The Q&A Archives: NW Palm Transplant

Question: I recently transplanted a 30 to 40 year old fan palm from one part of my yard to another. It is about 20 ft tall (huge for the NW!) and took about 8 men to move. It now sits on a berm of sandy loam on the water (Puget Sound) side of our home. How can I protect the palm from transplant shock now that it's in the ground and keep it from toppling over once the winter winds begin to blow? My concern is, if it does make it, that it will not have enough time to establish a deep enough root system by then.

Answer: I'd say it is quite unusual for a fan palm to grow to such impressive heights in your Pacific Northwest garden. It must have been planted in the perfect place; a microclimate within your yard where the growing conditions were just right. Now that it is on the more exposed side of your yard, it may not fare so well. Palms tend to root straight down so if the berm is shallow, it will probably root well enough to hold it upright during windy weather. If it begins to list to one side you may have to secure it with guy wires and stakes (attach the wires high up on the trunk to help stablize it). Because it is so tall it will be difficult to protect from cold weather so I'm not sure what to recommend. Let's hope this winter is mild enough to allow the palm to root well and not suffer from icy winds. Once it's been in the ground a year it will have a better chance of surviving. Wish I could offer something more positive!

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