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.
These palms should never be planted in an area that's slow to drain. Water regularly but leave plenty of time between waterings for the soil to dry out.
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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