Florida Thatch Palm
This is a wonderful native palm for smaller gardens as it only grows about 6 inches a year to a mature height of about 20 feet. This is also one of the easiest palms to grow because it tolerates drought, poor soils and partial to full sun. It is hardy down to about 26 degrees — some of our thatch palms atNaples Botanical Garden didn't miss a beat in winter 2010 when we registered lows of 28.
If you live inland where lower temperatures are possible you may want to select a protected spot in the garden to plant it. The one condition that these palms won't tolerate is wet feet, so make sure that it is planted in a well-drained spot. The Florida thatch palm is generally resistant to common palm diseases and has few insect pests.
At this time of year the thatch palm displays large clusters of white fruit that I suspect are attractive to a variety of birds – one morning we watched Northern mockingbirds feeding on them. They are particularly striking when three different heights are grouped together. However, they are fairly expensive — not surprising, considering how slowly they grow.
Written by: Brian Holley, Executive Director of Naples Botanical Garden
Originally published in the News-Press