How deep do palm tree roots grow

Root System of Palm Trees – StudiousGuy

Palm trees are the ornament of tropical areas. The large, compound, evergreen fronds on the top of an unbranched trunk is a familiar view in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. They are commonly found in Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, and the Pacific islands. In the United States, they can be found in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the southern-most parts of Florida.

Palm trees are monocots and belong to the Arecaceae plant family. There are 181 Genera and 2,600 Species of the palm worldwide. The leaves of the palm trees are present in two forms, Pinnate or Palmate. The cold-hardy Palms have Palmate leaves while tropical Palms have Pinnate leaves.

In this lesson, we are going to learn about the root system of Palm Trees and their functions.

Index of Article (Click to Jump)

Roots of Palm Tree

Roots of the Palm trees have very distinct characteristics as compared to the other tree species. Palm trees have ‘fibrous root system.’ The roots of the Palm are not deeply rooted in the soil. They are spread over the soil like a mat and penetrate nearly 36 inches of topsoil. We can even see these roots if the tree is planted in shallow soil. Palm tree roots have a preference for sandy soil which makes them easy to uproot. This is the reason we see most of the Palm trees being blown over in strong winds.

Unlike the taproot system found in most of the tree species (having one main root from which the thin lateral roots arise), the roots of the Palm trees arise from the base of the tree and are morphologically similar. These roots do not widen as the tree lengthens, instead, they grow with the same girth regardless of the age or length of the Palm tree.

Roots of the Palm tree grow horizontally at a greater distance from the trunk but they remain within the top 12 to 36 inches of the topsoil. For example, the roots of Palm tree species like Royal, Bismarck, Bailey, and Canary Island date palms, grow up to 50 feet away from the trunk. These roots remain thin as they increase in length.

Can Roots of the Palm Tree damage underground pipes?

It this often seen that the large and thick roots of many trees lift the concrete and damage the underground pipes. But the roots of the Palm trees do not cause any such damage to the concrete or the underground pipes. The reason is that since the roots remain in the topsoil around the Palm trees, they do not penetrate deep into the soil to reach the pipes. Also, because these roots are thin, they do not tend to cause any damage to the concrete. However, in some cases, the roots reach the underground pipes and get entangles them. This only occurs in the case of large Palm trees. In that case, while transplanting the tree, it is very important to cut the tree from the trunk instead of uprooting it, which may cause damage to the underground pipe system.

Maintainance of Palm Tree Roots

Although Palm trees are mostly found in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, we can easily grow one in our backyard if we have adequate knowledge about the type of the Palm Tree and the length of its roots. However, it is very important to give special attention to the tree.

The roots of the Plam trees need moisture and nutrients to feed their long, thick trunks and their large fronds as well. So, after you plant a Palm tree, make sure that you keep it well watered to satisfy its water requirements. To ensure that the water requirements of the roots are fulfilled, you can wrap a soaker hose around the root area to keep the soil around the roots moist.

It becomes your responsibility to make sure that the plant also meets its nutrient needs, that is, magnesium, iron, and manganese. These nutrients protect the fronds and keep them from yellowing. Watering the plant before the roots are fully grown is also an important measure to make the Palm tree survive within its first few months. Only after the roots are matured, you can minimize the watering process to 15 minutes twice a month.

There are 2600 species of Palm Trees present across the globe. Some of the major ones include;

  • Coconut Palm Tree (Cocos nucifera)
  • Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera)
  • Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
  • Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana)
  • African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis)
  • California Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
  • Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)

Let us take a look at the Root system of the Coconut Palm Trees.

The Root System of Coconut Palm Tree

Coconut Plam trees are grown for various commercial purposes. Coconut is used as a fruit and oil while the Palm fronds are used for decoration.

The roots of the Coconut tree thrive on sandy soil and moisture like other Palm tree species. These roots grow shallow on the soil surface and only a few are rooted deep for nutritional and water purposes. The roots of a Palm are of fibrous type like other Palm tree roots which are a characteristic of some grass species.

The number of roots per Coconut Palm tree depends upon its age as these roots keep growing to form the base of a stem throughout its life. An average of 3,600 roots can be produced by a Coconut tree which is 60 to 70 years old.

