By Lynn Langley.
Palm tree lovers were treated to a visual feast when Gregg Opgenorth, head grower of Grubb & Nadler Nurseries (formerly East West Trees) shared his knowledge, passion, and slide show of beautiful palms at the November meeting. He practices what he preaches, having over 100 species of palms in his home garden located north of Fallbrook. Most of his palms have been grown from seeds, collected from Balboa Park and other locations, and willing owners of palms he finds.
Gregg uses half amendment/half native soil when planting his palms. Palms like fertilizer. He recommends a 17-5-12 time release fertilizer with a 3-5 month release rate (like Osmocote with micronutrients) as well as liquefied fertilizer and deep watering. In his opinion people in Southern California generally do not fertilize enough. Plants here don’t need much extra phosphorus. There is a lot of phosphorus that exists already in the ground – it isn’t very water soluble so it doesn’t leach out. He has his palms that are planted in the ground irrigated every 3 days for 15-20 minutes. Palms planted in containers are watered every other day. When he adjusts irrigation due to cooling weather he changes the frequency not the duration. Gregg emphasized the importance of keeping the duration the same. Palms initiate roots from the base of the trunk. This allows successful plantings of large specimens. When asked about underplanting the larger palms Gregg said he has had success with Tecomas (Lydia, Tecoma x ‘Lydia’, Bells of Fire, Tecoma x ‘Bells of Fire’ and Sparky, Tecoma x ‘Sparky’ varietals) under his Queen Palms.
The Grubb & Nadler nurseries consist of 2- 14 acre properties that grow a majority of the plants sold at the Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco. Under Gregg the nursery has been shifting its focus to growing more varieties of California appropriate plants. They are also heavily focused on plants in the Protea family - (Leucadendron, Leucospermum, Pincushion, Banksia and Grevillea. Contrary to popular opinion, Gregg said these plants like fertilizer as long as there is no phosphorus. He recommends using an 18-0-15 water soluble fertilizer.
Greg recommends joining the Southern California Palm Society if interested in palms. They meet once a month and visit 2 members’ gardens. These can be anywhere from San Diego up to Santa Barbara and provide the chance to see an enormous variety of wonderful palms. After the tours there is an auction of palms, giving members a chance to get hold of rare or unusual varietals.
Additionally, these next are photos from Jason Chen, who attended the Saturday, November 16th, private nursery tour of Grubb & Nadler in Fallbrook led by Gregg Opegnorth. This was a private nursery tour for SDHS members.