Washingtonia palm planted too deep?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Tropicals' started by neonrider, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Please take a look at this Washingtonia (robusta?) that was planted by a nursery that specializes in palms. The red line indicates the level at which it was planted at soil level. Isn't that too deep?

    Before planting: http://img403.imageshack.us/img403/4425/washingtoniaplanting.jpg
    After planting (I undug it. The clear part of the trunk and even the first cut-fronds were entirely under soil level): http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/6220/palms008.jpg

    Also the burlap wire and the "plastic rope" were not removed before planting:
    http://img208.imageshack.us/img208/2977/palms003.jpg

    It was planted with the entire clear trunk under ground (before the cut fronds begin).
    I dug to the roots and they were 13-14 inches deep under ground. The nursery specialist told me this is how they should be planted. Is he correct?

    Also they told me to water it every day for 30 days and to water it from top down all the way through the "cut fronds" because they hold water better in those "cut fronds". Is this a correct way to water it?
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2009
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Since these are not true trees with woody roots maybe somebody thinks leaving the wrapping on is not a problem. Likewise maybe they have a reason for the planting depth, like new roots coming out of the buried section of trunk. As far as the contact person goes, you would need to find out the basis for their assertions in order to be able to assess what you have been told.

    But what I want to know is, are these even hardy there? Here in my part of USDA 8 people plant them frequently only to very often see damage or death after a period of time. Do you see tall, long-established ones around there? If not...
     
  3. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    The hardy part is 100% on my own risk, but the nursery gave me a spoken guarantee (although I never got a tree replacement from a nursery in my life once a tree dies within a year) for 1 year, so there's some chance it may die or it may be fine, especially with global warming the zone 8A now has moved to I-85 and above and Zone 8B and even zone 9 has moved into South Carolina. I bought this Washingtonia as a test for the winter with a thought it may die and if it does well I will buy and plant more of these. I believe where I live has conditions between zone 8 and 9 which is about 80 miles from the coast. I've seen very tall and numerous specimens (about 15 feet as the least) of Washingtonia Robusta growing near a motel in Barnwell, SC which is more inland than where I am. The nursery where I bought them from is about 40-50 miles north from where I am and they seem to be doing ok there with damage of fronds in winter and then a full recovery.

    Here's a link to a nursery which notes that Washingtonia does well in Zone 8 as well:
    http://www.tytyga.com/product/Washingtonia+Palm+Tree

    Regarding "...reason for the planting depth, like new roots coming out of the buried section of trunk..." I don't know how these trees grow and behave, that is why I came to a forum where I hope to meet people who know Washingtonia Robusta like their 5 fingers. Everywhere I was reading at said to never plant a palm or any other tree below their root level and several articles say it will most likely kill the tree. I have one example in my garden, a large palmetto about 15 ft. tall which hasn't been growing and showed signs of a decline as it is planted just slightly too deep, perhaps just an inch too deep plus had mulch about 2-3 inches around it yet away from the trunk. So what I did, I thinned mulch to 1 inch and that palm tree alone showed signs of blooming immediately several days later in July.

    The nursery owner told me they will replant the Washingtonia higher today, yet no one showed up. It's ok, I'm patient. He told me there is no business planting Washingtonia below it's roots (especially 13-14 inches down) level and they are professionals, I suppose if a palm is planted too deep it declines and probably dies 3-4 years later or sooner and I may come and buy another one. There is no other explanation to that.

    And if this particular palm W/R grows roots from it's clear trunk, I have never seen or heard such a phenomenon and I'd like to hear that from several professionals and to see it with my eyes.

    Thank you for your answer and I hope for more opinions and information and perhaps some photos of roots growing out of a trunk, deep or shallow planting and the resulting conditions of a tree.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2009
  4. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    http://www.plantapalm.com/vpe/palmstory/vpe_story1.htm
     
  5. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Thanks. These stories seem not to cover the topic "planted too deep". Has anyone an experience of Washingtonia Robusta not growing or very slow growth to none when planted say 6" too deep?

    I just undug mine around and found it was not releasing any new roots into the ground at all where it was planted too deep.
     
  6. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Might be too wet as they are Desert adapted palms. You might also have a hybrid of
    W. filifera which can be VERY slow growing.
     
