Now that you’ve brought that beautiful palm tree home with you you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to plant it so it flourishes. Properly planting your palm tree is an important first step in making sure it thrives and produces healthy growth for years to come. Fortunately, and unlike some fussier species, palm trees are relatively durable, and getting the planting right leads to years of hassle-free growth.
Get to Know Your Palm
It’s important to get to know your palm’s likes and dislikes when it comes to growing conditions. This assists in selecting the perfect permanent site. The vast majority of palms grow well in well-drained soils, but a few will tolerate wetter conditions. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what your specific palm tree prefers when it comes to soil, light conditions, and space required to grow without interference. Our cold-hardy palm tree page outlines what each specific palm tree prefers making your job a bit easier.
Most palms grow well in sunny conditions, but some tolerate growing in a shadier light. For the best growth, plant the palm in a site that receives its preferred light conditions.
Some palms grow quite quickly, although some types can take years for them to reach their mature height and width. Knowing your palm’s rate of growth and ultimate size allows you to select a site where the palm can reach its full potential without interfering with power lines or structures. You want the palm to be able to spread out naturally.
Prepping the Site for Planting
Now that you’ve selected the perfect location to house your new palm tree, next come the fun part of planting. You can’t go wrong planting the palm in soil that is fertile and has good drainage. However, if your soil is a bit on the heavier side, you can amend the site with sand. Mix about ⅓ of sand with the native soil before backfilling back into the hole. With that being said, some palm trees grow quite well in heavier soils like clay such as the Windmill Palm.
Palm trees also grow well in sandier soils lacking high organic nutrients. If your soil is on the sandier side it’s not advised to amend the planting site with organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure. This will lead to the palm tree eventually sinking down into the area’s soil. Stick with the native soil.
Steps for Prepping the Planting Hole
- Clear an area that is at least 3 feet in diameter removing any unwanted growth like grass or weeds.
- Dig a hole in the preferred site that is twice the diameter of the palm’s pot. This loosens the area making it easier for the roots to develop and anchor themselves in the new site.
- If your soil is too heavy now is the time to add sand. Mix ⅓ of sand into the native soil dug out of the hole. This lightens the soil’s texture adding drainage.
- Make sure the hole is deep enough to contain the entire root system and cover any upper roots that might be sticking out of the potting mix in the pot.
Planting Your Palm Tree
Once you’ve prepared the planting hole and soil, if needed, it’s now time to start planting the palm tree. Depending on the size of your new palm tree you may need to call on someone to help you remove it from the pot and stand it up in the hole.
We’ve outlined the basic steps to properly planting your palm tree below:
Steps for Planting the Palm Tree
- Remove the palm tree from its pot. Don’t worry about pulling apart any wrapping roots as you don’t have to do this with palm trees. New roots will automatically grow from present roots and eventually replace them.
- Backfill the bottom of the hole with soil, if needed, and place the palm tree into the hole. Make sure the palm is sitting at the same height and depth it was growing in the original pot.
- If a portion of the roots were showing out of the top of the potting soil, be sure to plant deep enough so they’ll be covered. This allows the palm tree to properly anchor itself in the planting site.
- Backfill half the hole with soil, tamping down on the area with your foot.
- Water the hole to help settle the soil and remove any potential air pockets.
- Backfill the remainder of the hole with the removed soil, firming it up around the palm’s base with your foot.
- Adding a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch over the planting site helps the soil retain moisture and also cuts down on unwanted weed growth. Just be sure to pull it back a couple of inches from the trunk to prevent possible disease problems.
- After planting, thoroughly water the planting site making sure to drench the roots.
For the first week or two after planting and depending on your local weather conditions, water the palm daily to three to four times weekly. Thereafter, and depending on the palm’s drought tolerance, watering weekly should be sufficient.
Staking Your Palm Tree
Not everyone is going to have to stake their palm tree to keep it upright especially if there’s a healthy rootball. However, for bigger palm trees and to keep the root system in place while it establishes itself, adding stakes to help keep it upright is advised.
You’ll first want to wrap the portion of the trunk where the wood touches with cushioning material like burlap. This will protect the palm’s trunk from getting damaged when boards press against it.
Install at least three 2x4 pieces of wood that are used as the braces and placed into the ground at a 45-degree angle pointed towards the palm tree. Place the ends of the support braces against 1-foot lengths of a 2x4 that are pressed against the cushioning material around the trunk. You can fasten the 1-foot lengths against the tree with a piece of tie-wrap.
After the palm tree has grown for a year and established itself in the planting site you can remove the stakes and burlap wrapping around the trunk.