Care Instructions for Palms, Mediterranean & Exotic Plants

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Many Mediterranean and exotic plants are all quite low  maintenance  when  established,  and are actually much hardier then they look – they will thrive in  the UK if given the proper care. The more established a plant is, the more likely it is to survive harsher weather, so protect your plants well in the first few years.
 
We recommend growing these plants in large pots – certainly for the first couple of years – so that you can move them to a garage, greenhouse, or anywhere else that will offer protection from frost. Not only that, they will look great too! In most cases, over-wintering them somewhere with little light will not harm your plants – just make sure they don’t dry out. With the colder winters of the last few years, protecting plants over winter has been important. If you are growing your plants in the ground, cover them with Fleece Covers to help to increase the plant’s temperature, and grow them in warm, sunny spots such as against a south-facing wall.
Plant your plants into large pots that are 25cm or more in diameter. Use a few stones or crocks at bottom of the pot for weight and to aid drainage. Use good quality compost such as our Premium Professional Compost, firm down well with your heel, and water them in well. 
Feed and water them well in summer – almost all of their growth will be during the summer months. Whilst these types of plants are very drought tolerant and can survive long periods without water, they will grow much more if well fed and watered in that period. Feed them with a general purpose fertiliser such as Fish, Blood & Bone.
 
Oleander:
Oleander plants are best grown in pots because this warms their roots – aiding growth – and ensures that drainage is good in winter (see above). It also allows them to be moved to somewhere safe in extreme weather.
Feed and water them well in summer – all their growth will be between May and October. Whilst they are very drought tolerant indeed and can survive long periods without water, they will grow much more if well fed and watered in that period.
Oleander can take short exposure to temperatures as low as -5°C, when well-drained and less so if they are planted in wet spots in gardens. However, in winter they do not really grow much, so we advise moving the pots to a conservatory, garage, shed, greenhouse or indoors between November and April, to protect them from the harshest winter weather. If outside, move against a south facing wall, and use fleece covers.
Some websites report Oleander to be very toxic. Many common garden plants are very toxic too if ingested, like daffodil bulbs, foxgloves, and poinsettia. The truth is that to come to serious harm, the amount of leaves needed to be eaten is a lot, and the amount of contact with sap extreme. There have been no reported incidents in the UK or Spain on nurseries, where people are in direct contact with Oleander plants on a daily basis. The advice we give is:
 
• Wear gloves when handling plants
• No need to trim or prune your Oleander
• Avoid places where young children/pets may come into contact with the plants
 
Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis):
Date Palms may look exotic but they are actually pretty tough. They thrive in the UK and are winter hardy to -6°C, but they will need protection if temperatures drop lower than this or are this low for a prolonged period of time. The more established a plant is, the more likely it is to survive harsher weather. As with all exotic plants (see above), we recommend growing your palms in large pots – certainly for the first couple of years – so that you can move them somewhere that will offer protection from frost.
Feed and water them well in summer – all their growth will be during the summer months. Whilst they are very drought tolerant and can survive long periods without water, they will grow much better if well fed and watered in that period.
The Date Palms we supply are between 2 and 4 years old. New growth will form from the centre of the plant. When the outer leaves turn brown and unsightly, chop them off at the base of the leaf using good quality secateurs or loppers. The pineapple-shaped “trunk” seen in photos of mature plants will be formed over 10-20 years from the stumps of leaves that have been removed.
We’d recommend the use of Blood Fish & Bone organic fertiliser about once every 3 months, when the temperature is above 5°C.
 
If you have any further queries, please message us. Happy Gardening!

The YouGarden Team
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