Palms on the Sunshine Coast

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Palms on the Sunshine Coast

Our property is situated with a northeast aspect and has a rainfall of 2000+mm a year. Although we get a wet season, all our rain seems evenly spread throughout the year. What we have found to be the best is to firstly lay 12" of a well aerated mulch (shavings, or something with a bit of size to it...). Before applying this you must make sure all weed and other pest plants are removed or destroyed by Roundup, or by hand, or with cardboard, or carpet. Apply fertiliser underneath the mulch - something high in nitrogen and slow release to allow for the breakdown of the mulch. Most tropical plants have simple requirements - FOOD, WATER AND NO COMPETITION FROM OTHER PLANTS !

There are, of course, a few other things which come into it, but these 3 should help you to grow 70% of the palm species. Iguanura, understory Gronophyllum and Geonoma all grow well in heavy mulch situations, but require slightly more attention in the positioning due to their microclimate requirements. To do this all you need is to have a little pond of water and some sort of second stage canopy whether it be palms or shadecloth and other plants. Somewhere you would grow orchids and low light ferns is the best situation for these palm species.

Most important is that people where possible check the plants' growing conditions eg

  1. How high and big do they grow ?
  2. What sort of forest do they come from?
  3. What sort of soil do they like ? Are they lime lovers for example?

If so, they will need some attention in our soils.

  1. What is the drainage like ? As a rule if you can keep the water up

and give everything drainage, you shouldn't have a problem.

  1. Last but not least, don't overwater. We find we do not have to

water the external garden at all, as long as the mulch is maintained and a slow release fertiliser is used once a year.

This should help everybody get a really healthy garden started. But as we all know, sometimes plants work in one position but not in another which can be only a few feet away. So if you lose a palm, don't think that that palm won't grow here, simply try something or a different position.

Here is a small list of palms that we didn't think would grow but did fine :

  1. Cyrtostachys renda, C. elegans and sp.
  2. Pelagodoxa henryana
  3. Verschaffeltia splendida
  4. Licuala cordata and L. orbicularis
  5. The genus Iguanura
  6. Salacca magnifica

These palms are growing in the ground outside and not in a hothouse. Some have been there for several years. These are just a few. If we can grow these, we can grow just about anything on the Sunshine Coast.

Contributed by:

Clayton York & Teresa Richardson,
Utopia Palms And Cycads

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