After planting a windmill ( Trachycarpus fortunei) palm tree in a new garden design last year, a new home was built next door. The new home now blocks the sun for the better part of the day limiting the sunlight hours for the palm tree. Although it was very happy in its location, the minimal sunlight hours would change that. The palm tree had to be relocated to a sunny part of the yard where it will get at least 8 hours of sunlight, have protection from the North and West wind and maintain a minimum temperature of -15C or higher. Which isn’t a problem here on Vancouver Island where the temperature rarely drops below -5C.
Ladysmith British Columbia is in a micro climate, which means we have slightly warmer weather then the basic hardiness zone map shows which for us is zone 8. Soil, moisture, humidity, heat, wind, and other conditions also affect the viability of individual plants from one area to another. It is important that your plants can thrive year-round, surviving extreme temperatures. Often you will find that your own gardens are slightly different then the basic hardiness zone map. The location of your property, buildings and even trees on your property will change the demographics of what you can grow. For a list of hardiest palms to grow research this link.
How to plant:
Dig the hole twice as wide and one and a half times as big as the root mass. Work in several shovelfuls of organic matter (peat moss and/or manure) and bone meal and ensure there is loose soil at the bottom to allow for easy root growth. After planting, pack the soil firmly to avoid air pockets and water well.
Where to Plant:
Choose any part of your garden in a sunny location. In cooler winter locations such as at the higher elevations avoid a windy exposure. Absolutely never plant this palm close to the house if you have an overhang because the plant can reach 30 feet.
Neutral to slightly acidic (which is typical in this area). Although these palms tolerate our high rainfall they will thrive in well draining soil. The garden where I planted this palm is comprised of mostly clay soil, so I dug the hole 3 X as deep as the palm required, broke up the soil with a steel bar and added a wheel barrow of sand and small pebbles for added drainage. Then I added a layer of mulch in the bottom about 4 inches deep. Bone meal and peat moss are also great to help your palm perform better.
Watering and Fertilizing:
Watering frequently during dry spells is crucial especially when newly planted. Fertilizing is necessary for lush palms. Any one of these three different methods will get you good results:
1.) A 6 or 9 month slow release, high nitrogen fertilizer (like osmocote) applied once during the growing season.
2.) Water soluble 20-20-20 and fish fertilizer mixed according to package directions and watered in every 10 days to 2 weeks.
3.) A slow release granular fertilizer designed for evergreens applied every two months during the growing season form April to November.
In ideal conditions, those close to the moderating influences of the ocean, protection is usually not necessary except for a good ground mulch. If your palm is in one of the more cold sensitive palms, a burlap wrapping of the top 18” of the trunk and the newly emerging spear should suffice. The younger the palm the more protection it should have.
Other hardy palms that are worthy of experimenting with are European Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis), Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis), Pindo Palm (Butia capitata), Date Palm (Pheonix canariensis) and the Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta).
Original Location of the Palm:
New Location of Palm: The palm tree was moved to sit adjacent to the top pond. There will be two ponds on the sloping property at the bottom of the original palm location. The new location will provide the garden owner with a better view of the palm from his balcony and his window views.
Tools used to lift & re-plant the palm.
I added several inches of mulch on top of the palm and will also add about 4 to 6 inches of wood chips once the plant and soil have settled in their new location. This will ensure that the plant roots are protected from extreme temperature changes, will hold the moisture and will provide a compost tea to feed the plant every time it rains or is watered.