Palms and their Uses in Garden
There are as many as about 150 Genera and several hundreds of species of palms though the amateur gardener is familiar with only a few which interest him palms and their allies from a very extensive group of plants, truly noble and majestic and of tropical grandeur excepting one genus which is a native of Europe. They are native of the tropics. There are wide variations however, in from size and habit in the several species. Most species have an unbranched erect tall, cylindrical or columnar stem which is called as ihe ‘Caudex. In some species however, as in Attalea (Orbignya) cohune, the stem is very short and the leaves appear to originate direct from the ground others like calamus having long cane like slender stems armed with hook like spine, enabling" them to climb targe tree. While in some species the caudex is smooth, it is in others marked by scars and depression left by fallen leaves or their stalks leaves also very much in form and size.
Palms are generally grouped under two heads the fan-leaved and the pinuate or feather leaved kinds. In the former class to which belong to Chamacrops and Latania. The chief venies of the leaf blade appear to rise from-the top of the leaf blade. In the pinuate leaved section, which includes the phoenix or the date palm, the chief venis run out of the sides of a long mid rib the leaf being very often divided into long and narrow segments. AH palms are indogeness the stem of which grow by additions developed from the inside, do not increase much thickness and do not show any distinction into bark wood and pith flowers are produced in spikes but they are not much, though in some kinds as in caryota urens, they hang down gracefully clustered in large trusses.
Palms are of great ornamental value. Certain palms are of great economic value. Some of them affording shelter food, clothing, fibre, timber, oil, sugar, starch, wax, wine, rexin, tannin, dye stuffs and many other products of great utility. The importance of the date family and the coconut is well known.
Palms are easy to cultivate. They are tropical in nature and thrive in a warm humid atmosphere in light loamy soil containing a large quantity of humus. They grow both in shade and Sun and rapidly recover if they have suffered from heat or cold. At medium elevations they are not so rapid in growth as coastal regions where a salty and warm humid atmosphere prevails. They can be grown under glass at hill stations.
Palms are propagated from seed, several kinds as Rhapis which produce a number of suckers from the base, are increased by dividing the clumps into several pieces, each having some roots propagation of palms from seed is very slow taking some .years before, plants of desirable size are secured seeds vary in size from the size of pea to the size of a coconut or larger in the several species. They are covered with a thick coat which makes germination very slow. They should be sown in well drained fine soil and covered to the thickness of their diameter. The seedlings should be lifted as soon as the first pair of leaves appear and potted off singly in small pots, the pots chosen should be just sufficient to accommodate the roots and the fiuit with some tittle soil seeds may be sown at any time of the year but it is best done in spring.
A few important points needs particular attention in the cultivation of palms in pots. They prefer to be pot bound and thrive in undersized pots. They are best allowed to remain in the same pot will the roots increases and fill them. Almost to the point of breaking or forcing the pots open.