New Windmill Palms - Eastern Pa

HaleMoana(6)April 6, 2012

Hi everyone. New to the forums and have been finding all the info here to be very helpful and informative.

I purchased 2 new 48" Windmill Palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) from a seller in Florida. I planted them earlier this week in a large hole and filled it with super soil and sand blend in an effort to help drainage. Then mulched about 3" deep. Wrapped the trunks in burlap to help protect them from the cold mornings and frost warnings that we've been having up here in the Philly burbs.

Is there anything else I should be aware of? I bought some Jobes Palm fertilizer but have been told to wait about 2 months before fertilizing.

Anything else I should know? How should I care for them over the winter? Thanks everyone.

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tropicalzone7(7b)

The trachys should be fine from minor frosts. When I planted my first 2 in the ground in March 2009, they saw a night of 25F and had no damage. Sounds like you are doing everything right. 3 inches of Mulch does sound like a lot though, so if you see there is a drainage problem after heavy rain, remove the mulch.
You definitely should wait until about May before fertilizing and late July/ early August is the lastest that you should be fertilizing because you dont want it to be actively growing in the cold weather months since that could make it less prepared for the cold.
When winter comes keep them dry. I put a plastic garbage bin over mine during times of rain or snow and when it gets really cold at night, I add christmas lights and a frost cloth for additional heat. I would protect from the cold any time temperatures dip below 20F during the first 2 years. You can gradually allow it to see more cold as it gets older and you might be able to allow it go unprotected during mild winters (my trachys were unprotected last winter).
Good luck!
-Alex

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 1:01PM
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chadec(N.C.7b)

I always use pea gravel too. Sand can retain water. I also plant my palms mounted up so water can run off.

As for winter protection. If you use the search function at the top of the page and type in winter protection you should get several post with pics and explanations.

Good luck, and post photos!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 1:02PM
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HaleMoana(6)

Thanks for the replies and the help. Here are a couple pics as requested. I hope links to photobucket work on this forum...

Before planting...

[IMG]http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h99/ryanrhat/IMG_4691.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h99/ryanrhat/IMG_4696.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h99/ryanrhat/IMG_4700.jpg[/IMG]

Here is a pic after I wrapped in burlap to try and help with any frost.

[IMG]http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h99/ryanrhat/IMG_4703.jpg[/IMG]

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 2:42PM
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HaleMoana(6)

hhhmmm... Let me try that again.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 2:46PM
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islandbreeze

Nice palms! They look like they have quite a bit of trunk on them. I agree that they should be fine with frosts and light freezes, so you ealy don't need the burlap on the trunks this time of year. Also, the thick mulch might keep the ground from warming up, and a warm ground promotes root growth, so I would remove most of the mulch. You don't need to baby Windmills this time of year in your area of the country. Keep in mind that they're zone 7b palms, so they can expect to see some pretty cold weather every year and not receive damage. I planted one in November in Michigan and had no problems. Good idea using sand for drainage, I do the same.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 8:23PM
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wetsuiter(7b/8a)

Welcome to the forum. I might have planted them closer to the house to minimize the effects of winter. But I know how tempting it is to have a palm next to the pool. I agree you don't really need to wrap them now. But as next winter approaches you'll need to wrap, maybe add a heat source depending on where in eastern PA you are. There are a lot of smart folks on here growing windmills in harsher winters than yours. I'm always in awe over the creative life support systems they come up with.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 9:43PM
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exota2006

They are really nice! Where did you get them from?
I am scared to order because sometimes they send much smaller plants what they promise but yours are really nice size.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 2:02PM
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tropicalzone7(7b)

Nice palms, definitely a nice amount of trunk on them! They look very good. Probably wont grow too much this year as they establish roots. In my experience they barely grow their first year, they grow a bit their second year, then they explode with growth their 3rd year. Mine is going into its 4th year now so I guess we will have to see how it grows!
-Alex

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 2:41PM
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californiamike

Those are really nice. If you don't mind me asking. Where did you get them from and what cost. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 8:48PM
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HaleMoana(6)

Glad you guys think they look good. I was very pleased with them when they arrived. I got them from www.hardypalmtrees.com

I started talking to them last year knowing that I was going to buy them in the Spring. They were very helpful.

I'll take the burlap off tomorrow even though we're expecting a dip into the 30's this week here in the Philly area.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 10:17PM
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wetsuiter(7b/8a)

30's. No problem.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 11:44PM
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jimhardy

I would start hitting them with some type of root stimulater at this point-nice palms!

