Lithocarium is not quite a coconut

Even against the background of indoor favorites from among the feathery palms, the lithocarium seems to be a special plant. An amazingly elegant palm tree with graceful leaves and an unusual color is distinguished not only by its unpretentiousness and endurance, but also by a rather high demand for care. This plant reacts poorly to any misses in watering and needs high air humidity, but it tolerates normal room temperatures. And the compact size allows the lithokarium to fit into the interior of even small spaces.

Lithocarium beautiful (Lytocaryum insigne). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com caixeta
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Lithocarium – a special fan palm

Among the compact and very beautiful feathery indoor palms, it is difficult to find a more graceful plant than the delightfully elegant lithocarium. And it is all the more offensive that this palm tree has a rather controversial reputation. For some reason, the lithocarium in our country is still considered one of the types of coconut palms, although the plants have long been transferred to an independent genus. Perhaps the reason for this confusion was the confusion with the constant change of the botanical name of this plant from coconuts to ciagruses and microcellums, and only then to the version adopted today. But the lithocarium is such a special palm tree that it deserves independent recognition, not comparisons.

Lithocarium (Lytocaryum) Is a small genus of palm trees, of which only a few species are used in room culture. In nature, they are found only in Brazil and are considered plants with a fairly narrow distribution area.

The most popular type of these palms is lithocarium of Weddel, which was once called Weddel’s coconut (Lytocaryum weddellianum). It belongs to the upright and fast-growing feathery palms. The height of this beauty in room culture is limited to a maximum of 150 cm, and the lithocarium can reach this size in just 2-3 years. The trunk is thin, with traces of old leaves. Leaves up to 120 cm long are typically pinnate, with dozens of thinnest needle-shaped segments, erect at a young age, gradually bending and curving in arcs, strikingly graceful.

This plant gives the impression of airy, noble and surprisingly graphic thanks to the ideal lines of rather sparsely spaced segments and overall slenderness. The rich dark green color of the lithocarium surprises with an emerald sheen and glossy shine. The sori of the leaves are very thin and lighter than the color of the lobes, which makes the plant even more expressive. The most surprising thing about this palm tree is the somewhat unexpected silvery color of the back of the leaves.

Less often, there is an equally spectacular view – lithokarium beautiful (Lytocaryum insigne). The maximum height is limited to 2 m, long leaves (up to 80 cm) bend beautifully in arcs, are distinguished by more densely spaced segments and form a much more lush crown. The leaf sorus and petioles are covered with brown fibers. The bluish color of the glossy lanceolate leaf lobes is combined with a silvery reverse side.

In indoor conditions, none of the types of lithocariums bloom.

All lithokariums, without exception, are soloists and should be exhibited in splendid isolation. Unlike other palms, they are airy and sophisticated, do not negatively affect the perception of space and are even able to visually expand small rooms. The graphic translucent crown pattern and the perfection of the lines make the lithokarium one of the most modern accents for minimalist interiors.

Weddel's lithocarium, or Weddel's Coconut in street pots
Lithokarium Weddel, or Weddel’s Coconut in street pots. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Laaz

Lithocarium care at home

Unlike many other palms, lithocariums do not need a cool wintering period and during the dormant period for them there is no need to create certain “special” conditions, such as adjusting care or rearranging plants to maintain stable lighting. It is the room temperature tolerance that is the main advantage of this palm tree. But often its disadvantages outweigh and are decisive when buying.

Lithocariums – palms are expensive and quite rare, they need high humidity, and in a dry environment they quickly lose the attractiveness of their leaves. Fortunately, spraying the plants is a pleasure, and the rest of the care is not difficult.

Lighting for lithocarium

This is a palm tree that is quite typical in its light-loving nature, which feels good in diffused lighting. Direct sunlight is not so delicate in appearance, but the sensitive leaves of this beauty do not tolerate, and shading negatively affects their color and structure. It is not necessary to adjust the lighting for the lithocarium for the winter, the palm tree is not so sensitive during the dormant period, it practically does not react to minor fluctuations in lighting. But this tolerance is preserved only when grown on a windowsill, but when placed in the interior, the correction still needs to be carried out, bringing the daylight hours to 12 hours.

It is better to display lithokariums on bright eastern or western windowsills or places in the interior, similar to them in light intensity.

Weddel's Lithocarium, or Weddel's Coconut (Lytocaryum weddellianum)
Weddel’s lithocarium, or Weddel’s Coconut (Lytocaryum weddellianum). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com David_Sweden

Comfortable temperature

Typical room temperatures are suitable for lithokariums and no unusual conditions should be created for this palm tree. This plant is afraid of a drop in air temperature below 18 degrees; the optimal range for its content is considered to be a temperature from 20 to 23 degrees Celsius. But even with higher rates in summer, lithocariums reconcile quite well, especially if, accordingly, the measures for humidifying the air are made more intense.

