Like the person in front of you in the supermarket queue, palms don’t like to be crowded. When planting, ensure they have enough room to really show off their fronds. If you don’t give them enough space, you end up with a crowded mess of leaves and the ground becomes matted with roots, making it difficult to establish an understorey. Even though they have compact root systems, don’t forget to confirm the location of service pipes before planting.
You also don’t want to space palms too far from each other. Otherwise, you’ll end up with lone, tall greenery swaying in the wind. Palms should just touch one another; how far or close you plant them will depend on the variety and the look you’re trying to achieve. Think about planting them as an avenue, or to replicate a natural grove – where palms of different heights are scattered across a space. Multi-stemmed palms can be planted successfully as screening.
The wrong fit
Before you bound out and buy the first palm that catches your eye you need to think about a few things. What type of climate do you live in? Where are you going to plant it? Will it be indoors, outdoors, in a pot? Depending on your answer, there’s a perfect palm for you. For avenues and feature plants look to statement palms such as bismark, for groves and shade try cabbage or kentia palms, and for pots a parlour or lady palm.
To use palms to fabulous effect, grab the April issue. Arno King guides you through palm design and planting, care and maintenance, and lists the best palm for your intended position.