Tropicals forum: To Buy or NOT to Buy

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Name: Mike
Anaheim Hills, CA (Zone 10a)
Plumerias
SoCalDawg
Nov 2, 2013 10:45 PM CST
I'm wondering if any of the experts here might be able to shed some light onto my dilemia. As you can see in the photos these pigmy palms are a great price (15 gal for $22.88), but I'm wondering about the state of their root systems. Are these worth buying or are they a lost cause?

Any help would be great!
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"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Nov 3, 2013 9:47 AM CST

Moderator

@eriktampabay Should probably be able to answer your question if he's online.

Are these palms from one of the big box stores? They usually give a year's guarantee, unless the plants are drastically marked down (like 50% off). Do they do well in your zone would be the other question?

Name: Mike
Anaheim Hills, CA (Zone 10a)
Plumerias
SoCalDawg
Nov 3, 2013 10:54 AM CST
Sandi,
Yes, they do quite well here. It seems everywhere you turn there's a Pygmy Palm staring you in the face. I just wondered if these were even healthy enough to survive a transplant into the ground as they have obviously outgrown their pots.
And you're right, they're at HD. Is it common to see their roots e posed like that?

Mike

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
- Russel Baker
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
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Dutchlady1
Nov 3, 2013 10:59 AM CST
I don't like the way they look. I would only buy them if they give their normal 1 year guarantee (and remember for that you will need to keep the pot and label as well as the receipt).
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Nov 3, 2013 11:19 AM CST
If you do buy them, don't immediately bury the exposed roots. Do it very slowly with slowly being the operative word. I killed a Blood Banana that way.
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Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
Nov 3, 2013 1:44 PM CST
Those pygmy date palms are really sturdy, I think they will be fine. I have one that has been in the same pot for 6 years, it's even off in a corner behind the pool and doesn't get much sun anymore. It's fine and putting out new fronds all the time. It also has roots that are above the ground, I don't think it matters. I'd use a really sandy, well draining mix around it and put it in the ground but a little elevated as said above.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Mike
Anaheim Hills, CA (Zone 10a)
Plumerias
SoCalDawg
Nov 3, 2013 7:39 PM CST
Jonna,
Like cactus soil? I'm thinking of just digging a good sized hole (good size meaning 3 ft in diameter and 2 ft deep) and filling it with cactus soil and see what happens...? My soil is has so much clay init that I don't want to add sand to it!

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
- Russel Baker
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Nov 3, 2013 9:06 PM CST
I agree with Jonna. They are very sturdy, and like good drainage. They also have a big, tight root ball like that even when they're not in pots.

As long as the fronds up top look healthy, and from what I can see they do, I think you've got a pretty good bet there for the price. Check the spear (the newest leaf coming out the very center at the top) IF it is green and shiny, that's usually a good sign.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
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extranjera
Nov 5, 2013 7:13 PM CST
Sorry Mike, I've had a chaotic few days and didn't get back here. I think cactus soil would be good, it's really a desert plant. I have such high humidity and so much rain half the year that I try and make anything I put in a pot have super good drainage. It has worked well for the pygmy date palm. I do worry, now that you caused me to really look at it, that it isn't getting enough sun. It looks kind of cool in that it is leaning waaaay out over the pool looking for the sun but it can't be healthy for it. I don't really have anywhere else to put it though so hopefully it will adjust.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Mike
Anaheim Hills, CA (Zone 10a)
Plumerias
SoCalDawg
Nov 5, 2013 9:15 PM CST
I'd like to buy and pot them, but we get some big winds ("Santa Ana's") that I'd be afraid it would blow over! I'll check this weekend and if they're still there I might buy a couple and put them in the ground using the method I described above and see what happens.

Sorry about making you worry about yours! Sticking tongue out

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
- Russel Baker
Name: Erik
San Juan Island Washington and
Tropicals Container Gardener
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eriktampabay
Nov 16, 2013 3:15 PM CST
Looks like a fair price to me. They should do fine for you. They are just root bound. It is not uncommon for Pygmy date palms to prodcue a mass of aerial roots at the trunk base.
Name: Mike
Anaheim Hills, CA (Zone 10a)
Plumerias
SoCalDawg
Nov 18, 2013 12:56 AM CST
Would you do anything in particular with them Erik? Plant them, pot them? And what do you think about using cactus soil?

