This is one of the few species of Licuala that can be grown successfully in drier or cooler subtropical climates such as Southern California. It is also one of the most beautiful species, having very large (up to 8' diameter), almost completely circular, pleated leaves on long, dainty petioles. It is a moderately sized palm, more shrub-like than tree-like, with usually only a short trunk. The crown holds as many as 15 of the magnificent leaves at a time. These large leaves set it up for wind damage, so plant Sumawongi palm in a protected spot.
In general, licuala palms are rainforest understory plants that require lots of shade and rich, constantly moist but very well-drained soil to do well. They are not sun-tolerant palms and direct sun will scorch the leaves, so be sure to site a licuala palm under a shade tree or on the north side of a wall or building. These palms do best in rich organic soil with regular fertilization. As a group they are spiny, so be sure to use sturdy leather gloves when handling these palms.
Although Sumawongi palm will survive in dry subtropical climates better than other licuala palms, it grows much better in humid tropical or subtropical climates such as South Florida.
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