Salvaging Dead Cabbage Palms
A wildlife friendly solution to a common garden problem after a severe Winter.
Many UK gardens are home to the New Zealand Cabbage Palm (Cordyline australis). We have two of these palm-like perennials in our garden, inheriting them when we moved here 3 years ago. Other people in the neighbourhood also have these dramatic, tropical plants in their gardens. I think they must have been planted when the houses were built in the late 1980's.
The trouble is, whoever planted them did not have much plant knowledge. It's all very well planting such plants in UK gardens, but consideration has to be given to how they will cope with a proper UK winter.
Only half hardy at best, the New Zealand Cabbage Palm is unlikely to survive sustained winter temperatures below 0C. When you consider the winter we have just had in the UK when some daytime temperatures were in the region of -10C it's not surprising that many gardeners are now faced with the problem of a dead or nearly dead New Zealand Cabbage Palm.
I suppose in hindsight I could have climbed up a ladder and tried to wrap the crown and growing shoots in bubble wrap or horticultural fleece, but that would have not protected the root system. I think the last two winters in the UK have been so cold and extreme that there is little that could have been done to save such plants. The answer of course, is not to plant Cordyline australis in the open ground, keep it in a large pot and bring it indoors from the end of November to the beginning of April.
But what to do with the here and now, what could I do with my New Zealand Cabbage Palms? I really wanted some good to come out of this sad situation, I hate to lose plants. Then a brainwave, I cut the trunk down to about 5 feet, as level as possible and put a large plastic plant saucer on top, securing it down with screws.
We are really pleased with our new bird tables!