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Recommended palms for sandy soil without irrigation


Sandy Loam

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Hello.  Some of my archontophoenix are dying because my irrigation motor/pump broke many months ago and my soil retains no moisture (too sandy). These palms are also dying because they hate full sun (my shaded archontophoenix are doing much better).

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MY QUESTION: 

Are there any fast-growing crownshaft palms which tolerate both full sun and sandy soil without any supplemental irrigation?

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We have wet seasons and dry seasons, but the dry periods seem to be the problem.  This property is located in central Florida, USA in USDA zone 10A.  I am not there often enough to provide my own hose irrigation, and I can't fix the irrigation problem any time soon. 

 

Royal palms (roystonia) are common crownshaft palms in this region, but I believe that they are generally being irrigated by their owners. I have no royal palms currently, but should I consider this as a drought-tolerant crownshaft palm for full sun?  

 

Thank you in advance for your suggestions. 

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11 minutes ago, Sandy Loam said:

Hello.  Some of my archontophoenix are dying because my irrigation motor broke many months ago and my soil retains no moisture (sandy). These palms are also dying because they hate full sun (my shaded archontophoenix are doing much better).

_____________

MY QUESTION: 

Are there any fast-growing crownshaft palms which tolerate both full sun and sandy soil without any supplemental irrigation. 

____________

We have wet seasons and dry seasons, but the dry periods seem to be the problem.  This property is located in central Florida, USA in USDA zone 10A.  I am not there often enough to provide my own hose irrigation, and I can't fix the irrigation problem any time soon. 

Thank you in advance for your suggestions. 

Hyophorbe verschaffeltii  wodyetia bifurcata dypsis lutescens the hyophorbe does like a bit of water to look it’s best they take a fair bit of sun  the wodyetia and lutescens are pretty tough iam not familiar with your conditions as iam pretty well much on the other side of the world with no local knowledge of your climate 

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Chrysalidocarpus Decaryi

Chrysalidocarpus Leptocheilos

Both of these I have 7 gallon potted specimens of and always forget about them in the backyard. They’ve both been surviving on rain (which we haven’t had in 3 weeks) in Central Florida. The Leptocheilos would probably look a bit better with some more water, but is still chugging along.

Pseudophoenix Sargentii I’m sure would also be a safe bet

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@Sandy Loam 

A Roystonea regia would work, but I'd recommend getting one that is larger if possible.  It would work a lot better than trying to get a smaller one started with the weather we've been having.  It's not really a crownshaft palm, but I like @RiverCityRichard's recommendation of Chrysalidocarpus decaryi.  Drought and sandy soil shouldn't be an issue for these.  I have a few seedlings growing in a bed of broken concrete and they do just as well as aloes and cacti.  @happypalms suggestion of Wodyetia bifurcata might work well if it gets enough nutrients, but I'd make the same recommendation as the Roystonea -  get one with some size.  The closely-related Adonidia merrillii should be able to handle the soil and water situation as well.  Chrysalidocarpus lutescens tends to yellow up a little in full sun in my area, but your experience might differ. 

This April/May has been rough as far as how hot it has been and the lack of rain.  My last measurable rain of at least a tenth of an inch was a month ago (April 11th) at this point and we've been in the 90s with high winds and low humidity.  Some of the tropical palms are showing a little dry stress 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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Thanks. Are all of the above fast-growing palms? 

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Perhaps think about desert palms, Brahea, Chamaerops, Phoenix, Washingtonia. I don't believe any crownshaft palms would succeed w/o supplemental water. The royals would need constant watering the first year to get established.

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7 hours ago, Sandy Loam said:

Thanks. Are all of the above fast-growing palms? 

Roystonea regia, Wodyetia bifurcata, and Adonidia merrillii grow pretty quickly.  Chrysalidocarpus decaryi is slower.

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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7 hours ago, Sandy Loam said:

Thanks. Are all of the above fast-growing palms? 