  7. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Could you tell me how many inches of soil has to be dry for Wash. Robusta before watering again? Also, does this apply for newly planted Robustas as well? Thanks. :-)
     
  8. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Mine in Zone 8A does not grow much. It is planted next to a brick house (about 2-3 ft. from a wall and window) on the South side and gets sun most of the afternoon, but not on late afternoon. It's been planted about 5-6 inches lower, I believe and I just undug the bottom part and it did not release any roots as suggested by the nursery who planted it. They planted another Robusta way too high, i believe exposing at least 3 inches of roots. As you can see in the photos, it has not grown much by June 6, 2010 and it was planted in August 2009 and had plenty of care and I fertilized it in May with spikes. Then I drove to Barnwell, SC which is close to where I live and all these Washingtonias there that were mostly brown and broken in this last winter have full heads of green again. So Washingtonia Robusta seems doing wel in Zone 8A here in SC, yet mine is not growing much. I just undug the extra 5-6 inches round the tree to see if that will help it grow still this year. The nursery refused to replant them on a proper depth unless I pay them. Any suggestions?

    Pictures:

    Washingtonia in Barnwell, SC (below):

    http://yfrog.com/0fpalms028j

    My Washingtonia Robusta in Zone 8A (below), the half-green frond I believe is still from last winter, two stems grew between 5 and 8-10 inches but no new fronds yet and it's June already.

    http://yfrog.com/9gpalms046j
    http://yfrog.com/jxpalms044j
     
  9. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Assuming a well established tree planted in the ground you should
    not ever have to water in your climate.
     
  10. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Thanks. It was planted Aug. 2009 and I suppose it is well established by now? Should I just leave it alone, no watering at all? I left it to dry, the soil became very hard and dry, yet several inches deeper the soil felt just a little bit "moist" but not much. It did not grow at all, so I watered it again in fears that it will die by under-watering. No growth. It does not seem dying but the roots seem never penetrated to near soil surface and some roots seem cut or even dry (rotten?) There's also a "mole" (gopher?) channel in the soil around it sometimes. When that happens I walk on the tunnel to make it flat.

    Also my large (5 and 5 ft.) Butia Capitatas never grew after planting the, in ground 2-3 years ago. They decline somehow, but don't die. My zone is 8A and plenty of sun, though lately they've been spraying clouds in the sky all over, so more cloudy days, but temps. now are in mid to upper 90s (F). 24 hour temps are about 28C to 37C. And Wash. Robusta is not growing even during such a good weather for palms.
     
  11. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Yesterday we replanted my Wash. Robusta higher. When we pulled it from the ground, the root ball was maximum 3 feet wide, probably a little less. I suppose Washingtonia does not let it's roots neither deep neither far away from the tree?
     
  12. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Roots on palms are generally in a compact mass near the trunk.
    You are at the extreme limit (8A) for both species. I'd imagine
    they spend most of the Summer repairing any damage from
    Winter which doesn't allow for much new growth. Fertilize with
    a palm food once a year in April and cross your fingers. Pindo
    will sometimes decline and die if in poorly drained sites.
    Though I have no direct experience with Gopher damage I
    image they can damage the roots and allow excessive drying of
    the rootball. That could destabilize the trees and possibly kill
    them.
     
  13. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Thanks for your advise. In fact, I looked my climate up in Weather Underground and I see that before 1990s (except 1985) the temps in mid-SC were almost tropical all the time (25F and above) but in the last 10-15 years (probably because of the artificial cloud making) the temps dip sometimes down to 15F, which makes my area in zone 8B or borderline 8A/8B. I found about 1 to 5 nights a year it can get down to 12-13F here and that is all, so if I protect for up to 5 nights a year Washingtonias should be doing well here and they do well here in other places, even in Columbia towards Sumter and I even found one huge Washingtonia growing near Lexington, SC among trees in a small forest under a shade of trees! So my tree's problem could be deep planting and probably gopher/mole as well. So I will be spraying with mole deterrent around that tree. KILL THE MOLE! (kill them all) ;-)
     
  14. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    As a reference point I was at 14F (-10c) this Winter, all the W. robustas received severe
    leaf damage and a few younger trees may have died outright (spear leaf pulled out.).
    However W. filifera was completely unhurt by the cold.
     
  15. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Valuable info. And I now grow several Washingtonia Filibusta from seed, so hopefully they will be the best option for mid South Carolina. We also get -10C sometimes, I think once during winter in 2008 it got down to -11C for a short while, but usually down to -8C maximum, which I believe is 15F (Zone 8B or borderline 8A/8B). In Austin, TX you may not need for Fili-Busta, but you should at least try. I also now planted some Filiferas in pots in a sunroom.

