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Have Patience with Palms

There’s no magic potion to increase survival of frost-intolerant, heat-loving plants. Instead, be patient and know how to recognize signs of survival.

Several weeks ago I recommended patience and leaving certain plants alone until at least May 1. This included palms and sagos as well as heat-loving plants like esperanza, firebush and Pride of Barbados.

Initially I estimated 90 percent of Mexican fan palms and 70 percent of sago palms would die, but it now appears that many Mexican fan palms and sagos survived — more than 50 percent of them, to be exact. And that’s great news! Patience does pay off.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to increase survival of frost intolerant, heat loving plants. Nor are there concoctions, powders or spells you can apply. You must have patience and wait. Then, know what to look for.

When a palm shows green at the very top or green sprouts at the base in the woody plants, provide a moderate amount of water on a regular basis and a small amount of organic fertilizer that incorporates micro-nutrients like iron, manganese and magnesium.

Be careful not to overwater. The quickest way to kill palms and other heat tolerant woody perennials is by giving them too much water.

Eventually your palms will return to full beauty. It may take about six to eight months, but have patience and they’ll likely rebound.

Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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