Brahea Armata (Mexican Blue Palm)

The Brahea Armata (Mexican Blue Palm) is one of the most popular plants for both gardens and public buildings. It has beautiful silver and green fronds that give an admirable touch of beauty and contrast well with other garden greenery. These plants are often in demand for the distinctly tropical look that they bring to a garden.

Since it originally grew in the Sonora Desert in Mexico and Lower California, it is extremely hardy and can take temperature extremes as well as drought conditions. This is a slow-growing plant that will stay proportionate to adjacent buildings or other plants. Landscape gardeners particularly like this desert plant for its flourishing branches and unique flowers that grow in clusters.

In the last century, California became a horticultural center thanks to the ideal Mediterranean climate found there. Plant experts started bringing in all kinds of exotic foliage from South America and Mexico in an effort to find out which ones would do well in that climate. Their purpose in this experiment was not only for landscaping gardening but also to develop new food products.

As it turned out, some plants did better than others in the highs and lows of California temperature changes. After much experimentation, experts were able to come up with a table of data showing which plants would thrive under various kinds of conditions. Once this data was finalized, they could determine which plants could be shipped out of state as well as internationally.

Many landscape gardeners also favor the Butia Capitata (Jelly Palm), which originated in Mexico and Lower California. Since it grows slow, this plant can be grown in pots. Its unique silvery green fronds make it a beautiful adornment for porches and walkways. It also produces a sweet tasting fruit that can be made into jam or jelly. Trees sometimes bear as much as 50 kilos of fruit in a year.

Butia Yatai (Jelly Palm) is another tough desert plant that can take a temperature drop to -10 degrees Celsius. With its striking feathery fronds and easy maintenance, it is an all-time favorite. Originally from Brazil, this desert plant has a sweet, pineapple-like fruit. Growing to heights of eight meters, this plant does better planted in garden soil.

Although these plants can survive in a variety of temperatures, they will be at their best with two to three hours of sunshine every day. Giving them water a couple of times a week is best. Just check that the potted soil stays moist. If they are watered with water that has too much salt or mineral content, these plants can get spotty or yellow fronds. Using filtered water or soft water is the ideal.

For adding an attractive tropical touch to any garden or public landscape, there is nothing like the Brahea Armata (Mexican Blue Palm). This is an extremely resilient desert plant that can survive temperature extremes and is easy to care for and maintain. With its silvery blue-green fronds, it makes a beautiful addition and shows up well against other, darker garden foliage.

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