Even in relatively mild climates, like those in Southern California, can pose challenges to young cycads. When you don’t have the benefit of large cover plants, you need to take additional steps to protect your cycad investment.
With 39 years of experience, growing and maintaining palms and cyads, I hope that as the cold winter weather approaches, I can be of some assistance in helping you achieve success in your own garden. I hope to share my successes, as well as my failures, and how I overcame them.
Consideration needs to be made in terms of your climate, when caring for palms and cyads. I currently live in North San Diego, and have done for 12 years. The climate is particularly warm in the summer, but significantly colder in the winter. While I have lived here, the temperature has been as low as low 20’s Fahrenheit, for 3 of the years I have been here. In contrast, I used to live very close to the ocean, where the weather was in fact a lot more mild.
Unfortunately, this extreme cold weather, has killed many seedling and juvenile palms and cyads, as well as burning the leaves on many of my larger palms and cyads.
The leaves of large green leaf cyads that were outdoors, would often burn as far down as the crown flush of leaves, due to the lack of an overhead canopy. This transpired to be due to the cold air, directly meeting the upper most leaves of the cyads. Fortunately, the lower most leaves, tended to avoid the direct effect of the cold air, as they showed little or no cold burn damage. Evidently, young palms and cyads, significantly benefit from overhead protection.
For a relatively young garden, that has little in the way of overhead protection, there are several ways to overcome the problem, and provide a solution.
1. Acquire some larger plants (I prefer cold-hardy palm trees) for overhead protection.
2. Cover plants with frost protection sheeting
3. Cover cycad caudex with straw.
4. For smaller plants; cover the entire plant with an upside down grow pot, or plastic trash can. Ensure these covers are removed as soon as the cold has passed though.
5. Try and select species of plants that have a higher tolerance to the cold weather
If you take the time to protect your young cycads, they can provide a lifetime of enjoyment.