King palms are native to tropical regions
image by Kelsey Shipman
Palm trees are common in the fertile landscapes of tropical regions. Traditionally, they provided food, water and shelter to islanders in the tropics. King palms often reach 40 feet in height and require very little maintenance. They are favorites in tropical landscaping for their thick canopies and wide bases. The more tropical the environment, the better your king palms will grow. With proper care and full sunlight, king palms can grow 25 feet in 10 years.
Choose a site in your yard. A king palm needs at least 8 hours of sun a day and plenty of room to grow. Find a fairly large area (at least twice the height and width of your palm) with well-drained soil.
Dig a hole. It should be at least 6 inches larger than the width of the container and deep enough to cover the root ball with 2 or 3 inches of soil.
Fill the bottom of the hole with sand. About 2 to 4 inches of sand in the bottom of the hole will ensure proper drainage. If you are planting multiple trees, leave at least 20 feet between each.
Fill the rest of the hole. Use a mixture of 25 to 50 percent sand and the rest original soil to fill the hole with. The root ball should be 2 to 4 inches below the surface.
Stamp on the soil with your feet to flatten the soil and eliminate any air pockets.
Cover the surface with mulch. Spread mulch around the base of the plant the same width as the canopy. This will keep the soil moist and prevent an onslaught of weeds.
Water your palm immediately after planting. During hot summers, water your palm three times per week to keep its leaves green. In times of drought, fully soak the base of your palm with an open hose at least twice each month.
Fertilize the soil. 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 buried at least 2 feet from the base of the tree.
Notice signs of instability or leaning. As your king palm grows, you may need to provide extra support at the base of the trunk. You can place several 2 x 4 wooden boards at the base of the palm and wrap bungee cords around the tree trunk to hold them steady. These can be removed as the tree grows stronger.