This month Sunset Magazine has a short piece on palms in pots. Hazel White interviewed us for our suggestions for the best species to use. It was hard to decide — there are so many possibilities. Some species are no-brainers, however, like Trachycarpus wagnerianus (which we call “waggie”), Butia capitata (pindo palm), Chamaedorea radicalis, and Chamaerops humilis (the Mediterranean fan palm).
Waggies are very cold-hardy, easily tolerating freezing temperatures and looking beautiful etched in frost. They can remain in pots indefinitely, as beautiful bonsai. We know of one that lived in an ancient stone pot, no wider than 12 inches, for 20 years. Its sculpted leaves were perfect, tiny fans.
Butia capitata’s recurved leaves make a charming effect when they curl around below the lip of their container. They make for a very bold form, and can range in color from olive green to silvery-blue.
The Mediterranean fan palm has been holding its own in the new pedestrian plaza at the intersection of Castro, 17th, and Market streets in San Francisco. It can handle a lot of wind and sun, and, while very pretty to look at, it repels vandalism with its thorny leaf stems.