Palms at the Vogtland
by Frieder Höfer, Ebersbacher Str.
14, 08606 Unterhermsgrün, Germany
Chamaerops No. 43-44, published online
on this article:
Click here to read them or to add your own.
My love of palms started in 1984 with a seedling
of Washingtonia filifera, which, even as an pot plant, shows amazing
growth. In the winter 1999/2000, it had a reached crown diameter
of 2 m and a large base. It was too heavy to bring it inside to
a warmer environment, and got frost twice when the temperatures
dropped to - 6°C, and was not able to recover that spring.
Unfortunately, our climate is not exactly suitable
for growing palms in general, but this is what makes it so interesting.
It is already cold, and often snows, in November; temperatures in
winter can drop to below -18°C; and we get our last frosts in
April. All of this makes growing Mediterranean plants very difficult.
In 1991 I bought two Trachycarpus fortunei in a hardware store,
and I was disapointed by the poor growth. So, I planted these palms
close to the west side of my house near a dry wall. In the first
winter I saved them from the cold by constructing a rack over them,
covered with plastic, which was weighed down with gravel at the
ground. I heated the enclosure with a 150 Watt heat light and ventilated
it with an opening in the roof.
At this time I was not a member of the EPS, and
so I didn't have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of
other palm growers. If I had, I probably would not have planted
the Trachycarpus right in the cold clay. Astonishingly, this palm
is now more then 2.5 m high. The new winter protection is made from
hard plastic panels 200x20x2 cm with which are put together to form
four walls. Every wall has a wooden frame and they are easy to transport
separately, because they are light. In the south side there is a
door, and the roof is made from the same material as the walls.
All the materials are from a harware store and cost only around
Euro 225.00. This "palmhouse" is excellent because the
cost of heating with a fan heater is very low, it is easy to open
during warmer weather, and it is easy to assemble and dismantle.
This winter, my Butia capitata and Butia yatay are
also in this house. The space will soon be too small, and I will
have to think about a new form of protection.
My other palms range from the seedling of Jubaea chilensis (the
seed was collected on the Isola Madré at the summer meeting
last year), to a 2.5 m Phoenix canariensis. I have around 24 species
in different sizes. The Jubaea germinated after just four weeks,
using a mix of sand and pine bark at 25°C. For the speed of
growth, I've found the size of the pot is very important. The seedlings
in the 20 cm pots have one leaf more than the plants in the 10 cm
pots under the same conditions, the potting mix was made from loamy
garden soil and sharp sand. I keep them in full sun and haven't
lost any so far.
Growing the Hyophorbe verschaffeltii that I bought
as a young plant in a garden center has been an interesting experience.
Frequent problems with pests and the need for frequent watering
prompted me to pot this plant in hydroponics a while ago. Since
then it has grown very quickly, it is 1.3 m high now and free of
Can anyone tell me something about Howea? My specimes
are very different. One of them has grass green leaves, the leaves
of the other one look more dark green to red brown. The new and
freshly opened leaves are completely red brown coloured. Can this
palm go outside in the summer?
I've found that Parajubaea cocoides grow very well
in a deep pot; unfortunately this palm has still only undivided
leaves to this time. Full sun is good for this palm, as it is for
Brahea armata, which is growing very slowly. I find the slower growth
of my Butias to be good because their big pots are very heavy already
and I couldn't move a pot that was any bigger. Fortunately, they
are very tolerant of cold and wet conditions, and so I do not often
move them. They have survived frost and -5°C during the night
in March twice without damage.
To close I would like to make a suggestion: With
the combined knowledge of EPS members, I think it would be possible
to make a map of Europe with places of interest for palm enthusiasts,
which could then be published on the internet.
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24-01-21 - 12:10GMT
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| Date: 24-05-2004
of Cultivated Palms
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