How to Care for a Palm Tree

Palm trees come in an array of shapes and sizes. image by Kelsey Shipman


Palm trees are synonymous with tropical forests, deserted beaches and summer tans. They are also increasingly popular for household landscaping projects. At maturity, coconut palms can reach 100 feet tall, and they have been known to produce coconuts for a century. With the proper care, your palms can reach their full potential.

Step 1

Plant your palm in an area with full sun and plenty of room. Palm trees need lots of vertical and horizontal space for their trunks and roots to expand. Plant trees 15 to 20 feet apart in an area with at least eight hours of sun per day. They are hardy to zone 10.

Step 2

Water your palm regularly. Palms do best in areas with heavy rainfall--they need lots of water to grow. Water young palms once or twice a week and established palms when there is infrequent rain. In periods of drought, soak the base of your palm with a hose at least twice a month.

Step 3

Fertilize. Use a slow-release palm fertilizer four times a year for best results. "Palm special," labeled as 12-4-12 or 13-13-13, is commercially available throughout the United States. It usually comes in the form of pellets that are buried around the base of the tree.

Step 4

Do not prune. Palm trees recycle nutrients from old fronds back into the core of the plant. Fronds fall off naturally and usually do not need to be removed. Excessive pruning is even against municipal codes in some areas.

Step 5

Apply mulch around the base of the tree. Palms benefit from a 6-inch layer of mulch applied a foot or so around the base of the tree. This keeps the soil moist and keeps weeds away.

Tips and Warnings

  • Protect your palm from frost by insulating the roots and branches and wrapping it in plastic. Puncture wounds in palm trees never heal. Do not nail signs or lights to the trunks of palms.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Fertilizer


  • Broward
  • Floridia Palm Trees
Keywords: palm, tree, tropical landscaping

About this Author

Kelsey Erin Shipman has worked as a travel writer, poet, journalist and award-winning photographer since 2004. Her work has appeared in various newspapers, magazines and journals. Shipman has also authored three collections of poetry: "Cold Days," "Bastante" and "Short Poems." She earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Southwestern University.

Photo by: Kelsey Shipman