How often to water palm trees in california

How To Care For Palm Trees In California

California is almost as famous for its palm trees as it is for the celebrities who call it home. How, though, do average California residents go about caring for the palm trees they have on their properties?

Learning how to care for a palm tree will take time, but you'll be able to start on the right foot by taking the following steps:

  • Planting your palm tree with care or professional guidance
  • Watering frequently during the growing stage
  • Using the right fertilizer
  • Trimming your tree

Still feeling apprehensive? Let's break those steps down further so the palm trees on your property can thrive. With a little more information under your belt, you'll be able to care for some of California's most iconic palms confidently.


  • How To Care For Palm Trees in California
    • What You Need To Know About Palm Trees in California
    • Getting Started
      • Plant Your Palm With Care
      • Water Frequently During The Growing Stage
      • Use the Right Fertilizer
      • Trim Your Tree
    • How Much Water Do Palm Trees Need in California?
    • Why Does California have Palm Trees?
    • Do Palm Trees Mesh Well With California's Native Trees?
    • Where Did All The Palm Trees In Los Angeles Come From?

So you've decided that you want to integrate one of California's iconic palms into your landscaping. Once you've chosen the species you want to have around, you'll need to take steps to ensure that it'll survive on your property.

How, though, do you go about caring for a California palm?

What You Need To Know About Palm Trees in California

Let's clear one thing up right away: there's more than one type of palm tree in California. Surprisingly, though, only one species is native to the area. The California fan palm grew in California long before people came to the area. It was only after residents decided to invest in terraforming and landscaping that palms from Mexico and other arid regions arrived in the area.

Some of the most popular palm trees in California today include:

  • Jelly Palms
  • Coconut Palms
  • Hurricane or Princess Palms
  • Bamboo Palms
  • Spindle Palms
  • Bottle Palms
  • Triangle Palms
  • Wild Date Palms
  • Canary Island Date Palms
  • Solitaire Palms
  • Royal Palms
  • Cocos Plumosas
  • Miniature Royal Palms (or Christmas Palms)
  • Mexican Fan Palms
  • Areca Palms

You can bring any of these palm trees home with you after a trip to the nursery. Their care and keep will vary a little, but you'll be able to get away with a few essential staples, regardless of species.

Getting Started

Once you've brought your tree home, where do you start? Let's break your first steps down so you can give your palm the start it needs to thrive.

Plant Your Palm With Care

Different palm trees need different amounts of sun to thrive. Do your research before bringing your palm tree home to ensure that you don't accidentally plant a shade-loving palm in the brightest spot on your lawn.

If you're not comfortable choosing the place to plant your palm tree yourself, you can always reach out to a local professional. Nursery representatives in California who are willing to make house calls can help you dig, plant, and mulch your palm tree so that it the healthiest start possible.

Water Frequently During The Growing Stage

You wouldn't think trees that have long-adapted to California's dry summers would need to much water to thrive. Palm trees, however, need a lot of water during their first week after planting if they're going to stay alive. Try to water your palm tree every day for a full week after you've planted it. If you're under-watering your palm, you'll start to sees its existing palms turn yellow or wither in the sun.

Use the Right Fertilizer

You don't always need fertilizer to help your palm tree grow, but it never hurts to give your tree access to more nutrients. Fertilizing your palm tree will help the roots take hold in the ground, preventing the tree from falling over and ensuring that it gets as much water as it needs after the initial planting period has passed.

Find the best fertilizer for your palm tree on Amazon.

Trim Your Tree

Finally, as your tree grows, be prepared to trim back its fronds. You'll need to get used to trimming your palm for more than just aesthetic reasons. As your palm grows, you'll be able to help it properly direct the nutrients it takes in by trimming away fronds that are turning yellow or otherwise growing improperly. Likewise, if your palm gets infected by spider mites, trimming off the palm and hosing it down will help you keep it healthy.

Do your research ahead of time to determine whether or not the palm you want to bring home is self-cleaning. If it isn't, then it's up to you to inspect your tree for infestations and respond accordingly.

When your palm tree is still small, you'll be able to trim away yellowing fronds with a hand saw, as pictured below.

You can find a tree-trimming hand saw through Amazon.

