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 Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand! 
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Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:50 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Post Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
Hello all, I'm new to this forum but have often looked it up for advice etc.

I'm in Christchurch at 43 degrees south - you've probably seen our climate from others on the forum, but basically we are a US climate zone 9a, temperate oceanic climate. There are many unique facets to our climate e.g. we have snowfall on average every 2-3 years, however this is brief and only sticks around for a day or so. We have mild summers accompanied by the 'Fohn' or norwesterly wind where temps can often reach late 20's and early 30's (82 - 94F). Just as common is a cold snap where wind and rain come up from Antarctica - this can come any time of year.

Reason I'm posting this, is that previously I thought it was impossible to grow a decent Queen Palm Syagrus Romanzoffiana in Christchurch due to our lack of consistent summer heat, and number of frosts (roughly 40-60 frosts per year). I have seen one large (18-20ft) specimen growing nicely in a coastal suburb. However recently I spotted one on my usual route to work - about 8km inland from the coast, in the city! See pic below. As a result I have decided to plant a good sized one in a sheltered spot in my garden. I have often wanted one or two as I am landscaping it with several washingtonia robustas as well ( I have a Mediterranean / SoCal type house)

I've done a tonne of research and talked to plenty of nurseries and palm experts here and overseas and they reckon I'll have no problem getting some decent growth out of this. Let's hope all goes well!

This is the one I spotted in someone's backyard, and asked for permission to take a couple of pics.
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It is trunking nicely and I imagine if they pulled off some of the lower husks there would be a tidy lined trunk starting to form.

Below is the one I have planted in my own back yard. I have planted it in a pretty sheltered spot, although it does miss a bit of midday sun due to the olive trees, it should be much more sheltered from frost. I'm going to plant another at the front, exposed / in full sun, in spring.

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And view from my balcony
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And my little Washingtonia Robustas - planted these in November and have settled in well, grown about 5-6 fronds each since planting.
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Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:24 pm
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Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:52 pm
Posts: 7402
Location: Hayward- S.F. Bay area Ca.
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
Welcome!
There are no large Queen palms in Christchurch? You have warm enough summers. San Francisco has tall Queen palms. The best cared for look fine. Christchurchians may think they have cool summers,but they are warmer then that California City.
Here,they can grow well into the central valley where winters are every year 9b with frequent dips into the mid 20f's F. They love water. The ones with the most water grow the fastest with thicker crown of fronds..bad care..reverses all that.
Beautiful home. :mrgreen:


Last edited by Stan on Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:21 am, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:42 am
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Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:50 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
Stan wrote:
Welcome!
There are no large Queen palms in Christchurch? You have warm enough summers. San Francisco has tall Queen palms. The best cared for look fine. Christchurchians may think they have cool summers,but they are warmer then that California City.
Here,they can grow well into the central valley where winters are every year 9b with frequent dips into the mid 20f's F. They love water. The onces with the most water growth the fastest with thicker crown of fronds..bad care..reverses all that.
Beautiful home. :mrgreen:


Thanks for your reply Stan. Yes I know, it does seem strange that there are not more - I guess they would be slow growing, but certainly would be a beautiful addition to the Christchurch cityscape, particularly in the hill suburbs which can be frost free due to inversion layer.

The main problem we have is consistent frosts - 40-60 per year - usually around -1 to -3C (mid to late 20s F) but followed by nice sunny days getting into the teens. I think this would put a lot of people off planting an expensive specimen tree that is marginal.

I'm quietly very confident in their success in my own garden as it is pretty sheltered and slightly elevated.

Here's a pic of the coastal one - I'm guessing this has been in the ground for as little as 7-9 years going by Google maps and driving past it.