Click for weather forecast

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 10:43AM
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HaleMoana(6)

What kind of root stimulator would you recommend? I hear mixed reviews about the effectiveness of using any at all.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 12:29PM
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HaleMoana(6)

Well, we had a pretty good summer with these palms, but they are not looking so great now. I am hoping that they are just starting to go dormant for the Fall. The fronds are now dying and turning yellow. Pics Below...
Anything to be concerned with?
Also, how should I overwinter these for their first winter in the Northeast? I was going to wrap the trunks with burlap. Anything else I should do?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 12:51PM
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LagoMar(USDA 8/AHS 7)

That's really too bad. They look like they got sick this summer. I can guarantee that it wasn't from frost though. Windmills that large can be very difficult to transplant though if they weren't pot grown.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 2:31PM
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subtropix

Ditto what LagoMar, has to say. This damage is completely unrelated to coolness--unless you're at the top of te equivalent of Mount Washington. Was it delivered bare-rooted? I lost one last season. Arrived bare rooted covered in moist sphagnum moss. The leaves just folded up despite watering. --Since replaced. Unfortunately, your plants are in a MUCH poorer state in terms of surViving even normal winter. If either survives, the second one pictured has a chance. Aside from transplant shock any other potential issues...fertilizer burn, weed killer, flooding, etc?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 3:03PM
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jimhardy

The one may make it but I think the other one needs to be potted up
and kept somewhere warm for winter so it's roots can recover.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 5:35PM
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HaleMoana(6)

Shucks, not the news that I was hoping to hear.
The top one started to suffer within a month or 2, but the bottom one looked great all year up to about 3 or 4 weeks ago.

I did put Jobe's Palm fertilizer stakes in around June or July (I forget when).

Do you think there's any chance of survival? Should I dig them up and put them in the garage over the winter?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 6:37PM
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HaleMoana(6)

Oh, I should mention... Yes, they were shipped bare root.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 6:39PM
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subtropix

Frankly, I would give up on the first one. The second one I would personally remove, pot up, and protect over winter. These palms should look lush at this time of year--not like they just came out of a really bad winter. As I said, I got one bare rooted and it went downhill from the get go, and it was summer. Otherwise, they really are easy palms. Don't beat ourself up over it, but don't give up on these wonderful palms. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:47PM
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wetsuiter(7b/8a)

Yikes. The one looks really stressed. The little bit of cool air we've had would not do that! They should be green, perky and robust after a season in the ground. Did they get adequate water this summer? I lost a new windmills last summer due to drought and it kinda looked like that.

Hope it recovers for you.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:12PM
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LagoMar(USDA 8/AHS 7)

I think digging it up again would be the end. Your best hope is to get those roots established and fall is usually a good time to do that.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 8:42AM
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donnacreation55

I lived in the Phila region for 30 yrs, but never considered growing palms until I moved back to my native SC. Your windmills shouldn't look so damaged this time of year. I've lost many palms to ground voles. They're drawn to the damp soil and really appreciate a nice layer of mulch to hide underneath. I would go out and stomp around the base of the palm. If the ground is loose and easily packs down, ground voles are probably the culprit. If that's the case, they should be easy to scoop out of the ground and overwinter someplace bright and warm, so they can regrow their roots. I now plant everything in large plastic containers - cheap garbage bins work well - and cut out the bottom to prevent ground vole damage. Windmills like moist soil in the summer, so be sure they get adequate water the first couple years, until the root system has spread beyond the confines of the container. It's often colder down here on clear winter mornings than in Phila, but our daytime highs are 10 - 15 degrees warmer on average. Good luck and go Eagles/Flyers/Phillies/76ers!!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 3:04PM
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donnacreation55

just wanted to clarify that you scoop up your palms, not the ground voles. LOL! Fire ants can also damage palms and especially cycads, but you shouldn't have to worry about them for now. But beware, they're on their way.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 3:11PM
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jimhardy

Sitting in the buckets you can see there were not many roots
on it in the first place....

When you dig these up,you will probably not
find any roots-you may want to rinse them off and trim anything dead off.

Treat with Hydrogen peroxide or fungicide.

If you don't have a warm(over 60F at least)place to keep them
over winter just leave them in the ground and keep them dry from here on out.

Don't start to water again in spring until ground temps are back to 60F.

I think their chances are slim but you never know.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:19AM
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LagoMar(USDA 8/AHS 7)

When transplanting a bare root palm, you really can't over-water them. They need daily water for the first few weeks and preferably months to establish their roots. I still think your best bet is to keep them in the ground and try to get those roots established. Another period of exposed roots will be sure death, I think. Next time you try the Windmills, buy them in pots from Home Depot or Lowes. It's worth a shot in Philly area. I think they can make it. An even better bet would be Sabal Minor or Needle Palm.

