Nothing says Queensland like swaying palm trees. If you’re about to do some landscaping in your South East Queensland yard, chances are you have thought about planting some palm trees.
The Golden Cane Palm, or Dypsis Lutescens originated in Madagascar and is ideally suited to our subtropical climate making it a versatile landscaping option here in Queensland. This clumping palm works wonders as a windbreak or privacy screen and for providing shade. It’s a great choice around homes and swimming pools and the golden colouring will make a statement in any garden. This particular palm has no spines or spikes so they are child friendly and easy to handle.
The average height of the Golden Cane palm is 4 metres, but can grow up to 6 -12 metres tall with arched fronds that can reach around 2 – 3 metres long. It is worth noting that this palm is a very slow growing plant and can take about 30 – 40 years to reach its maximum height. The fronds will naturally shed every few months, occasionally needing just a gentle pull to dislodge them from the stem. Cleaning up can be an ongoing process due to the sheer number of palm leaves within a single clump. If full screening is not required, the palms can be quite easily separated. Clumps of 3 – 4 stems will usually offer adequate screening and shade. Each plant bears yellow flowers during summer.
Daleys Turf does not recommend planting Golden Cane palms within 10 metres of buildings, pools, retaining walls, or retained garden beds as the trunks when fully grown can cause damage to these structures. Some say their root system is non-invasive which is somewhat true as they don’t have large strong roots like other trees that are known to break up footings and pathways and push over fences. However, the roots of the Golden Cane are thin, fibrous and very aggressive. They grow in to a large matted invasive structure which will find any weaknesses or water leaks and can cause major damage (they are notorious water suckers). As the palms spread their thin and fibrous roots superficially, they can interfere with all other shallow-rooted plants in the vicinity, such as lawns.
This leads to a question we get asked regularly – can you have Golden Cane palms and a lawn?
We recommend planting the palms in (non-retained) garden beds rather than directly in to the grass. If you already have them in your lawn though, don’t be overly concerned because unlike many other varieties of trees, the Golden Cane root system is predictable.
If the palms are planted within 10 metres of your house or any other building, this can be a serious concern. As the roots of the palm reaches a solid wall, they grow along it, particularly in the mortar lines of the brickwork. As the roots mat and swell they can expand the gaps between the bricks creating an entry point for termites.
If after considering all of the above information, you wish to plant Golden Cane palms in your yard, the following information is recommended for nice, healthy plants.
The palms require a rich and moist soil. You will need to water your palms once or twice a week for the first few weeks and keep them well mulched and fed with either an all-purpose plant food or compost. Once they are fully established they won’t require any specific treatment other than ensuring that the roots don’t consistently sit in water.
If you are concerned about planting Golden Cane palms directly into the ground, or you are renting and want to take your plants with you in future, these plants do extremely well in pots both indoors or outdoors. Ensure you use a large pot with free-draining potting mix. Due to the nature of the root system, Golden Cane palms are easily transplanted, however for a larger palm we recommend staking and supporting the stem while the plant is re-establishing in its new home.