Functions of Palm Tree Roots

Since Palm Trees have long trunks and large fronds, their roots have a major role in keeping these structures moist and provide them with a certain amount of nutrition. Let us discuss some of the important functions of the Roots of a Palm Tree.

  • Roots of the Palm Trees absorb moisture from the surrounding soil and keep the Palm hydrated.
  • They also absorb dissolved minerals in the form of magnesium, iron and manganese which are necessary to prevent the fronds from yellowing.
  • They conduct the absorbed water and nutrients up to the length of the trunk and to the fronds to keep them green and fresh.
  • These roots are responsible for stabilizing and anchoring the long trunk of Plam Trees.
  • These fibrous roots are responsible for binding the sandy soil around them by gripping the soil particles with the roots.
  • The roots of Palm Trees can also be used to treat urinary infections, gall bladder and various kidney problems. Boil 4-5 roots in water and, then, drink the water once it cools down. People suffering from Fibrosis need to boil 3-5 finger long pieces of roots and drink it for a few days. It helps to melt the clotted blood. Palm Tree roots are also used to treat heartburns.

Palm Tree Roots - How Deep Do They Grow? [Facts]

Palm trees make great yard trees that you can plant along your fences to beautify your home. Some species, such as areca palm, can be grown indoors with proper root management. But how deep do palm tree roots grow?

Palm trees have a fibrous root system with the roots growing shallowly at a depth not exceeding 36 inches deep. They grow horizontally and remain narrow even as the plant grows taller. Roots form a root ball from the origination zone, with some remaining exposed above the ground.

Palm Tree Root System (Diagram)

The root system of palm trees is quite different from many other trees that grow tall. Palms do not develop a taproot; instead, roots emerge from the root initiation zone and spread horizontally around the tree within the top 36 inches of topsoil.

Palm trees have a fibrous root system where multiple narrow roots extend out and spread in the soil instead of growing downward. These roots remain thin even as they grow longer.

Some roots start to die off and more roots regenerate to help the plant feed and anchor itself strongly in the ground.

The length of the roots does not increase to match the height of the tree. You can find a tree that’s over 50 feet tall with roots way shorter than that. However, the fibrous root system is adapted in such a way that roots branch out in plenty to maximize nutrient and water absorption.

Here are great facts about palm trees and their roots:

Type of root systemFibrous root system
Growth patternHorizontal
Depth36 feet (shallow)
Exposed roots?Yes – adventitious roots.

How deep are palm tree roots?

Palm tree roots grow as deep as 36 inches within the topsoil area with a horizontal growth pattern. The roots remain narrow and maintain a shallow depth even as they elongate.

But how far do the roots of a queen palm tree grow? While the tree can be big, the roots spread wider at a depth not deeper than 24 inches. If you’re growing a queen palm in your yard, water at a wider diameter every year to make sure all the horizontal roots have access to water and nutrients.

How Do Palm Tree Roots Grow?

Palm trees can grow fast when outdoors, adding 3-10 inches every year if the conditions are favorable. The roots, however, may not grow so deep as you’d expect a tree that can reach the heights of over 100 feet to grow.

Palm tree roots grow in the top 36 inches of topsoil where it is easy to access nutrients and water. The tree forms a root ball from which thin strands of roots grow at the base and spread horizontally to tap the most nutrients. Some roots may be exposed and visible above ground.

Here are a few interesting facts on how the roots of a palm tree grow:

Roots grow horizontally

Instead of growing straight down, palm tree roots like to grow horizontally and spread within the topsoil region limited to 12-36 inches deep. They can spread far away from the trunk of the palm tree as an adaptation to absorb as much water and nutrients as possible.

Most types of palm trees grow in moist but loose and well-draining soil (sometimes sandy soil) where water retention is low. The roots spread horizontally from the trunk and root ball to increase the surface area for water and nutrient absorption. This helps the tree grow faster and thrive even in hot seasons.

If you want to plant large palm tree cultivars, you might want to space them adequately, about 11 to 12 feet apart and away from ground drainage pipes to prevent damage.

Proper spacing also allows the trees to spread their roots adequately, reduces competition for water and nutrients, and sturdy anchoring for support against strong winds.

