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Trachycarpus takil: rehab in ground? Or pamper in a pot?


Ben G.

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About 5 years ago I bought 3 Trachycarpus sold as takils. This was well after people knew many "takils" were actually other forms of fortunei. I can't recall who I bought them from, but they were a knowledgeable and experienced palm grower. (I trusted that they knew what they were selling)

They did always have large (for the size of the palm overall) fronds and tighter, less messy fiber on the trunks. I had hoped that I could one day get viable seed of my own between the three palms. Whether they are true talk or not, I tried to protect them like they were indeed rare palms. 

I dug them up at the last minute in Feb 2021, before we hit -14F in Oklahoma. I replanted them the next spring but they have never thrived since that first terrible winter. I lost one a couple of years later after being covered during a -2F winter low. I dug the other two up again this winter before another -2F event. I knew by that time I would be moving to Texas in the spring. So, I just brought the two survivors inside rather than try to protect them from those temps again outside.

Neither of them seemed two grow at all this spring, but I didn't worry too much since they had been dug up for the second time in 4 years. They both had solid spears, but neither showed any movement of their spears. Then last week, one of the two survivors had its older leaves look burned. I keep them well watered, but I thought the Texas sun (morning only) was too much. I was wrong. It's spear pulled out. After some digging down the trunk, there was no living tissue left.  It was totally rotted. So, now I am down to one of the original three.

Its spear is solid, though it only has three older fronds. None of them look great, but they show no signs of getting worse either. I have it on the northeast side of my home, where it gets maybe two to three hours of early morning sun. 

Am I better off keeping it in a pot until it starts to grow and recover (maybe not until fall when temps cool)? Or should I put it in the ground on that Northeast exposure? Perhaps the roots will be cooler in the ground than in a pot? Should I put it in a light colored pot, since the roots are probably quite hot anytime the sun hits it?

I am open to ideas. I would really like to save this palm if possible. I know that's a long background, but maybe that helps.

Here it is tonight, still smaller than it was in January 2021:

 

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Here was the trio before the repeated below 0F winters took their toll:

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I am really sad that I wasn't able to keep the trio alive. I really liked these palms. :(

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I wouldn't touch it.  Transplanting will induce more stress.  If it were me I would keep in the pot until next March, in a location that does not get afternoon sun.  Water frequently and fertilize occasionally.

I have two Trachycarpus that I dug up brought with me to Texas, but were massacred by rabbits a couple weeks before I left.  One had half a spear (princeps) and the other had one beat up frond (latisectus).  I've kept them in the pots and they both are adding to their frond count.  Princeps up to 3.5 and Latisectus up to 7.  Princeps can handle the full sun, but Latisectus is starting to burn these last couple of weeks so I moved it.  Both are watered almost daily.  I've only fertilized once about a month ago after I felt they were going in the right direction.

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Given their eventual size, that seems exceptionally close to the home's foundation. I don't have the courage to dig near a gas meter either.

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3 hours ago, Chester B said:

I wouldn't touch it.  Transplanting will induce more stress.  If it were me I would keep in the pot until next March, in a location that does not get afternoon sun.  Water frequently and fertilize occasionally.

I have two Trachycarpus that I dug up brought with me to Texas, but were massacred by rabbits a couple weeks before I left.  One had half a spear (princeps) and the other had one beat up frond (latisectus).  I've kept them in the pots and they both are adding to their frond count.  Princeps up to 3.5 and Latisectus up to 7.  Princeps can handle the full sun, but Latisectus is starting to burn these last couple of weeks so I moved it.  Both are watered almost daily.  I've only fertilized once about a month ago after I felt they were going in the right direction.

I will probably take your advice on this one. I really want to see this palm healthy again, so I will probably leave it where it is. I just wish it would start growing even a little bit. As long as it isn't declining though, I have hope it will acclimate eventually.

Sorry about your rabbit damaged trachycarpus. Princeps and latisectus would be a shame to lose to pests. I hope they settle in and make nice additions to your yard one day.

I still want to have a double or triple planting of trachycarpus with my takil some day. I don't know if I will ever get my hands on any more takils, so I may end up buying a princeps, waggie, or another trachycarpus that I like to fill the space eventually.

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2 hours ago, Las Palmas Norte said:

Given their eventual size, that seems exceptionally close to the home's foundation. I don't have the courage to dig near a gas meter either.

Two of the three were definitely closer to the foundation than is ideal in most circumstances. I was in a zone 7 climate and I made the choice to put them close to the south wall for shelter.

