Speak the Language of Palms. A Vocabulary Guide for Gardeners

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It is very important that you familiarise yourself with the most commonly used terms for growing palms.  Otherwise you will have a hard time articulating what you want to buy for your palms and how to maintain their health.

Here is a list of the most commonly used terms when growing and caring for palms.


Acid Soil This refers to any soil with pH balances below 7.0. While alkaline soil is above 7.0  
   
Bare rooted You will normally hear this being used by gardeners who are selling plants that have all the soil removed from their roots.
   
Cold Tolerance This indicates the range of temperature that a particular type of palm is able to grow in i.e. can it withstand frost. 
   
Compost This is a type of organic fertiliser (DIY kind, mostly) that makes use of decomposed matter for fertilising. An example of this would be manure.
   
Crownshaft The top part of the trunk that holds all the fronds
   
Cultivate Preparing the soil for growing plants. Removing weeds, softening the soil and perhaps fertilising 
   
Dioecious One plant has female flowers and another plant has male flowers .i.e. two plants are needed for reproduction.
   
Germinate This is the process where the seed sprouts.
   
Genus Family of plants, i.e., Wine palm
   
Monocot Palms are monocots, having one cotyledon (seed-leaf) as opposed to dicots with two.
   
Monecious Both male and female flowers are on the same plant and therefore only one plant is needed for reproduction
   
Monotypic Only one genus, i.e. Coconut palm
   
Moisture or Humidity Level This refers to the plant’s ability to grow in spite of humid conditions. Again, tolerance level is categorized in three types: low, moderate, and high with maximum humidity percentages of 50%, 74%, and more than 75% respectively.
   
Mulch This refers to any type of loose material that can be placed on top of the soil for conserving its moisture level as well as regulating weed growth.
   
Nutrients These are the types of nutrients or minerals that a plant needs.
   
N P K These letters are used to analyse the chemical breakup of commercial chemical fertilizers.   N  is for Nitrogen, P is for Phosphorus. K is for Potassium.
   
Palmate Palms Palms that have fan shaped fronds.
   
Pinnate Palms Palms that have feather shaped leaves.
   
Pest This term refers to insects, small animals, birds and anything that is a potential carrier of disease and destruction.
   
Spear This is the new leaf (unformed) coming out of the top of the palm
   
Species Different types of plants in the same genus, i.e. Butia capitata (species) in the Wine Palm family (genus).
   
Sun Hardened Has the palm been acclimatised to living in full sun. 
   
Salt Tolerance This refers to the palms ability to tolerate and grow when it is exposed to saltwater or salt air, i.e. low, medium and high. 
   
Trunk This is the main part of the palm from the root ball under the ground to the crownshaft above.
   
Wind Tolerance This is the palms ability to withstand wind pressure before suffering damage.

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