How to Plant Palm Trees in Florida

Overview

Florida's year-round tropical and subtropical climate is suitable for growing a vast variety of palm trees statewide. Gardeners can choose from the stately Bismarck palm to the low-growing palmetto. In fact, most landscapes throughout the state house at least one species of palm, if not multiple varieties. Gardeners will find palm trees quite hardy and forgiving when it comes to planting. As long as the gardener meets the palm's requirements for growth, they will flourish in the landscape for years to come.

Step 1

Consider the particular palm's light requirements when selecting a planting site in your Florida landscape. The vast majority of palms require full sun for best growth, but some species (such as lady palms) require planting in shady conditions.

Step 2

Consider where you live in Florida and your annual winter temperatures when selecting a palm variety. North Florida experiences annual freezes, and some species (such as coconuts) will not tolerate the cold weather and die. Choose a variety of palm suitable for the USDA hardiness zone where you live within the state (see References).

Step 3

Select an area to plant the palm that allows it to reach mature size without any obstructions. Consider power lines or structures that the palm may interfere with when selecting a site.

Step 4

Plant the palm in a well-draining area, which should not be a problem for most Florida gardeners because the majority of the state's soil is sandy. Palm trees will not tolerate living in wet conditions.

Step 5

Remove all weeds, grasses or other vegetation from the planting site, keeping the area weed-free at all times.

Step 6

Dig a hole that is approximately two times wider than the container holding the palm tree. Adding organic matter to the hole is unnecessary and has no scientific benefit to the palm, according to the University of Florida. In fact, they do not recommend it.

Step 7

Remove the palm from its container and place it in the planting hole. Fill the hole approximately one-third full of soil and water the hole. Firm up the area with your foot to release any remaining air pockets.

Step 8

Continue adding the soil, then watering and finally firming up the area. Plant the palm at the same depth as housed inside the container, being sure the root ball is fully covered.

Step 9

Build a small berm by mounding up the soil around the perimeter of the palm's root ball. Florida's sandy soil can cause water to run off, and the berm allows the water to stay in place for absorption by the roots.

Step 10

Water regularly to keep the area moist but not flooded while the palm establishes itself in the first four to six months. Thereafter, water the palm approximately once per week depending on your local Florida weather conditions.

Step 11

Apply a layer of mulch around the palm tree's root ball. Place the mulch approximately 3 to 4 inches from the trunk of the palm.

Step 12

Fertilize the palm tree three to four months after planting with a slow-release palm special. Follow the package instructions and spread evenly underneath the canopy of the palm. Water the fertilizer into the ground after the application. Continue to fertilize the palm in three to four equally divided applications throughout the year.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer

References

  • University of Florida: Transplanting Palms in the Landscape
  • University of Florida: Planning to Plant a Palm
  • University of Florida: Planting a Palm Tree
  • National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: planting Florida palms, transplanting Florida palms, growing Florida palms

About this Author

Joyce Starr is a freelance writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawncare, gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.