Growing Palm Trees - Palm Tree Selection and Care

Here you’ll find tips and information on growing palm trees, palm tree selection, and palm tree care. Palm trees thrive outdoors in tropical and sub-tropical climates. They are a popular tree in coastal areas due to their ability to withstand the heavy winds generated by tropical storms.

Potted palm trees allow you to enjoy a touch of the tropics indoors – no matter where you live.

Growing Palm Trees - Palm Tree Selection

The most important factors to consider are sun and cold tolerance (for outdoor palm trees), and lighting, temperature, and humidity (for indoor palms).

Before buying a palm tree, make sure it will survive in your environment. It is a good idea to purchase locally grown palm trees. Imported palm trees might require conditions that are not possible for you to provide.

Size is the next factor in the palm selection process. There are benefits and drawbacks to purchasing all sizes.

Small palm trees will take longer to reach their full size and can be vulnerable to cold temperatures; however, they are easy to handle and transport. They are also less expensive than their larger counterparts.

Medium palm trees cost a little more; however, they are sturdier than smaller palms and reach their full size in a shorter amount of time.

Although large palm trees cost more than small and medium plants, they make the biggest impact to the landscape because of their size and are easier to acclimate.

Growing Palm Trees – Outdoor Palm Tree Care


Typically, outdoor palms should be planted in a location that receives full sunlight; however, before planting a palm tree, be aware that it might need to be acclimated to full sun exposure.


Since palm trees grow in tropical and sub-tropical environments, they thrive in high temperatures (100° F / 38° C). Although some can withstand a slight chill, warmer temperatures are generally ideal.


Fertilize palm trees during the growing season (approximately three to four applications). A single application of a high-quality, continual-release formula will feed your palm for a few months at a time.

Do not fertilize newly planted palm trees until new growth appears – approximately six to eight weeks after planting.


Palm Trees thrive in moist, well-drained soil. Established palm trees should be watered two to three times per week during warm months. During the winter, once a week should be enough.

The best time to water palms is in the morning, or late in the evening, when temperatures are cooler. Always check the soil to make sure it is sufficiently moist. Adjust watering schedule if necessary.

Newly planted palm trees should be watered every day for the first week, every other day in the second week, and two to three times per week thereafter.

Check the moisture level of the soil. If palm trees are getting enough water, the soil will be moist down to the roots.


Choose a location with well-draining soil; one that is not prone to accumulate standing water after rain or irrigation. Amend the soil to a consistency of equal parts loam, peat, and sand. Add some of the native surrounding soil into the mix.

Growing Palm Trees - Tips for Planting Palm Trees in the Landscape

Dig a hole twice the diameter of the root ball. Make sure the hole is deep enough so that the root ball will be sufficiently covered. After the tree is placed into the hole, backfill with the freshly dug soil.

Add a soil treatment to the palm, such as Mycorrhizal fungi.  This will help the roots of the palm to absorb much needed nutrients. Liquid forms of this treatment are available in containers that look like aspirin bottles and can be found at nurseries.

After the palm tree has been planted, build a soil barrier around the hole to form a dam that will hold water. Add a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree (approximately 3 inches deep).

Growing Palm Trees – Indoor Palm Tree Care


While some palms require bright light, others will tolerate low light – as long as they are slowly acclimated to reduction in light. Moving palm trees from sun to shade too quickly can cause them to die.


Remember, when growing palm trees in tropical and sub-tropical environments, they thrive in high temperatures (100° F / 38° C). Although some can withstand a slight chill, warmer temperatures are generally ideal.

Palm Tree Fertilizer

Indoor palms do not require much fertilizer. A sprinkle of 1 teaspoon of time-release fertilizer granules into the top of the soil in the spring is usually sufficient. Feedings can be supplemented with micronutrients found in compost. Approximately ½ cup of compost spread over the top of the soil two times a year is adequate.


When watering palms, use rain water or distilled water. Palm trees are sensitive to salt and can be damaged by the chemicals and fluoride found in tap water. Filtered water is a good second choice since they remove many of the contaminants found in regular tap water.

Most indoor palms thrive when soil is kept lightly moist at all times. Avoid standing water since this can cause damage to palm tree roots.

To prevent salt build-up, flush the container with water two to three times per year by flooding it with water, then allowing it to drain. Repeat this process three times.


Although indoor palms grow well in regular potting soil, a mixture of 2 parts peat, 1 part pine bark, and 1 part sand is ideal. Refer to palm tree species for specific potting soil requirements. Another alternative is African violet soil with a little sand added to the mix.

Growing Palm Trees - Repotting and Planting Palm Trees

In general, indoor palm trees only need to be repotted once every three years. Palms with crowded roots can be good since this can limit growth if you are you will be keeping them inside.

Repotting is necessary to alleviate severe root crowding, to promote growth, and to provide palm with a fresh supply of potting medium.

Avoid planting palms too deeply. Be aware that brittle roots can break easily. Handle them with care. Soil should be packed repeatedly around the roots. Be sure to flush the container thoroughly with water.

More Palm Tree Care Information

Outdoor Palm Tree Care - How to Grow and Care for Outdoor Palms

Indoor Palm Tree Care - How to Grow and Care for Indoor Palms

Planting Palm Trees - Tips for Planting Indoor and Outdoor Palms

Palm Tree Fertilizer - Tips and Information on Palm Tree Fertilizer