How to Make a Small Palm Tree
Making a small palm tree is a great way to make an eye-catching centerpiece or give a special touch to the corner of your fence line. Whether you’re starting out with a large palm or simply using a small potted specimen, knowing the basics of how to take care of a palm tree is essential if you want a healthy specimen. Here we provide seven simple tips for maintaining your own small palm tree.
1. Utilize Container Growing
Container grown palms are ideal when it comes to small palms. Not only does it make it easier to tend to the tree, it also protects against any potential root damage that could be caused by excessive soil saturation or uneven ground. Plant your palm in a container two to three times larger than its root ball for optimal growth.
2. Provide Ample Watering
Palm trees need to be watered deeply and frequently. Water your palm every few days and pay close attention to how much water it needs. When the top few inches of soil feel damp, you know it’s time to give your palm its next drink. However, be careful not to overwater, as too much moist soil can lead to root rot.
3. Feed Your Palm Tree
Fertilizing is key for maintaining healthy palms, as most palm varieties require large amounts of nitrogen and potassium. Feed your palm a slow-release fertilizer formulated for container-grown palms in the spring and summer. Keep an eye out for yellow or browning leaves, which could indicate your palm is undernourished and needs more fertilizer.
4. Prune Trees Regularly
To avoid overcrowding and promote a healthy canopy, regular pruning is required. Smaller palms have a more delicate balance between trunk and foliage, so it’s best to only prune off affected areas rather than shearing off whole sections. Use pruning shears or similar tools to make clean cuts, and dispose of trimmings away from the tree.
5. Research Your Variety
Not all palms require the same care, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the particular type of palm you’re growing. This way, you’ll know whether your palm prefers full sun, partial shade, and whether it needs special soil maintenance. Researching your variety will save you a lot of hassle down the line.
6. Monitor Insects & Diseases
Like any other plant, palms can come under attack by pests and diseases. Keep an eye out for spider mites, mealybugs, thrips and scale insects, which are common in small palms. Additionally, it is important to be aware of common fungal and bacterial diseases and take the necessary steps to treat and prevent further damage.
7. Protect Palms Against Extreme Temperatures
Although some cold-tolerant palms can handle temperatures sometimes as low as 10°C, many cannot withstand temperatures below 5°C. Consider pruning away dead branches and use a tree wrap to help keep your palm safe from cold snaps. Contrarily, you’ll also want to shield your palm from heat. Keep it in a partially shaded area throughout the hottest days of the summer to avoid damage caused by overexposure to the sun.
More Tips for Successful Palm Growing
It’s no secret that growing palms can take a lot of effort, but with the proper foresight and knowledge, anyone can be successful. Here are a few more key pieces of advice for successful palm growing.
8. Plant in the Correct Site
When it comes to picking a spot for your palm, you need to consider factors such as shade, soil texture, and water drainage. Generally speaking, a well-draining soil is best, as some palms can survive in soggy soil but many cannot. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid areas with overhead power lines in case your palm outgrows its pot.
9. Wrap Young Palms
If your palm is not yet established, you may want to consider wrapping its trunk in paper, burlap or even plastic wrap. This helps protect the fragile trunk from heat and cold, as well as from damage caused by mowers and weed whackers.
10. Mulch Around Palms
To protect the roots of your palm from weeds, consider covering the soil surrounding your palm with wood chips or other mulches. Mulching also helps retain moisture, which can be beneficial for newly planted palms.
Tips for Keeping Palm Trees Healthy
Growing a healthy palm requires vigilance. Regularly check for pests and diseases, monitor the soil moisture, and conduct a thorough inspection of the tree each spring and fall to detect any damage or signs of trouble.
Identifying Common Palms
There are over 4,000 species of palms, and without proper identification it can be hard to determine which type you’re dealing with. However, many palms can be identified by their fronds, trunk size, and even the type of bark. Additionally, there are various online resources which provide detailed descriptions, photos and maps of each species.
Repotting Palms in Containers
When it comes to repotting, it’s best to use a special potting mixture designed for palms. Choose a pot that is two to three times the size of the root ball of the palm, and spread the roots out before covering them with soil. Don’t forget to water your palm thoroughly after repotting to ensure that it’s settled in properly.
Regular Inspections of Palms
Keep a close eye on your palm throughout the season. Inspect it for signs of disease, pest infestation and for any yellowing or browning of new or existing foliage. It’s also a good idea to check the trunk and roots to make sure it’s not becoming overcrowded. Repotting or pruning can help reduce the stress on the tree.