    Also, 2 days ago I found Queen Palm Syagrus for sale at a Home Depot for..... $15 for a ~7-8 ft. tree! and $6 for ~4 footers. Can't believe they will survive here, but given a 1 year warranty and the cost of $15 I planted one in my yard.
     
  16. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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  17. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Hmmm... years later, every time it is drought they stop growing or slow down significantly unless I feed and water them. The one I was talking died and I just recently threw it away. I found a lot of white calcification stones in the root ball and that may have killed it. Those came from the nursery along with the tree and not from my planting site. The other 2 Washingtonias (I suspect they are Filibustas) I planted survive over winter with low temps into about 16F and are growing many fronds now. Yet the one which died was in the best protected position and I suspect it may have been killed by the white stuff plus the fact that its been planted too deep, plus the new ones I treated with copper fungicide which may have helped as well to survive.

    Right now i am looking for Wash. filifera to buy with clear trunk of at least 7 ft. locally grown in SC or nearby. Got some seed s of a hardy W. filifera that supposedly grows somewhere in KY or TN. Germination rate (every year with best germination soil) of those seeds are only 20% max. Bought on Ebay. Probably very old seeds. Seeds of many other species did not germinate at all or had germination rates less than 10%. Ebay and some seed websites are a dumping ground for old seeds.

    Thanks, I'm going to choose W. filiferas here in South Carolina and forget about W. robusta or even hybrids although large specimens 9 ft. survived last winter with a little help of a copper fungicide. The pindos grew quite a lot last and this summer, although got damaged by last winter (too much snow).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2011
  18. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    UPDATE: Queen Palm Syagrus died over last winter, it stood no chance of surviving and was killed in autumn or early winter. Got my money back from Home Depot. This winter will try a small 2-3 foot sized Phoenix sylvestris on a south side near a wall.
     
  19. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Only one of the W. robustas seems to have recovered from last Winter.
    They love lime so don't worry about that. I think you want them to stop
    growing in drought conditions. Palms seem to harden off better for Winter
    when not fed or watered.
     
  20. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Thank you for the great info. I will feed them this lime then, will add it into their soil.
    There are two choices - harden or grow them bigger. I always was suspicious about folks who encourage fertilizing (unnatural), but this year I decided to fertilize and see how it goes. I'll stop feeding in August. Perhaps July will be my last feeding.

    I wonder if you do not fertilize potted palms - will they die?

    Only one of your W. robustas recovered (out of how many?) in Austin, TX? Is that zone 8A? Try W. filifera or W. filibusta. Also try Jubaea chilensis and its hybrids and Butia yatay. And Phoenix theophrastii or Ph. sylvestris.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2011
  21. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    On the original topic of planting depth, in the wild Washingtonias grow in desert washes where they will experience occasional flash floods. Conditions like this usually include sudden changes in soil depth with both scouring and thick silt deposits, so I'd expect the palms to be adapted to coping with changes in soil level quite well.
     
  22. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    They'd never die from lack of fertilizer. They do great in Florida's
    impoverished sands.
    Of all the W. robusta's that I could find in my neighborhood; maybe
    15 trees, only one survived. Austin, most years is zone 8b
    Jubaea hates our humidity and clay combined with occasional floods.
    The others are too expensive or rare to try.
     
  23. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    Thank you for the info. I noticed that the ones I planted at the "right level" - not too deep, not too high grow best. The one that I planted too high grows slower than the one that I planted perfectly and the one planted "too deep" died. So yes, perhaps they are adapted to flash floods in the West or by nature, but for some reason when human plants them at a "wrong" level they don't seem to like it much, at least here in SC I see them all planted at the right level, just below the bulk. This is only my speculation and experience.

    Will try potting a Washingtonia in a sand. Actually I did pot some Wash. filibustas (hybrid) in sandy soil in a pot. They grew very tough and short and quite slowly and have very strong threads looking almost like W. filifera. I bought small "rare" ones for about $10-$20 a piece on the web and you can try from seed. By the way what does Washingtonia of about 7-10 foot tall cost in your area? I paid $500 each. Mine are W. filibusta I suspect - the threads are there, but not very curly and thinner threads than W. filifera.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2011
  24. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    No idea that's out of my price range.
     
  25. neonrider

    neonrider Active Member

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    I have a bunch of limestone that I removed from a rootball of the dead W. robusta. If WR love limestone, do you think it would be a good idea to mix this limestone into the soil around another MexiCali Fan palm?
     

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