How to Fertilize Palm Trees With a Ring of Fertilizer


What says "tropical" more than a robust, healthy palm? Palms come in a variety of sizes, frond shapes and colors, mature heights and landscape uses. All require basic, complete nutrition in the soil with the main elements of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as many important micro-nutrients such as magnesium and iron. Scattering a wide but complete "ring" of a slow-release fertilizer around the broad root zones of palms is an effective way to promote good plant health.

Step 1

Study the palm. Realize that the roots of the palm extend well beyond its trunk(s). The drip-line, where the farthest reaches of the frond canopy extend, is an approximate guide to determine how far out the roots grow from the trunk(s).

Step 2

Read the "palm special" fertilizer product label for proper dosages and recommendations.

Step 3

Put on latex gloves before handling the fertilizer granules.

Step 4

Measure and weigh fertilizer with a scale and cup or bucket an appropriate amount of fertilizer. Consult the product label. Often it will direct you, for example, to apply 2 pounds of fertilizer for every foot of trunk height, or other similar general guideline.

Step 5

Take the measured amount of fertilizer to apply to the palm. Scatter the granules with your gloved hand across the soil around the trunk base as well as extending outward to the drip-line of the palm. Avoid piles of fertilizer; spread it evenly and broadly, as if you were scattering lots of pepper and salt on a plate of mashed potatoes.

Tips and Warnings

  • Follow label directions on your fertilizer product, and consult with your local cooperative extension office for specific recommendations on timing of fertilizer applications, repetition and what elements in a fertilizer are most important for the soils in your region.

Things You'll Need

  • Granular, slow-release "palm special" fertilizer
  • Disposable latex gloves
  • Scale
  • Cup or scoop


  • "Your Florida Landscape"; Edited by Robert J. Black and Kathleen C. Ruppert; 1998.
  • "An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms"; Robert Lee Riffle and Paul Craft; 2003.
Keywords: palms, fertilizers, palm special fertilizer

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for The Public Garden, Docent Educator, numerous non-profit newsletters and for's comprehensive plant database. He holds a Master's degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne's Burnley College.