Image


Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:07 am
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Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:52 pm
Posts: 7402
Location: Hayward- S.F. Bay area Ca.
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
I think enough GW and the new found huge production of these palms should make your area a great spot. I had to think back to the early 90's here in the bay area. Queen palms were here and there..a little hard to find. Now? They are everywhere and even small homes plant multiples. Another palm like that is the dwarf Phoenix roebellini. I remember that last palm was once said to be only hardy to "mildest southern California coastal climates". Its grown in all low elevation California now. I do see a bit of winter burn in colder..9b climates. But they recover.


Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:25 am
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Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2007 4:06 pm
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Location: Islington, London UK
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
I've grown a Syagrus from seed over the past eight years. It's in a large pot. After all this time, it finally ventured into producing one frond that showed signs of being pinnate last summer, after years of 1m-long entire fronds. It has a small trunk-ette.

I left it outdoors for most of last winter. It's alive, but -2ºC does not please it. Most of the older growth is brown, but the growing point is OK.

The main problem in London - and I suspect in Christchurch - is an inadequate number of warm days during the growing season. I've read that this sp. will not grow at temperatures lower than 22ºC. That's plainly not so: mine grows slowly whenever it goes above 18ºC for any sustained period. But it's not going to make a tree like Gezza's at that rate, never mind a proper tall tree such as Stan can produce.

It's a nice experiment, but I don't think it's an ideal Palm for a cool-summer climate.

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Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:26 am
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Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:50 pm
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Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
David Matzdorf wrote:
I've grown a Syagrus from seed over the past eight years. It's in a large pot. After all this time, it finally ventured into producing one frond that showed signs of being pinnate last summer, after years of 1m-long entire fronds. It has a small trunk-ette.

I left it outdoors for most of last winter. It's alive, but -2ºC does not please it. Most of the older growth is brown, but the growing point is OK.

The main problem in London - and I suspect in Christchurch - is an inadequate number of warm days during the growing season. I've read that this sp. will not grow at temperatures lower than 22ºC. That's plainly not so: mine grows slowly whenever it goes above 18ºC for any sustained period. But it's not going to make a tree like Gezza's at that rate, never mind a proper tall tree such as Stan can produce.

It's a nice experiment, but I don't think it's an ideal Palm for a cool-summer climate.


That's interesting (by the way, all the above pics I have taken here in Christchurch) One big difference with our climate compared to southern UK is sunshine hours. We have on average 2100 per annum which is around 300 more than say London. Our winters are filled with sunny, clear days, and most frosty days are followed by all day sun and no wind, temps in the early teens.

Another factor (not sure if any studies have ever been done on this...?) is the heat of our sun. NZ has one of the highest UV rates in the world and you can get sunburnt in winter. I believe this has got to have some influence on photosynthesis and may give some exotic plants the boost they need to grow here.

Almost every time Australians come here in summer they end up underestimate the sun's heat (given the air temp may be cooler) and get burnt to a crisp... have seen this time and time again! :o


Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:08 am
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Location: Devon, South Coast UK
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
Warm summer days are generally not the telling point of whether it will do well as is the case for most borderline tropcials, its the consistant cold nights and long winter and spring that dictates how well it will do. But if you've got a few big mature specimens around town the it will probably be ok, after about 30 years of slow growth!

Chris

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Fri Apr 07, 2017 10:47 am
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Location: Hayward- S.F. Bay area Ca.
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
hilts wrote:
Warm summer days are generally not the telling point of whether it will do well as is the case for most borderline tropcials, its the consistant cold nights and long winter and spring that dictates how well it will do. But if you've got a few big mature specimens around town the it will probably be ok, after about 30 years of slow growth!

Chris

True about constant freezing nights will wear down a plant that usually can only take a few over a season. But,those photos show normal looking Queen palms. Unless Christchurch has had an unusual run of mild winters? or its the norm. If the latter,then I see Queen palms as fine landscape palms there.


Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:30 pm
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Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:50 pm
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Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
Stan wrote:
hilts wrote:
Warm summer days are generally not the telling point of whether it will do well as is the case for most borderline tropcials, its the consistant cold nights and long winter and spring that dictates how well it will do. But if you've got a few big mature specimens around town the it will probably be ok, after about 30 years of slow growth!

