Phoenix roebelenii

(page 2)

Everything was just fine and with January out of the way I was already thinking of where to plant my coconuts! Then, like a bolt out of the blue, came the nightmare we palm nuts fear the most: high pressure over Scandinavia, heavy snow driven by a biting easterly wind and night temperatures as low as -12°C. Enough to say goodnight to all my Cordylines (unprotected), defoliate two Phoenix canariensis (limited protection) and eventually kill my so-called 'tough as old boots' Butia capitata, but surprise, surprise, the Roebelenii came through even though 50% leaf damage had robbed her of her former splendour. Never mind, despite the rather late arrival of last summer, much of the damage has been replaced by the emergence of lots of strong and healthy new growth.

This winter I increased the protection with further cabling and yet a third polythene bag, and as if that wasn't enough, a thick blanket to help preserve more of that precious heat. So far, she has withstood two hard freezes - one of which produced a night low of -7°C and not rising by day above 0°C for nearly a week.

If I've managed in these few paragraphs to seduce you into trying this tropical wonder then here are a few pointers to help you succeed in your quest:

Plant in late spring once all danger of frost has passed, a position in full sun to partial shade is most suitable, although protection from the hottest sun is advisable for the first few weeks.

Spend time on preparing the hole, digging it deep and wide. Backfill with fresh soil mixed with well-rotted manure. Feed regularly during the summer and keep well watered in hot weather.

A good dose of sulphate of potash in late summer will help build up your plant's sugar reserves increasing its resistance to freezing.

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