• yorkshirekris

They aren't all the same!

I have an exotic garden which means I grow palm trees. Like most people who grow exotic plants and want to try growing palm trees, the first type that most people try is Trachycarpus fortunei. This palm species can be found in every garden centre across the country. (Often found a bit neglected with a few yellowing leaves) and this was the the first palm species I tried growing. It does well in the UK as it's tough and can withstand even the harshest UK winters, coping with -18c if it has to. Once I got fortunei and a waggy (which is like a fortunei but with smaller, stiffer leaves) I discovered there were others!

There were ones with droopy leaves, thick leathery leaves, bare trunks, silver undersides and ones that were almost blue! Back in around 2010 I decided to find as many or all of the possible species as possible. Some had only just been discovered (from a western perspective) and very difficult to find. Only a handful of stockists were suppliers in Europe and for the rarest types only one place sold them. I purchased several including latisectus, oreophilus and nainital from Amulree exotics who were based in Norfolk but are no longer trading. The oreophilus was bought in their pre-order sale and cost £25. I'd later discover that this species was extremely rare and now impossible to get hold of as it grows in a heavily guarded nature reserve in Northern Thailand and nowhere else. The princeps, martianus and nanus came from the Canary Islands grown by a supplier called Canarius. The nova came from Europalms who are no longer trading. The ukhrulensis (manipur) came from JungleSeeds and was 7 years from seed when I bought it. Finally the geminisectus,, kumaon and takil came from mypalmshop. I also picked up some strange princeps thar turned out to be princeps hybrids from hardypalms based in Bristol. I had these for a few years in pots before I could plant them out in my garden. All were of a very similar size but very different ages as some like the martianus had been held back grown in a too small pot for too long. The only exception being the oreophilus which was a little bigger. This was planted like the others in a south facing spot for maximum sunlight although plants have more recently made the oreophilus and ukhrulensis be in a bit more shade for part of the day.

I did a video having just planted them all out in June 2015 which is now 5 years ago. What has struck me most watching the video back (apart from my quiet whispery voice) is how yellow all the palms are. This is a symptom of being kept potted for too long. Most of these had been in pots at least 5/6 years and longer in some cases. Even with regular feeding, potted palms will never do as well in a pot as in the open ground. The other thing to note is that palm described as ukhrulensis/manipur in the video is in fact something else. As it's grown bigger it's clear that's its not one but thankfully I did plant out another ukhrulensis in 2013 that is indeed the real deal. This can be found to one side of my big Jubaea palm.

As well as the planting out video I took one photograph of the majority of them on the day they were planted. This photo as since been saved over with some fence graffiti...

I hope you can see from this photo how small all the palms were. The geminisectus in the middle of the photo is hard to make out its that small! The martianus was planted next to the greenhouse as this was the most tender species so needs the extra warmth and protection that it provides.

From left to right we have: kumaon (later moved as it was in the way of the jungle hut construction), nanus, latisectus, fortunei, geminisectus, princeps, nainital, (manipur but isn't), princeps hybrid, takil, martianus, wagnerianus.

The nova was planted out nearer the house and quickly swamped by the Persicaria Purple Fantasy. (Middle right of photo below)

oreophilus near the end of the garden in the foreground below. Note the comparatively large trunk when planted out compared to the others.

and finally the real ukhrulensis planted out near the Jubaea in 2013 with its crazily creeping trunk.

Now as the hardiness of all the lesser known Trachycarpus species was largely unknown and thought could be pretty tender in some cases, the chances of all of them surviving 5 years in the chilly North of England were pretty slim. Well I can report that they have not only survived, but in most cases have thrived. Most of them were planted out in a line so that their growth rates could easily be compared. They are also pretty close to the fence which is around 50 cm in of the border (the conifer hedge behind the fence is the actual shared border. They've all survived multiple freezes including several 24hour sub zero periods. They have also survived being flooded completely on two occasions. In this 5 year period only one palm has spear pulled and that was the takil on one occasion. The latisectus, geminisectus and martianus have been protected during the coldest nights of winter with a combination of straw/fleece/and perspex but no protection so far in 2019/20.

And here's what they look like now in an area which is mainly summer bedding until winter arrives. In the photo below you can see the latisectus to nainital.

And here's the nainital to martianus. As you can see some have grown considerably more than others!

Here's the oreophilus now

And here's the ukhrulensis from last summer on the top left showing it's silvery undersides.

And finally here's the 5th year planted out video of them all.

I do hope you've found this blog post interesting and if you'd like me to post more on all the different species individually then let me know. I hope you can see that they are not all the same. I also grow many Trachycarpus hybrids, but I'll save that for another time. Thanks for reading. :)

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