Washingtonia powerful (Washingtonia robusta) and filamentous (Washingtonia filifera), how to grow a palm tree in a city apartment
According to the horoscope, the zodiac sign Capricorn (December 23-January 20) corresponds to plants: dracaena deremskaya and fragrant; yucca elephant; the fat woman is silvery and sickle-shaped ("money tree", "monkey tree"); laurel noble; coniferous crops; "living stones"; Lapidaria Margaret, Friedrich's Conophytum); fan palms (squat hamerops, Fortchun's trachycarpus, Chinese Livistona, Washingtonia filamentous).
Sometimes they joke: to find yourself in a tropical or subtropical country, it is enough to have a palm tree in your apartment, because the vast majority of palm trees grow there. But imagine this beauty in full growth - then, perhaps, even the highest ceilings of some St. Petersburg apartments will not suit her, since in nature she reaches a height of more than 30 m.More than 20 species are known that are common on the Black Sea coast (southern coast of Crimea, Eastern Transcaucasia) and in Central Asia. Palm trees differ in size and shape of leaves among themselves, but they all have a common feature: the only growth point is located at the top of the stem. One has only to cut off the stem, as the palm tree begins to wither and, most likely, will quickly die.
According to the shape of the leaves, experts divide palms into two main groups: pinnate and fan-shaped. In the first type, the leaves are divided into leaflets on both sides of the midrib, they can be soft and curved (or hard and straight). In fan palms, young leaves are whole; when they bloom, they break into separate segments, diverging radially from the base of the leaf blade (the segments can be whole or partially also split). For cultivation in indoor culture from fan palms, Washingtonia, hamerops, livistona and trachycarpus are considered the most suitable. Let's dwell on Washington. Its genus Washingtonia belongs to the arecaceae or palm family. It includes two types: Washingtonia robusta and washingtonia filamentous (filamentous) (Washingtonia filifera)... These palms are common in Southern California and Western Arizona (USA), in Western Mexico, and they got their name in honor of the first President of the United States, George Washington.
In the nature of Washington, there are giants about 30 m high with a rough trunk up to 90 cm thick at the base and thinning upwards. In the upper part, it is covered with old leaves and light brown felt, in the lower part, it is naked, with transverse leaf scars. The leaves are fan-shaped, split into folded lobes, forming a dense crown at the top of the trunk. Bisexual flowers are collected in long (up to 3 m) branched inflorescences (ears), which are dense elongated swellings on their axes and wrapped in bracts, similar to petals; over time, they become drooping. Fruits (globular black drupes) are fleshy in consistency, with a lignified seed, located on the axis of the inflorescence. We add that this plant grows relatively slowly in home culture, and, as a rule, does not bloom (extremely rarely after reaching the age of 12-15 years).
In South American countries, locals make flour from the seeds of this palm tree, young petioles are eaten raw or boiled, and the fiber of the leaves is used to make baskets. It is interesting to note that Washingtonia is used as an ornamental tree in urban plantings in California and to a lesser extent in Florida, while in the latter it reaches a lower height than California individuals. Experts attribute this phenomenon to significant thunderstorm activity in Florida, where lightning strikes Washington, which rises above lower vegetation.
Due to its attractiveness and endurance, Washingtonia has found distribution as a park plant on green lawns and alleys of Mediterranean countries. When kept in culture, Washington requires certain conditions to be met. Some flower growers classify it as a relatively shade-tolerant plant, considering it permissible to keep it in a somewhat shaded place. However, most experts consider Washingtonia a light-loving plant (especially at a young age), but recommend protecting its foliage from direct sunlight. Therefore, its location will be optimal on windows with an east or west orientation (with a sufficiently bright diffused light), on windows with a south (southwest or southeast side) orientation. But at noon, it is better to shade the plant. When there is a lack of light, the palm tree is provided with artificial illumination every day (from 14 to 16 hours) using fluorescent lamps, which are placed above the plant at a height of 30-60 cm.
Experts advise periodically turning Washingtonia towards the light: thanks to this technique, its crown develops evenly. With the constant maintenance of the plant in the summer in the room, they try to regularly ventilate it: the palm tree does not tolerate stagnant air, but drafts should not be allowed. When Washingtonia is kept outdoors in the summer (it is even recommended for adult specimens), it is protected from precipitation and provided with diffuse lighting, while its location should not be damp and dark. When kept at home, the palm tree is quite resistant to fluctuations in air temperature, but it is still advisable to maintain a constant temperature regime. In the spring-summer period, the temperature is 20 ... 25 ° C. If it rises to 28 ... 30 ° C, experts advise providing the plant with access to fresh air.
If you stay outdoors for a long time or in a closed room with a high temperature (28 ... 30 ° C), Washington may overheat. Then it is necessary to move it to a cool place and after 2-3 hours (the plant "cools down") spray the foliage and water the soil with water at room temperature. In the autumn-winter period, a temperature of 10 ... 12 ° C is recommended (the minimum temperature cannot be lower than 0 ° C); a cool wintering is very favorable for the plant (at a similar temperature, the palm tree also winters at home). Washingtonia is able to withstand short-term frosts down to -7 ° C, which should be borne in mind by amateur flower growers who keep it in a closed loggia. In spring and summer, the palm tree is regularly watered very abundantly with well-settled warm water, while it is desirable that moisture seep through the soil clod and through the drainage hole into the pan. At the same time, if in the summer the presence of water in the sump is acceptable for 3-4 hours, then in the winter it must be immediately removed from there.
