Spindle Palm

Spindle Palm

The Spindle palm, scientifically named Hyophorbe verschaffeltii, is an unusual palm in that it creates two projections from the trunk upon maturity, giving spindle palm it's common name. It is originally from Madagascar, and is one in a group of 14 related palms. An orangish brown colored trunk that is swollen at the base sports large palm fronds. Fairly fast growing, this palm loves the addition of potassium, which will help it set more fronds than without.

Spindle palms grow well in zone 10, but must be protected the first few years after planting out in zone 9B. They cannot live any zone lower than 9B without added protection of a moveable container, or greenhouse living. After it becomes established, it can handle light frosts. This palm, like most, loves moisture and should be watered every day for the first season it is planted out in the landscape. After winter approaches, cut down on watering to once a week, and deeply. In spring, fertilize with a couple of palm fertilizer spikes or palm granules, following package directions. Resume deep watering to 3 times a week. Doing this for the first two years of the palm's life in your yard will help to insure it's survival. These are not cheap palms, so care should be taken.

When it matures, it will begin in a spring, to make the strange spindles on the sides of the main trunk. These will follow with florences of tiny flowers, which is why they create the spindles, to hold them. The scent that the infloresence brings is very pleasant.

Spindle palms are self fertile and hineybees and other small insects will pollinate them. The seeds follow later, and are viable if planted soon after falling off the florescence.

Spindle palms do well in the sandy soils of Florida, but adding an abundance of crushed peat and loam or muck with a small amount of compost will enhance it's growth. Dig a hole at least twice as wide as the root crown, and twice as deep. Mix the soilless mixture mentioned above with half of the native soil in your yard, and then backfill the hole. Place the palm in until the rootball is even with the top of the natural soil line. Do not bury any of the trunk, it can kill the palm tree. Water thoroughly and continue care as stated above. Then fertilize and water it again. Within the first season of being put out, you should see new fronds appearing, and the tree should begin to hold the soil on it's own.

Some people stake them up, by nailing a thin board into the trunk and propping a 2 x 4 up against this, to keep the winds from knocking them over. I have never personally done this, as I have noticed that the plants are stronger if allowed to sway a bit in the winds. It makes them stronger. In the case of a hurricane, I would have my DH stake them up, removing them after the storm had passed.

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