How to plant a baby palm tree
Sprout Palm Trees From Seed
Jon VanZile is a Master Gardener who wrote content for The Spruce for over a decade. He is the author of "Houseplants for a Healthy Home," and his writing has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune, and Better Homes & Gardens, among others. Jon began collecting plants over 10 years ago and he maintains a growing collection of rare and tropical plants.
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Updated on 03/03/21
Reviewed by Catherine Askia
Catherine Askia is a master gardener and member of The Spruce Gardening and Plant Care Review Board. She has over 30 years of experience as a home gardener designing, planting, and maintaining ornamental flower, vegetable, and herb gardens.
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The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy
Because of the way they grow, palm trees cannot be propagated through the asexual means used to propagate many trees. Air layering, cuttings, and division are for the most part not effective when starting palm trees. Usually, the only way to start a palm tree is from seed.
Where to Get Your Seeds
Palm tree seeds can be obtained either through mail order or from flowering trees. The seeds of most palms are held on branching fluorescences and vary in appearance depending on the species. Some are small and bright red, like berries, while others like the coconut are more instantly recognizable. It's best to use fresh palm seeds if possible because they tend to sprout more readily. To test if a palm tree seed is viable, drop it into a bowl of warm water. Seeds that float are no good—they lack internal organs called endosperms that are necessary for reproduction. If the seed sinks, it's more likely to be viable (an exception to this are coconuts, which can sprout after floating for a long time).The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy
How to Start
To sprout the seed, plant it in a small container with a very thin layer of soil, or even only half-buried. Palms do not readily sprout if they are buried too deep—in nature, palm seeds are dispersed by the wind and animals and are rarely buried before they are expected to sprout.
Once you planted the palm seed, move the container to a very warm, very humid place. If you have a window-box in a steamy bathroom, the location should be perfect. If you don't, wrap the container in a plastic bag or plastic food wrap and place it in a warm location, like the top of your refrigerator or a warm windowsill.
The time to germination varies wildly among palm species, but it's probably longer than you're accustomed to. Some palm trees will sprout in 70 days, others, such as coconut palms, can easily take six months to sprout. Don't worry if the seed starts looking a little ragged while you're waiting. It's not uncommon for palm seeds to shrivel and otherwise look dead before they sprout.
Growth After Sprouting
Once the plants have sprouted, move them to a very warm place (at least 75 F) with relatively high humidity. The notable exception here are palms from arid regions, which should be exposed to less humidity as seedlings. Palm seedlings also need abundant light, and many species will thrive in dappled sunlight. If possible, sprout your palms over the winter or in early spring and move the young plants outside for their first summer.
Many popular species of palm are susceptible to root shock from transplanting, so it's not a good idea to transplant young palm trees until they have at least three or four sets of leaves. For this reason, it's a good idea to start palm seedlings in 4" containers at least. The rate of growth for a palm seedling will vary depending on the species. Some palms, like Bismarck, are very slow growers, while others, like the Christmas palm, will grow rapidly after they sprout.
Palm seedlings do not require fertilizer at first, but once they start actively growing, it's a good idea to start them on a weak liquid fertilizer. Use a palm fertilizer that has been formulated especially for palm trees. It's a misconception that palm trees don't need fertilizer—in fact, the difference between a good palm and a great palm is fertilizer.
Once the palm has developed several sets of leaves and the leaves begin to assume their mature form, you can move the plant inside and transplant it into a larger container.The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Palm Seed Germination. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.
Harries, HC. Germination Rate Is the Significant Characteristic Determining Coconut Palm Diversity. AoB Plants, 2012,pls045, 2012 doi:10.1093/aobpla/pls045
Guide to Selecting and Planting Palm Trees
by Joyce Starr | Updated: | 0 Comments
Nothing symbolizes a tropical and beachy paradise better than a palm tree. Adding one, or many, to your home gives an otherwise bland landscape a kiss of the exotic. To grow palm trees properly starts with proper planting and the steps to planting a new palm aren’t difficult. Proper planting gets your palm off to the best start possible so it produces healthy and problem-free growth for years to come. We’ve outlined all the planting tips and removed any mysteries from properly selecting and planting palm trees.
Selecting the Palm Tree
Those lucky enough to live in frost-free regions of the country like portions of Florida have an almost endless supply of palm tree varieties that will perform well planted outdoors. However, don’t despair if your climate is more temperate because there are quite a few options of cold-hardy palm trees. Additionally, there are multiple species of palms that are hardy growing in pots both indoors and outside, so there’s a palm to fit everyone’s needs and desires.