Although mature plants are able to periodically tolerate some dryness of the soil, it is still desirable that it be constantly moist. High humidity in the room is also important for the plant. If this condition is difficult to ensure, then the foliage of the palm tree is sprayed daily with water from a spray bottle. They also try to periodically wipe the leaves with a damp sponge, which protects it from drying out and attack by pests. It must be remembered that it is preferable to water, spray and wash the palm with water with a temperature of 30 ... 32 ° C, since water at room temperature somewhat cools the foliage (especially in winter). Starting from the active growing season (May), the plant is fed monthly with a solution of organic fertilizer (manure in a ratio of 1:10 or bird droppings at 1:20) or mineral complex fertilizer (for young plants, the norm is 20 g / 10 l). In the autumn-winter time (October - February), when the dormant period begins for the palm, it is watered very sparingly, 2-3 days after the top layer has dried. The plant is also not fed.
For each transplant, the palm tree is painful (because of this, it often gets sick), therefore this procedure is rarely carried out, only if necessary, when the roots are entwined with an earthen lump. As a rule, a young plant is transplanted every two years, an adult - every 5-6 years. An adult palm tree is kept in a wooden tub (preferably oak) or in a large-capacity ceramic pot (on a separate stand); there must be a hole in the container to drain excess water. At the bottom of the tub, a good drainage layer must be placed in the form of small pieces of broken pots, pebbles or bricks. The soil for planting must be well-drained, it is prepared from turf, leafy soil and sand in equal parts (pH: slightly acidic). Over time, the roots of the plant on the surface of the soil become bare, then they are sprinkled with earth on top. Washingtonia does not form side shoots, so it is propagated, as a rule, by seeds, usually in the spring in March-April. It is advisable to sow freshly harvested seeds. Their surface is lightly treated with sandpaper, the seeds are poured with warm water (for two days) and then sown into the soil to a depth of 2-3 cm, covering the container with glass. For sowing, a soil substrate is used, consisting of equal proportions of sand, moss and steamed sawdust, adding a little crushed charcoal.
A container for germination can be arranged above the battery, reaching a temperature of 26 ... 28 ° C. At the same time, it is desirable to maintain a moderate soil moisture. According to experienced flower growers, the freshness of the seeds significantly affects the time of emergence. They note that the first shoots from recently harvested seeds can emerge after 3-4 weeks, but this phenomenon can take up to 2 months, especially if the seeds are purchased. The picking of seedlings is carried out a week after the appearance of their first leaf. Young plants are transferred very carefully, trying not to damage the root system. But the most experienced flower growers do not resort to picking seedlings: systematically looking at the sown seeds, they plant the newly hatched seeds with sprouts (1-1.5 cm in size) crawling out into small pots one by one.
For seedlings, a soil mixture of leaf, turf, humus, peat soil and sand is used (in a ratio of 4: 2: 2: 1: 2). They grow quite quickly: at the age of 1 year they have 4-5 leaves (the dissection of the leaf blade into segments usually starts from 7-8 leaves). In the summer, if climatic conditions permit, they are kept outdoors, in the fall they are brought back into the house. In the southern regions, seedlings are planted in open ground, as a rule, at the age of 2-3 years. Indoors, Washingtonia is usually cultivated as a tub plant, much less often Washingtonia is grown powerful, having fan-shaped light green leaves with white tomentose lobes at the base (the edges of the petioles of its leaves are equipped with light yellow thorns that are bent forward). Both species are easy to distinguish from each other, especially in adulthood: the washingtonia filamentary has gray-green leaf petioles, and the washingtonia powerful has brownish leaves.
As indoor crops grown in tubs young specimens of extremely elegant washingtonia filamentous, a distinctive feature of which are the numerous white threads located between the lobes (segments) of the leaf, which is why this palm is called "filamentous". This beautiful fan palm tree grows quite successfully in indoor conditions, reaching a maximum height of 2.2-2.5 m.But, of course, a palm tree (especially its powerful specimens) is still more suitable for landscaping cool large-sized rooms, winter gardens, green corners , foyer and shop windows, where it looks very impressive even in a single copy, and if you create a composition, the effect will be even stronger. It should be noted that indoor palms tend to be smaller and produce fewer leaves than greenhouse plants of the same age. On the other hand, plants obtained from seeds in indoor conditions are more resistant and well adapted to being kept in living quarters.
According to experts, it is advisable to acquire Washington in the spring or summer (no later than late July-early August in the European part of the country and until September-October in the south). This is necessary for temporary acclimatization, since when plants move, they often shed some of the leaves and can get sick for a long time (especially in winter or autumn).
You must be careful when handling Washingtonia, as it has sharp thorns.
If the rules for keeping in room conditions are not followed, physiological diseases are observed in the palm tree. So, with an excess of moisture in the soil, which often happens with poor drainage, root rot is possible. At low air humidity, the tips of the leaves turn brown, and with prolonged exposure to dry air, foliage may fall off. Leaves can change color and turn brown also due to excess or lack of soil moisture, so watering should be regulated. Of the pests on the palm, you can find mealybug, spider mite, scale insect, false scale insect, whitefly. Sucking out the plant sap, they weaken the palm, while the leaves turn yellow. Appropriate chemicals should be used against these pests, observing all safety regulations.
Alexander Lazarev, Candidate of Biological Sciences, Senior Researcher, All-Russian Research Institute of Plant Protection, Pushkin