This palm tree must be protected from drafts, but it reacts to ventilation, access to fresh air with a more intense color and more active growth.

Watering and air humidity

Lithocariums are fairly moisture-loving palms that like stable soil characteristics. Watering is carried out, allowing the substrate to dry out only in the upper soil layer. Overdrying the soil can be fatal. In winter, watering is reduced, the interval between waterings is increased by 1-2 days compared to the period of active development. Only soft water can be used for this palm tree. The approximate frequency of watering is 2-3 times a week in summer and half as often in winter.

If watering for this palm tree can be considered standard, then the lithokarium’s exactingness to air humidity causes a lot of trouble. The higher the indicators, the more beautiful and healthier the palm tree will be. The minimum air humidity for this palm tree is 60%. You can increase air humidity both by installing humidifiers, using the method of filling the tray with wet pebbles or moss (without contact of water with the bottom of the pot), and by frequent spraying. Spraying is considered to be the best method for improving the attractiveness of the leaves. It is advisable to use warm water for spraying.

It is necessary to clean the leaves from dust very carefully: like the date palm, the lithocarium does not like contact with leaves too much. A soft, damp sponge and delicate treatments or a light shower with soil protection will work equally well. But you need to act very carefully.

Weddel's Lithocarium, or Weddel's Coconut (Lytocaryum weddellianum)
Weddel’s Lithocarium, or Weddel’s Coconut (Lytocaryum weddellianum). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com benko

Top dressing for lithocarium

This palm tree reacts negatively to excess nutrients and needs discreet feeding. It is better to choose special complex mixtures of fertilizers for palms and apply the manufacturer’s recommended dose of the drug once a month (or half the dose once every 1 weeks). In autumn and winter, feeding is not stopped, but the dosage of fertilizers is halved.

Pruning lithocarium

Any pruning for this palm is dangerous and undesirable. In case of problems or natural wilting of the leaves, the vayu is carefully cut, leaving part of the cutting above the trunk.

Lithocarium transplant and substrate

For lithocariums, it is necessary to correctly select soil mixtures from among the lightest and most breathable. According to the acid reaction, the soil mixture should be neutral. If you compose the soil yourself, then mix equal parts of peat, humus, leafy soil and sand with a double dose of sod soil and be sure to add crushed charcoal to the substrate.

Lithocariums do not tolerate transplantation very well and the plant is transferred into a new container only when absolutely necessary, with a frequency of 3-4 years, limited only by replacing the upper layer of the substrate every spring. It is better to increase the capacity significantly so that the roots have enough space for development for the longest period.

When transplanting, a high drainage layer must be laid on the bottom of the containers.

Weddel's Lithocarium, or Weddel's Coconut (Lytocaryum weddellianum)
Weddel’s Lithocarium, or Weddel’s Coconut (Lytocaryum weddellianum). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com benko

Diseases and pests of the lithocarium

Lithocarium is considered a fairly resistant plant. With careless care, only red spider mites pose a danger to the palm tree. It is strongly discouraged to fight pests by washing the leaves; it is necessary to immediately start treatment with insecticides.

Provided that it is adjacent to affected plants, the lithocarium may suffer from scale insects and mealybugs.

Common growing problems:

  • the appearance of brown tips on the leaves at low substrate moisture or in dry air;
  • wilting, wilting of leaves with improper watering;
  • darkening of leaves, color change in the cold;
  • yellowing of leaves with insufficient feeding, watering with hard water or drying out the soil;
  • blanching of leaves in too intense light and heat in combination with dry air;
  • the appearance of spots on the leaves with temperature fluctuations or too hard water.

Weddel's Lithocarium, or Weddel's Coconut (Lytocaryum weddellianum)
Weddel’s Lithocarium, or Weddel’s Coconut (Lytocaryum weddellianum)

Reproduction of the lithocarium

Like most palms, lithocarium can only be propagated by seeds. But the high cost of these plants is largely due to the fact that only fresh seeds can be used to obtain a palm tree. Before sowing, they must be soaked in a growth stimulator. The soil is chosen light and disinfected, sowing is carried out to a depth of 1 cm. In order for sprouts to appear, it is necessary to provide greenhouse conditions and hot temperatures from 26 degrees Celsius with bottom heating, as bright lighting as possible.

The cover is removed from the sprouts gradually. A palm dive should be carried out only after the formation of the first true leaf. Sufficiently large containers with a diameter of 10-12 cm are immediately chosen for young plants.

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Lithocarium is not quite a coconut
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Anna Evans

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