The root ball

The roots of a palm tree do not grow as big as the tree itself. They maintain the same girth even as they grow long. As the roots spread horizontally away from the trunk, they form a root ball that helps hold the tall tree firmly in the soil.

For example, a short palm tree about 16 ft can have a root ball with a diameter approximately 24 inches.

Palm trees develop a rootball even when they’re young which helps them to anchor firmly in the ground. The ball of roots manifests in potted palm trees that, when transplanted, form the origin of the horizontally-spreading roots.

Pro tip: Use the size of the root ball as a guide for the size of hole to dig up when transplanting your palm tree. Dig up a hole twice the size of the root ball to ensure there will be enough room to put the plant in and create enough loose soil around it to allow new roots to grow easily.

To reduce the risk of your palm tree toppling over in the storm or strong winds, ensure the top of the root-shoot interface is about one inch below the surface of the soil.

For indoor trees such as areca palms, the root ball can become so tight and compacted. This can cause brown leaves in areca palms and generally poor health and growth rate.

Roots exposed above ground

The area at the base of the trunk in palm trees contains actively growing cells and can grow roots that are exposed above the ground. These roots are called adventitious roots and can appear to be dry. Exposed roots are inactive but the plant will continue to feed through roots that remain underground.

Above-ground roots are normal in palm trees especially if they develop on their own. They emerge from the root initiation zone but since they are exposed to a dry environment, they desiccate and stop growing.

Pro tip: When transplanting your palm tree, make sure to dig the hole deep enough such that the root zone is at least 2-3 inches beneath the soil surface.

Do palm trees roots destroy pipes?

The roots of palm trees can not damage pipes because they are are narrow and long, growing horizontally and fairly shallow. However, large cultivars of palm trees can cause disturbance to plumbing pipes in the ground if planted in the yard.

Queen palms, for example, are big and can grow large root balls that can push against underground plumbing pipes and cause some damage.

If you have drainage pipes under your yard, you might want to plant a variety of palm trees that do not grow too big. That way, you’ll be sure the tree’s roots won’t damage your pipes.

Can palm trees damage cement?

Palm trees will unlikely damage concrete and cement surfaces because the roots maintain the same diameter even as they grow longer. The thin roots are not likely going to cause cracks and lines in driveway cement and even in walls.

Other types of roots such as oak can cause damage because their roots grow thicker as the tree ages.

If you’re growing palms in your yard, ensure you space them properly as they can draw nutrients over a large diameter and cause poor ground cover growth.

Removing Palm Tree Roots

If the roots of your palm trees are invasive and posing a risk to other structures where the plant is growing, removal may be necessary. Uproot the stump and the root carefully not to damage other systems such as building foundations, drainage trenches, and sprinkler systems in your yard.

To remove a palm tree root, dig around the trunk with a shovel to remove about 20-25 inches of soil surrounding the tree. This will give you access to the roots, so cut them off with an axe and then dig up any big roots that may remain.

Since the roots of the palm tree can grow back, apply a herbicide that’s strong enough to kill off the palm tree and prevent it from growing again. Simply apply Roundup or any glyphosate alternative herbicide that’s strong enough to kill the palm tree and its roots.

Here’s a video on how to remove the roots of a palm tree:

Do palm tree roots grow back?

Not all varieties of palm trees can grow back after the trunk is cut. Those grow back are clustering palms, which are known to sprout new stems from roots once the trunk is cut off.

For most of the other varieties of palm trees, cutting the trunk will mean the tree will die, so make sure you’re cutting down your palm trees for wood or other uses because it will not grow back.

Unlike the trunks, the roots of the trees usually regenerate, that is why you can cut a certain amount of roots from the tree when transplanting and still be able to revive the plant.

It is even possible to prune off roots that grow beyond the root ball and the plant will still survive and revive as new roots rejuvenate. This practice may, however, weaken the strength of the tree and make it susceptible to storm damage.

