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Protecting Cycads From Frost

April 05, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 242

Young cycads and palms need protection from frost. The most effective protection is a natural canopy. Here are some helpful hints in making the right choices.

In addition to protecting your young cycads, canopy plants are also very attractive for any garden. It is important, however, to determine which plants that already exist in your garden, may already be destined to become canopy plants.

If you have cyads as understory plants, the plants you select as a protective canopy, can be a blessing or a curse. I have experience of both. My primary understory plants, are cycads, therefore I prefer to use larger cold-hardy palms, such as Jubea Chiliensis, Phoenix Dactylifera, Brahea, Trachycarpus and others, as my primary canopy plantings. Palms are preferred for a couple of reasons;

- I have control over when the dried leaves should be removed - This prevents damage to smaller plants, from large leaves falling from above - Palms do not drop fine leaf matter, which tends to clutter the crowns of cycads.

I have Sycamore, Pepper and Oak trees, as canopies in my garden. They do tend to clutter cycad crowns with leaves, but I tolerate them because they are attractive in their own way.

It is important to choose the right location for understory plants, in relation to canopy plants. This is equally as important as selecting the right canopy plants to use. Many large palms have a substantial root system that begins just below soil level. If you choose to include palms as a canopy, it is important not to plant your cycads or other plants too close to the base of large palms. Otherwise, the roots of the palm will compete with the smaller, less aggressive understory plants, and potentially kill them.

Certain understory plants may benefit from closer proximity to canopy plants, due to the seasonal extreme temperature sensitivity. I have a significant amount of cycads that benefit from overhead protection from the cold, in fall, winter and spring. They also benefit from sun protection from July through to September. My understory plants receive optimum year round benefit, by locating these understory plants, beneath a canopy plant ranging from southeast to southwest. The mid-day sun in the winter, is lower in the sky and tends to shine from a southerly direction under the canopy, whereas in the summer, the sun passes straight overhead, and shines for longer. In this way, they are benefiting from greater sun exposure in the coolest days of the year, less sun on hotter days, yet benefit from cold protection from December to February.

You can optimize success in the garden, depending on your use of canopy and understory plant placement.

(Bio box) Keith Huber has been a palm and cycad specialist for over a quarter of a century. He and his wife Laurie operate, Palm and Cycad Exchange, located in Fallbrook, California carries a unique variety of cycads for sale. To see photos of his offerings or receive monthly tips on cycad care, go to his website,

Source: EzineArticles
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