Jelly palms are extremely decorative. The overhanging fronds, the inflorescences and the fruits make this palm plant a highlight in the pot garden. Although slow-growing, the jelly palm develops into a stately specimen with fronds up to 2.50 m long. Butia capitala is quite undemanding when it comes to care. Well-drained soil, preferably mineral, is important. Jelly palms get their name from the fruit used to make jellies in their homeland. In the following text you can read what you need to know for a successful culture.
Table of Contents
- Palm family
- Comes from South America
- single stem
- Grows up to 6 m tall there
- Leaf stalks with thorns
- Elegant, slightly downward curving, spirally twisted leaflets
- Monoecious, separating sexes – self-fertile
- Numerous inflorescences
- This develops fruity, sweet fruits, about the size of a plum
- Tastes like peach and pineapple
- These are processed into tasty jellies or wine in their homeland
- Growth forms can differ significantly
The care of the jelly palm
The jelly palm is one of the very slow-growing palms. Over time, however, it forms an impressive, sweeping crown. Individual leaflets can grow up to 2.50 m long. Jelly palms make great pot plants. They do well on terraces and balconies. Although they are quite hardy in contrast to other palms, they have a hard time overwintering outdoors without shelter. These plants are ideal for cultivation in the conservatory with a cool hibernation between 0 and 15°C.
Jelly palms need a lot of light. They belong in the south-facing window and in summer they also like to be outside. However, they should be a few years old for that. A mineral mixture with gravel, expanded clay or lava granules is suitable as a plant substrate. A sufficiently deep container is important, because like other palm trees, the jelly palm is a deep rooter. When the roots push the soil out of the pot, it’s time to transplant. In the growing season, the palm tree needs plenty of water. In winter it should be kept much drier. Nutrients must also be supplied regularly. There isn’t much to cut. Only dried fronds are carefully cut off. Propagation is easy by sowing. Hibernation is best at about 8°C and very bright. Diseases are rare. Pests appear mainly during the winter. They include spider mites, mealybugs and scale insects.
Jelly palms need a lot of light. Young specimens should remain in a bright room all year round for the first few years. From the 4th or 5th year you can bring them outdoors from May. However, it is important that the palm trees are gradually accustomed to the sun.
- Bright and as full sun as possible
- A south facing window is ideal
- Also likes to be outdoors from spring to autumn
- Get used to the sun slowly, otherwise there is a risk of burns
The jelly palm prefers coarse substrate. The soil should be permeable. Drainage in the planter is also very beneficial so that excess water can drain off easily.
- Compost-based soil mixture
- Add sharp sand
- Ensure permeability with gravel, expanded clay or lava granulate
- No pure peat or humus soil
- Neutral to slightly acidic
- Drainage im Topfboden
When planting, make sure that a tall container is used. Palm trees are taproots and form a long root that grows deep. It cannot develop well in a normal vessel. The palm trees are suffering.
- Repot in spring
- Use a slightly larger container
- A slightly higher container is ideal, as with other palm trees (taproot)
- When the roots push the soil out of the top of the container, it is urgent to repot
watering and fertilizing
During the growing season, the jelly palm needs plenty of water. Nevertheless, the palm should not be “drowned”. Some finesse is required. Nutrients should also be supplied regularly.
- Water evenly from spring to fall
- Thoroughly moisten the root ball. The water should flow out of the bottom of the pot. Something may also remain in the coaster.
- Allow the top layer of soil to dry thoroughly before watering again
- Water significantly less in winter
- Fertilize every 3 to 4 weeks during the main growing season
- Liquid fertilizer in low concentration is ideal
- Alternatively, palm fertilizer is also suitable
- Do not fertilize in winter
There is not much to cut with the jelly palm. Only old, dried-up palm fronds have to be cut off. However, the decorative palm trees should not be pruned any more than that, because then they lose their beautiful growth.
- Cut off dead fronds close to the stem, but only when they are completely dry. They contain many nutrients for new fronds.
- Leave a small piece of the stalk to form the trunk.
- Never cut the tip. There is the vegetation point.
Jelly palms are wintered very bright and cool. Favorable are bright stairwells or a cold house. The first few years, the palms are very sensitive to frost. At the age of about 5 years, they tolerate minus temperatures down to about 10°C. However, the specimens must be slowly introduced to such cold.
- Frost-resistant down to around minus 10°C
- In the short term, higher sub-zero temperatures are also tolerated
- The palm trees have to be a few years old for this to work
- Young plants are very sensitive and must be given timely.
- A cold house is ideal. Bright and cool stairwells are also suitable.
- The temperatures should be around 8°C
- Always allow the substrate to dry thoroughly between waterings, about two-thirds
- Don’t fertilize!
- Check regularly for pests. They are quite common during the winter.
- Planted specimens need adequate winter protection, preferably one that can be heated.
- Cold and at the same time wet winters are unfavorable, since fungal infestation, winter edges and leaf loss often occur.
Propagation is by sowing. This can be done all year round and is quite uncomplicated. Many years pass before a seedling has grown into a stately palm tree.
- First let the seeds soak in lukewarm water for 2 days.
- Place 1 cm deep in potting soil or, even better, in coconut fiber substrate.
- Keep evenly moist and warm.
- Germination temperature at least 18°C
- However, 22 to 27°C is better
- Germination time – 2 to 3 months, sometimes up to half a year
diseases and pests
Diseases are quite rare and occur mainly due to care errors. Pests attack the palm trees especially during the winter. The most typical representatives are spider mites, scale insects and mealybugs.
… annoying and difficult to combat pests, as they develop numerous resistances and do not react to many preparations. Spider mites are difficult to spot. The best way to do this is to spray water around the plants. The small drops of water settle on the webs and make them visible. Spider mites usually appear when the air is too dry or when there is drought in general. Not all species form webs. Some can only be recognized by the silvery-yellow, sometimes rust-colored speckles on the leaves. Often only chemicals help against the pests.
… there are different types of scale insects, but they all protect themselves with their white or brown shields. The damage to the palm is caused by the sucking activity of the lice. The pests are difficult to spot on the plants, they camouflage themselves well. The telltale sign is the sticky honeydew, the aphid excretions that are found on the stalks and leaves, but also on the ground around the palm tree. Chemical agents are also usually used for these pests. You can use the same preparations that I have listed for spider mites.
… there are also different types of mealybugs. They can be recognized by the base of the leaves on the palm tree, where they hide between the stems. The white waxy threads and webs are often difficult to spot and often only stand out when the pests have multiplied. Damage occurs through the sucking of the plant sap and through the numerous sooty mold on which sooty mold fungi settle secondarily, which in turn are harmful. The above-mentioned remedies are also effective against mealybugs.
To prevent this, it helps to shower the palm regularly or spray it with lukewarm water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a hardier alternative to the jelly palm?
Yes, the Butia eriospatha, the woolly jelly palm. It is one of the most frost-resistant feather palms. In addition, this species copes quite well with the wet European winter. It also needs well-drained, mineral soil and a sunny location and hardly differs in care. It is reliably hardy down to minus 13°C. Winter protection is recommended from temperatures of minus 8°C.
Can the jelly palm be overwintered warm?
This is not recommended. During a warm hibernation you can watch the fronds turn brown and dry from the outside in. Pests appear and the palm becomes susceptible to disease. Room temperature is extremely unfavourable. Better to do without light, but keep it cool.