  • Timothy K. Broschat, University of Florida IFAS Extension: Transplanting Palms in the Landscape
  • T. K. Broschat, University of Florida, IFAS Extension: Palm Morphology and Anatomy (PDF)

Alex K. Worley

My name is Alex K. Worley. I am a web geek who loves gardening and connecting with nature. I maintain a small backyard organic garden from which I source most of my green food. I hope to help you learn something new about gardening.

correct approach, what to do with a big palm tree


  • Basic Rules
    • Site preparation
    • Moving palm tree
    • Watering
    • Mulching
  • Root cutting
  • How to prevent transplant shock
  • Conclusion

If you grow a palm tree at home and want it to grow well all year round, you need to properly care for it and periodically transplant it either into a new pot or to another plot of land, depending on where you grow the tree: indoors or outdoors . The process of transplanting a palm tree is not much different from transplanting other types of trees. But this procedure must be approached responsibly, performing certain actions in the right sequence. Let's figure out how to properly transplant a palm tree.

Palm trees need to be repotted regularly for optimal growth

Basic Rules

If you are trying to move a palm tree from one place to another in your garden, or transplant it from one pot to another, there are certain rules to follow. Transplanting a palm tree is quite simple, but you must take every precaution not to damage the plant. Before transplanting a palm tree to a new permanent place, you need to prepare all the necessary equipment:

  • spade;
  • sand compost;
  • burlap fabric;
  • mulch;
  • water.

The best time to replant palms is from late spring to early summer when the soil temperature is above 18°C. While most of the 1,500 species of palm trees need subtropical or tropical climates, 100 species will be able to grow in other areas with cooler temperatures.

Watch this YouTube video

Site preparation

First of all, you need to choose a suitable place for the palm tree. It should be well lit, protected from winds and water accumulation. The soil should be fertile and soft, but in any case, you can independently prepare the desired soil. When you find a good spot, dig a hole twice the size of the palm's root ball. It is desirable that the soil be oxygenated, as aeration in the ground will help prevent transplant shock.

Transplanting a plant into a pot is much easier. All you need for this is a larger container and a pre-prepared soil mixture.

Before planting a palm tree in a new container, it is better to immediately choose a place in the house or on the veranda where the plant will stand. It is better to transplant in the same place, so as not to move the tree later and simply not to disturb it.

Palm moving

When pulling a palm tree out of the ground, it is very important not to damage the roots. To do this, dig a small hole around the trunk, thus removing the top compacted layer of soil. Carefully dig the root ball out of the ground and pull out the plant. When lifting it, hold the base of the roots with one hand and hold the top of the trunk with the other. Try not to damage the buds of the tree.

If you are using special tree lifting equipment, still lift the palm from below and support the top. Hold the tree upright while hauling. After you get the tree out of the ground, moisten the burlap and wrap it around the root system, and then you can prepare a new hole.

When transplanting a palm tree, make sure you don't plant it too deep. The top of the root system should be above the top of the soil. Fill the hole with high quality compost mixed with fertilizer and drainage sand.

Palm tree should be transplanted together with an earthen ball


After transplanting, give the tree plenty of water to compact the soil and hold the palm firmly. When the water is absorbed, you can sprinkle some more earth on top. The soil should always be moist, but try not to overwater the plant. Leave the hose with slowly dripping water for 20 minutes to keep the ground around the root ball moist. It will take some time for the soil to absorb all the water.

Constantly check the soil moisture level. After a week, make sure the soil is not too wet, as too much moisture causes root rot, which can destroy the root system and cause the palm tree to fall or die.


Fallen leaves, weeds, straw, sawdust and other natural waste can be used for mulch. Such organic top dressing will provide the soil with the necessary beneficial trace elements.

Add about 7 cm of mulch around the base of the tree without touching the trunk. The mulch will break down over time and act as a fertilizer and keep the exposed roots healthy and safe until they get established.

Straw excellent for mulching

Root cutting

The allowed size of the root system depends on the type of tree. For example, the roots of the Royal Palm (Syagrus romazoffiana) should be 15-30 cm from the trunk, and the roots of the African wild palm (Phoenix reclinata) should grow 1.2-1.8 m. In most palm trees, the roots grow up to 30 cm in depth, so you need to have time to plant a tree in a permanent place until the root system is fully formed.

Big root tubers are usually better than small tubers, so if you're going to shorten the roots, as is usually done with other trees, it's not necessary at all. The palm tree will grow much faster when it has long roots. If you want to plant a plant in a pot, then you should not worry about this. A pot with a diameter of 50-60 cm is quite suitable.