Pseudophoenix is slow. No palm grows “fast” during a drought. Do you intend to provide all these palms no supplemental water during a drought? Then I agree with @SeanK. Go with desert fan palms: Coccothrinax, Thrinax, Leucothrinax, Sabal, Chamaerops, Phoenix, Washingtonia (watch out for wilt or lethal bronzing on these last two). Crownshafted darlings, i.e., Archos, etc. need regular water. Adonidia is too cold sensitive for your winters.

Hopefully, a normal rainy season is in the offing in 3-4 weeks so you can plant and let Nature take care of palm needs.

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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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6 hours ago, SeanK said:

Perhaps think about desert palms, Brahea, Chamaerops, Phoenix, Washingtonia. I don't believe any crownshaft palms would succeed w/o supplemental water. The royals would need constant watering the first year to get established.

I am in agreement with Sean, with really sandy soil no water here in florida's dry spring will kill just about any fast growing corwnshafted palm.  Its true that some are less water dependent than others(esp pseudophoenix) but we dop grow desert plants here in spring for a reason.  5 houses down from me a guy planted 5 trunking royals in sandy soil.  He sold the house to another person and they did not maintain the irrigation as it aged and failed.  I walk my dog on a nearby trail every day to see 4 big cigar trunks(10-15') with no crowns/crownshafts and one surviving dehydrated survivor that is clearly in steep decline.  The irrigation was HOA supplied, 2x a week but you have to maintain/replace your valves and irrigation heads to keep it working.   He does have a 20' phoenix sylvestris hybrid nearby that seems to be doing fine without irrigation.  But that phoenix was established with irrigation then 5 years later the system failed.  He also has (2) bismarckias that are doing very well,  with no irrigation water..

Formerly in Gilbert AZ, zone 9a/9b. Now in Palmetto, Florida Zone 9b/10a??

 

Tom Blank

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14 hours ago, SeanK said:

Perhaps think about desert palms, Brahea, Chamaerops, Phoenix, Washingtonia. I don't believe any crownshaft palms would succeed w/o supplemental water. The royals would need constant watering the first year to get established.

Thanks, but I am not a fan of the appearance of Brahea and Chamaerops. I like Phoenix but they are slow and TPPD has been killing phoenix in Florida. Washingtonia are much faster, but they also are subject to a fungus that seems to be spreading around Florida. I have to avoid Phoenix and Washingtonia for this reason. 

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14 hours ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Pseudophoenix is slow. No palm grows “fast” during a drought. Do you intend to provide all these palms no supplemental water during a drought? Then I agree with @SeanK. Go with desert fan palms: Coccothrinax, Thrinax, Leucothrinax, Sabal, Chamaerops, Phoenix, Washingtonia (watch out for wilt or lethal bronzing on these last two). Crownshafted darlings, i.e., Archos, etc. need regular water. Adonidia is too cold sensitive for your winters.

Hopefully, a normal rainy season is in the offing in 3-4 weeks so you can plant and let Nature take care of palm needs.

Thank you, Meg.  Are the following palms from your recommendations fast growers? :

Coccothrinax, Thrinax, Leucothrinax, Chamaerops, 

It is possible that I will eventually get the irrigation fixed, but that house has so many priorities ahead of the broken irrigation pump.   Not all of the irrigation even points at the palms because it was intended for the lawn. Thanks! 

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14 hours ago, kinzyjr said:

Roystonea regia, Wodyetia bifurcata, and Adonidia merrillii grow pretty quickly.  Chrysalidocarpus decaryi is slower.

Thanks. Kinzy.  Would your answer change if I said that (in light of the comments above) from now on I guess I will only be planting crownshaft palms in my shady spots, not in sunny spots?  Archontophoenix grow fast in shade, but I don't know about royals and foxails. 

 

As for adonidia, I don't recall seeing any of those around Winter Haven, but I have seen lots of royal palms and foxtail palms. Meg did not recommend them for USDA zone 10A.

