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Exotic Plants in Gothenburg, Sweden

Two dedicated palm enthusiasts summarise the palm scene in Gothenburg, proving where there's a will there's a way...
Anders Drakenius, Engelbreksgatan 48, 3rd Floor, S-41139, Gothenburg, Sweden
Chamaerops No.29 Winter 1997

Against all odds: Trachycarpus fortunei enjoing the winter in Gothenburg.

How it all began.....

Kjell Persson and Anders Drakenius are perhaps the most dedicated growers of exotic plants in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Kjell became interested in exotic plants back in 1979 when he visited Scotland, and Logan Botanical garden. He saw real palm trees and many other unusual plants growing out of doors in the cool climate of Logan. After that trip he started collecting many exotic and cold hardy plants and seeds and tried some out of doors when they were big enough. In spring 1992 he ordered his first plants from Angus White and planted them at Landala Homes where he works as a gardener.
Anders became interested in palms when he lived in southern California for some years until 1993. Now he runs a business selling plants to cities and large hotels all over Sweden.

Plants that have been tried in Gothenburg during the last ten years: Yuccas Y. x Floribunda, Y. gloriosa, Y. gloriosa variegata, Y. recurvifolia, Y. glauca, Y. Vitorio Emanuel It, Y. flaccida and Y. filamentosa, plus some others, most of them grow excellently here and some of them are now impressive sights with their short trunks and massive crowns of leaves.

Opuntias: O. humifusa, O. fragilis, O. compressa, O. phaecantha plus some others, all are doing fantastic!

Palms: Cocos nucifera and Licuala grandis, they grow extremely well and they are considered a weed here as they germinate and grow through the asphalt on sidewalks. Some people hate us for introducing these horrible plants, (just kidding)! Trachycarpus fortunei, growing well here with some protection even though some small plants survived the very harsh winters of 95/96 and 96/97 unprotected, fantastic! Now there are at least 10 plants of varying sizes growing in different locations over the city. Most of them have some winter protection which is recommended as the plants look healthier in the spring. Rhapidophyllum hystrix, no problems we think as it is very rarely below -18 deg.C here. It even grows in Hindas, 35 km inland,150 metres above sea level. Sabal minor also grows in Hindas and survived the last cold winter even though most of the leaves turned brown.

Other plants tried:

  • Araucaria araucaria, grows slowly but steadily
  • Arbutus unedo, flowering and growing well
  • Camellia japonica, flowering and growing well
  • Canna indica, grows very well and survives the winters well mulched
  • Cistus laurifolius, beautiful!
  • Cupressus arizonica, growing very well, also flowering
  • Eucalyptus cosifera was planted 1987 survived many years but died during the cold winter of 1996. We will try hardier varieties this spring
  • Ficus carica, we will try hardier varieties this spring as they seem to have some problems with the winters now and then -Kniphofia spp, growing like a weed
  • Laurus nobilis, just survives our winters, not a pretty sight
  • Musa basjoo, excellent and fast growing during the growing season, we protect the roots
  • Phormium tenax, grew well until 1996 when it froze to the ground, now it has recovered.
  • Phyllostachys nigra, are doing OK
  • Pseudosasa japonica, excellent!!

Our climate: The climate in Gothenburg is relatively mild with mild to warm summers, the winters are cool to cold. The growing season is 200 days and average minimum temperature each year is -13 deg.C. The lowest temperature recorded during the last fifty years is -22 deg.C. The frost free season is approximately 170 days and the average annual temperature is +8 deg.C. Yearly rainfall is about 700 mm, most of the rain falls in late summer and early fall. Yearly hours of sunshine is approximately 2,090. Winter temperature usually ranges between -5 to +5 deg.C and summer daytime temperatures range usually between +20 to +25 deg.C.

New species to test: The following species will be tried in the near future: Trachycarpus takil, Sabal minor, Nolina spp, Eucalyptus debeuzevillei, 4 Yucca varieties, bamboo varieties and many more.

Palm greetings from Anders and Kjell to all the members of E P S!


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