Understanding how palm tree roots grow and how they respond to pruning will help you avoid root damage and increase plant survival. Palm trees do not have woody roots like broadleaf trees.

They have many small rootlets, tightly joined together, growing from the base of the trunk and similar to grassroots. Unlike broadleaf trees, palm roots do not increase in diameter and remain the same size as when they started growing.

Research has shown that different types of palm trees respond differently to root pruning. The roots of some palms die off after pruning, later being replaced by new roots. It doesn't matter how close to the base of the trunk you shorten them. In some species, like the coconut tree, half of the roots survive after being shortened, no matter how close to the trunk you cut them. After transplanting, the plant will grow very few new roots.

The growth of most palm species depends on the survival of the roots. If you don't know how sensitive your palm tree is to root shortening, then it's best to leave enough distance from the trunk. It is recommended to leave at least 90 cm of roots. The root ball is three dimensional, you will also need to dig a hole 90 cm deep.

Each variety of palm has a particular susceptibility to root clipping

How to prevent transplant shock

When a palm tree is transplanted from one place to another, it is much more injured than when it is transplanted from a pot into the ground. When you move a tree out of its pot, you can simply take it out and put it in the ground without damaging the roots. Be prepared for the fact that your palm tree will receive the so-called "transplant shock". Transplant shock occurs when a palm receives various stresses during a move. These stresses arise from new soil, sunlight, new temperature, etc. To avoid them, you need to perform certain actions.

  1. Step 1. Remove leaves. To retain water in transplanted palms, many remove half or two-thirds of the old palm leaves. Some people remove all leaves. As practice shows, leaving some leaves on a palm tree significantly improves their growth and survival.
  2. Step 2: Humidity control. When palm trees are cut off their roots, they can suffer from a lack of water. Before digging up the plant, water it well and wait until the water is completely absorbed and the earth dries out. Then you can moisten the hole in which you are going to plant a tree.
  3. Step 3. Tie the leaves. Before picking up the palm, pin the leaves together to prevent damage. Thin trees can crack easily. To avoid this, tie two sticks to the trunk on opposite sides.
  4. Step 4 Raise the palm tree. You need to be careful when using special equipment for lifting trees. The bark can be easily damaged and damaged areas make the plant vulnerable to insects and fungi, never attach a chain, ropes or cables directly to the trunk. Wrap nylon straps around the barrel and then attach them to the faucet.
  5. Step 5. Planting a palm tree. Try to plant the tree as soon as possible after you have dug it up. If you cannot immediately place the plant in a new place, then constantly make sure that the roots are moist. The palm tree should be planted at the same depth at which it grew before. Deep planting can lead to water shortages and nutrient deficiencies. Planting too high is also not suitable, since the roots are not yet fixed, and the wind can blow against the tree.
  6. Step 6 Untie the leaves. Recent studies show that keeping the leaves tied will not improve growth, but may provide a favorable environment for disease. Experts strongly recommend untying palm leaves immediately after planting.
  7. Step 7. Fertilizer. Don't fertilize your palm tree until you see new growth. There is no need to fertilize until the tree has a new root system. Approximately two months after transplanting, slow-acting fertilizers can be applied.

Watch this YouTube video

After transplanting, the tree will need a little time to form a new root system. It will suffer from water scarcity and a frequent watering schedule should be established. Water the palm tree every 2 days for 2-3 weeks, after which you can go back to your regular schedule.

Don't worry about your plant getting a shock. The palm tree must get used to the new place and form new roots.

Acclimatization and adaptation may take up to 4 months. All you can do is speed up this process by following the steps indicated.


Replanting palms is similar to moving other trees. The palm transplant process requires a little extra care to prevent transplant shock. Soil preparation and a new location for the tree are very important. Adhere to the rules of watering and fertilizing. Be sure to consider all the nuances before you start replanting a palm tree.

