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

May 15, 2016

Living with a temporary palm tree - Canary Island Date Palm

One of the best ways to instantly make your outdoor areas look more exciting and exotic is to have temporary palm trees. I've seen this trick used many times at outdoor events, where the palm trees are used to just add a "certain touch". Of course, they're in pots, not planted in the ground.

Yesterday I got a Pineapple Palm, also known as a Canary Island Date Palm, at my local Lowe's. I also bought a big plastic pot and a bag of palm and cactus mix potting soil. The palm cost me about fifty bucks for an 11-gallon, and the total investment was about ninety dollars. And it will be temporary.

I've resisted buying full-sized palm trees because my spaces are so small. If you make the mistake of planting a palm like a Canary Island, you will be staring at a "telephone" pole in just a few years. The scale of this plant is too big for just about any suburban lot, and they are difficult, and expensive, to remove. So don't plant it in the ground, put it in a pot. My estimate is that it will be fine where it is for five to ten years, and then, if I have the strength, I can move it out, maybe give it away, or sell it.

Buy the biggest plant, and the biggest pot, that you can. An 11-gallon Canary Island Date Palm weights over fifty pounds, so you're gonna need some help loading it onto your truck, and getting it into place. This how to do it:

• Get the plant over close to where the pot will be. And don't be tempted to leave it in the pot it came in! It's going to need some room for the roots to grow. I rolled it over on its side and using a box cutter and some lopers, I cut away the pot. The roots held the the rootball together, which I slid sideways into the pot and then tipped up.

• Fill the outer edges of the pot with potting soil and push down firmly. Use you fingers, push. Then water in thoroughly. I always add some Miracle-Gro.

• Set up the automatic water. There's a trunkline for my drip system that runs along the edge of the wall back there, and I put in an emitter and some spaghetti tubing. You can see a little bit of it along the edge of the pot. This plant will have to live through Phoenix summers, and the soil in pots dries out faster than the ground, so it will need a steady supply of water. Wandering out there every once in a while with the hose just ain't gonna cut it.

And there you go, instant tropical paradise!
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