Blue Ribbon Palm of the Month
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!