Planting/caring instructions for Windmill Palms

ashug987August 10, 2007

This year I bought two windmill palms (in 16 Gallon pot) from home depot. I am located in the Zone 8 (Seattle).

I am planning to put these in the ground and I already dig out almost 3 time big hole as of the existing pot and pretty much twice the depth ( because there was so much of clay and stones, I dug until I hit the soft ground). I am planning to backfill it with the good quality top soil which I got from the local soil store.

My question is that do I need to take care of any extra precaution while planting these palm trees? I know palms trees are little different from other trees, so I am wondering if the planning instruction are little different? Do I need to use some special sort of palm fertilizer while planning them this time of the year ( I have heard that the palm fertilizer should have more manganese and magnesium) or I can use just the regular compost while planting? Should I put the composed on the bottom along with the top soil or use it only at the top or to fill up the whole hole?

Any kind of general suggestion about palm at this point of the time in the seattle weather would be highly appreciated. Also I would appreciate if somebody can educate me about how to take care of the windmill palms Any links/reference would be really helpful.

Thanks in advance

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subtropix

The big thing with palms is that they really like good drainage (don't like water-logged soils). I also tend to have heavy clay soils. So I like to add some peat moss and sand or perlite (for drainage). Also add some humus into the soil. I find that the soil sold as "Topsoil" in garden centers is usually heavy so really like to lighten the mix. Gypsum is also used to lighten heavy soils. Mulching will help main the soil's moisture and temperature levels. Palms are said to be relatively heavy feeders (but don't overdo it). I use a fertilizer higher in nitrogen. Sorry I can't help about the magnesium or manganese--not sure about the particular trace element needs of palms. Maybe a fellow poster can chime in here. The windmill should do fine in your climate. They like moderate climates and actually do better there than in hot tropical climates. Your windmill shouldn't be give you any problems. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 7:53AM
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turtile

Like said above, Trachycarpus love humus rich soil. I also add perlite to the mix.

Here is what I use as an average mixture (change due to season)

8% N
2% P
12% K
6% Mg
3% Ca
2.5% Mn
2% Fe
.05% Cu
.2% Zn

Boron (B) is also needed but too much can be toxic to palms. If you have a good amount of organic material, you should be fine.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 8:48AM
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ashug987

Thanks njoasis and turtile for your reply... I am wondering what should be the right ratio for the following

Top Soil
Compost
Perlite
Peat Moss

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 2:28PM
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homernoy(z8b Bemerton)

Hi ashhug

I live in Bremerton, Washington and Trachycarpus is almost fool proof here (Seattle etc..). Mature species all around the area have seedlings volunteer freely if both sexes are near, and they (seedlings) have and will grow into mature specimens themselves if left to do so.

I think you are right on as far as fertilizer. A slightly raised bed can sometimes benefit Trachycarpus in our region. The above posts have the right idea as far as soil, the main thing is make sure it is well drained like you would for any plant. Take care and good luck!

-Brian

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 2:38PM
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ashug987

I looked at the content of my top soil from the description it says

Loam soil, peat, and compost processed through a 1/2" screen. Excellent for seeding lawns, sod, flower beds, and vegetable gardens.

I hope the only thing is missing is the perlite? Wondering if I need add more compost/peat moss?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 5:55PM
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ashug987

I looked at the content of my top soil from the description it says

Loam soil, peat, and compost processed through a 1/2" screen. Excellent for seeding lawns, sod, flower beds, and vegetable gardens.

I hope the only thing is missing is the perlite? Wondering if I need add more compost/peat moss?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 5:56PM
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topher2006

Hello
Drainage is very important.. Here is the result of bad drainage Remember these 2 was planted the exact time
went through nights of 8* last winter
good drainage

Bad drainage

As you can plainly see the first palm is thriving it drained good when watered.. The second palm didn't handle the winter too well because it stayed wet.. Again drainage
is vital... Sand is the key ...good luck!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 6:33PM
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alex_7b(7b/8a)

http://www.cloudforest.com/northwest/

These guys are out your way and schedule members' quarterly meetings.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 6:50PM
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turtile

Don't add anymore peat moss. If the top soil you purchased has peat in it, I would add medium sized pine bark to the mix to aid drainage.

I mix the soil together by eye but I would say its 50% Native soil, 30% Humus, 20% Perlite, and manure raked into the top.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 8:35PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

Windmill palms are not difficult to grow, and the Pacific northwest is an ideal climate for them--I wouldn't stress out too much over it. But contrary to what I've been reading above, I've heard that T. fortunei does quite well in clay soil, as long as it isn't continuously wet; my own soil has lots of clay and is rather heavy, and my windmills are doing quite well. It probably wouldn't hurt to amend the soil with compost, composted manure, etc. but I wouldn't recommend peat or replacing a significant percentage of the native soil. Finally, palms don't REQUIRE fertilizer unless you're growing them in a completely sterile potting mix although fertilizer may help them grow faster. In the long run you're better off amending the soil with lots of organic matter than depending on chemical-based fertilizers. I pile lots of leaves around my palms in the fall (partly for winter protection, but it also helps improve the soil) and lately I've been applying Osmocote with a layer of compost in the spring, and it seems to work just as well as the soluble fertilizers I was using previously (and had to apply more frequently). I've also taken to mixing in some bone meal, blood meal, and green sand every time I plant or transplant something but I haven't been doing it long enough to tell if this makes any difference.

One last note: it's getting a bit late in the season to be planting T. fortunei. Your winters may be mild enough that you can get away with it, but in my more marginal zone 7a/b it's generally recommended that they be planted in spring so they will have a full growing season to get established before being exposed to cold weather (and even then they benefit greatly from protection during their first winter).

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 5:49PM
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ashug987

Thanks everybody for the great advice... This was really helpful. With all the advice collected from you guys I planted two windmill palm in my lawn and now I am hoping for the best :) :)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 12:21PM
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mastra55

I planted two, approx 4'windmill palms, about five years ago. I live in Sumter, SC, with thin top soil, then a clay-sandy underlayer. One palm flourishes and has grown to about 7', the other is stunted and not as robust at about 4.5'. There is adequate yard drainage, and five other yard Palmetto palms are flourishing. Any suggestions for a method to invigorate the stunted windmill palm? thanks,

Here is a link that might be useful: GardenWeb

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 8:26PM
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