Blue Ribbon Palm of the Month
The beautiful, almost "dainty" Licuala grandis palm offers formal palm elegance with a very maneagable size for the average-sized suburban home's lot. At a mature height of only 2 meters, this SE Asian fan palm, being a rainforest understory palm, would be unlikely to ever grow out-of-bounds. It will thrive in Zones 10 and 11 with minimum winter temperatures over 3 degrees C. The Licuala grandis looks great teamed with taller palms, such as foxtail palm (Wodytia bifurcata), or King Alexander Palm (Archontophoenix alexandre). In addition, it adds to the lush "rainforest" look, paired with anthuriums, gingers and heliconias! All these plants will rarely need pruning---only removal of browned-out fronds or leaves.
Being a forest palm tree, it would be advisable to provide cover shade for the Licuala. An Eastern exposure, featuring filtered morning sun, is perfect for this palm variety. Here, at my Ft. Lauderdale, FL area home, an overhead mist system has been fabricated, to provide much-relished moisture during the hottest parts of the day, during torrid summer months, when temperatures may reach 40 degrees C. A heavy groundcover mulch is provided, which affords a rich decaying organic "base" that the Licualas of "The Wise Gardener's" property really appreciate! Their roots are shallow, and spreading, so they love to "explore" and insinuate themselves into this rich mulch, which is, by the way, very moist, also!
This large genus of palms naturally occurs from southern China, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, & Australia. The inflorescence arises among the leaves and will bear bisexual flowers. Seedlings generally will sprout slowly from a single seed (often 12 months are needed for the Licuala to sprout.) Long spikes of red fruit are definitely a decorative feature of the Licuala grandis, also!
The species is essentially tropical in its requirements and is as mentioned before, rather sensitive to cold, although it CAN be grown in a warm and protected position, in the sub-tropics (Zones 9B & 10A). Since the plants are generally, slow-growing, they make excellent subjects for container/tub culture. Since these tubs are mobile, a lover of the licuala can grow them in colder ranges, and move them inside when colder than 2 degrees C. is expected. When growing as a "patio" palm, it would be a good idea to remember that they should NOT be grown in direct sun, or where winds are strong. The Licuala grandis, or Vanuatu Fan Palm's fronds will shred badly if exposed to extended periods of heavy winds. Remember, this is an understory rainforest tree!
For all the attributes listed above, Paul, "The Wise Gardener" has designated the Licuala grandis TWG's Palm-of-the-Month for NOVEMBER, 2000! Enjoy this beautiful & elegant palm, in your landscape!
Paul,"The Wise Gardener!"