Before you rush out and purchase a new palm, it’s best to do a bit of research to make sure the particular palm is hardy growing in your proposed conditions. Many palms grow well in the outdoor conditions found in USDA zones 8 through 10, with a few tolerating warmer areas of zone 7. Therefore, knowing what USDA zone you live in is helpful in selecting a palm hardy in your locale. You can also find out if the palm you desire is hardy growing in pots or is better suited planted in the landscape.
Types of Palm Trees
Whether you’re looking for feathery fronds, sturdier-looking fan-shape types, palms that are cold-hardy or ones suitable for pots, there’s a palm to tickle your fancy. Some of the more popular palms, their hardiness zones and their characteristics include:
- Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans): Hardy in USDA zones 9-10, suitable house plant or potted palm and partial shade to shade, green pinnate fronds and grows slowly.
- Chinese fan palm (Livistona chinensis): Hardy in USDA zones 8-10, suitable house plant or potted palm, with olive green palmate fronds and grows slowly.
- Pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii): Hardy in USDA zones 9-11, suitable container palm, glossy green pinnate and thorny fronds and slow growth.
- Needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix): Hardy in USDA zones 7-10, cold-hardy, slow growth with green pinnate fronds and clumping habit.
- Sable or cabbage palm (Sable palmetto): Hardy in USDA zones 8-10, cold-hardy, moderate growth with green, fan-shaped fronds.
- Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortune): Hardy in USDA zones 8-11, cold-hardy, slow growth, suitable house plant or potted palm, fan-shaped, green fronds and trunk looks like it’s covered in burlap.
- Queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana): Hardy in USDA zones 9-11, moderate growth and green featherlike fronds.
- Coconut palm (Cocos nucifera): Hardy in USDA zones 10-11, moderate growth, green to greenish-yellow, featherlike fronds.
- Sago palm ():
Check the Palm’s Health
One of the most important aspects of planting a new palm and assuring it gets off to the absolute best start is selecting healthy specimens. You don’t want to purchase an already stressed or sickly palm and then try to bring it back to good health. Some varieties cost a lot and in serious cases, you may never be able to bring the palm back to full health. Some of the basic signs to look for that alert to potential problems include:
- The palm’s roots outgrowing the container.
- Obvious signs of insects.
- Yellowing, brown or spotted fronds.
- Damaged portions on the palm’s trunk.
When selecting your palm, the roots shouldn’t be growing out of the container and the fronds should be green and healthy with no signs of disease or insect problems. If the root system is contained in containers that are too small for too long and the roots are seriously wrapping, the palm may never obtain healthy growth. Be sure to inspect the entire palm to make sure you are purchasing a healthy specimen.
After you have chosen the desired palm tree, the next important step in properly planting the palm tree is selecting an appropriate site in the landscape that meets all the tree’s requirements for proper growth. By checking the plant tag or researching the particular palm’s characteristics and growing requirements, you will find important details about the tree that assist in selecting the best site in the landscape for planting. Important information includes:
- Preferred light conditions.
- Mature height & width.
- Produces single or multiple trunks.
- Thorny or smooth fronds.
When transplanting a new palm tree into its permanent site, it is important to plant the palm in preferred light conditions, as growth is negatively affected when the palm isn’t receiving the light it requires. You don’t want to plant a palm that requires full sun into a site that only receives shade, nor do you want to plant a palm that thrives in shady locations in full sun.
In addition, knowing the expected size of the palm helps pick a spot where the tree won’t interfere with structures or power lines. Planting palm trees near a house or pool is OK, but you want to consider its mature height and width so it doesn’t encroach on something like a roof or outgrow a screened pool enclosure and potentially causing unwanted damage or expense. Select a site large enough for the palm to grow to its full potential and where it won’t cause interference or damage. It’s best to allow room for the palm to spread to its full width without the need for pruning fronds It’s not healthy for the tree to prune off foliage that isn’t completely brown and dead.