Spruce root system - advice from Greensad

When planning which plants to plant on our site, we must take into account their maximum sizes. After all, trees and shrubs tend to increase in size. Also, over time, the "underground" part of plants, their root system, also increases. Because under the ground there are, as it were, inverted branched crowns. Some are pyramidal (tap root system), while others are almost spherical (fibrous). In terms of the shape of the root system, it is not at all necessary to mirror the outlines of the crown. It happens that the crown is columnar, and the root system is superficial. This is the picture we see in spruce.
Spruce studies have revealed the following characteristic features of its root system. Spruce has a pronounced superficial root system. It can be seen from the given data that 85.5% of the spruce roots are concentrated in a layer 1–9 cm deep. The roots mostly spread horizontally, densely intertwined with each other, and form a powerful network. The number of roots at a depth of 9-30 cm compared with the upper layer is reduced by almost six times, and the number of large roots by 10 times. At a depth of 30-50 cm, the roots contain only about 2%. There are even fewer of them in compacted horizons. The roots here spread mainly along the tubes of rotten roots and along the ready-made passages of animals living in the ground. Although the roots of spruce penetrate 165 cm into the depth. Obviously, in the uppermost soil layer, the conditions for the development of spruce roots are most favorable. In the uppermost soil layer, 5-7 cm deep, the roots, densely intertwined in all directions, are firmly attached to the soil and organic residues. This layer of horizontal roots with a felt bedding is easily separated from the mineral soil layer. The vertical root system of spruce is poorly developed; its roots develop most strongly in the upper, loose soil layer, in conditions of good aeration. Small spruce roots are short, without hairs, dark brown in color, and thin roots are always darker than thick ones. The surface of spruce roots is covered with thin - lamellar scales, which are easily peeled off.
A strong wind brings down mighty forest spruces, with their sailing crown and superficial root system, relatively easily - there are many such defeated giants in any forest. yourself. Such fusion of the roots of tree species, apparently, increases the vitality of each tree individually.

The root system of spruce is very intricate and branched, it is about 2 times larger in volume than the crown. Due to such a feeding area of ​​the spruce root system, practically nothing can grow around. That is, if you want to plant a spruce on your site, then nothing can be planted within a radius of 3-4 meters! Since spruce has a branched root system, it must be transplanted very carefully, while maintaining as many roots as possible.
The best places for growing spruce are shady areas, they can be safely called not only shade-tolerant, but even shade-loving. Clay and even sandy soils are well suited for the growth and development of the spruce root system, but if necessary, they can adapt to almost any soil.

The planting site should be chosen according to the type of its root system and according to the individual "relationship" to the groundwater level. The general rule is simple: plants with a shallow root system are relatively tolerant of high standing water, with a rod system they are intolerant. If the water is near the surface, then almost all plants will suffer from wetting of the roots and will soon die (except for especially water-loving species). In the case of spruce and its superficial root system, only constantly flooded areas where water stagnates for a long time will not work. Although, for fidelity in the landing pit, it is better to make drainage from broken bricks, crushed stone and sand 15-20 cm thick.
Another problem is how to plant plants in developed areas next to structures and buildings. Root systems should not strongly overlap each other, intertwine and grow together. It is unacceptable that they compete for water and food, or that they run into obstacles in their growth - foundations and communications. If the root system is superficial, then it can run into the foundation wall, and not only suffer itself, but also harm the buildings. There are well-known rules that help to avoid this. The tree should be planted at least 5 m from the wall of the building and at least 1.5 m from the sewer pipe, shrubs - at least 1.5 m from the wall and at least 1.0 m from the pipe.
It has been established that the average depth of possible winter freezing of the soil in our climatic conditions is up to 1. 5 m. In fact, this figure is extreme and very conditional. Such freezing is possible only in severe snowless winters in areas where there is no vegetation cover. Usually in winter, only a frozen crust forms on the surface of the earth. And the root systems of woody plants in the ground do not freeze through so much - otherwise there would be no forests left for a long time. After all, common spruce can withstand freezing of the root system only down to -23 ° C, and at -24 ° C, the root tissues liquefy and the tree dies.
If the plant is spared from all kinds of interference, then its root system develops normally and reaches the size that is needed to feed the crown. For an adult spruce, this is a circle with a diameter of about 4 meters. Accordingly, it is better not to plant anything within these limits, so as not to create competition for plant nutrition, and also within this circle, very carefully and not deeply loosen.

Spruce - just an incredible plant, in addition to its beauty and power, has phytoncidal properties, which allows you to purify the air.

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