a Phoenix palm
have a huge Phoenix palm in our front garden and would like to make
a feature of it by underplanting. I have been told be a garden centre
that this is not possible, however have seen a couple of Phoenix
palms that have been underplanted and look great. What can I plant?
Phoenix palm (Phoenix canariensis) is a wonderful addition
to the garden if you have the space, and can look great when underplanted
or otherwise incorporated into the garden design.
I can see two possible
reasons why the garden centre may have attempted to discourage you
The first is that Phoenix
palms are notorious for the large vicious spines at the base of
the leaves. These spines are well-known for the injuries they
cause gardeners (I used to get jabbed mowing the lawn). While
the spines do not seem to be poisonous, the wounds caused often
seem to get infected and take a while to heal. Many people
prune them off to prevent this.
Secondly, the space under
a Phoenix palm is quite a challenging area to choose plants for.
It may be dry and shady depending on the site and age of the palm.
If the large leaves are still near the ground, strong winds will
whip them around and destroy most things underneath. So you
need to choose something hardy which will fit your situation
which is probably dry with some shade. Clivias, some hardy ferns,
non-invasive ginger species, vireyas and many natives would probably
do well. If the palm is quite old and there is a significant
amount of sunlight beneath you may like to try succulents. In fact
in the native habitat of the Phoenix palm, the Canary Islands, Aonium
species grow on the trunks of many of the larger specimens.
by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor
of Resource Management.
with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH