Chamaedorea landscaping

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This genus is perhaps one of the most underestimated palms and should be used more in landscaping. Whilst the majority of the species need some protection from direct sunlight, most will take morning sun, and even the afternoon sun with a light canopy.

C. cataractarum is now well known as a full sun palm, and is used successfully for hedging, covering fences and walls, and is a great filler in other parts of the garden. C. microspadix will also adapt quite happily to a full sun situation, and although a bit untidy in its habit, is a great palm for filling in at that 2m height that is often difficult to find a palm for. The broader leaf of C. siefrizii which used to be known as C. erumpens, will take the sun for most of the day, and is probably more suited to the formal garden than C. microspadix as it is neater in its growth.

While these are clustering palms, and will gradually fill an area, single trunk varieties should not be ignored. C. tepejilote planted in groups of 3, 5, or 7 (odd numbers always seem to look better), preferably at different heights, can be a great feature and will take morning sun. C. klotzschiana, with its bow tie style leaf, is vastly underestimated, and looks good in a courtyard situation, again at its best when planted in groups.

The fine leaf of C. glaucifolia with its bluish look, can be a beautiful contrast when planted with broader leaf plants in a small rainforest section of a garden. The entire leaf chamadoreas such as C. metallica and C. ernesti-augustii, while they require more dense shade, can be used with great effect on the eastern side of a house garden or in a courtyard where they will get little or no sun, and being fairly small plants, are great understory.

The old favourite, the parlour palm, C. elegans, although mainly promoted as an indoor plant, if multi-planted is another good palm for understory, just about anywhere in the garden where you have shady spot.

With such a large genus, there are many other Chamadoreas which you can use in your garden, but these are all the commonly available plants that won't cost you much, and will certainly enhance your property .

Contributed by:

Leo Gamble

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