The drop-dead gorgeous latania palm looks remarkably similar to a silver bismarck palm but doesn't get as huge.
This is not a small palm, though it won't grow as big as a bismarck. The fan-shaped fronds of a latania can each grow as large as 8 feet across.
There are two popular varieties - one blue (Latania loddigesii) and one red (Latania lontaroides).
While they're young, both latanias show some distinct differences: the red "latan palm" has silvery gray-green fronds with red margins and veins. The blue has silvery blue-green fronds with red or blue veining and mottled blue leaf stems.
Once the silvery latania palms are more mature, however, you'll have a hard time telling one from the other. And the only way to distinguish (once they're mature) between the two silver palms - latania and bismark - is the latania's boots (remnant leaf stems on the trunk) have "fur" and the bismark's are smooth.
A third, less-used variety is the yellow latania (Latania verschaffeltii), with deep yellow petioles (leaf stems). These palms are more cold sensitive than the blue and red.
Latanias are slow-growing, single-trunk palms that can reach heights of 30 feet.
The big fan-shaped fronds - up to 8 feet across - will form a "head" about 15 feet across.
This palm needs protection from cold weather and does best in Zone 10B and coastal 10A.
The latania prefers full to part sun and is drought-tolerant and very salt-tolerant, making it a stunning beach-side specimen.
No soil amendments are needed for this sandy soil-loving palm.
Since the latania's growth rate is slow you'll have to trim off browned fronds infrequently.
Give it three applications a year of a quality granular palm fertilizer in spring, summer and fall.
Since the latania is strikingly similar to the silver bismarck but smaller overall, it may a better choice for a more limited space - but it still needs plenty of room.
Place it at least 8 to 10 feet from the house or any structure.
Latanias work well in large containers while they're young.
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