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Containing Rhapis Excelsa


D. Morrowii

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I have a pretty nice lady palm in a 7 gallon pot and I'm thinking about putting it in the ground. I've heard the horror stories about this palm spreading like crazy and I don't want that, nor do I have the room for it. I was thinking about cutting the bottom out of a 30 or 45 gallon pot and using it as a root barrier. Doe's anyone have any experience trying that? I'm not sure if the rhizome would just grow around  the pot wall and back up or just stay in the barrier. Any other ideas maybe?

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I wish I had at least tried that!

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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39 minutes ago, Kim said:

I wish I had at least tried that!

I take it that you can corroborate the tales of toil and pain then 😃 I searched on the internet a bit but I couldn't find much of anything about it. The only mention of it being slightly invasive came from post here on Palmtalk. I want to put this guy pretty close to the property line and I don't want to wear out my welcome with the neighbor.

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I know folks who grow bamboo that cut the bottom out of large containers to contain the “runners” . I was told that the barrier should be a minimum of 18” deep. If you have a pipe supply company near you , you can get remnant cuts of PVC pipe in very large diameters and use that. The problem is the larger the pipe , the bigger the hole you have to dig. On the other hand , I have two Rhapis palms that have been in the ground for over 20 years and I just divide them when they send out runners . I let the runner grow for a while and then divide and pot. They make great gifts or potted plants for around the outside of the house. This is one that is controlled by division , been there over 20 years. Harry

IMG_3601.jpeg

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How deep does the rhizome go?  I understand for bamboo they need a barrier at least 24" deep, I wonder what that depth is for Rhapis excelsa.

There is a product which is a 60 mil HDPE that you can buy in various length, they come in 24", 30", 36" depths.

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With bamboo , depending on the variety , you are talking about something that can grow several inches a day (up to a foot in the tropics) . I have Black Bamboo in a pot that sent out a culm a month ago . The culm is now over 6’ tall and still growing . Rhapis palms are very slow growers so you have plenty of time to react to errant runners. My experience has been that they are fine , both of them are next to pathways and manageable . Then again , I like to garden so ….. Harry

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@Harry’s Palms I’ve been looking for some 36 or 42 inch ADS pipe pieces which would be a great barrier but even short pieces are fairly expensive. I’m a bit concerned that in a regular nursery container will eventually split anyway. I get that its not too aggressive but it’s hard to keep up with all the garden work I already make for myself so I try to save a few headaches where I can. 
 

@miamicuse That barrier material would be good to keep it out of the neighbors yard at least. 

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3 hours ago, D. Morrowii said:

I have a pretty nice lady palm in a 7 gallon pot and I'm thinking about putting it in the ground. I've heard the horror stories about this palm spreading like crazy and I don't want that, nor do I have the room for it. I was thinking about cutting the bottom out of a 30 or 45 gallon pot and using it as a root barrier. Doe's anyone have any experience trying that? I'm not sure if the rhizome would just grow around  the pot wall and back up or just stay in the barrier. Any other ideas maybe?

A concrete planting bed is probably your best bet.  Mine send out runners around the corner of the house and under the hardscaping.  At least twice a year they need to have the nuisance runners removed.  A small price to pay for a palm that needs no additional maintenance though.

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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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40 minutes ago, kinzyjr said:

A concrete planting bed is probably your best bet.  Mine send out runners around the corner of the house and under the hardscaping.  At least twice a year they need to have the nuisance runners removed.  A small price to pay for a palm that needs no additional maintenance though.

:greenthumb: ^ X2 ..While not as beastly as Bamboo runners, runners on Raphis will definitely rip through ..or work their way under  / around the sides of a nursery can plunged into the ground..

Concrete, Hard plastic root barriers / large - sized PVC would be better, though i can see the runners still eventually working their way under ( or over ) a hard plastic / PVC -type barrier, even one that is 18" -2ft deep. 

Have pulled root bound specimens growing in 20gal pots out to step up  and seen healthy runners tracing a path from the surface to where they were close to escaping out of a drain hole along the side of the pot.

Persistent little buggers, lol.

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What about those galvanized steel tub?  They are meant for raised beds but you can dig a hole and set them at grade,  comes in different sizes and not that expensive.

