How to Care for Sabal Palm Trees

Overview

The sabal palm tree (Sabal palmetto), also called the cabbage palm or cabbage palmetto, is a large, stately palm tree that grows 50 to 70 feet tall with a small, 12- to 18-foot-wide crown. Native to the southeastern United States, as well as Cuba and the Bahamas, the sabal palm is the state tree of Florida and is extremely tolerant of salt and droughts. Sabal palm trees grow best in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 through 10, tolerating winter temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 1

Water your newly-planted sabal palm tree two or three times per week for the first six months, soaking the soil around the roots to a depth of 1 ½ feet. Water established palms deeply to soak the base of the tree at least once every two weeks during dry spells or droughts.

Step 2

Mix into the soil 2 oz. of palm tree fertilizer per 1 inch of trunk diameter at the time of planting. Feed your newly-planted sabal palm 1 oz. more of slow-release palm tree fertilizer per 3 in. of trunk diameter immediately after planting it.

Step 3

Apply a 12-4-12 or 13-3-13 NPK slow-release palm fertilizer two to four times per year to your established sabal palm tree. Feed the palm tree ½ pound of the fertilizer per 1 inch of trunk diameter, spreading the fertilizer on the ground to cover the entire canopy area but keeping the fertilizer about 1 foot away from the trunk. Soak the ground with water to dissolve the fertilizer granules.

Step 4

Spread a 2- to 6-inch-thick layer of sterilized mulch on the ground around the sabal palm tree, keeping the mulch about 6 inches away from the trunk. Make the mulch ring about 1 ½ feet wide.

Step 5

Treat "frizzle top" by feeding your sabal palm tree a manganese sulfate supplement, according to the directions on the package. This condition makes the upper fronds on the sabal palm appear frizzled, indicating a manganese deficiency.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid puncturing or wounding the sabal palm tree's trunk, because this can seriously injure and even kill the tree. Also, don't prune the sabal palm, because sabal palms are naturally self-pruning and shed their fronds themselves. Pruning sabal palms can severely weaken the trees.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Slow-release palm tree fertilizer
  • Sterilized mulch
  • Manganese sulfate
  • Wooden stakes or poles
  • Twine

References

  • FloriData: Sabal Palmetto
  • Broward.org: Palm Tree Care

Who Can Help

  • Junglemusic.net: Sabal Palmetto
Keywords: sabal palm trees, sabal palmetto care, grow cabbage palmetto

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.