Many Palm Trees Save Water
After more than forty years of growing and selling all manner of plants for Southern California homes and gardens, I have come to believe there are no “bad” plants; but there are bad places or bad uses for many plants. With the shift towards smaller yards and absolute need for water wise landscaping, palm trees are one group of plants that have, over time, demonstrated great tendencies and “manners” with respect to water use while displaying great impact in relatively small spaces. There are many varieties of palms that thrive in the Southern California climate. They come in all sizes and growth patterns.
There are the tall “sentinel trees” like Queen Palms (Arecastrum romanzoffianum), King Palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana), Mexican Fan Palms (Washingtonia robusta), California Fan Palms (Washingtonia filifera). The multi trunked accents like Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis), Pigmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii), Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta), Senegal date Palm (Phoenix reclinata), and the slower growing accents like Pindo Palm (Butia capitata), Guadalupe Palm (Brahea edulis), Chinese Fountain Palm (Livistona chinensis) are fabulous choices. Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis). All of these varieties are “good citizens” which may thrive in water starved Southern California.
Just the other day, while I was driving down La Jolla Boulevard, I passed by some Guadalupe Palms (Brahea edulis) we planted almost 40 years ago in a parking lot and they were still just as beautiful as ever. That made me remember the many trees that the infamous Kate Sessions planted more than a century ago as she was planting her way to become known as “the mother of Balboa Park”. Many of those trees were palm trees that are still providing accents and silhouettes in and around Balboa Park and the greater San Diego area. Today those trees have stood the test of more than a century with little water or care. Perhaps some of these varieties may be just the right fit for that spot in your yard that needs a tree with “good manners” that is not too thirsty.