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For whatever reason, of my 13 archontophoenix, the ones planted in shade seem to be able to handle the dehydration. It's just the ones planted in full sun which can't handle the lack of rain right now, or even over the past winter when we've undergone several dry spells.  Maybe I just need to start planting Bismarckia and Washingtonia, then hope for no disease to kill the Washingtonia.  

What about the drought tolerance of queen palms and ribbon palms? 

 

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11 minutes ago, Sandy Loam said:

Thanks. Kinzy.  Would your answer change if I said that (in light of the comments above) from now on I guess I will only be planting crownshaft palms in my shady spots, not in sunny spots?  Archontophoenix grow fast in shade, but I don't know about royals and foxails. 

As for adonidia, I don't recall seeing any of those around Winter Haven, but I have seen lots of royal palms and foxtail palms. Meg did not recommend them for USDA zone 10A.

5 minutes ago, Sandy Loam said:

For whatever reason, of my 13 archontophoenix, the ones planted in shade seem to be able to handle the dehydration. It's just the ones planted in full sun which can't handle the lack of rain right now, or even over the past winter when we've undergone several dry spells.  Maybe I just need to start planting Bismarckia and Washingtonia, then hope for no disease to kill the Washingtonia.  

What about the drought tolerance of queen palms and ribbon palms? 

Putting them under canopy will actually broaden your planting choices here.  You could go with Chambeyronia macrocarpa, Chambeyronia oliviformis, Satakentia liukiuensis, or if you're feeling brave, Carpoxylon macrospermum.  Hyphorbe (bottles and spindles) tend to prefer "edge canopy" here, where they can get at least some direct light from the lower morning and/or evening angles and still get the winter frost protection, so placement is sometimes an issue since there are only so many spots in a yard like that.  Out of all of the above, the Chambeyronia are the more trouble-free growers from my experience with them all.

My garden does include a few Wodyetia and Adonidia in spots with dappled light or less than all day sun.  They don't grow like rockets, but they tend to stick around longer under canopy since you shouldn't get frost there.  There are Adonidia merrillii here and in Lake Wales that survived Jan. 2010, are still here to this day, and they are easy to replace if they do perish.  For me they are an acceptable risk.  Others with a  different point of view are free and welcome to express theirs.

If you drive along S Lake Florence Dr in Winter Haven, you should see some Adonidia, Spindles and Foxtails.  Last time I was over that way, there was a Rainbow Eucalyptus that was getting some size on it at the corner of Harrison and Monroe.

Since you are located between my location and Lake Wales with a chain of lakes to give you a boost in the winter, my position on them is firm.  Relatives of Adonidia and Wodyetia, like Veitchia sp. and Carpentaria acuminata have performed pretty well in my garden considering their reputation, so you might have some luck with those as well.

If the open spots don't have to be a crownshaft palm, and you want something that is trouble-free - Livstona decora.  Good luck with whatever you decide to go with in each of the spots and hope Meg is right that it starts raining regularly soon.

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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Thanks all.. 

Another option: what about creating a big three foot wide mulch pile around the base of each palm? I currently have no mulch around them at all.

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6 hours ago, Sandy Loam said:

Thanks all.. 

Another option: what about creating a big three foot wide mulch pile around the base of each palm? I currently have no mulch around them at all.

Definitely.  I use pine bark mulch for a lot of my plants.

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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39 minutes ago, kinzyjr said:

Definitely.  I use pine bark mulch for a lot of my plants.

Will that save the archontophoenix from death due to dehydration? 

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17 minutes ago, Sandy Loam said:

Will that save the archontophoenix from death due to dehydration? 

It can't hurt.  If you can provide at least temporary shade, that will give you the best shot of saving it.

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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On 5/12/2024 at 12:52 AM, Sandy Loam said:

Thanks. Are all of the above fast-growing palms? 

I have triangles, sunshine palms, coconuts, bottles, royals, Syagrus_schizophylla,  phoenix and some others acrosss the street from me in high, sandy crappy soil with no irrigation at all. No fertilizer either. They are all growing well but at a much slower rate then in my ward with watering, Nothing will grow fast in those conditions. 