Here is a link that might be useful: Virginia Beach Weather

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 1:13AM
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HaleMoana(6)

Should I prune the dead fronds or just leave it be?

If they die, I might try them again in the Spring, but of those die, then I'll prolly just put crape myrtles there or something.
Not feeling good about it now. These were over $300.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 11:43AM
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LagoMar(USDA 8/AHS 7)

Ouch re the money. And to ship bare root. Ugh. Anyway don't give up on these. They might bounce back. Keep watering for a while until temps drop to freezing. Cut off only the fronds on which the branch is just as dead as the leaf. If these don't make it through the winter i'd try some blue pot specials from hd or lowes in the spring.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:43PM
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wetsuiter(7b/8a)

Ouch!

I agree with Lago. If you lose these...do not invest that kind of money on big, overpriced mail order palms, especially as a novice.

Next spring call around to Home Depot or Lowes in your area. You may need to investigate Philly burbs or NJ locations. The blue pot palms are a bargain. But some caution because they are a bit tender the first few winters since they are grown in Florida and pushed with lots of heat and fertilizer. But since you're in an area where you will likely need to protect all palms every winter, it won't be too much of a difference.

Start with a nice 7 gal size. It will be affordable, easy to care for, easy to winterize. Learn as much as you can over this winter. This and other sites are very informative. It'll be very rewarding to learn from and watch the smaller ones grow over the years. And if a small blue pot palm fails, you haven't lost a small fortune. Keep your receipts. HD and Lowes will give you a refund if they die.

Did the mail order place give you a guarantee?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 8:54PM
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subtropix

Actually, I would not advocate additional watering now. It sounds as though these bare-rooted palms never got over transplant shock and still have big time problems at the roots (which may be irreversible at this point---especially, as winter is coming on soon). There has been more than enough rain lately. When any plant is going through this kind of damage, I actually aim to keep soils slightly moist (even erring on the arid side). I agree with trying again. I never paid hundreds for mine--most were under 5 gallon and shipped, some came as small as seedlings. The small ones did come bare-rooted but all made it fine, but a large 5 footer, also bare-rooted, went into terminal decline as soon as it arrived as indicated by leaf folding despite my waterings. I have five fortuneis in the ground and one wagnerianus. As backup, I have lots that are containerized. Specific planting site matters a lot--microclimate factors (soil condition, sun exposure, radiant heat, wind shelter, etc.). Mine are either on the south side of a house--getting full sun all day in the winter or, getting some protection by a strand of hemlocks. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:31AM
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jimhardy

I agree with keeping them dry(now)-I planted a Trachy in November once and also December,they are both still alive because I kept the soil dry until temps warmed up.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 11:43AM
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LagoMar(USDA 8/AHS 7)

I had mentioned watering until freezing temps because the roots obviously never took hold. When palms are given a hurricane cut and transplanted bare root they are watered regularly for the first year to improve their chances of taking off in their new location. You've basically got your hurricane cuts at this point. Might as well try to get the plants to accept their new location. Letting them dry out or worse yet dig them up at this point your chances are significantly less.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 4:41PM
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subtropix

Has eastern Pa. been dry of late? It's been quite wet here for the past few weeks now and the ground very moist. Roots may be damaged but adding excessive water will only acccelerate their decline at this point.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 5:38PM
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jimhardy

If they were mine.....here is what I would do,knowing what I know now.
Which means,after watching as many palms die as I have(-;

Dig both of them up,remove any dead material,roots,old skins...whatever is on the bottom of the trunk.
Get it as bare as you can but leave any living tissue,roots etc.

Then rinse it with Hydrogen peroxide let it dry and dust with
a good root stimulator-then,plant it in some seed or root starter potting soil with extra perlite....
Keep it warm(over 60)and water when ever it is dry.

Make sure you get as much live roots(root ball) as you can if there is any.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 11:32AM
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HaleMoana(6)

Pretty safe to say that these guys didn't make it? I was hoping they would bounce back, but not looking good, huh?

I'm wondering if I should give them more time, or just scrap them and try 2 new ones.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 11:14AM
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tropicalzone7(7b)

I would give the top of the trunk a cut just to see if the center looks alive. If the trunk looks healthy and you didnt cut it back too far, then it might bounce back but even if it does bounce back, I would plant 2 new trachys near the current ones because it will take a while for them to recover and look nice again (since they will have to regrow all their fronds).
From how it looks though, it does seem like they didnt make it. I've learned that palms do sometimes surprise a person though!
-Alex

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 1:28PM
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papalmguy(6b)

Talk to Mike Page (Montreal Palms) in Montreal, he brokers awesome palms to the us and canada. I bought 5 - 8 foot trachys from him and they are doing fantastic.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2014 at 12:30PM
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