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Caring for your Palms

The popular Areca palm tree

Palms, belonging to the family Arecaceae, consist of over 2,600 species and are grown in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Today, as we celebrate Palm Sunday, we recall the symbol of victory and peace that palm branches represent.

Palms are beautiful. They spruce up your landscape by adding a bold tropical touch and character to your home by accenting furniture, walls and patios. You can plant your palms in garden beds, use them to border your home or grow them in attractive plant pots so that you can move them around according to your décor.

Popular palm trees include Coconut, Areca Palm, Date Palm, King Palm, Queen Palm, Livistona, Bismarckia, Caryota, Fox Tail Palm, Fish Tail Palm, Bottle Palm, Parlour Palm (a popular house palm), Red Stem Palm and Kentia Palm.

Unlike other plants, palms are costlier due to their delicate nature and attractiveness. It is very important that we care for our palms at all stages of growth.

These are some tips to always keep your palms healthy and looking attractive:

* Palms love water. Ensure that you water your palms daily. For palms in plant pots, use a saucer to trap water for the roots to absorb.

* Fertilise your palms two to three times annually. You should use a fertiliser with an N: P: K ratio of 3:1:3. Check your agro shop for a fertiliser blend with this combination. Apply the fertiliser away from the base of the palm, approximately 10–15 inches away. This is done to prevent damage to the palm’s roots. Irregular or no fertiliser will lead to nutritional deficiencies which can be seen by yellowing and browning of your palm’s branches.

* Keep an eye out for pests and diseases. Insect pests (mites, aphids, mealybugs, etc) and fungal diseases (Phytophthora) are very popular. Practise preventative measures such as natural repellent sprays, proper spacing when planting outdoor palms and proper nutrition so that the palm does not become stressed.

* Prune your palm trees by removing dead leaves/branches and old fruit stems. When pruning, treat your pruning tool with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to prevent the spread of disease from one palm to another.

I hope these tips help you with your palms!

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