Jupiter FL

in the Zone formally known as 10A

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10 hours ago, redant said:

I have triangles, sunshine palms, coconuts, bottles, royals, Syagrus_schizophylla,  phoenix and some others acrosss the street from me in high, sandy crappy soil with no irrigation at all. No fertilizer either. They are all growing well but at a much slower rate then in my ward with watering, Nothing will grow fast in those conditions. 

Amazing. Thanks Red Ant. Fascinating. 

We can grow all of those in my property's region except for the coconuts.  I didn't know that syagrus schizophylla could grow in those conditions.  

You listed seven palms.  I réalise that they are all slow in unirrigated soil, but which of those seven has been fastest for you in such dry conditions? 

 

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14 hours ago, Sandy Loam said:

Amazing. Thanks Red Ant. Fascinating. 

We can grow all of those in my property's region except for the coconuts.  I didn't know that syagrus schizophylla could grow in those conditions.  

You listed seven palms.  I réalise that they are all slow in unirrigated soil, but which of those seven has been fastest for you in such dry conditions? 

 

Triangles surprisingly, they seem to love it, i'll grab a pic later of them. syagrus schizophylla has zero issues with these conditions, seems to thrive in them. The foxtails look amazing to but really slow in these conditions.

 

Jupiter FL

in the Zone formally known as 10A

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On 5/12/2024 at 10:59 PM, Sandy Loam said:

Thank you, Meg.  Are the following palms from your recommendations fast growers? :

Coccothrinax, Thrinax, Leucothrinax, Chamaerops, 

It is possible that I will eventually get the irrigation fixed, but that house has so many priorities ahead of the broken irrigation pump.   Not all of the irrigation even points at the palms because it was intended for the lawn. Thanks! 

None of them are "fast" even without drought. Please don't take this the wrong way - (as I've found out recently some newer people on PT are just looking to be offended and cancel others). I've known you for years and respect you. Maybe we should establish a Safe Space Subforum where overwrought members can gather to share coloring books, hug bunnies and kittens and bemoan how badly some PTers treat them and should be stump headed.

You aren't in a position to be persnickety about any of the recommended species. Coccothrinax is a fantastic genus - the one I would grow if I was limited to just one genus. Watch their leaves "dance" like stars in a gentle breeze. If that doesn't move you just plant some coconuts as annuals. In the meantime set up a garden hose to hand water or buy an aboveground rotating sprinkler like we used to. I still sprinkle/hand water the Garden Lot because we never installed underground sprinklers (saving the monthly irrigation charge, hook-up fees/additional assessments and parts/labor charges for installing lines and eliminating snooping building and code inspectors). Sometimes it ain't easy growing palms.

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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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6 hours ago, PalmatierMeg said:

If that doesn't move you just plant some coconuts as annuals.

@Sandy Loam This is actually a pretty good option.  The example below is at the intersection of Winter Lake Rd. and FL-655.  It's post-2010 for sure, but they're easy to get and handle dry sand pretty well.

20231201_Coconut_WinterHaven.jpg.89a37d6a5f34f2c0593bef914d1f1c0d.jpg

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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Thrinax radiata, Coccothrinax readii and Pseudophoenix sargentii

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@Sandy Loam I'd do a 3ft radius (6ft diameter) mulch ring around them.  The grass is probably drinking up what little moisture you are getting.  I use cypress mulsch from a local millworks, they shred up the scraps and sell it off cheap.  Pine is good too, just not up near the house...termites absolutely love pine!

Of course it rained here today a pretty good amount, so hopefully you'll get some rain too!

One option is a $35 battery powered hose spigot timer, a $10 hose bib to 1/2" drip adaptor, and a long run of 1/2" drip distribution lime to get out to your palms.  You can bury the 1/2" just under the grass if you want.  Just chop through with a shovel and tuck it under the thatch.  It's a relatively cheap way to get water out to spots.  If you decide to do it, make sure you purge the 1/2" line after running it, by leaving the far end open and turning it on.  That'll run a few gallons through it and wash out any random dirt.

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