Image by Ruthanne Reid
By Heather Rhoades
A wide variety of palms, like sago palms, date palms or ponytail palms, will produce offshoots that are commonly known as pups. These palm pups are an excellent way to propagate the plant, but you need to know how to transplant a palm pup from the mother plant. Below you will find the steps for transplanting palm pups and tips for growing palm pups once you have transplanted them.
How To Transplant A Palm Pup
Before you remove a palm pup from the mother plant, you need to make sure that the palm pup is large enough to be taken from the mother plant. A palm offshoot should stay on the mother plant for at least 1 year. Allowing it to stay 2-5 years is ideal though, as this will allow the palm pup to develop its own healthy root system, which will in turn increase your success rate with transplanting the palm pups.
Also, the more pups a palm tree has, the slower the pups will grow. If you plant on transplanting palm pups from a palm tree that has several pups, you may be best off selecting 1-2 of the strongest pups and removing the others.
To check to see if a palm pup is ready to be transplanted, remove some of the dirt around the palm pup. Do this carefully, as damage palm pup roots tend to die back and this will set the pup back. Look for developed roots on the palm pup. If the pup has roots, it can be transplanted. But keep in mind, more roots equals a better transplant so if the roots are sparse, you may want to wait longer.
Once the palm pups have a sufficient root system, they are ready to be removed from the mother tree. First, remove the dirt from around the palm pup, making sure not to damage the roots. We recommend that you leave a ball of soil intact around the main root ball to help minimize damage to the roots.
After the soil is removed, use a sharp knife to cut the palm pup away from the mother plant. Make sure that the palm pup comes away from the mother plant with plenty of roots.
Tips For Growing Palm Pups
Once the palm pup is removed from the mother plant, move it immediately to a container filled with damp, nutrient rich potting soil. When you plant the palm pup, it should sit with the base of the start of the leaves above the soil line.
After the palm pup is in the container, cover the container with a plastic bag. Do not allow the plastic to touch the growing palm pup. Using sticks to keep the plastic off the palm pup is helpful.
Place the palm pup in a location where it will get bright but indirect light. Check the transplanted palm pup frequently to make sure the soil stays moist.
Once you see that the palm pup is putting out growth on its own, you can remove the plastic bag. You can transplant your established palm pup into the ground in either the spring or the fall. Make sure to provide plenty of water to your palm pup for at least the first year after it has been moved into the ground.