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@kinzyjr and @Silas_SanconaSo I’m hearing my concerns confirmed, the roots would likely split or sneak out of a regular liner somehow.
I think one of these about 32” long with maybe 3” left above ground as a weed whack mulch ring would hold it. 
IMG_3704.thumb.jpeg.cbc164ed1b098cbd5c56c112aa16147a.jpeg

@miamicuse I think you’re describing one of those raised bed planters. Something like that would probably work but most are only 24” tall. Hmm I might look around to see whats out there. 

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8 minutes ago, D. Morrowii said:

@kinzyjr and @Silas_SanconaSo I’m hearing my concerns confirmed, the roots would likely split or sneak out of a regular liner somehow.
I think one of these about 32” long with maybe 3” left above ground as a weed whack mulch ring would hold it. 
IMG_3704.thumb.jpeg.cbc164ed1b098cbd5c56c112aa16147a.jpeg

@miamicuse I think you’re describing one of those raised bed planters. Something like that would probably work but most are only 24” tall. Hmm I might look around to see whats out there. 



You might check out the Poly root / moisture barriers the  big box stores sell like this:


Screenshot2024-05-11at13-40-0924in.Dx120in.LPolyethyleneDualPurposeRootandWaterBarrierRollsCR2410-TheHomeDepot.png.d19259f901a2cb7e6bb6006f619cb5ce.png



..  Comes in a roll that can be 12-24" wide / deep X  120" length ...The above pictured product anyway. 


Looking into it myself as a way to keep Bermuda from re-invading some of the planting beds out front, esp. the side bed between us and our neighbors where the Bermuda is firmly entrenched under the edge of their driveway..  HATE that  bleepin'  grass, lol.

If thick enough, can see it working to stop Bermuda ..and / or Rhapis runners,  but not sure it would stop big tree roots as applied in some of the short vids, esp trees like Ficus whose finer roots can exploit and expand the tiniest of cracks / crevices when expanding into newer areas.

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The people growing running bamboo usually recommend 60 mil and 30" deep for standard runners.  For aggressive or timber boos, I've seen suggestions of 80 or 100 mil (0.1" thick) HDPE.  I'd think a 30ish inch deep pipe with an open bottom like your picture should work.  I have several clusters of regular green Rhapis and one variegated, none have been a significant problem in the past 3 or so years in the ground.  Yes they will spread, but in sandy soil like this you can chop off runners with a sharp spade or 12" reciprocating saw.  I've been using the 12" 3TPI Diablo pruning blades for stuff like that.  It's not like a bamboo that might shoot up 30+ new culms at a time...

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I'll defer to @Silas_Sancona and @Merlyn's recommendations.  Rhapis excelsa does act more like bamboo than a palm.

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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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@Silas_Sancona I looked at that rolled plastic, similar to what miamicuse mentions above but I don't think that will do what I’m hoping to do. It sounds like that stuff might do really well for making a narrow hedge row though. Something to keep in mind.. Is Bermuda grass that terrible thin bladed grass with deep wire like roots? If so I hate it too!  
 

@Merlyn how big are the footprints on your clusters and how often do you need to trim out the pups? The area I’m working with is a narrow strip and I’m trying to make a wind/sun block with multiple species scattered throughout. 

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@D. Morrowii the biggest cluster is probably 6 feet footprint and about 6 feet tall.  I haven't messed with the clumps, as they are in spots where they can expand.  The variegated one is slow to expand, in comparison.  The other couple of spots are all small, no more than a foot tall.  I got some "root stock" from a neighbor who was ripping out a 6 foot wide x 20 foot long area.  Unfortunately he chopped the tops off before I noticed...

I thought of doing the galvanized steel planter thing for bamboo too, but ultimately just picked bamboo that are tight clumpers and don't rapidly expand.  I'm using short ones like "Ladyfinger" (around 10ft max), "RG Dwarf" (around 15-20ft max) and "Gracilis" (around 20-25ft max).  

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Transplant to a 20-gal galvanized bucket and bury it. 

