@Fishinsteeg234 Looks great and i believe you have the right strategy for Archontophoenix in FL. I have a similar grove started here, all from 1-3 gal pots as well. My A. alexandrae are in nearly full sun, as I'm not too worried about cold here and they don't seem to mind the sun from a small size. They are rockets if you give them a good start, let the roots get established as seedlings. Most archontos you see around here are transplanted into landscapes as adults and languish or die. 

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I have this Tuckeri in full all day sun and it seems to love it. This is the only species I have though. I have a few smaller ones in various amounts of full sun without any sun burn. Regular water via drip system but not soaking. 

5806FAAD-3596-48C9-948E-18F00B1EAE01.jpeg

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2 minutes ago, D. Morrowii said:

I have this Tuckeri in full all day sun and it seems to love it. This is the only species I have though. I have a few smaller ones in various amounts of full sun without any sun burn. Regular water via drip system but not soaking.

That's interesting.  The Archontophoenix teracarpa (not an official species, and who knows what it might actually be) at Hollis Garden are in full sun as well, and don't seem to mind.   Archontophoenix alexandrae are also at Hollis in full sun.

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Lakeland, FL

USDA Zone 1990: 9a  2012: 9b  2023: 10a | Sunset Zone: 26 | Record Low: 20F/-6.67C (Jan. 1985, Dec.1962) | Record Low USDA Zone: 9a

30-Year Avg. Low: 30F | 30-year Min: 24F

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1 hour ago, kinzyjr said:

That's interesting.  The Archontophoenix teracarpa (not an official species, and who knows what it might actually be) at Hollis Garden are in full sun as well, and don't seem to mind.   Archontophoenix alexandrae are also at Hollis in full sun.

All the ones I have are from a batch of Archontophoenix tuckeri seedlings I got from @PalmatierMeg back in June of 2021. Most that I have left are getting a good amount of sun. That one was by far the most robust though. 

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Driving around for work back in January 2023, just a few weeks after the Christmas freeze, I came across a full-sun grown Archontophoenix in a Clermont golf course community that looked pretty good. Another example that these can be grown in full sun. Clermont is also close to 9a in some parts I believe. This find surprised me. 
 

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@D. Morrowii the sun problems I had were with small ones, well under 2 feet total height.  I'd read on this forum that they were ok with sun after a certain age/height.  How big was your Tuckeri when you planted it in full sun?

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38 minutes ago, Merlyn said:

@D. Morrowii the sun problems I had were with small ones, well under 2 feet total height.  I'd read on this forum that they were ok with sun after a certain age/height.  How big was your Tuckeri when you planted it in full sun?

@Merlyn It looks like I started when it was a 1 gal and I used a Thrinax radiata to block the afternoon sun. The view in this pic is looking South and a little West. 
30FD1219-AF72-4A54-AC54-DDBFEC84C816.thumb.jpeg.3bcdc5cf796a4d9796b759ac6ea0cbbf.jpeg

At some point a month or two later it was in the ground and I was still using the same Thrinax to block midday and afternoon sun. I forgot that I had even done this so, I don't think it was very difficult getting these sun acclimated. I’m sure it took a little bit of effort but I don’t remember a struggle like I do with some others. 
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Not easy to get around here. If a few of you want to get together a group buy from s fla I can organize. I have wanted a few for a while. 

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@Bkue at last year's open house at MB Palms had Alexandrae 3g for $15 and Cunninghamiana "Illwarra" 25g for $150.  I bought a Purpurae big 4" pot for $20 at the Leu Gardens sale.

@D. Morrowii that's about twice as big as my seedlings that struggled...and it looks deep green when you planted it.  Maybe mine were just a bit too small and pale to go into the ground.  What did you do for fertilizer and water on that one?

Here's a "family shot" of the front yard Archontophoenix.  As you can see, there's a bit of overhead sacrificial canopy with a couple of other frost-sensitive plants, tall stalks of a Ficus Auriculata, "Jesse Durko" bamboo, and an unknown Cycas that's only leaf-hardy to about 28F.  There used to be a cluster of Dwarf Cavendish bananas over the foreground left Alexandrae, but last summer a local bear decided to use them as a chew toy.  The bottom right foreground is a Beccariophoenix Fenestralis:

20240406_090406Archontophoenix.thumb.jpg.27450ef674d2396cfb5209af1577b065.jpg

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@Merlyn I do the standard, once every 3 months pretty much everything gets a round of slow release (lately Lesco brand) then 2 to 4 weeks later everything gets Sulpomag. I try to put everything I can on a drip system. This palm has (2) 2GPH emitters that water twice a day for 20 minutes. If it rains a. When it starts to get hot I do some supplemental hand watering. I also add mulch and compost as needed. 

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@D. Morrowii so roughly 2.7 gallons per day, that's a lot more than mine get.  Mine usually will have a single 1gph (or 2x 0.5gph) for 40 minutes once a day = 0.7 gallons per day.  I also missed doing my November fertilizing, so everything in my yard is unhappy right now.  Great info, thanks!

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It may be some kind of forum glitch but this thread has over 100k views in less than a week! Maybe this got shared down under or on some other palm enthusiast site.

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