Depending on the variety, palm trees grow as single trunk trees or have a clumping habit, producing multiple trunks over time. In addition, some types have smooth fronds and others contain lines of stiff thorns. You probably don’t want to plant palm trees with thorny fronds in areas where there is traffic or children, like an entranceway or pool area.Not all palms are people-friendly. The sharp thorns on this Mexican fan palm make it a poor choice for near the pool. Credit: John Tann, CC 2.0
Tips for Planting Palm Trees in the Landscape
Now that you have chosen your particular palm and selected a site that meets all the tree’s requirements for good growth, next comes the fun part of actually planting the palm tree. Although in frost-free climates planting palm trees in pots or in the landscape is possible year-round, the University of Florida suggests summer as the best time of year for planting palms in the landscape due to the frequent rains. When planting during other seasons, you may have to water the palm more frequently.
When preparing the soil for planting palm trees in the landscape, it’s best and probably easiest to go with your native soil, provided it has good drainage. A sandy loam is best. Moisture-holding clay isn’t good. The vast majority of palm species won’t tolerate constantly saturated soils, which lead to root rot.
When asked about the necessity to amend the native soil before planting a palm tree, Sally Scalera, Urban Horticulture Agent & Master Gardener Coordinator, UF/IFAS Extension Brevard County states, “Because the root system of all palms will spread out at least 50 feet from the trunk, it is best to just use native soil, unless you’re willing to amend the entire area where the roots could spread.” For most people, amending an area that size would be too labor-intensive and expensive.
8 Steps for Planting Palm Trees
- Remove all grass or weed growth from an area at least 3 feet in diameter. Clear an area large enough to keep lawn equipment from bumping into the palm’s trunk and causing potential damage.
- Loosen the planting site’s soil. Dig down about 2 feet into the soil. Loosening any clumps and remove rocks. This assists the root system by letting it spread out more easily.
- Dig a hole slightly wider than and as deep as the container holding the palm tree or the exposed root ball.
- Place the palm’s root ball into the hole. Make sure not to plant the tree any deeper than it’s originally growing. Add or remove soil as needed. When it comes to the biggest mistake people make when planting palms, Sally Scalera notes, “That would be planting the rootball too deep. It is important that the top of the rootball be at least at the same level as the surrounding soil. If the hole is dug deeper than the depth of the rootball, the rootball will sink once the fluffed soil settles from the weight of the palm and water.”
- Backfill the hole halfway with soil. Irrigate the hole with water. This helps settle the soil and removes any pockets of air.
- Finish backfilling the hole with soil. Make sure the palm isn’t planted deeper than it was originally growing. Firm up soil around the trunk.
- If desired, add a 3-inch layer of mulch around the planting site. Keep it pulled back about 4 inches from the trunk. Butting the mulch against the trunk promotes pest and disease problems.
- Irrigate the area again, deeply, to saturate the roots.
Planting Palm Trees in Pots
If you prefer a potted palm to dress up an outdoor or indoor location, transplanting palm trees into another pot is relatively basic. Depending on the palm’s size, usually a 3- to 5-gallon pot with bottom drainage is bto produce proper growth. Check the size of the root system. You want to transplant into a pot large enough to contain it and still have room for new growth. Using a pot one size larger than the present one is usually adequate.
Any type of potting mix will work well, as long as it has good drainage. You don’t want a mix that tends to remain soggy, as it can promote disease problems with your palm. Many types of potting soils are too heavy and require amending with sandy soil or a lighter substance like peat or perlite. Palms are relatively hardy in the types of soils they tolerate, as long as they have excellent drainage.
As when planting palm trees in the landscape, just make sure to plant the palm at the same depth it is growing in its original container. Planting too deep puts undue stress on the palm and negatively affects its growth. Water the palm after planting and then place in an area receiving the tree’s preferred light conditions. Continue irrigating by checking the top few inches of soil. If dry, apply water until it runs from the bottom drain holes.
Palm Tree After-Care
The biggest chore after planting a palm tree is making sure it receives a sufficient amount of water. Underwatering can negatively affect its growth. It can take a palm anywhere from six to 12 months to establish itself into the new planting site. Depending on the soil and its moisture-holding capability, you may have to irrigate the tree daily, especially during hot and dry weather. Always irrigate deeply so the water reaches the entire root system.
Depending on the variety of palm’s tolerance to drought and local weather conditions, 1- to 2-year-old trees typically require three to four applications weekly. Trees 3 to 4 years old require two to three water applications weekly.
Properly planting your palm tree and giving it good aftercare is the best guarantee for robust growth. Some species of palms naturally grow faster than others. Providing the palm with the best start possible assures you’ll end up with a thriving tree that adds its tropical wonder to your landscape for years to come.
