This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

September 9, 2014

Allowing room for plants to grow in the garden

It's typical for young gardeners to over-plant. That is, putting in too many plants for the space to allow them to look good when they achieve their full size. It's a lesson I learned a few years ago when I had to remove a tree that I had planted way too close to a block wall.

So, I have done some homework and have researched mature sizes of the plants that I have here at The Tropical Paradise. And, of course, my biggest concern is for the cycads, like the one pictured, a Dioon spinulosum.

According to my calculations, this plant will have room to grow to its mature size. The trunks on these plants don't get terribly wide, so there will be room next to the house as there is a good three feet from the wall. Of course, it will always need shade, but the olive tree that it sits under will grow right along with it.

Dioon spinulosum in Los Angeles.
The largest cycad in the United States.
The largest Dioon spinulosum in the United States is in a little park in Los Angeles, and it's about 100 to 150 years old. It's about thirty-five feet tall, which means that my plant will eventually be taller than my house. Cycads generally grow slowly, but this particular species grows fast, and is big, so it will probably look more like a palm tree than a fern in my lifetime - assuming I keep taking my vitamins!

The other cycads around it, even though they are smaller and slower-growing, I will need to *thin out* and move in about thirty or forty years. But this plant can stay. I see no reason why it can't grow to its full potential. It's in a good place.
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