How do I protect my Needle Palm(R. Hystrix) in zone 5b

mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)August 12, 2012

I live in Schenectady NY. We are a zone 5b(-15�F) climate. I just bought a Rhapidophyllum Hystrix palm off of ebay. It will show up as a seedling. Not quite mature yet. It probably wont be very hardy. What will I have to do if I want to stick it in the ground, growing it as a perennial? How do I protect it during our harsh winters? Would you recommend me sticking it in the ground immediately when it shows up? I heard of people having a bunch(lol) of problems with this beauty in there zones when they planted their little seedlings outside. What can I do to prevent these problems? What mistakes are these people possibly making? Thanks in advanced.

Ian.

Here is a link that might be useful: Place where I bought the palm

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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

Oh, PS, when I get the palm, I'll post some pictures of it.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 4:03PM
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bradleyo_gw

Pot it into an appropriately sized pot (at least 3" of room to run on each side of the rootball). Soak the roots before planting for at least 1/2 hour, I add Superthrive to the mixture. Use a good potting mix and let it get bigger before you plant it in the ground. It should have multiple fan leaves before you plant it in a 5b, unless you plan on a heated environment for the winter. My first year needles haven't grown in the ground at all this year. My pot grown needle has noticeably grown much faster. Plus the larger it is when you plant it, the hardier it should be.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 4:31PM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

Thanks for the response. I'll try that when it shows up. How many years would you recommend I leave it in the pot before sticking it in the ground? If the main specimen is hardy enough, and it has baby suckers coming off the side, will the suckers overwinter as well as the main plant if I leave them attached to it, or should I separate the suckers and plant them in their own pots?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 4:47PM
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jimhardy

If you payed $2 for it,I am guessing it maybe has one or 2 leaves.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 9:49AM
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subtropix

I would plant it in a container and grow it on for a few seasons. You have to be patient with this one and as you suggested, they are very limited in hardiness when really small. Mine grew better in ground than in a pot but my pot may not have been large enough. Additionally, they really need high heat to grow in the summer. I Puchased mine as one of those blue pot hardies that HD and L's is starting to locally offer in recent years. I had two clumps the first season but lost a good half of one clump in the cold and super WET winter we had two years ago. Since then, the damaged clump recuperated and both seem to be increasing in growth. So, they may just look like they are sitting there while getting established. Both clumps are suckering now and I have not tried to separate anything as I really want them to establish--sometimes you loose part of a plant and the suckers survive. This happened with a Med fan one year--since recuperated. good luck!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 10:31AM
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wetsuiter(7b/8a)

It would almost be worth your time to drive a few hours to the NYC Metro area and buy a larger one that is 7 gals or larger. They're not too expensive at 7 gal, if you find a blue pot variety at a Lowes or Home Depot. Alex might be of help where. It'll be more satisfying in the long run to have one you can try to plant outdoors sooner, rather than waiting for a seedling to grow large enough.

You could keep it potted this winter and keep it in a chilly garage to give it some winter exposure. Plant it in your best protected southern exposure spot next to your house in the spring. Then in its first winter outside give it maximum protection early to avoid issues. In subsequent winters as it gains hardiness, you may be able to protect it later into the season or with less wrapping/heat. I'd guess in your zone even needles will always require some protection.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 11:07AM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

Wow. That's a lot of things I need to do to succeed with overwintering this palm. lol I'll give it a shot. I will definitely remove any suckers it produces and plant them so I don't get just one chance. By doing that, I'm pretty sure I can have multiple chances. Thanks guys! :-)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 1:24PM
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subtropix

Wetsuiter, it's a litte late in the season to find one in many place now in NJ/NYC Metro, though still possible if you know where to go. In my local HD, they arrived in June...Windmills, Sabal minors, Needles, and Silver Date Palm. I went to one HD recently, and all sold out. You would not want to plant one now anyway in a Zone 5b. Better to plant these earlier in the season. Every year though, they seem to be becoming more and more available. It's a curse that they available now so easily, because I have to buy one every time I see one of those ugly blue pots! ;)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 4:08PM
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bradleyo_gw

Wow, I just realized what you bought, I didn't see the listing. The bad news is you will probably need to wait at least 4-5 years or more before you plant that. As several above mentioned, you be better off getting a 3-7 gallon. You can find 3 gals for $19. The one you bought will probably swim in a 1 gallon pot, I'm guessing 1-2 strap leaves. It will be very fragile and tender, so handle carefully taking care not to break any roots. The worse news is that I've never had any luck growing needle seedlings myself. They are extremely slow in growth and that only accelerates as they age. In other words, it might be 10 years before that's ready for the outdoors.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 6:19PM
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wetsuiter(7b/8a)

That was sort of my point...the years ahead of growing before even being able to consider getting it in the ground. If not this season, next spring when needles start showing up at Big Box garden stores, it'll be worth a drive to get a good sized one and get in the ground early in the planting season.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 8:56PM
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Springpatch77

I just planted mine. I'm in a zone 5b more or less. For some reason Wal-Mart was selling them in Springfield. They must not have sold well because I haven't seen them since. The one I planted has about 6 inches of trunk and about 4 suckers. I'm planning on wrapping mine with a blanket and covering it with a box that I plan to build. The box will have some sort of clear plastic on one side so that light can get in. This is my first year doing it so it will be an experiment, but from what I've heard, people have protected theirs in zone 5b with even less.