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Nov 18, 2013 9:00 AM CST
The CW used to be to amend planting holes but now many sources advise against that, as entities installed this way are examined post-mortem, vs. others planted in unamended holes. Creating a zone of different soil around the roots of something in the ground can cause issues since moisture will move through at different rates, either more slowly, creating a soggy bowl, or more quickly, creating hydrophobically dry particles/zone around the roots. Either is bad, and roots often don't make the leap into the native soil, dying an early death, or failing to establish at all. At the bottom of the hole, I like to use something to spike some holes straight down, like a big screwdriver or dandelion fork. This should give roots (and water) some easy places to go straight down. When I look at stuff I've planted on the past on google earth, it's there, doing great!

I've not had that type of palm before, but for a root ball like that, usual procedure that I follow is to use a shovel or saw to remove the bottom portion, for repotting or putting in the ground. How much would depend on what it looks like out of the pot. Usually a few inches is enough to remove the 'circular strangle' that roots usually get into at the bottom in a pot. Then roots are free/able to roam as far as they naturally would much more easily. Often, once the 'pancake' of solid, strangled roots is removed at the bottom, the inside is relatively hollow. If so, I would remove as much nursery soil as possible and re-pack with native soil, then install in hole. Using something for temporary shade/windblock can help if heat/sun or wind are a concern at first.
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Name: Erik
San Juan Island Washington and
Tropicals Container Gardener
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eriktampabay
Nov 18, 2013 10:45 AM CST
I have never used a Cactus mix. I use a Fafard 2 mix. If I ever amend the soil I always mix 50/50 mix with the soil I dug the hole from. It all depends on your soil conditions. At that price I would throw them in the ground. They grow like weeds here in Florida. Occasionally after the rainy season it does not hurt to give them some fertilizer with some Maganese in it as sometimes the Pygmys like to get the frizzle top look. I prefer not even trimming them myself but everyone has different strokes. Again California growing is much different then Florida so my advice is based on what happens here.
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Name: Mike
Anaheim Hills, CA (Zone 10a)
Plumerias
SoCalDawg
Nov 18, 2013 5:20 PM CST
Wow...Thanks Tiffany and Erik. I've amended the same way (50 / 50 with native soil and "Amend" - I've never heard of FaFard 2) in the past and that seems to work ok. We have really heavy clay here so whatever I can do to "loosen" that clay is helpful. Although I've never heard of "spiking" the bottom of the planting hole though. That actually sounds brilliant - unless I'm missing something. Which is ENTIRELY possible since I'm such a newbie!
Having said that...I've never heard of cutting the bottom of the root ball off either.

Erik, can you explain the "frizzle top look" please?

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
- Russel Baker
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
Nov 18, 2013 7:13 PM CST
Mike, 'frizzle top' is caused by a nutrient deficiency, I thought it was magnesium, but Erik says manganese.

It looks like the very top fronds have been fried with a blowtorch, or permed (like to curl yer hair, y'know?)

In any case, a sprinkle of a slow-release complete fertilizer specifically formulated for palms will prevent it. Here in FL we have a company called Lesco that makes a good one. Don't know if it's available nation wide.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Mike
Anaheim Hills, CA (Zone 10a)
Plumerias
SoCalDawg
Nov 18, 2013 7:34 PM CST
Ahh.
Thumbs up Thanks Elaine!

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
- Russel Baker
Name: Paul
Frisco TX (Zone 8a)
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pniksch
Feb 16, 2014 11:27 AM CST
Hi Mike,
So did you get the pigmy palms, and if so, how are they doing? I tried some butia and mule palms here in north TX, and this winter we had the coldest winter in 25 years..thanks to the polar vortex. Not sure if the mule palms will make it at all(all the foliage is brown and haven't the nerve to see if the new spears will pull out or not) The butias are a little 'burned', but with a little trimming they should be fine.
I really miss gardening in SoCal.....
Happy growing!
Paul
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