If you like nature, especially plants  

And you want to learn more about them, this is for you.  

Today I want to talk about a very special place that is in one of Mexico’s Natural Wonders: The Nursery Garden of Xel-Há. What makes it so special? There are several factors, but the main one is the love and passion with which all the collaborators work. All the effort they put into making their plants grow strong and beautiful. The second factor is the type of plants it is home to chit palm, Caribbean palm, and nacax palm. They are beautiful palm trees!

These three varieties of palm share one characteristic, they are endangered due to a mixture of factors, among which are excessive logging, reduction of the jungle conquered by the cities, and their long periods of growth.  

The Nursery Garden of Xel-Há has the important task of preserving these three species of palm trees, which later occupy different green spaces in Grupo Xcaret parks, or are reintroduced into their natural ecosystem as part of the group’s reforestation programs. People who are completely passionate about plants work in it and dedicate their lives to getting to know them and giving them all the love and care they need to grow.  

Team of Xel-ha's Nursery | Palm Trees

The 3 palm trees of Xel-Há’s Nursery Garden  

The Palm trees of Xel-Há's nursery

As I told you before, three main species inhabit the Xel-Há Nursery Garden, here I will tell you a little more about each of them.  

Palma Chit  

The chit palm is very important in its ecosystem. It becomes a provider of shade for plants that do not grow as tall as itself and becomes a shelter for some animals. Its importance is also crucial to the Maya, who are responsible for its name, ” Chit”. They use it to create utensils for their daily life and to build the roofs of their houses.  

It can grow up to 7 meters tall and its leaves are fan-shaped with 1 meter in diameter (approximately).  
 

Nakax palm  

It is a small and solitary palm tree, barely 1 to 4 meters tall. It has a small trunk with only 5 centimeters in diameter, and between 9 and 16 leaves. It is an endemic species of the Yucatán Peninsula. It also takes its name from the Maya, however, its use for humans is not so popular. It is usually more decorative.

Palma Caribeña (or royal palm)  

This palm is native to the Caribbean and the Yucatán Peninsula. It can grow up to 30 meters tall and has a trunk of around 60 centimeters in diameter with its plume-shaped leaves. Its leaves are feathery and between 4 and 8 meters long. In Cuba, it is considered a sacred tree, and its seeds are used to create food, medicine, and oil.  

How does the Xel-Há Nursery Garden work?  

This Nursery has very particular activities that Pedro Ku, who’s in charge, knows perfectly. He told me the step by step they took to study, measure and achieve the highest percentage of plants and palm trees that grow healthy and strong, ready to reforest and preserve their species.

Pedro Ku | Palm Trees

 

The livelihood of the palm trees: the land  

The land for the palm trees

Step number one. Having good soil, rich in nutrients is essential to be successful in the Xel-Há Nursery, but how do we know that it is good soil?

Pedro tells us that thanks to Grupo Xcaret’s composting process, they can nourish the earth with what is necessary for the plants to grow strong. Did you know that you can also create your compost?  
 

The first home: bagging  

An essential part of the sowing process is the bagging of the soil. Once the soil is mixed with the compost, it is bagged in different sizes, depending on the species of palm tree, its size and the destination (parks, hotels, or jungle).  

The land for a palm tree

Bagging is essential, as the soil should not be so compacted and it should have a minimum of centimeters so that the seeds can sprout.  
 

Where it all begins: harvesting  

Putting the soil aside a bit, there is the seed collection process, which is quite simple. It is enough to identify the clusters of seeds that palm trees have and identify the ideal time to cut them. Manuela is an expert in seeds, so she tells us that she can identify if they are already “good” or if they still need to mature a little more.

Plant preparation: seed washing  

Another very important step is washing the seed. This is covered with what Manuela calls “pulp”, which is the shell and other stuff that the seed may have.  

This process begins immediately after harvesting. Manuela leaves the new seeds by soaking them in freshwater overnight. This softens the pulp and makes the washing process much easier.  

The next day, with the seeds softened, Manuela is in charge of washing them in a strainer that allows her to remove all the pulp and keep the purest seed, ready to be sown.

A vacation in the sun: drying  

Seeds of palm tree

After the seed is in its purest state, it is left to dry in the sun for a period of 24 hours. After this time, they are more than ready to be sown.  

Ready to grow beautiful: sowing  

Where the palm tree will grow

Do you remember the little bags we made with the earth? After they are ready, they are placed together in the area designated to the type of plant that they will house, and now, yes, the sowing comes.  

With a stick of about 2 centimeters in diameter, a hole is made in the earth about 5 centimeters deep. Later, Pedro and his team put between 4 and 5 seeds in each bag. This so that there are more possibilities for the palm tree to sprout.  

Now to wait…  

The most difficult part of the process is patience. It can take between 5 and 8 months for the seedlings to be ready to be transferred to their final destination. Others can take up to 4 years to become strong and large enough to ensure that they will grow in the wild or wherever they will live.

How to transplant your palm trees?  

Pedro and his team gave me many tips to transplant in my house, here are some that can help you so that your plants are very happy and make you happy because they are healthy.  
 

1.- Pay attention to the land  

The land for our palm tree

Make sure you buy soil rich in nutrients; you can add some substrate or vitamins so that it has everything it needs to house your plants. You can also add your compost prep.  
 

2.- Choose well: pot or garden?  

The destination of your plant is very important. You should choose a large pot where the roots can spread wide. For larger palms, you may need a garden. If so, you should also make sure the garden is deep enough.  

You don’t need to cut the bag your plant comes in. You can put it directly on the ground or in the pot. However, you can also seek to “rescue” the bag to reuse it as many times as possible and thus help reduce our plastic consumption.  
 

3.- Sun, shade, or half shade?  

There are sun plants and medium shade plants. Make sure that the place you have in mind for your new plant-daughter is ideal for her. If it is indoors, make sure they are half-shade plants (they do not receive direct sunlight or receive it for a few hours a day, but it does illuminate them in the sun). If they are sun plants, make sure they receive direct light for at least 7 hours a day.  

4.- Water is life  

Water is essential for your plants to be strong and healthy. When planting or buying a seedling, make sure you fully understand how many times a week you need to water it and your watering technique. Some need plenty of water on the ground, stem, and leaves. There are others that just need a little moisture on its soil and that’s enough. Do your research so you can give the queens of your house a decent life.  

As you can see, the Xel-Há’s Nursery Garden is a great place to learn more about plant care of any kind. I invite you to encourage yourself to have a couple of plants in your house, they will create harmony and fill your home with energy. Take care of them, cuddle them and respect them a lot. 😊  

Are you a plant-mom/dad? Tell us what special care you give them!

  

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