Palm trees lend a tropical air to the landscape, but purchasing a palm tree may not be as easy as finding one whose looks appeal to you. Each palm has specific growing requirements, and meeting those requirements is essential for healthy growth. If you want a palm tree to thrive in your landscape, you must choose wisely.
Measure the space where you will plant the palm tree to avoid placing a tree into a space it will outgrow in a few years. Measure width, depth, height and distance from structures like houses, sheds or power poles.
Determine which palms grow well in your climate. There are a few cold hardy palms, but most palms require a more temperate climate. Some require a subtropical or tropical climate. Buy only palms that will grow well where they are planted.
Find out the palm's characteristic strengths and weaknesses by comparing varieties on the University of Florida Extension's palm website (see Resources). Some palms require more sun, some grow slowly and some require more maintenance than others. Some are more tolerant of salt while others are more wind-resistant. Some palms have long, dangerous spines or fruit that is irritating to the skin when handled. Palms that periodically drop fruits, like coconut palms, would not be a good choice next to a seating area. Check for susceptibility to diseases and pests prevalent in your area.
Decide how much you want to spend. Palm prices are determined by type, size and availability. Shop around and make a list of several choices that fit your budget.
Ask about return policies and guarantee periods. Smaller nurseries may not offer as long a return period as larger retailers. A guarantee will be important for larger, more expensive palms.
Determine how you will transport and plant the palm. Smaller palms can be carried home in a car and planted relatively easily, but larger palms may require heavy machinery for transporting and planting. Remember to factor cost of delivery and planting into your budget.