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How to Grow a Palmetto Plant

By Joyce Starr ; Updated September 21, 2017

Palmettos (Serenoa repens) grow wild in southern states such as Florida and Georgia. They are members of the palm family, but do not grow straight, tall trunks as most palms do. Palmettos grow up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Their trunks lie upon the ground or grow underneath. Palmettos are clumping plants that have multiple trunks and fan-shaped fronds. Being heat lovers and tolerant to salt, they are perfect plants for coastal gardens and warm areas in planting zones 8, 9 and 10. Drought-tolerant and relatively maintenance-free, palmettos will be a carefree addition to any landscape.

Consider the palmetto’s size at maturity, when selecting a planting site. With a width and height of 6 feet, select a location that will be permanent, where the plant will not interfere with any buildings. Palmettos do not transplant well.

Choose a planting area that receives full sunlight or partial sunlight during the day. Palmettos will tolerate growing in some shade, but will perform best receiving some sunlight during the day.

Plant the palmetto in soil that drains well. Amend the planting site with compost. Work the compost into the existing soil to a depth of 1 foot. Water the soil.

Dig a hole that is two times larger than the palmetto’s root ball. Place the palmetto into the hole, facing in a direction that is pleasing to the eye. Fill the hole with soil and stomp down to release any air pockets.

Water the newly planted palmetto. Continue watering the palmetto 2-3 times per week for the first three weeks. Cut back the watering to once per week, after the plant begins to establish itself. Palmettos are drought-tolerant once established.

Fertilize the palmetto in spring and early summer with a good quality palm fertilizer. Spread the fertilizer so it will cover the entire area to the drip line. Do not butt the fertilizer up against the palmetto’s trunk. Water the fertilizer in well.

Prune off any fronds that become brown or begin to turn yellow. Pruning off the seedpods before they develop will not damage the plant.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Water
  • Palm fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

Tips

  • Palmettos are a great source of food and shelter for wildlife.
  • Fruits ripen from late summer through late fall.
  • The fruits are thought to help urinary and prostate problems.
  • Palmettos can be grown as specimen plants, borders, hedges or in mixed gardens.

About the Author

 

For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.