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Chamaerops No.33 Winter 1999
Genetically Modified Palms?
Here in UK there
has been much said about the pros and cons of Genetically-Modified
(GM) foods. GM technology is the ability to alter a plants 'make-up'
in a laboratory. Improvements to a plant can be made in a number
of ways, i.e. a plant that naturally enjoys damp conditions can
be made to thrive in drought conditions or to become more lime tolerant
and even frost hardy.
For example, scientists have developed a technique to take a gene
from a fish which prevents the fish from freezing, and implant it
into a tomato plant. This should create a frost-hardy tomato plant
which will grow in much cooler conditions, thus lengthening its
growing season and increasing production.
With this in mind, the GM technology could be used to adapt our
much loved palms and other exotic plants to a wider range of environments.
Imagine, a Cyrtostachys renda (Sealing Wax Palm) with its own anti-freeze
system or a drought tolerant Areca catechu (Betel Nut Palm) for
warm temperate regions.
Interfering with nature ? Or striving to make the ultimate plant
? My view - although it would be wonderful to be able to add these
exotics to our gardens with their different colours and shapes -
is that some of the enjoyment would be taken out of our hobby. One
thing is for certain, soil warming cables will become a thing of
Robert Gooding, Ipswich, UK
I read with interest the article
in Chamaerops 32 regarding winter protection of palms and would
like to contribute my own thoughts and ideas in this area. I know
that palm enthusiasts fear the effects of cold, wet weather causing
rotting as much as they fear extremely low temperatures. As such,
many shy away from the use of bubble wrap as an insulating material
due to lack of air circulation and condensation.
I have, permanently planted in the ground, a 60cm Chamaerops humilis
(2 winters) and a 90cm Phoenix canariensis (1 winter). As advocated
in the aforementioned article, there are generally only a few nights
or weeks of the year when protection may be required. I therefore
leave the crowns tied up but unprotected all winter to prevent such
rotting and provide the plants with a "coat" when temperatures
of below -3 Celsius are forecast. A 1m-width sheet of double-layered
bubble wrap is wrapped around the crown several times in a tubular
fashion, tied in place and then the hole at the top of the tube
is stuffed with horticultural fleece. This miniature greenhouse
also provides a little extra daytime warmth, which is sadly lacking
in northern European countries. The only other protection is a mulch
of coarse bark chips from late autumn until early spring. Both palms
have come through without any damaged foliage to make up, although
the last two winters in the U.K. have been relatively mild. The
lowest temperature I can recollect being forecast here in the West
Midlands, was -6 Celsius. My method has obviously yet to be proven
in more prolonged periods of harder frosts, but it is certainly
quick and simple and allows me to appreciate the palms for most
of the winter.
Alan Hindle, Dudley, UK.
I have finished reading your article in the Autumn issue concerning
the protection of palms in winter. I enjoyed it very much and was
very intrigued by the picture of the Trachy's with the toasted leaves.
A couple of questions: What kind of sustained temperatures resulted
in these burned leaves and how would one go about protecting them?
I can understand how you could protect the trunk and growth heart,
but the leaves present a special problem. Thanks for your time,
and keep up the great work on Chamaerops. It's great to get a European
perspective on the fascinating hobby of growing hardy palms, especially
in areas like mine (Western Colorado, USA), where they are not supposed
Lee Lindauer, Grand Junction, Co, US
Killing With Kindness
I refer to the picture of the dying Trachy's on page 4 in Chamaerops
no.32. I would like to inform you that it was the result of too
much protection for the 4 Trachycarpus fortunei They were covered
with plastic for about 3 months and were killed after getting frost
at night, and sunshine in the morning and afternoon. The periods
during which they were kept open were too short, and fungus severely
damaged them until March 1997
- when the picture was taken. They all died in the following months.
I would be very pleased, if you would include this on the Letters
page in the next issue of Chamaerops so that everybody can see the
result of too much protection. I was glad that my own Trachys survived
- I forgot to install any protection!