Chris

True about constant freezing nights will wear down a plant that usually can only take a few over a season. But,those photos show normal looking Queen palms. Unless Christchurch has had an unusual run of mild winters? or its the norm. If the latter,then I see Queen palms as fine landscape palms there.


I fully agree Stan. The last two winters have been slightly milder than usual, but the two before that we had some of the coldest weather in history. Going by google street view, these two specimens in the photos above have grown significantly over the last 5 years which makes me believe they'll be fine here.

I'm going to spray the fronds with a seaweed solution every few weeks over winter to protect against major defoiliation. Let's see how things go!

Anyone else know of any decent sized cold climate queen palms?


Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:38 am
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Location: North Thames delta UK
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
There seem to be a number of plants that we in the UK put down as being 'heat loving' that thrive in parts of New Zealand that don't get particularly hot. Which nicely demonstrates that summer heat is only one part of what is a complex equation.

I am slowly but surely growing on a Paraná Queen Palm grown from one of Alberto's seeds from way back. Which reminds me I must pot it on soon. One day, when it is too big to shift around, I will plant it out and test the theory that these need less warmth.

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Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:53 am
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Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
What is the Yucca (?) in that first photo. I like it trunks without being huge.


Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:20 pm
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Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:57 pm
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Location: Stonemountains
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
Nice palm and house gezzachc! Keep us updated over time.
This is what Growing on the Edge is all about, testing plants to their limits and sometimes proving the established thought that plants can't grow in certain areas wrong.


Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:02 pm
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Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:50 pm
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Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
I went to a palm nursery in Auckland last week (Danny's Palms) - the guy there informed me that he spent half his life in Christchurch and that Queen Palms would be fine there, they regularly send large 3-4 meter high specimens down and they seem to have no problem.


Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:30 pm
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Location: Hayward- S.F. Bay area Ca.
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
I wouldn't doubt these would grow fine in Christchurch.

Image

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Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:37 am
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Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:01 pm
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Location: Maryland, USA
Post Re: Established Queen Palm In Christchurch, New Zealand!
gezzachc wrote:
We have on average 2100 per annum which is around 300 more than say London. Our winters are filled with sunny, clear days, and most frosty days are followed by all day sun and no wind, temps in the early teens.

Another factor (not sure if any studies have ever been done on this...?) is the heat of our sun. NZ has one of the highest UV rates in the world and you can get sunburnt in winter. I believe this has got to have some influence on photosynthesis and may give some exotic plants the boost they need to grow here.

Almost every time Australians come here in summer they end up underestimate the sun's heat (given the air temp may be cooler) and get burnt to a crisp... have seen this time and time again! :o


Yeah but you were comparing yourself to San Francisco, which has over 3000 hours of sunlight per year! Yes, even famously foggy San Francisco.

The night sky in rural interior Victoria was the clearest I've seen in my life, I think. Granted part of that might just be the "showier" stars of the southern hemisphere. (I had no idea to look for it, and I'm damn glad I caught it. Was absolutely surreal for a moment, to the point of wondering if I'd been slipped a hallucinogen of some kind! Google was there for me although references to this phenomena are surprisingly scarce) But I wonder if the UV factor is related to overall lower atmospheric pollution in the southern hemisphere...is that possible? What else would cause it? Could the lower adiabatic lapse rate mean something is different about Rayleigh scattering down there? Less overall moisture in the air column, once you get above sea level?

Anyhow, great to know they grow there! As I said in my travelogue, Christchurch struck me as a city that is just catching up to what they can actually grow - to some degree at least! Lots of interesting stuff at the Botanic Garden which is not commonly or not at all planted in gardens. (still, a far superior horticultural scene there than say, the average American city. There's still the commonwealth mentality of "gardens should be pretty, gardens should be green, gardens should be well-kept")


Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:52 pm
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