As your palm tree gets older and taller, however, you're going to want to reach out to a professional to have its fronds trimmed. The cost of a professional trimming will vary based on many factors, including:

  • Your palm's height
  • The palm tree's condition
  • The location of other trees on your property

Trees that are 30 feet or shorter tend to run you $300 per trim. Palms that grow past 60 feet are more expensive to care for and can run you $1,200 per trim if they're especially prolific growers.

How Much Water Do Palm Trees Need in California?

As mentioned, the amount of water your palm tree is going to need will vary on its stage in life. Immediately after planting, you're going to want to water your palm every day for a week. After it's made it through the first week after its transplant, you can water it every other day.

After about three weeks of consistent watering, you can taper off your schedule. An established palm tree only needs water two to three times a week, depending on how much rain the area you're living in gets.

Why Does California have Palm Trees?

Nowadays, California's palm trees are one of the state's defining symbols. Why, though, did anyone plant palm trees in the area in the first place? Palm trees aren't all fruit trees, and the ones that thrive in California don't provide enough resources to be considered useful. Partner this with the minimal shade they offer, and palm trees don't seem to serve much of a point.

That, however, is a point within itself. We'll touch on the people who brought trees to California in a few sections, but the state's residents who built its cities as we now know them wanted to display their dominance over nature creatively and frivolously. Thus, the modern affiliation between California and the palm tree sprang to life.

Do Palm Trees Mesh Well With California's Native Trees?

If the vast majority of palm trees in California aren't native to the area, should they be considered invasive species? In general, no. While they're certainly not trees that would grow naturally in the area, the palm tree species that were brought to Los Angeles and other Californian cities don't disrupt the ecosystem of the other native palms and plants growing in the area. If their root systems grew more aggressively, then they'd be a force to be reckoned with. As it stands, though, California's iconic palm trees know how to play nice.

Where Did All The Palm Trees In Los Angeles Come From?

If most species of palm trees aren't native to Los Angeles and California at large, where did they come from? For answers, we need to time travel back to the eighteenth century.

At the time, Los Angeles was about as far from the sprawling city it is today as you could get. It's said that Franciscan missionaries were the first to bring palm trees like the Mexican fan palm and other non-native species into the plot where the city would eventually be. It wouldn't be until the start of the twentieth century, though, that engineers-turned-gardeners would see the chance to terraform Los Angeles' ecosystem as their opportunity to prove that humanity bore domination over nature.

It's not entirely clear why the missionaries or landscapers chose palm trees over any other type of tree (even though palm trees aren't technically a type of tree). Palms don't help with erosion, provide little shade, and only a few species grow any edible fruit. At best, it's guessed that palm trees' appearance in the Christian Bible drove their caretakers to foster their growth in Los Angeles. After all, what makes the City of Angels more angelic than one of the trees that thrived in the Garden of Eden?

Regardless of their origins or the motives of those who planted them, palm trees evoke the excitement and exoticism that keeps Los Angeles and the rest of California exciting. If you want to bring some of that flair to your front yard, why wait? So long as you've got the right tools and expertise at hand, you'll be able to grow a healthy and hearty palm tree at home.

5 Tips for Caring for Palm Trees in California

5 Tips for Caring for Palm Trees in California


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Felipe Benavides

Felipe has been working in the Nursery and Garden center for many years and bring extensive knowledge to trees, plants, and landscape design.

Copyright: alkanc / 123RF Stock Photo

It’s hard to imagine the Southern California landscape without palm trees. They are an iconic part of our region. They can be seen lining boulevards, adorning yards, and helping to create a backyard tropical oasis from Los Angeles County to San Diego County.

Most palms are subtropical or tropical. A few of them are also surprisingly cold hardy. In fact, don’t be surprised to see a few palms growing in unexpected places such as Portland, Seattle, and Denver!

Here in California, eighteenth-century Franciscan missionaries were the first to plant palms for ornamental purposes. The palms’ association with biblical references likely inspired these missionaries. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that palms became an intrinsic part of the SoCal landscape. During the turn of the century, homeowners started to plant them in the front yards of mansions, and they were planted in historic parks such as in the Palm Canyon spot in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The rest, as they say, is history!

