Palm Washingtonia got its name in honor of the first President of the United States, George Washington. This genus is a member of the Arecaceae family and unites only 2 species, namely: Washingtonia strong and Washingtonia thread-bearing.
Features of washingtonia
Washingtonia palm is a tree that can reach about 25 meters in height and up to one meter in diameter. However, it reaches this size only in natural conditions. At the top of the trunk, leaf plates grow, which have a fan shape. The length of the petiole is about one and a half meters, it has thorns that are directed towards the trunk. When grown at home, the palm tree blooms very rarely.
In Mexico and the USA, the fibers of the foliage of this palm tree are used for weaving baskets, and flour is made from its fruits. In culture in Europe, it is grown on the southern Mediterranean coast. When cultivating in indoor conditions, it should be borne in mind that this plant needs coolness, as well as space. After the palm tree becomes very large, it is recommended to move it outside, but only if the weather conditions are favorable for this.
Brief description of cultivation
- Flowering… Palm Washingtonia is cultivated as an ornamental deciduous plant.
- Illumination… The plant needs a lot of bright light, which must be necessarily diffused. The duration of daylight hours is about 16 hours. In winter, it needs additional lighting.
- Temperature conditions… In the spring-summer period – from 20 to 24 degrees (not higher), in winter – about 10 degrees.
- Watering… In the spring-summer period, the soil mixture in the container is moistened after its surface dries out. In the cold season, watering should be very scarce and rare, but overdrying of the earthen coma should not be allowed.
- Air humidity… It should be elevated. During the growing season, foliage is moistened twice a day, and it also needs to be washed once every 1 days with a damp sponge. To increase the humidity of the air, open vessels filled with water can be placed near the palm tree. In winter, the plant cannot be moistened.
- Fertilizer… It is necessary to feed Washingtonia from spring to autumn regularly once every 1 days, it is recommended to use fertilizer with a high iron content. In the cold season, you do not need to feed the palm tree.
- The rest period… It begins in late autumn and ends in the first weeks of spring.
- Transfer… In spring, plants are transplanted only if necessary. Until the palm tree is seven years old, it is transplanted 1 time in 2 years, up to fifteen years old – 1 time in 3 years, and an older plant – 1 time in 4–5 years.
- Soil mixture… It should consist of peat (or humus), sand, leafy and soddy soil (2: 1: 2: 4).
- Reproduction… Grown from seeds.
- Harmful insects… Scabbards, whiteflies, spider mites and mealybugs.
- disease… Rot may appear on the root system due to violation of watering rules or if there is no drainage in the container. If the air in the room is excessively dry, then the tips of the leaf plates begin to dry out.
Caring for washingtonia at home
Most often, growers are mistaken in the fact that the Washingtonia palm needs a lot of bright light. However, it should be remembered that the plant must be protected from direct sunlight. The light should be bright, but diffused, while the duration of daylight hours should be at least 16 hours a day. For growing palm trees, it is recommended to choose east or west orientation windows. In the cold season or when the light day is not long enough, the plant is provided with additional lighting, for this you can use fluorescent lamps.
In the summertime, Washington is recommended to move to the street, a well-lit place is chosen for it, but it must be protected from direct sunlight, as well as from rain. The room where the plant is located must be regularly ventilated, but at the same time it must be protected from drafts. It needs a lot of light both in summer and in winter.
In the spring-summer period, the indoor air temperature can vary from 20 to 24 degrees. If the room is very hot (about 30 degrees and higher), then the palm tree must be moved to a place where it is cooler. Wait until it cools down, then water and moisten it with a spray bottle. In winter, the room should be cool (about 10 degrees). There is no need to worry that at such a low temperature, the palm tree may not die, since in the wild in its homeland it is able to withstand a short-term temperature drop to minus 7 degrees.
During the growing season, watering is carried out systematically immediately after the top layer of the soil mixture in the container dries out. Remember that both stagnation of liquid in the substrate and overdrying of an earthy coma are equally harmful for Washington. In the autumn, after the palm tree begins a dormant period, and it is moved to a cooler place, they rarely begin to moisten the soil mixture in the pot and use a small amount of water for this. However, it is impossible to allow overdrying of a lump of earth. As a rule, at this time, watering is carried out two or three days after the top layer of the earthen mixture dries out. For irrigation, use warm and well-settled (at least 24 hours) water.
