Anyone growing Bismarckia nobilis here in AZ?

lee_tucson(9 Arizona)August 28, 2005

This is a palm that is long over due for AZ. I've noticed more and more popping up each year in AZ. They love our sun and heat and are hardy to the mid to low 20's. So not only is it a great palm for the PHX, Yuma, Havasu areas, but also Tucson.

Here's a mature one in Orlando:

Here's a younger one in PHX:

They contrast great with Ficus:


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DesertDreamer(9b AZ)

Just planted my first here in Tempe. LOVE it. Any and all growing advice would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 9:09PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

I know there's a few on ASU's campus; I haven't really seen anyone else growing them.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 12:19AM
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The blue-green color of the fronds is really cool. I'm usually not a fan of palm trees, but this one looks really neat! Thanks for posting the pictures!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 12:40AM
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AzDesertRat(AZ 8b Sunset 12)

Lee, where was that second picture taken? I am curious because of the large plumeria in the background which I picked up pretty quickly. This wouldn't happen to be at the Royal Palms would it?

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 1:06AM
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magnetogram(z9 Tucson, AZ)

i'm not a palm fan either, but i became a fan of the bismarckia after seeing pics of it. it definitely is time for a new palm here!

desertdreamer - where did you get yours?

azdesertrat - that is the desert palms resort.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 4:43AM
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DesertDreamer(9b AZ)

I picked mine up at Whitfills on Southern. Also just got a nice sized Pindo palm from there. The pindo is a bit of a rescue job, and is going to need some TLC for a while, but should look nice once new fronds emerge. I picked the one with the largest caliper size, and it was completely root bound in the 2'X2' pot. Bonus: it had a little offshoot emerging. It should be in full swing by next summer.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 4:44AM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Uh oh... what are Pindo palms?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 11:28AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hi there,

Thanks for highlighting this great plant. I don't grow any but I've admired them for years. A few miles south of me on Dixileta Road in Phx/Cave Creek there is a ranch with a very nice row of them along their road front. They look fantastic alternating with some nice date palms. I really do admire them and am glad to hear more people are planting them. Lee, you're absolutely right that their foliage looks great against contrasting colors, like green ficus or a green lawn, or dark-colored wall. I did not know they are hardy enough for Tucson, so that's good information.

Pagan, pindo palms are the same as jelly palms (the name I like to use even though it's goofy), Butia capitata. They are another fun, charismatic plant for warm-winter parts of AZ.

I've just got some small date palms, Mexican and Desert fan palms, and a Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsior), so Lee, you're giving me a C-R-A-V-I-N-G for more types. :)

Take care,

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 7:56PM
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lee_tucson(9 Arizona)

DesertDreamer, if you have a good palm fertilizer certainly consider giving them frequent smaller feedings. Potassium deficiency is the only thing that I've really even seen them suffer from, so as they age fertilizing will become more important. The Phoenix Zoo has/had some nice ones in the "Tropics Trail" area. When I was last there in fall of 2004 they were suffering from potassium deficiency.

Also make sure you water them well on the days you fertilizer to avoid salt-burn to the roots.

And in summer water them as much as you'd like if you have good draining soil. In winter once a month is fine, but try to avoid watering if the forecast looks below average.

AzDesertRat, Detrick was 100% right about the location of the Bismarckia and Plumeria.

Grant, certainly consider trying a Royal palm. Certainly one of my favorite palms and even if you've not a palm fan how could you not like that palm? Another palm that is greatly under utilized in AZ is Acoelorrhaphe wrightii, Everglades Palm. They're great for screening thing or areas off you don't want to see. They have some at the State Capital but they thin out the clumps way to much. Here's a nice clump in Tucson.

They're a much more subtropical alternative to Chamaerops humilis.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 5:29AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hi Lee and all,

More great information as always. I really like those everglades palms--there is a great display of them near my work. They're planted on the northwest corner of Hayden and McCormick roads in Scottsdale (near that entrance of McCormick ranch)--they really are elegant. I've always wondered what type they were, so now I know...thanks for posting the information. Now I may have to go get some, oink oink. They really are elegant.

