Care and Maintenance Advice for Palm Trees

Palm Tree Care and Maintenance Advice

Palm trees are becoming increasingly popular here in the UK and these exciting plants make a bold impact on a garden.  Adding a tropical touch to urban gardens, these are surprisingly hardy plants and can be planted individually or as a centrepiece for a tropical style garden.  As with all plants proper selection and consideration for garden conditions is obligatory. However cultivars like Yucca Rostrata (Blue Yucca) and Butia Capitata (Jelly Palm) have an H5 rating and will prosper in most areas.  Palms are not generally finicky about soil, but make sure and provide good drainage for the roots if you have heavy soil and plant preferably in a sheltered area.  Palms generally require full or partial sunlight, depending on species.  Our palm trees are suitable to be planted year round.  However, for ground planting it is recommended to plant in spring or early summer.

With proper planning and care, your new palm will prosper in your garden for decades.

Palm Tree Planting Advice

Ground Planting 

Plant Spacing 

It is recommended to plant palm trees on somewhat level ground and make sure to keep a safe distance between buildings, fences or any structure.  Keep in mind they will grow larger, so space 6m (20ft) apart from other trees for larger varieties to allow for canopy size and use a planting line if you are planting an avenue.  For smaller cultivars like Yucca Filamantosa make sure to allow for sideways spread.

Ground Preparation 

  1. Dig a hole that is at least 15cm (6in) wider in diameter and 15cm (6in) deeper than the root ball. Make sure the hole is deep enough to barely cover the root ball and keep the crown exposed.  Make sure and work the bottom of the hole with a gardening fork.  Line the bottom 15cm (6in) with Horticultural Silver Sand to improve drainage.
  2. Mix any backfill 1-1 with a mixture of Horticultural Silver Sand of and native soil.  Sand will improve the drainage and provide rigidity. 

Day of Planting 

  1. Remove the palm from the shipping container. Palm roots have delicate, hair like feeder roots so be gentle when removing the rootball and keep it intact.
  2. Ease the palm into position with the rootball 1 or 2 inches (2.5 or 5 cm) below ground level. Make sure the tree is plumb and vertical.
  3. Backfill the hole so that it is barely covering the crown and watering periodically.
  4. Build a soil barrier like a dam or a berm around the outside of the hole to retain water.
  5. For a tree over 200cm (6.5ft) apply a brace or staking to keep the tree upright during windy conditions.
  6. Cover the planting area with 5-8cm (2-3in) of Mulching to deter weeds and retain moisture, but do not let the mulch directly touch the base of the palm.
  7. Water thoroughly afterwards, but do not waterlog. Water every day for the first week and every 2-3 days for the next two weeks.  

Container Planting 

  1. Choose a pot that is 20% larger than the shipping container (preferably a deep pot) and fill the bottom with 1 or 2 inches (2.5 or 5 cm) of Horticultural Gravel for drainage, but make sure to cover the gravel with soil so the rootball does not directly touch it. Test the level by setting the palm in the pot. The rootball surface should be 3cm (1.5in) or so below the pot rim.
  2. Remove the palm from its growing pot and set the plant centrally in the container.
  3. Backfill around the rootball with a 1-1mixture of Horticultural Silver Sand and Planting Compost firming down in stages until the rootball is slightly covered.
  4. Water thoroughly afterwards, but do not waterlog. Water every day for the first week and every 2-3 days for the next two weeks.
  5. Topdress with a decorative layer of gravel.

Palm Tree Trimming Advice

Selection is important for palm tree pruning, as you only want to remove dead fronds and old fruits and stems and is best done in early spring.  When the old frond has lost all green and is completely brown, remove with a clean hand pruner for smaller palms and a pruning saw for larger stems.  Make sure and remove the stem as close to the trunk as possible

Palm Tree Watering Advice

An automatic irrigation system is recommended for palm trees.   A newly planted palm will require daily watering for the first week and then 2-3 times per week for the proceeding weeks.  Water deeply and thoroughly at the base of the plant.  For established palms, water weekly during the summer months.  Never overwater your palm, as they do not like being drowned and this will promote root rot.

Palm Tree Feeding Advice

After the first frost of winter, cover the planting area with a thick mulching of 10-15cm (4-6in) to protect the roots and wrap the trunk with a hessian fleece.  When winter has retreated, remove the fleece. Rake away the mulching in early spring and treat the planting area with a slow release palm specific fertilizer, preferably palm specific and according to the manufactures recommendations.  Afterwards, apply a fresh layer of mulch 5-8cm (2-3in) deep.  Apply another dose of fertiliser midsummer or according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

For pot planted apply a palm specific fertiliser according to manufacturer’s recommendations.