In order for a palm tree to develop and grow within normal limits, it needs to provide high humidity in the room. In this regard, it must be moistened every day from a sprayer (preferably twice a day), and it is also recommended to place an open vessel filled with water next to it. It is also necessary to regularly remove dust from the surface of the foliage using a damp soft cloth or sponge.
Such a plant, cultivated in indoor conditions, must be fed regularly. Fertilizers are recommended to be used with a high iron content. Top dressing is carried out from spring to autumn 1 time in half a month. Fertilizers cannot be applied to the substrate throughout the entire dormant period, and even immediately after transplanting the bush and when Washingtonia is sick.
Experienced flower growers recommend removing the yellowed leaf plate even before it dries completely. Thanks to this, there will be a slight slowdown in the natural dying off of the next sheet plate. In the event that you decide not to remove the drying foliage, then you do not need to cut it off at all. In this case, dried leaves will hang effectively around the trunk.
Washingtonia is transplanted only when absolutely necessary. The fact is that she does not tolerate transplants quite well, and she needs some time after this procedure to take root. At this time, there is a slight slowdown in growth. Until the age of seven, a palm tree is transplanted once every 1 years, at 2-8 years old – once every 15 years, and older specimens are subjected to this procedure every 1-3 years.
The plant is transplanted in the spring before summer comes. Early spring is best suited for this. Since Washingtonia is a rather large plant, tubs made of wood are suitable for growing it. A suitable soil mixture should consist of leafy, sod and peat (or humus) soil, as well as sand (2: 4: 2: 1). It is recommended to add organic matter to the soil mixture for adult palms (about 5 kilograms). If, during the growth of the plant, its roots are exposed, then fresh soil mixture will need to be poured into the tub.
Cultivation from seeds
The Washingtonia palm tree is propagated at home by seeds. Sowing is carried out in the spring, or rather, from March to April. Fresh seeds have the highest germination rate, therefore it is recommended to use them for sowing. Remember that the older the seed, the more time it takes to germinate and the lower its germination rate.
Immediately before sowing, it is recommended to file the seeds a little, then they are immersed in water for 24 hours. The seeds are sown in a substrate consisting of sand, sphagnum and sawdust (1: 1: 1), to which a little charcoal is added. The seeds are buried in the soil mixture by only 10 mm. Before you start preparing the soil mixture, be sure to steam the sawdust. Moisten the crops and cover them with glass (film) on top. Transfer the container to a warm place (28 to 30 degrees). If everything is done correctly and fresh seed is used, then the first seedlings should appear in 15–20 days.
The picking of seedlings is carried out after 7 days have passed after the formation of their first true leaf plate. For a pick, a separate cup is used, which is filled with a soil mixture consisting of sand, leafy and soddy soil (1: 1: 2). The first leaf plates of the plants are not dissected; the cuts appear only on the eighth or ninth leaf. After 1 year of growth, a young palm tree will already have 4–5 leaf plates. Do not forget that the dive must be done very carefully!
If Washington is not properly looked after, then the following problems may arise with it:
- Decay of the root system… Rot appears as a result of regular stagnation of liquid in the soil mixture. There may be no drainage in the tub or it is very poor.
- Flying around foliage… If the air humidity is very low, the palm tree begins to shed its foliage.
- The tips of the leaves turn brown… This problem is also associated with excessively low air humidity.
- Harmful insects… Most often whiteflies, mealybugs, scale insects or spider mites settle on a palm tree.
Types of washingtonia with photos
This species comes from the eastern part of the United States of America. In nature, the height of a palm tree can reach about 20 meters. The trunk is straight and even, and at its top, fan-shaped grayish-green leaf plates grow. A third of the dissected leaf plates in length reach about 200 cm, on each of them about 80 lobes are formed. Long white threads grow at the edge of the foliage. The color of the flowers is white.
Or Washingtonia robusta, or Washingtonia sonorae. The height of such a tree-like perennial plant in nature reaches about 30 meters. Greenish leaf plates are fan-shaped. The foliage is cut into 2/3 of the length of the plate. The petiole is pale red. The flowers are white.