Saturday, 22 March 2008

Alocasia Macrorrhizos

This is one impressive beastie which will have your neighbours peering over the fence all Summer. There are many variations of Alocasia and you should make sure you get the right species as a lot of places label any of them how they please.

I have experimented with this plant somewhat and can safely say that it hates full sun. It does like it hot however, but sweaty hot rather than dry hot. Plant it out in the Summer and bring it in for the Winter.

I subjected mine to an unheated greenhouse 2 Winters ago that went down to -4c inside. The foliage melted (as expected) and I was left with a stump. I left it in the greenhouse over Summer and it shot back through the same stump. So it looks like it is pretty hardy to low minus figures at least !!!!

It likes to be fed and watered a lot in the Summer. One of it's funky features is the way it can shrug off water. Mist it, spray it, throw a bucket of water over it... this plant sheds every drop... it is awesome to watch :D

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Things about Rhapis Humilis

Some things which you may be interested in about this rare plant which I have discovered through experimentation would suggest that it isn't as easy to care for as the general consensus stipulates.

It does not like tap water. It does not like rainwater (NW England rain anyhow). These turn the leaves brown very quickly. It took me a while to figure this out, but the only water it does like is bottled water, especially French - Evian or Volvic :D

It does not like the wind. Wind destroys the new leaves while they are still soft. These new leaves then go brown and look very tatty.

It does not like direct sunlight, whether it is outside or behind a window. The outer leaves scorch very easily!

It does not like to be in too big a pot. Despite being a clumping palm it would seem that if you put it in too big a pot it will go on strike and stop growing.

It's main growth is in the early spring. New shoots pop up and existing shoots will put out 2 or 3 leaves. Throughout the Summer it's growth will be slow. This would suggest temperate preference.

I have found it a tough battle to care for this palm and if i had the chance to buy it again i would probably pass.

Beware B&Q

OK, we all know that as exotic gardening becomes more popular the superstores like B&Q are going to want to cash in on it. Last year I noticed them selling Phoenix Roebelenii as an outdoor palm. They have been doing this for some years now. While these guys can sustain some frost they really do not like it at all. Fleece will help out a little, but take things below -4c and you will have some real trouble. Although they look nice with their light feathery fronds you are well advised to avoid them unless you keep them in a pot and bring them undercover for the Winter.

Now, what's even worse is last year I noticed, to my horror, that B&Q were trying to pass of the very tender Bismarckia Nobilis as a hardy palm !?!?!?!! They were the silver forms (which are the toughest), but they will defoliate at 0c easily !!!! DON'T BE CONNED !!! B&Q were selling these at a HUGE 50 quid each too !!!! It was a complete laugh reading the pointless info cards they stick to their plants... "Needs protection from heavy frosts"... more like needs protection period!

Growing Patterns of Palms in the Winter

This Winter has pretty much passed by now. I monitored the growing behaviour of my palms during the Winter. I noted a low of -6c and about a dozen nights of -4 or below. Not bad really! However out of the various palms I have I can only say that there were 3 which continued to push out new leaves.

Nope, it wasn't the Trachys, not the Butias... it was the two Brahea (Armata and Edulis) and the New Zealand palms Rhopalostylis Sapida. I kind of expected R. Sapida to grow as they originate from temperate rain forest areas. I was surprised by the Brahea continuing to grow however!!!

Brahea are dry climate palms, used to hot dry conditions. NW Winters are very wet and very cool. The Armata pushed out 2 new leaves during Winter and the Edulis gave me 4 !!! It would therefore seem that these guys don't go dormant like most palms. The more I see the what the Brahea can do the more I like them. Waaaaay better than Butia and Trachys it would seem !!!!