The one by the gas meter was a solid 4 feet from the house. I wouldn't have been so bold to dig next to the meter, except that I had all of my utility lines marked at the time of planting. We also built the house, so I was pretty confident about where I could dig.

It didn't hurt that it was planted at a small size either, so I probably only had to dig 12 inches or less anyway. 

A lot of good it all did anyway, since I experienced below 0F temps six out of eight winters in that house. I was covering and wrapping my trachycarpus, but I didn't use any supplemental heat. So, none of them ever got large enough to cause problems from being so close to the house.

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2 hours ago, Ben G. said:

I will probably take your advice on this one. I really want to see this palm healthy again, so I will probably leave it where it is. I just wish it would start growing even a little bit.

It is growing, but its all sub surface.  Once it has enough roots to support more fronds it will resume normal growth.

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It looks like those pots may be too big for it and the roots are probably not doing well.  I will go against the grain here and say plant it and shake off any loose potting soil.  Only plant if it is sun acclimated to the spot you are putting it in.  I only wish it was planted more like April in cooler temps.   Also it might be planted too deep but I can't see for sure.  Plant at the root initiation line.

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YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@tntropics - 60+ In-ground 7A palms - (Sabal) minor(7 large + 27 seedling size, 3 dwarf),  brazoria(1) , birmingham(4), etonia (1) louisiana(5), palmetto (1), riverside (1),  (Trachycarpus) fortunei(7), wagnerianus(1),  Rhapidophyllum hystrix(7),  18' Mule-Butia x Syagrus(1),  Blue Butia odorata (1) +Tons of tropical plants.  Recent Yearly Lows -6F, -1F, 12F, 11F, 18F, 16F, 3F, 3F, 6F, 3F, 1F, 16F, 17F, 6F, 8F

 

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1 hour ago, Allen said:

It looks like those pots may be too big for it and the roots are probably not doing well.  I will go against the grain here and say plant it and shake off any loose potting soil.  Only plant if it is sun acclimated to the spot you are putting it in.  I only wish it was planted more like April in cooler temps.   Also it might be planted too deep but I can't see for sure.  Plant at the root initiation line.

I can check the holes at the bottom of the pot to look for visible roots when the rain we are currently getting stops. I can't remember how big the root ball was when I dug it up. I didn't think I put it in a pot that was too big, but I can't recall now how much extra room it had. It had been in the ground for several years, and I think this last one was trunk cut after one of those subzero events. So, it may have had a good sized root ball. That could be part of why it looks small in its pot.

As for the planting level, it's heel is right at the surface level at the moment. I was worried it was too high perhaps. I don't know how deep it is recommended to plant trachycarpus relative to their heels, but I have always had them below the surface in the past.

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I just yanked my takil out of the ground when I got back from up north. Marked it before I went and it didn’t move but maybe an 1/8”. I put it in the ground in early May. It pushed about 1” of growth then came to a halt. The fronds refuse to open up so my hunch is it’s not liking the clay soil I put it in. Drainage is decent but I have some nearby water lovers and I think the soil just stays a bit to moist for this species. To be fair it was way over due for a repot and wasn’t in super healthy shape. 
 

Washed all the old soil off and could then see some not too healthy roots, but did however see some new ones coming in, promising. I gave it a good round of root growth hormone and a plethora of rock phosphate. Then potted it up in a sand/wood chip soil mixture. Put it in the basement under the grow light hoping for the best 🤞
 

it clearly wasn’t going to make it in the ground, if by chance it did it would be going into winter in poor health. I figured this was its best chance. Hope I don’t loose it as takil are hard to come by. 

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Yikes. I am sorry your takil is having a rough time too. Hopefully you acted quickly enough to keep it alive.

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Takil does not like to be disturbed. I had a 15gal Takil shipped to me in pot. Plant arrived in great shape and had wonderful roots.  It went straight in the ground 2yrs ago and it’s still struggling to get acclimated. I’m hoping next year it will perk up? Princeps in another one that does not like to be disturbed. Some palms are more sensitive than others. Try to find the perfect spot when planting so you won’t run into trouble later. I realize that’s easier said than done. 

Paul Gallop

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10 hours ago, Ben G. said:

Yikes. I am sorry your takil is having a rough time too. Hopefully you acted quickly enough to keep it alive.

Yeah hopefully I did. I’m giving it probably a 1:3 chance of pulling through. My hunch is taking it out of the heat (Been 95+ for weeks now) and lots of sun (grow lamp is on 24/7) to help it develop some roots. My basement is pretty consistently ~70 this time of year. 🤞

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