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How to Care for a New Foxtail Palm

foxtails palms. image by mdb from

The foxtail palm (Wodyetia bifurcata) is one of the best choices when landscaping with palms, according to the University of Florida, due in part to the palm's relatively low-maintenance nature. Originally hailing from Australia, the palm now thrives in any area that's frost-free. The palm produces 10-foot-long fronds under which hang ornamental flowers and red berries. Give your foxtail palm the basic care it needs to thrive in your backyard garden.

Fill a gallon-sized pot with potting soil or a homemade soil mixture of two parts peat moss and one part vermiculite. Bury the foxtail palm seed in the middle of the pot, approximately 1/4 inch below the soil surface. Water the pot twice daily to keep the soil surface moist. The foxtail palm will germinate within four to 12 weeks, according to the University of Hawaii.

Choose a permanent outdoor planting site. Foxtail palms thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Avoid planting it near power lines, the eaves of a roof and similar structures, noting that a mature foxtail palm has a horizontal spread of approximately 20 feet and can grow as tall as 30 feet.

Transplant the started foxtail palm to its outdoor location once it's 6 inches tall or taller. Bury it up to its crown, or the point where its juvenile stalk meets its root base.

Fertilize the foxtail palm once a month, according to the University of Hawaii. The university suggests using any fertilizer specifically labeled for use on palms, like a 13-5-8 or 13-5-11 product. Spread the fertilizer at a rate of approximately 3/4 lb. for every 100 square feet, containing the broadcasting area to the imaginary circle that extends around the palm's trunk beneath its branches.

Water the foxtail palm immediately after fertilizing, and once a week thereafter. Though the plant is drought-tolerant, it will respond positively to regular irrigation. Use enough water to moisten the dirt to a depth of 24 inches.

Mulch around the foxtail palm, covering the same area you fertilize. This helps keep weeds and other vegetation at bay so you don't have to mow or trim next to the palm's trunk, which increases the risk of accidentally damaging the palm, says the University of Hawaii.


The foxtail palm, unlike many palm species, is self-cleaning, according to the University of Florida. This means no maintenance is needed to manually prune dead or dying branches off of the tree, as the leaves will naturally shed on their own.

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