Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pruning The Palms

This past week three horticulturists spent a day pruning some of the largest palms in the palm dome. We have a geni lift that can extend our reach to over 20 feet. We then can use pole saws to extend up to another 20 feet.

The first palm we pruned was the Desert Fan Palm, Washingtonia filifera. The leaves can grow as large as 3-6 feet across. The petioles which connect the leaf to the trunk can be up to 6 feet. So the entire frond can be up to 12 feet long.

Another palm we pruned was the Princess Palm, Dictyosperma album. The feather shaped leaves on this palm can be as long as 8-12 feet long.

The last palm we pruned was the Queen Palm, Syqgrus romanzoffiana. This is the tallest of all the palms we have in the Palm Dome. The Queen Palm can grow as tall as 50 feet. The fronds can grow to over 15 feet.

We needed to groom the older fronds for both cultural and aesthetic reasons. This also gives us an opportunity to evaluate our insect populations.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Triangle Palm

This past week the Horticulture staff transplanted a Triangle Palm, Dypsis decaryi into the Palm Dome. There is currently an older Triangle Palm in a nearby location which is almost touching the ceiling. Triangle Palms can grow to about 50 feet in height. At some point the older Triangle Palm will need to be cut down because of it's height. We want to get this younger palm established so that we can continue to have this variety of palm on display. It has a very unique shape. This palm doesn't transplant well but is a fast grower once it is established.

The Trianle Palm in native to the Madagascan rainforest. The fruits are high in nutritional value. This is an attractive plant and we hope you get a chance to see this palm in it's new location.

Friday, December 10, 2010


It has been a couple of years since the Inga Tree has been pruned in Tropical Encounters. Pruning is an involved process because we have to bring out tall ladders and extendable pruning tools. It is sometimes difficult to maneuver ladders in the plant beds because of plant material in the beds and the unlevel soil in the beds. The Inga in a very vigorous growing plant so we did prune it back quite hard. It well grow back quickly. There were also vines growing in the Inga which we wanted to remove.

Ice Cream Bean is another name for this plant because the seed pod looks like a bean and parts of the pod tastes like vanilla ice cream. Inga is a companion plant for shade grown coffee because it grows so tall. Birds like to sit on this tree because it is such a tall plant in the Tropical Encounters exhibit.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sunken Garden Holiday Show

This week horticulture staff have been busily creating the Sunken Garden Holiday Flower Show. The mums and accent plants that made up the Fall Flower Show were removed Monday morning with the help of 10 volunteers. After that the beds were prepped and the poinsettias came rolling in. Staff worked from a hand-drawn plan to place the plant material. The poinsettia pallette is a very traditional red and ivory, with accents of multicolered coleus, purple alyssum, and juncus.

The conservatory received its poisettia crop as rooted cuttings in June, and staff have diligently grown them in the greenhouse. Poinsettias are subjected to shortened day lengths to stimulate the growth of their characteristic brightly colored bracts. Despite their popularity during the coldest time period in our climate, poinsettias are actually native to Central America and love warm temperatures. When you visit the Sunken Garden during the Holiday Flower Show, you will surely enjoy a warm, festive retreat.