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3 hours ago, D. Morrowii said:

. Is Bermuda grass that terrible thin bladed grass with deep wire like roots? If so I hate it too!  
 

Yep.. If i could call it as such, i'd classify t more like super dwarf Bamboo than grass, haha.. Stuff is an absolute nightmare trying to eradicate, esp the older types of Bermuda, which are the most common types planted here.. Can spray it but the stolons ..which are as tough as copper wire  aren't effected by herbicides and will resprout from any deeply seated root crowns after you think you've killed off the top part of it.

...Those root crowns can sit 6-10 ( ..or 12 )" below ground. ...Same with some of the sub-surface stolons which can extend a foot or two away from the root crown -underground- before they pop up at surface.. 

Have to literally do detailed surgery and extract each clump, one at a time  ..and be sure you remove every 1/2" piece of  stolons that might break off in the process of extracting the clumps of Bermuda ..AKA:  " Grass Cancer ".   Did that in one of the beds last year and have bits and pieces i guess i missed starting to pop up again.. Grrr, lol.

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My Rhapis is not fast like bamboo, but it is one tough palm. For one thing, it is a hybrid that can take full sun. (Hybrid: term for aggressive alien plant.) It's in a raised bed with concrete walls, a very long, narrow bed against a high concrete block retaining wall. I figured, if necessary, I could easily dig down a bit and chop any sprouts that wander too far. Not so easy, though. The roots and stalks are like steel cables. Okay, maybe I'm just a weakling, but darn! Way tougher than I expected. It's been in place probably 8 years? Tripled, maybe close to quadrupled its footprint in the bed. To the point I want it to STOP. 

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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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@SeanK hmm I don't think that’ll work for me. 
@Silas_Sancona my yard is lousy with that grass-boo stuff. Especially right now when its dry, I think it goes deep and I can see it reaching all over the yard trying to find what ever moisture it can. The best I can do is battle it in the planter beds 💣

@Kim If I could for sure keep it to a 6x2 footprint it would be great but I’m thinking that’s probably not what will happen. I have other stuff, a Ravanela for instance, that needs regular maintenance trimming so I don't want to have another thing I have to constantly monitor especially so close to my neighbors yard. I think I will keep looking for a large diameter heavy duty barrier that can completely encompass the roots for at least 30”. 
 

Thanks a lot for the input everybody! Maybe I’ll find this thread in a couple years and update it with the results. 

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On 5/11/2024 at 10:49 AM, D. Morrowii said:

I take it that you can corroborate the tales of toil and pain then 😃 I searched on the internet a bit but I couldn't find much of anything about it. The only mention of it being slightly invasive came from post here on Palmtalk. I want to put this guy pretty close to the property line and I don't want to wear out my welcome with the neighbor.

    I corroborate the story of it being invasive .  Definitely keep it very far from your neighbors Property  line .  It spreads by sending torpedos , which will curl and wheedle around and through everything .  My worst clump ( which I removed , a major back breaking project ) , was interesting , The roots were only about 18" -24"deep , but when a new sprout started , it too would send out torpedos , some of them back in the direction of the mothership . These remain independent of the original roots , so , they go over or under those , and so you end up with a mat of tangled stuff , that makes removal a real task .

    I'll never have another one .

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47 minutes ago, Bill H2DB said:

    I corroborate the story of it being invasive .  Definitely keep it very far from your neighbors Property  line .  It spreads by sending torpedos , which will curl and wheedle around and through everything .  My worst clump ( which I removed , a major back breaking project ) , was interesting , The roots were only about 18" -24"deep , but when a new sprout started , it too would send out torpedos , some of them back in the direction of the mothership . These remain independent of the original roots , so , they go over or under those , and so you end up with a mat of tangled stuff , that makes removal a real task .

    I'll never have another one .

Hear, hear. I just had all my Rhapis excelsa 'Koban' and all but one small clump of variegated Rhapis removed. This is the second time I've had to chop out a plot of Rhapis in my back yard - never again. Rhapis excelsa is highly invasive and always finds a way to be so. I suggest you keep them in pots set on concrete blocks so they can't escape drain holes.

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Meg

Palms of Victory I shall wear

Cape Coral (It's Just Paradise)
Florida
Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.

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