European Fan Palm in a container

Whether you’ve brought your new palm tree home and you want to transplant it into a fancier container or it’s outgrown its old one, planting the right way assures a happy and healthy palm tree. Palm trees just aren’t meant for our yards anymore and one planted in a pot can add an instant tropical atmosphere to our outdoor spaces. It’s like bringing a little bit of that tropical vacation back home with you.

Fortunately, we’ve outlined some tips for transplanting your palm and keeping its luscious appeal for years to come. While yes, palm trees in Atlanta yards are beautiful, many people in the area live in condos and apartments. Container palm plants work perfect on balconies and patios for those who do not have a yard of their own. Overtime, your palm will grow and will need to be transplanted.

Signs Your Palm Needs Transplanting

Unless your spanking new palm tree is already growing out of its nursery pot, you’ll need to transplant a previous potted palm when it outgrows its current container or needs fresh soil. Most potted palms won’t need transplanting for a year or so and several signs signify the need for a need pot and soil. 

  • You notice roots starting to grow out of the pot’s bottom drain holes. 
  • When you water it instantly gushes out of the pot’s bottom meaning the roots have taken up all of the soil space. 

If you notice any of the above signs, it’s time to transplant your potted patio palm tree into a slightly larger container. 

Choosing the Right Container

One look at your local home improvement store or garden center leads you down an aisle filled with a wealth of different types and size pots. This would lead one to believe that transplanting your palm tree into any old pot will do just fine but this isn’t the case. 

palm tree container

The Material

Pots are made from a wealth of different materials from unglazed ceramics like terra cotta, plastic, wood, or even metal. Although what material ticks your fancy doesn’t matter, pots are not all created the same when it comes to moisture retention. Some tips to remember include:

  • Unglazed ceramics like terra cotta lose moisture quicker meaning you’ll have to water more often. 
  • Glazed ceramics or plastic retain soil moisture for longer periods meaning you won’t have to water as often. 

Proper Drainage

Another very important aspect of the pot is that it needs to have bottom drain holes. This allows the excess water to drain out of the bottom and not stay encased in the soil leading to soggy conditions. Soggy conditions lead to problems with rot because the soil conditions stay wet for too long. 

Pot Size

If you’re just transferring your new palm tree into a better-looking pot, you’ll want to select one that is the same size as the original container or one that is no bigger than one size larger. Too much extra soil space leads to the extra soil remaining wet for too long. Unless the roots are growing out of the pot, it’s best to stick with a pot similar in size to the current one.


Although most palms grown in the appropriate sized nursery pot won’t probably need transplanting into a bigger one for a year or longer, you’ll also only want to go up one pot size when choosing the new pot. Once again, you don’t want a huge pot compared to the palm’s rootball that allows all the extra soil space to remain too wet. This can lead to health problems and potential death if conditions remain too soggy for too long.

Steps for Planting into a new Container

container palm trees

Now that you’ve determined exactly what type of pot you want and its appropriate size, the fun part begins and you can now transfer the palm tree to its new container. Before you know it it will be gracing your spaces with its lush and fabulous looks of tropical splendor. 

  1. If you’re reusing an old pot you happen to have around the house be sure to wash it out with soapy water and rinse. This removes any potential diseases or pests that might still be lingering around. 
  2. Fill the new pot about a quarter full of a well-drained, fertile potting mix. You can water the soil to settle it if you like. 
  3. Gently remove the palm tree from its original pot. If the roots are growing out the bottom you may have to snip them off before the palm will release them from the pot. Don’t worry new roots will develop and you won’t harm the palm tree.
  4. Place the palm in the new container’s center, being sure it won’t be planted any deeper than it was growing in its original pot. Planting too deep puts undue stress on the palm.
  5. Backfill the remainder of the pot with the potting mix, firming it up around the palm’s base.
  6. Once planted, thoroughly water the palm tree until it runs from the bottom drain holes.
  7. Replace back into the area it was growing before or in a location with similar conditions. 

Now that the palm is planted you can resume your normal watering practices of watering when the top 3- or 4-inches of soil become dry. 

container palm
Looking for container palms or palm trees that survive Atlanta winters? Shop our cold-hardy palm trees or call us with any questions you may have