By the way, I tried removing a sucker last year. I cut it VERY close to the parent plant and when I removed the sucker it had no roots. It was connected directly to the parent. The sucker died which didn't surprise me. I read that you can remove suckers but maybe they have to be bigger before it will work.

Also, maybe you could try ordering a bigger one off the internet before winter.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 1:04AM
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tropicalzone7(7b)

I agree, it might be worth your time to head down a little south and look for one at the Home Depot and lowes until you find a nice sized one. I notice that the needle palms they sell there are not very hardy until established (Im not 100% sure why this is), but if you protect it well the first few years, it will become a lot more tolerant of the cold for you.
I have not seen cold hardy palms at Home Depot here, but Lowes has plenty, if you are ever in the NYC area or even NJ, you should check out the Lowes and Home Depot and see if they have any blue pot palms. I have seen Sabal Minors, European fan palms, and Needles locally at the box stores and some nursuries carry trachys and pindo palms (for an unreasonable price though).
Good luck and dont give up on them, neddle palms are slow growing and pretty tender at a young age (but once the mother is mature, dont worry about the suckers, they should be about as hardy as the mother plant).
-Alex

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 2:43PM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

I've got my palm tree. It actually has 7 leaves and a spear leaf. It's a little bigger than I expected it to be but it's wonderful. For two bucks, I was expecting exactly what you were expecting. I basically got one that may be about 1 year old maybe older, maybe younger. As promised, I will upload the images... PS, how do you upload multiple images?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 6:17PM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

Here's the rest of the photos of my Needle Palm

Here is a link that might be useful: Rhapidophyllum Hystrix Needle Palm Tree facebook album

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 6:35PM
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wetsuiter(7b/8a)

Nice little palm actually! Especially for $2. It'll be a few years before you should try it outside. As some of us suggested, next spring if you find yourself in Metro NYC area, you should try to pick up some 7 gal needles. Here, they're about $19 for that size. You could put them in the ground immediately. They'll require winter protection for a few years or longer in your zone, but it'll give you instant gratification by being in the garden.

To post multiple photos, you have to first upload them to a photo server like Photobucket or Flicker. Then copy the html code. More complicated.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 10:08PM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

I may try to find a way to get to NYC, but it's unlikely because of how far away we are. It's about a 3 1/2 hour drive feom Schenectady to NYC. But I'll try to convince my mother.

Thanks for the tip on the image upload thingy. Of all the experience I have with html, I totally forgot about the fact that I can embed the images into a thread.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 10:05AM
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subtropix

Before you gas up the car, some questions and suggestions.

Can't you get one though eBay that is larger? It may be the time of year, if not. Also, see if you can special order one through your local HD or L's or garden center. Mine, actually try to help the customer and at no extra cost.
Also, if you do make the road trip, make sure they actually have the plant you want. The staff at the big box stores don't knw a coconut from a windmill palm. Consider too, it is late in the season, many of the blue hardies were sold out already-- though the locals would know where to still get one. And finally, being that these are natural clumpers, you can always plant your Needles together if desired. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 10:44AM
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bradleyo_gw

Nice little palm for $2, but it will still be several years at least before I would plant that where you are.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 8:14PM
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wetsuiter(7b/8a)

That's a good point about asking your local HD or Lowes to have one sent . Worth asking. May have to wait til spring when such shipments are coming in.

Does anyone have a label from a blue pot needle to photo and upload? I'm out of town, otherwise I'd take a pic of one of my labels.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 10:52PM
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tropicalzone7(7b)

Its a very nice needle palm! I think its a great size for $2 dollars so although it may be a little small, it was worth the price. I havent had luck with asking home depot to ship certain plants. I actually went to a home depot away from my location and asked if they could ship a plant to my location, but they said they couldnt and all of their plant shipments are random for the most part.
-Alex

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 8:04AM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

Njoasis: The biggest one I can get off of ebay is a 1 gallon plant. So not much bigger. Mine is about 0.75 gallons. So that one may be somewhat bigger than the one I bought and a lot more expensive.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 10:44PM
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InsanePalmNinja

If its a seeding I would hold back on Planting it. Thats just me. Then again I have one in my back yard. its made it thourght this last winter 99.9% Green leaves.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 1:40PM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

One more thing, I kind of thought about how I would cover it with burlap when it is in a clump, then it came to me, "If all the fronds surround the trunk, I can't get to the trunk to wrap it with burlap." Would you guys recomend me cut back some fronds every winter so I can wrap the "trunk" up easier? Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 9:11AM
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subtropix

Removing foliage would only make the palm less hardy. Denser foliage means more insulation and a healthier plant.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 9:25AM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

Then I won't do that. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 9:45AM
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jacklord(7A)

I would also counsel procuring a bigger specimen. There are plenty of places that will ship you one. Talk to Sean at Chilly Palms in the Spring. He will ship you a nice sized Needle Palm.

They grow very slowly at first. A small one will be mowed down by the cold in your neck of the woods.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 2:33PM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

bradleyo:
"It should have multiple fan leaves before you plant it in a 5b, unless you plan on a heated environment for the winter."

If I plant my needle this year, how do I set up this "heated environment?"

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 7:54AM
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