Take care,

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 11:22AM
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DesertDreamer(9b AZ)

Thanks very much for the info on fertilizing the palms. We have such a unique set of characteristics in the valley that its often difficult to find good info on how they should be handled. Incidentally, I had to go out and raise the bismarkia about 3" this weekend. Where it was planted once housed another plant, and during digging this one up, I created a deeper than needed hole. As the palm settled after a few waterings, I got concerned about its depth relative to the soil. And, it was sort of stagnant in its growth, with nothing much happening since I had put it in a month ago (I wasnt expecting much in a month, but saw some chlorosis and browing of leaf tips). So, I went for it: using a 2X4, I dug down and levered the palm up to AT LEAST ground height, then added more soil beneath. I think/hope this is sufficient to prevent any rot or problems with soil touching the main stem this winter (the time palms are most troublesome for me and my clay-y soil). Anyway, Ive re-covered the exposed portion of the root ball (not much in the way of root development yet I noticed) with some very well draining soil, so I think Im okay. Again, thanks for the info on fertilizing, Ill watch out for potassium deficiency.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 2:59AM
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I bought Bismarkia Nobilis seeds early this spring, and am starting them in a hot greenhouse, temps run 120 t0 130, and so far 4 have germinated. I then am moving them to a 50% shade house. Anyone with any experience with the seeds would be welcomed. I have around 2000 seeds and plan to start selling them in 4 or 5 years to supplant my retirement.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 3:20PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Lee, those are nice looking palms :)
I think these are great palms for much of the AZ desert. There are several bismark nobilis planted aroung LHC where I live. They took the frost this winter beautifully. They looked better than most the plants, cactus, and fan palms during the winter. They still look good now that it has been 110+. They do take a lot of space but it is so nice to have a nice silvery plant instead of just plain green lol. There are probably a lot of less popular palms that would do okay in AZ.
Goodyear Fred, sounds like you are doing well with your seeds. Did you plant all 2000 of them at once? Where did you get your seeds? I hope you have lot of room lol.

I want to plant some foxtail, spindle, and bottle palm seeds even if I have to 'baby' them here :P I planted some european fan palm seeds this spring and so far only a few have sprouted.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 5:35PM
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I did plant the entire lot of seeds all at once, and they are germinating at a rate of about 30 per day. I have a large shade house, hope it will hold them all. I expect the germination rate to pick up rapidly as it gets hotter, they require hot temps to get off to a good start.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 1:55AM
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I grow Bismarckia in the Dead Sea area in Jordan, thay are great sun loving palms, and found them growing faster in full sun, even when it's a seedling.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 12:08PM
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we have a thousand growing from seed but we'll only grow them up to #5 containers we have another thousand sago's growing also

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 7:40PM
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We purchased several thousand more seeds, and as of mid Sept., around 3000 have germinated, and are growing rapidly. Hope to see them all over the Phoenix area in future years, as I am an advocate of this palm.
In the future I will donate some, possibly a hundred or so to Churches, or other worthy institutions. Also am growing lots of Plumerias among other things...

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 10:37PM
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    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 11:43AM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

I wasted my money on 157 Bismarckia palms.... That is 2 x 4 footers and 155 seeds. Tried one, took a great care of it, but no matter what I did it slowly died. Then tried another 4 footer, and it slowly turned brown in the ground over a 3 month period. Only central spear remains, all brown, but it's not pulling out yet. The 150+ seeds planted professionally in environmentally friendly pots, well taken care of, not a single germination so far although I've read many people get them germinated in a few days to a month, but some up to 3 months, so we will see. Yet if you don't have money to waste, I wouldn't. Just like the dinosaur pine Wollemia nobilis, tried and all died. Be careful when purchasing Bismarckia palms, you may be wasting your money on them.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 11:05PM
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aztropic(9b Mesa,AZ)

I have 2.Spectacular tree for the Phoenix area.Plant in full sun and watch it grow! Troublefree!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 12:16AM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

Wow, that is a beauty is yours!! And I got good news... mine has just come back after being run over by a lawnmower... see the photo.... not sure if it will survive the winter though.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 8:20AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

BEAUTIFUL specimens, AZtropic! I agree they're really great, fun plants that do well here in general. I wish I had more space for one, or three, hah!

Sorry about yours getting the ol' Marie Antoinette, Neon, hopefully it'll recover. Keep us posted!

Happy gardening all!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 11:47AM
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Planted this one in April from a 10 gal. container. It does not have enough room to reach maturity. If it lasts five years before I cut it down I'll be happy.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 4:05PM
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