Our Butia sp. is just one of the 12 species of Butia native from Brazil to Argentina. We are not quite sure which species we have, but I suspect it may be a B. yatay. The bluish green, gracefully arching pinnate leaves reach up to 5 feet (1.5 m) long. Petioles are armed with spines up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long. Our specimens at 10 years old from seed have attained a height of 10 feet (3 m). Butias are among the cold hardiest palms in the world. Most species can be grown in the landscape in USDA zones 8-11.
Blooming: At 10 years old from seed our palms have never bloomed.
Culture: Butia sp. needs full sun to partial shade with a well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam to 2 parts sand. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry before watering again. We fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer. Even though they are fairly fast growing, they don't require a lot of repotting. We have repotted ours every 3 years since the seedlings germinated. During the winter months, the plants are placed in the cool rooms in the greenhouse, where the nighttime temperatures never fall below 48°F (9°C). Water is somewhat restricted during this period and fertilizers are withheld until new growth starts in the spring.
Propagation: Butia sp. is easily grown from seed.
Butia was featured as Plant of the Week May 11-17, 2007.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.