Bernd Schnell, Oberhausen, Germany
Sorry not to have been able to credit Bernd with
this picture when it was published. MG
Invitation Down Under
My name is Chris Gray from Brisbane Australia. I would like to invite
any members visiting Brisbane to my home. I have numerous palms
and cycads growing in my garden. I have been a member of the North
Queensland Palm and Cycad Society for 10 years. I am a past President
of the said society, and for the past years have been a member of
three other palm societies. So if any members are visiting Brisbane
feel free to drop by. My address is 3 Kite Crescent, Thornlands,
Brisbane, Queensland, 4164. Phone 07 32869140. My work number is
Easy On The Nitrogen
Recently there has been a number of letters/ articles about fertilising
palms. As a general rule unless you know that a recently bought
palm has been hardened off outside in a temperate climate, it is
best not to apply much nitrogen in the first year of planting. Success
long term in a temperate climate requires that the leaves of the
palm become harder, especially as winter approaches. Due to the
slow growing rate of most palms there can be an understandable desire
to fertilise with nitrogen as soon as possible. One should try to
have the nitrogen absorbed before the first frosts. Around the London
area where I live I would stop using a granular fertiliser, such
as National Growmore, around early August and a liquid one by early
September. This should reduce the chance of soft growth being burnt
back by frosts.
Martyn Graham, Sutton, UK
Hello Martin and all at EPS. In a way following on from your editorial
in Chamaerops #30, could I perhaps draw your attention, plus perhaps
EPS members via the journal Letters page, to a new discussion board
on the Internet. As you rightly say, the Internet is crammed full
of information, but it is with an extreme bias to the US, and trying
to relate their growing conditions and experiences to here in the
UK for example isn t always easy or appropriate. In view of this
I thought it would be an idea to start a new board for us UK exoticists
to pool our knowledge - ask questions, bounce around theories, share
experiences. The address is www.insidetheweb.com/mbs.cgi/mb167371
and it is intended to be a place for discussing ALL aspects of growing
ALL kinds of exotic plants. What's more it's free!
Paul Spracklin, Essex, UK
Time To Reflect
Last year, at least in Holland, we had a typical Dutch summer, cool
weather and lots of rain. Yet, my plants, Palms, Cycads and treeferns,
did well. Early this year I rescued a big Trachy, trunk 6 foot,
from the dustbin at a garden centre. It served there as an ornamental
in the glasshouse. But the owner apparently thought it was time
for a change, so he ordered his staff to dig it up and to throw
it away. I happened to be there the moment it lay on the ground,
completely defoliated and with only a few roots left. On my question
if I could take it with me came a positive answer. So I managed
to get it into my car. At home I potted it in a big container and
I was glad to see that it survived, though growth is still very
Maybe because of all the rain, I had a problem with one of my big
Chamaerops humilis, trunk about 4 foot. The new leaves emerge with
black spots on both leaves and leafstalks. Most likely a fungus
I thought, so several times I gave it a fungicide right in the center
of the heart. After a few months the newly emerging leaves didn't
show black spots anymore. Plant saved? I surely hope so because
I have had it for more than 20 years now and it is a beauty with
very small leaves, not much broader than a hand!
I also had a problem with one of my treeferns, a Blechnum tabulare,
trunk of 3 foot. It's peculiarly curved trunk was completely eaten
through by Saw-bugs just above groundlevel. So I had to cut and
repot it; it is now growing new roots, that is, I hope it is.
Here in Holland, we experienced more than a week of pure winter
early, with temperatures of about minus I C. I left a few palms
outside for a couple of days, but after three nights with temperatures
as mentioned, I put them all in the greenhouse. The Trachy's fortunei
and Waggy, Chamaerops humilis and Phoenix canariensis and dactylifera
and the treeferns Dicksonia antarctica and Blechnum tabulare didn't
show any damage, the Washingtonia however was, though still alive,
completely defoliated! So next year, the Washingtonia will go inside
in time, together with the Butia capitata.
Wim Tacken, Veenendam, Holland
13-07-20 - 15:38GMT
|| What's New?
|| New palm book
| Date: 24-05-2004
of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
|| New: Issue 48
| Date: 24-05-2004
has been published in the Members Area.
|| Archive complete!
| Date: 03-12-2002
| All Chamaerops issues can now be found in the archive:
More than 350 articles are on-line!
|| Issues 13 to 16
| Date: 28-08-2002
| Chamaerops mags 13,
have been added to the members area. More than 250 articles are now online!
|| 42 as free pdf-file
| Date: 05-08-2002
Download! Chamaerops No. 42 can be downloaded for free to intruduce the new layout and size to
|| Issues 17 to 20
| Date: 23-07-2002
| Chamaerops mags 17,
have been added to the members area. Now 218 articles online!
|| Book List
| Date: 28-05-2001
a look at our brand new Book List edited by Carolyn Strudwick
|| New Book
| Date: 25-01-2001
by Mario Stähler
This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...