Palm Plant Care

Overview

Though palm trees can beautify a tropical-looking landscape and even be used as indoor house plants in colder climates, they often require some very specific care. You must choose the proper variety for your location and consider watering, fertilizer and many other issues in order for the palm tree to enjoy optimum growth and long life.

Cold Tolerance

One important thing to consider is cold tolerance. Although there is a popular notion that palm trees cannot tolerate freezing temperatures, some can survive below-freezing temperatures for many hours before showing any ill effects. Some can even endure a little snow. The needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) is one of these more cold-tolerant varieties. Many others can withstand temperatures in the mid-20s for at least several hours.

Indoor Tolerance

If you are looking for an indoor potted palm, at least for part of the year, then tree selection is also very important. Most palms are not suited for pots and will quickly outgrow them. Unlike some other plants, the pot will not stop the tree's growth. Pygmy date palms (Phoenix Roebelenii), are popular indoor and outdoor palms. If using a palm as an indoor potted plant, check with your nursery to make sure the species you choose is appropriate.

Light

While the image of palm trees swaying on the beach in full sunlight is the romanticized stereotype, not all palms prefer or thrive in full sunlight. The pygmy date palm, for example, prefers partial shade. Coconut palms (Cocos nucifera), do well in full light conditions.

Soil

Most palm trees prefer a well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH. Soils that tend to retain moisture, such as those that are heavily organic or clay, could promote root rot, a potentially fatal condition for the tree. You may wish to provide additional nutrients through the use of palm fertilizers if the tree seems to be suffering from a lack of nutrients. This is indicated by poor growth, yellow or brown fronds and drooping fronds.

Water

Related somewhat to the root rot issue is the amount of water a palm tree needs. In their native habitat, most are accustomed to frequent rains that do not stay in the soil long. Therefore, to protect the root system, it is often best to water the tree as soon as the soil is dry to the touch.

Keywords: palm tree basics, caring for palms, planting palms, watering palms, growing palm trees

About this Author

Kenneth Black has been a freelance writer since 2008. He currently works as a staff writer for "The Times Republican" in Central Iowa. He has written extensively on a variety of topics, including business, politics, family life and travel. Black holds a bachelor's degree in business marketing from the University of Phoenix.