Even though our landscape is dotted with a diverse range of palms, only one species, the California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) is native to California. All the other species, such as the feather-topped, majestic Canary Island Date Palm to the slender, pillar-like Mexican Fan Palms have been imported, with great success. Yes, palms can evoke the blissful feeling of the tropics year-round. Of course, yellow and brown foliage is not the picture of a healthy palm. With special care, we can keep our palms thriving. Don’t worry though. These iconic trees require minimal maintenance.

What to Look For

There are at least three things to look for in your palm tree that should cause you to take immediate action. Spot the issues that palms can have early, and you can save the lush appearance of your palm.

Yellowing leaflets: If you notice that the leaflets on older fronds are turning yellow, it may mean that the tree is lacking magnesium. The older fronds will be the ones that are lower on the tree. Magnesium deficiency can turn a once attractive tree into one with yellowing fronds.

Orange or yellow spotting: A lack of potassium can cause older fronds to have yellow or orange spotting. Potassium deficiency can cause the trunk to be narrow, which can kill the tree, especially if there is substantial storm damage.

Scorched fronds: Manganese deficiency can cause newer fronds to appear scorched and can make the leaflets starts to curl. In fact, one of the most common causes of palm tree death is a result of improper fertilization.



A little bit of tender loving care is essential to any plant, palms included. With a little bit of maintenance, we can keep our palm lush and lovely, keeping their leafy tropical allure in-tact. We talked to our experts, and they help us compile five tips for keeping the foliage of your graceful palm green and healthy. Keep reading!


Planting: Decide on where to plant your palm tree. The right place will vary on what type of tree you have. Sun exposure and the amount of space required to grow are also factors to consider when planting.

Let the Pros do the Digging: The best way to have the look of your ideal yard is to let us do the digging. Our experienced crew will plant your palm the right way the first time! Our professional planting includes all the digging, planting, and mulch. We also add Moon Juice, and everything we plant is guaranteed to grow!

Watering: Established palms thrive in fertile, well-drained soil. Newly planted palms benefit from faithful irrigation. Keeping the earth sufficiently moist is beneficial to the health of the palm. Keep an eye on your palm for signs of stress due to lack of water. Symptoms include slow growth and browning on the tips of the oldest leaves. Some palm species show signs of stress when the leaflets wilt. Water stress can also cause the trunk to hollow out or collapse. In areas where the temperatures reach above 100 degrees, water deeply about four to five times a week. We recommend drip watering or using a soaker hose with a very slow trickle. You can always use an electronic soil moisture meter or a soil probe to check the soil moisture. Another easy way to check is to grab a little shovel and scrape the surface at least six inches deep.

Tip: In the summer, we recommend watering in the early morning or late afternoon.

Fertilizing: Using the right fertilizers is an excellent way to keep your palm looking healthy. For instance, a fertilizer such as Super Palm Juice has magnesium, which can prevent it from being iron deficient. This easy-to-apply liquid can reach roots fast! It can help increase moisture and nutrient uptake. Super Palm Juice can also stimulate root growth and can help protect against stress. Moon Juice is recommended for palms because it has manganese, which can help them prevent and recover from stressors.

Cleaning and Trimming: Help control spider mites and other sucking insects by hosing off the palms with a water hose periodically. Frequent washing provides some humidity, too. Some palms are self-cleaning and will shed the old leaf bases on their own. For those palms that hold their bases, they can be trimmed. You can prune them by slicing the old bases off at the very bottom of the base. Be careful not to cut into the trunk. Always clean any tools with rubbing alcohol to prevent the spread of disease. For best results, hire a professional tree trimmer.


Palms bring value and interest to any landscape. Let us do all the work! Our nursery pros will be glad to help you design, select the perfect palms, deliver, and plant. At Moon Valley Nurseries, we have the ideal palms ready to thrive in your yard. Our selection includes beautiful palm trees such as our Piru Queen Palms and King Palms, which are two of the most popular palms for any size yard. Our Canary Island Date Palms add elegance and luxury to all types of properties. Line up some Date Palms along a driveway and create a grand entrance! Mediterranean Fan Palms are the ideal size for planting in small areas! We have just what you need to establish an exotic look in your yard. Best of all, all our palms are guaranteed disease-free!