Sunday, October 12, 2008

Little Palms

I`m a lover of palms and it is one of the reasons I live in Charleston,SC. In my mind, palms are tall trees bending in the wind not small shrubby plants acting as ground cover. I now know that one of the most beautiful cold tolerant palms is a little gem, Chamaedorea radicalis.

She is a beauty: small and dainty, dark green leaves and brilliant red fruits that is easy to grow. She can also be a he, since the sexes are on separate plants in this species. Normally just a clump of 6 or 8 feathery leaves rising from the ground, you`ll be surprised every once in a while by a plant that produces a trunk.

Shade is what they need and even watering sincetheir homeland is the cloud forest of north east Mexico. When they are happy and you have both sexes you`ll have their distinctive "v" seedlings come up all over the yard. Under a canopy Radicalis palms look best in mass, forming a mid-level just above the ground cover. Fifteen degrees has never bothered mine as long as they are under a canopy. They give your garden that tropical look but tolerate the vagaries of the southeast because they evolved in this climate in Mexico. Let`s start giving them a new home!

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