How to Plant a Palm Cutting

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Growing palms by separation typically is not difficult.
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Palms are flowering plants known as monocots, and though they grow to towering heights, they have more in common with grains and grasses than they do with trees. Although their stems develop woody material, palms, like all monocots, don't put out branches or other offshoots that can grow roots. Consequently, you can't propagate them from cuttings. You can, however, propagate them by separating suckers from the roots and growing those, or you can plant seeds, which is the preferred way to propagate palms.

Separating Palms for Replanting

To obtain a piece of a palm plant for replanting, you have to uproot the palm and look for suckers growing from the roots. A sucker is a side shoot that may emerge and develop its own foliage, so in a sense, it's a cutting, although when you remove it, you're basically separating a baby plant from its mother. As you might expect, the separation is traumatic, so propagating this way doesn't always work. Choose a sucker that is at least a foot long that has developed its own root system to increase your chances of success.

After uprooting the mother plant, cut the sucker as close to the base of the parent plant as possible. The roots may have grown together, so unravel them carefully. It may take some patience to separate the roots without injuring either of the plants you're separating. Once the roots are separated, you can replant the parent plant and plant the sucker in a different location.

Planting the Palm Sucker

You may eventually want to plant the palm out in the yard, but first, you should allow it to mature in a 4-inch pot. Palms like loose but fertile and well-drained soil, so fill the pot with a one-to-one mixture of potting soil and sand or perlite. Moisten the soil, make a hole deep enough to cover the entire root system, insert the sucker and backfill.

Palms need plenty of water, especially when struggling to acclimate to a new location, so keep the soil moist and maintain the temperature at 70 degrees or more. You may have to water daily for a month or so or until the plant is established and begins to show new growth, after which you can start letting the soil dry out before you water. Palms require nutrients that other plants don't, including magnesium, iron and manganese, so feed the palm a plant food designed specifically for palms, such as Miracle-Gro Shake 'n Feed Palm Plant Food, following the instructions on the label.

Replanting the Palm Outdoors

Spring is the best time to plant palms outdoors, so if your sucker grows quickly, you may have to transfer it to a larger pot before moving it outside. Choose a location that is suitable based on the moisture and sunlight needs of your palm, and when conditions are suitable, dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and deep enough for the roots to be an inch below the surface. Backfill with native soil mixed with a soil containing the nutrients the palm needs, such as Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Garden Soil.

Just as it did when you first planted it, the young palm will need to be watered daily until it becomes established. Water deeply until the soil is thoroughly wet down to the base of the root ball but don't overwater because you don't want the roots to rot. When the palm shows new growth, you can cut back the watering to twice a month.

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Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.

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