Handbook Of Cycad Cultivation And Landscaping
Author and Publisher: William Tang.
1995; Ist Edition
Soft cover; 215mm x 140mm;
34pp; 8 colour pages;
This small book of 34 pages is packed full of information and is of interest to any person with a desire to cultivate cycads. It is easy to read and understand and is written by someone with great interest in and experience with cycads. It is well illustrated in colour with the central nine pages of the book devoted to information about all the species of cycads set out in easy to follow tabular form indicating climate; leaf length; stem height; leaflet shape (and if spiny); sun, shade, and frost tolerance; cone colour; and remarks. Those species recommended because of their adaptability to a wide range of conditions are marked.
The rest of the book is divided into five sections discussing Roots (including soil, watering, and fertilisers), Stems (care, treating injuries, growth rate, pests, transplanting), Leaves, Landscaping with Cycads (their advantages, siting, temperature and humidity, cold tolerance, shading, etc), and Propagation. This latter section gives detailed information on such subjects as suckers, pollination, germination, care of seedlings, and other topics.
There are only a few things in this book that I would take issue with, such as the statement that "mixing sand into your soil will improve drainage" (page 7). In fact adding sand to clay soil will actually make matters worse since the extremely small particles of clay will fill all the pores between the sand particles and the resulting mixture is likely to be denser than the original clay and certainly most unsuitable for cycads. The amount of sand that would have to be added to make an improvement is truly enormous and quite impractical so that it would be very much better to use the sand and a very small amount of the clay to make mounds. Clay soils can be improved by the addition of gypsum (calcium sulphate) and very generous amounts of organic matter. This will usually make it suitable for the more easily grown species such as Cycas revoluta . Otherwise it is better to follow the suggestion made on p.6 (plant on a mound) and I would add the suggestion that the poorly drained soil under the mound be sloped to minimise the formation of a perched watertable. In my experience the statement that Lepidozamia is hard to transplant (p.11) is open to question as they seem to be just as easy as say C. revoluta . Also I have found Macrozamia lucida to be if anything more frost tolerant than L. peroffskyana (see pp. 19 & 20). These are probably relatively minor points and I would consider this book to be excellent and valuable even for those who only wish to grow a few cycads as part of an ornamental garden. Also the serious cycad enthusiast will naturally want to get this book and will discover much of value in it. Its low price makes it accessible to anyone and I can heartily recommend it.
Reviewed by: Will Kraa