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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Thursday - July 07, 2016

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Planting Canary Island Date Palm in Austin, Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I want to plant a Phoenix canariensis on the south side of my property in West Austin, in a sheltered location. We are on very shallow soil - on top of limestone. Does the plant have any chance of survival? I can prepare a reasonably large hole for planting. I am having some luck with Butia capitata and a Mexican Fan palms, as well as Sago Palm cycads.

ANSWER:

Sorry for the delay in answering your question. Also, Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't usually answer questions about non-native plants, but we do make exceptions once in a while when our other plant interests come to the forefront.

Wikipedia says that Phoenix canariensis, the Canary Island date palm is best grown where temperatures never fall below 10-14 F for extended periods. It can be protected during short cold spells. So if you are ready to wrap your palm snuggly during extreme cold periods of your Austin winter, give this palm a try.

The www.palmpedia.net website has some good information and lots of wonderful images (including the snow topped Canary Island date palms below).

They say ... Within the limits of its hardiness (down to about -10°C) P. canariensis is adapted to more habitats and soils than almost any other palm. This, combined with its relative hardiness to cold, make it one of the most widely-planted palms on Earth. Excellent specimens can be found from London to Sydney, from Honolulu to Pakistan, from Tasmania to Durban, and almost anywhere else with a suitable climate. Which is a wide swath of the world.

Best in Mediterranean climates, like those in Italy, southern California, Chile, etc., P. canriensis will also grow in the tropics. Fine stalwart specimens can even be found in cool (but not cold) maritime climates like Northern Ireland, Tasmania, or San Francisco. In climates cold enough to freeze the entire crown (such as parts of New Mexico), regrowth is slow and often stunted.

While best in full sun and the usual well-drained loamy soil, P. canariensis can tolerate a wide range of exposures, including deep shade, and a wide range of soil types, including sand and heavy clay. It has a unique ability to tolerate both severe drought and flooding very well, which makes them ideal to plant in housing tracts in which the soil was heavily compacted.

 

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