Transplanted Kiwi Charles Jackson continues the
theme, with his take on the winter growth/rest theme.
by C.S Jackson, Westcliffe on Sea, Essex, England
Chamaerops No.37, Winter Edition 2000
Having just read Issue 34 of Chamaerops, I believe
Paul Saunders in his Saunders Report has raised an issue
that many exotic plant growers may or may not be aware of. This
issue is one that can mean quite literally the life or death of
a cherished plant. It is the question of the annual rest period
that is absolutely essential to the health of many plants, except
those originating from the most tropical of latitudes.
All subtropical and temperate plants are growth-adapted
in the wild to have a short or long rest and recuperative period
during the winter. This rest period allows the plants systems
to take a break and repair or relax their mechanisms so that when
the warmth and sunshine of spring arrives, they are fit and ready
to work hard at growing during the coming season. Sadly, many of
us, myself included, have panicked at the first cold autumn winds
and rushed all the delicate plants inside the house to an artificially
lit and heated environment to protect them against the worst of
the cold winter weather.
By spring, these plants have either languished, or
the fronds (or leaves) have turned brown-edged and pallid looking.
Put outside again in the warm spring weather, these plants will
sometimes fret; growth comes to a standstill, and ultimately the
plants may succumb to mould and eventually die. This happened to
quite a large juvenile Nikau palm of mine. I had left it out in
cold greenhouse conditions every winter for a number of years, and
it had survived fine, albeit with slight frost damage one year.
However, for some inexplicable reason, one winter I thought I would
overwinter it indoors...with disastrous results.
It survived most of winter indoors, growing slowly,
and as spring approached it started to deteriorate. It was placed
back outdoors in the shade in April where it slowly died because
I had fussed over it and it didnt need fussing. Fussing kills!
Sadly, I had not learnt my lesson from many years of losing houseplants
due to what I thought was the heating and dryness indoors. I have
subsequently discovered, rather expensively, that it was not giving
all plants a winter rest that had actually killed them. So I decided
that from now on all outdoor plants are left outdoors and either
put into the garden shed or pulled under the shelter of the veranda
with some fleece thrown over them. This applies for all the temperate
and subtropical palms, tree ferns, Strelitzias, ground ferns, citrus,
Norfolk Island pine, Bougainvillaea, etc.
This treatment works. As long as you can find a place
for your tub plants that is sheltered from wind, frost, and rain,
then they will almost certainly pull through the winter; take them
indoors, however, and chances are you will kill them. As for the
plants that I myself grow indoors in my conservatory, which are
mainly cycads, they do not receive artificial heat, so a cool period
for them is assured, with warm conditions on sunny days and cool
nights. Inside my flat all my other indoor plants are in my north-facing
lounge with little heat and a Gro ñ Lux lamp to supplement
the winter light. All the plants in this room are tropical or subtropical
and not hardy to very low temperatures. Even these plants deteriorate
to an extent during the winter indoors, but with them there is no
The moral of the tale is to always give your palms
and other exotic plants a winter rest. For subtropical plants, give
two months of cool temperatures, let the potting mix dry out to
only just damp, and place plants out of frost, wind, and particularly
rain. For temperate plants, all the above applies but give them
three months of cool temperatures. You will be amazed at how much
better they grow in spring and the following summer simply because
they have had time to recharge their batteries for another
Subtropical = 2 months
Temperate = 3 months
Dont take them indoors as the central heating
will kill them, and lastly dont fuss over them because they
dont appreciate it - you are probably killing them with kindness.
19-01-21 - 06:21GMT
|| 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
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More than 350 articles are on-line!
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| Date: 28-08-2002
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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...