Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Impulse Purchases - Good or Bad

Less than three years ago, this palm was an impulse purchase of mine - actually 200 of these in 1 gallon pots were. and I regretted it almost immediately. It was the first year that we were going to grow (or try to grow) palms for the nursery industry - and we did everything wrong. Some died in our Christmas Eve snow; some we killed with herbicide; some got nibbled on by the deer. But today my impulse purchase has changed from bad to good! I am absolutely lusting after this Clustering Fishtail Palm, Caryota mitis. The leaves on these palms are triangular shaped (much like a fishtail - surprise?) They are easily beaten and shredded by the wind. But even growing out in an open field, you gotta admit this is gorgeous! I do have to admit that it's a bit of a prima dona - it doesn't like the wind; it doesn't like the cold; and when I move it to my house, I'll probably find out that it doesn't like clay soil.

In zone 9B, we can grow Fishtail Palms if we give them a bit of protection from the north wind. They do well in pots as patio plants or in a Courtyard Garden. Farther north, given enough light, they are used as house plants. They are very fast growing. But once an individual stem blooms, it will die. The books say that's no big deal since the other stems just fill in that area. Clustering Fishtail Palms grow to about 20 feet tall by 15 feet wide.
I've been planning on putting a Clustering Fishtail to the right of this window. This spot is protected from our 30+ mph Spring winds. It does faces the North - but out of camera sight is a very large clump of Yucca and three Chinese Fan Palms - hopefully they will divert the North wind.

Personally, this bad impulse purchase has become a good impulse purchase. I don't know if we'll be able to sell all the ones that have survived our abuse, but at least I'll get to enjoy a beautiful specimen.


red studio said...

That is one beautiful fishtail palm! I tried to grow one in the house and killed it.

ashley said...

Great blog, Mary Beth! Love all your gardening adventures. We are having quite a few of our own up here in Seattle and it's quite fun. Hope all are well.

Jan said...

Good luck with your fishtail palm. It is a beauty.

Always Growing

Meems said...

Hi MaryBeth,
200 of them? WOW... I'm glad this one has been happy enough to transplant...

The fishtail is a beautiful and unique palm. I hope it does well for you when you move it.

Mary Beth said...

RED STUDIO - I'm not very successful with growing things indoors - In pots is hard enough . . . Guess I"m lucky to live where it rarely frosts or freezes. Sorry you lost your fishtail

ASHLEY - Thanks for the message - I love all the gardening pics on your blog! You're so busy growing kiddos, I don't see how you have time to grow anything else!

JAN - Given a little protection, Fishtails are quite beautiful, aren't they?!

MEEMS - Yep, that was my biggest impulse buy ever! thankfully, the price matched their small size.

Xavi said...

Beautiful Caryota mitis.

Teresa~Gardening with Soule said...

Such pretty flowers you are able to grow there.

Mary Beth said...

XAVI - It is beautiful, isn't it? I visited it in the field yesterday and can't wait to get it moved to my house!