palmsPast few years home gardeners have shown great interest in growing palms in home gardens. Nowadays exotic palm species and varieties are more readily available. Gardeners are more inclined to grow the most reliable palms for landscape use.

The best time to plant palms is May through September.The soil is warmest this time of year, and warm soil is one of the most necessary criteria for palm root growth.

It also is important to transplant a palm as soon as possible after digging. Never allow the roots to become dry. But this should not be a problem with container-grown plants.

Palms regularly planted in home gardens include the needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix), dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor), windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) and cocos or jelly palm (Butia australis or Butia capitata).

A popular palm-like plant is the sago palm. These plants are actually not palms, but cycads. The sago palm is a native of Japan and is hardy to 15 degrees. The 2- to 3-foot-long leaves can be even larger on older plants and are divided into many narrow, needlelike segments.

The primary problem with sago palms is a fungal leaf spot disease to which they are especially susceptible during periods of high humidity.

Sago palms, however, are highly recommended and should be planted in the late spring and early summer, just as true palms should.

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