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dividing a cat palm

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
by so. cal dweller on December 21, 2004 10:28 PM
Does anyone know if it is possible to divide a cat palm? For a couple of months I have had one in a container in my kitchen. It gets lots of natural light and is growing like crazy. When I got it it was extremely root bound but I wanted to keep it in the same size pot it was in so I cut back the root ball back about an inch all the way around. That was a few months ago and it is thriving. However, it is getting too wide and I am wondering if I can divide it. Have not been able to find this information out anywhere. Can someone advise and if it is possible will it be detrimental to the palm if I do it? Thanks
by Newt on January 14, 2005 08:57 PM
Hi So. Cal Dweller,

Since the cat palm - Chamaedorea cataractarum is a suckering plant I see no reason why you couldn't divide it. Here's some sites that might be helpful.

http://www.fremontica.com/palms/pages/palm_detail.php?id=19
http://www.plantapalm.com/vpe/photos/Species/chamaedorea_cataractarum.htm
http://flrec.ifas.ufl.edu/HORT/Palms/Palmproduction/CONPALM.htm

Newt

* * * *
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
by so. cal dweller on January 24, 2005 05:45 AM
Thanks Newt. Great information. Looks like I can do it. Will just wait until spring, divide it and hope for the best.
by Newt on January 24, 2005 10:34 AM
You are very welcome! Just don't wait until it's stressed to divide it. [Smile]

Newt

* * * *
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
by so. cal dweller on January 24, 2005 09:10 PM
How can I tell if it is getting stressed?
by Newt on January 24, 2005 11:24 PM
Great question! Stressed potted plants usually wilt between waterings because they are so rootbound that the center of the rootball can't take up water, sometimes lots of leaves (fronds) turn yellow as stressed plants (containter and landscape) will often shed leaves to preserve the root system or they become weak and are prone to insect pests.

Newt

* * * *
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
by so. cal dweller on January 26, 2005 07:43 PM
Thanks Newt!
I have always wondered if the center of the root ball was getting enough water. When I originally bought it the palm was soooo root bound (I had forgotten to look and see if it was before buying) that even though I cut the roots back an inch the whole thing still seemed pretty gnarled up. I was afraid to cut more and damage it however. I noticed one of my smaller fronds has been getting yellow leaf tips for the past week or so. None of the other fronds are doing this though. Does this mean it is getting stressed or when it only happens to one small frond is it just the way it goes sometimes?
I appreciate all the help and information you have been giving me.
Thanks.
so. cal dweller
by Newt on January 26, 2005 08:58 PM
You're so very welcome. You said:
quote:
I noticed one of my smaller fronds has been getting yellow leaf tips for the past week or so. None of the other fronds are doing this though. Does this mean it is getting stressed or when it only happens to one small frond is it just the way it goes sometimes?
It could just be a coincidence or the roots to the new frond could be getting choked off and not getting enough water. It sounds like you will need to divde it and not wait until spring. I'm certain you will need to cut it apart, though you could try soaking it in water (out of the pot) and try to pry the roots apart, carefully unwrapping them. The last site I gave you stated:
http://flrec.ifas.ufl.edu/Hort/Palms/palmproduction/CONPALM.htm
quote:
Division of Clustering Palms

Clustering palms, that is those that produce new erect shoots from a common base or system of rhizomes, can be divided carefully as a means of increasing stock. For best results, it is advisable to separate divisions from the parent plant with a sharp spade in the spring, but leave the divisions in place until new growth is evident. At that time the divisions can be carefully lifted, with as much of the root ball as can be managed. Newly separated divisions are potted and kept shaded and well-watered until established (4-6 months). A drench with a broad spectrum fungicide is advisable after potting.
If you need pictures, I will try and find some for you.
Newt

* * * *
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
by so. cal dweller on January 27, 2005 03:06 AM
I think I can figure it out sans pictures. If I understand right I am to cut straight down with a spade (will a sharp serrated knife work as well?) but after separating in half, leave the halves together in the pot until new growth shows. How long does that usually take? Weeks or months? Then I can put each in separate pots. Do I understand correctly?

I will have to pay close attention and not mistake growth already coming up as new growth. I must have 8-10 fronds that are in various stages of emergence. They just look like 1 straight green stalk about 4-12 inches in height coming up off of fully spread fronds. However a few are almost 3 feet in height and ready for the fronds to start spreading. Hope I don't kill this thing off. It is so pretty.

Thanks again.

so. cal dweller
by Newt on January 27, 2005 03:45 AM
Sharp knives work just fine. You don't have to use a serrated one though. If it was mine, I wouldn't bother to put it all back in the same pot, but pot them up separetly. New growth should occur in about a month or so. You may lose a few fronds from the roots being cut, but not to worry. If the interior of the rootball is extremely rootbound, you might want to try and tease out some of the roots. Here's what a rootbound rootball looks like. It looks to me as if this one was 'teased' a bit.
http://msucares.com/lawn/tree_diseases/images/rootball.gif

Good luck!
Newt

* * * *
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
by so. cal dweller on January 27, 2005 07:42 PM
Great! I would rather plant both separately from the beginning. Seems like the roots from each side would start to intertwine again if left in the same pot.

I am feeling so much more confident about this now. I can't thank you enough for your insight! I am relatively new to keeping plants alive (less than a year) and this has been a major learning experience.

Have a great and hopefully warm day back there!

so. cal dweller
by Newt on January 27, 2005 08:28 PM
You are so very welcome!! I'm so glad you feel better about this. I have found that it's a continual learning experience when it comes to plants, but an enjoyable one.

I will be leaving this evening for a couple of days, so I'll check my e-mails when I return.

We are experiencing a bit of a warm up today and the temps are in the upper 30's. The snow can't decide if it wants to melt yet. The wind is a bit strong, but layers of clothing help!

Take care,
Newt

* * * *
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

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