Joyce Starr has been writing on horticultural and landscaping topics for over 15 years. In addition, for the past 20 years she’s owned and operated a landscaping and design business. She shares her experience and passion for all things green through her writing.
Posts by Joyce Starr
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selection of soil and pot, step-by-step technology
Among exotic plants, a tropical beauty, the palm tree, has won the recognition of floriculture lovers. For its normal growth and development in a closed space, it is necessary to create conditions that are as close to natural as possible. Also, one of the important points in growing an evergreen plant is the periodic replacement of the container with a large one. To successfully transplant a palm tree at home, you need to follow the step-by-step instructions that determine the sequence of actions.
- How often Palm requires transplant
- The deadlines of the procedure
- Preparatory stage
- Plant preparation Choosing pot
- What kind of soil
- 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000
- Features of care after the procedure
How often does a palm tree need to be transplanted
The recommended frequency of replanting a young green plantation is every year , but for specimens under the age of 6 years - 1 time in 2-3 years . It is already becoming extremely problematic to transfer adult plantings into spacious flowerpots, so they replace the topsoil with a nutrient-rich substrate. In addition, the soil is replaced with a new one in case of urgent need, when the root system began to rot or it was attacked by harmful insects.
Older than three years old palm trees react quite painfully to any damage to the roots. Given this feature of these plants, whimsical to the conditions of keeping, they should be moved to a larger flowerpot by the method of transshipment. It is less traumatic for the fragile underground part of the flower.
To preserve the integrity of the earthen clod , it is necessary not to carry out any irrigation measures for several days. Then it will be much easier to remove the palm tree from the pot, because the earth will dry out. If parasitizing individuals were found in the soil, then a slightly different approach will be required here.
First treat with the appropriate fungicide , then remove the infested parts of the root system and transplant into a prepared container with a new universal substrate.
When transplanting a palm tree, it is important to use only sharp and disinfected tools and not to cut off healthy tissues, otherwise the underground part of the phytobeauty will begin to dry out, which will lead to its death.
Timing of the procedure
Since the palm tree has proven itself to be a capricious and at the same time delicate plant, it is better to transplant in the spring. The recommended time for such manipulations is mid-March-early April. In an emergency, the procedure is allowed at any time of the year.
Regular replanting when growing an exotic crop makes it possible to significantly increase its immunity and improve its external condition. Such positive changes are achieved by fresh nutrient soil rich in useful components. The root system quickly absorbs them and provides everything necessary for the aerial part of the palm tree. But to get the desired result, you should follow certain recommendations.
Preparing the plant
Before transplanting the palm tree at home , carefully remove it from the old container and inspect the root system . All suspicious places must be removed, and the cut point must be disinfected with crushed charcoal. For these purposes, a sharp knife or scalpel that has been disinfected with alcohol is used. If you neglect these tips, then there is a high probability of infection, pathogenic microorganisms.
Choosing a pot
When choosing a flower container, it is not advisable to put the aesthetic component in the first place. The main thing is that the flowerpot is of sufficient height and stability , otherwise the plant may tip over from the windowsill, stand. The optimal solution is the practical containers of light shades , which do not allow overheating of the root system of the plant.
In addition, with each subsequent transshipment of room palm, the dimensions of the pot should be 2-3 cm larger. This is necessary for the successful development of the underground part of the green pet. If you need to transplant a massive palm tree, then it is recommended to choose a flowerpot with a diameter 1/3 larger than the previous one. Pay special attention to the drainage holes , they must be provided at the bottom of the container.
Do not purchase pots larger than required. In the presence of free space, the growth of an exotic culture is suspended.
This is due to the fact that the roots begin to wrap around the earth ball to the detriment of the growth of the above-ground part. In most cases, with this approach, the owner seeks to activate all growth processes and excessively moisten the palm tree, causing it to rot.
What kind of soil do palm trees need?
For a quick recovery after plant transplantation, it is necessary to use a soil substrate with sufficient moisture and air permeability. The presence of loose and fertile soil allows the palm tree to actively increase its green mass. The soil must be slightly acidic or neutral . Compounds for palms and cacti are suitable for these purposes, especially for transplanting young plantations that need a light soil mixture.
For adult specimens, a purchased universal substrate is taken as the basis, and sand, leafy, soddy soil and peat are already added to it. Alternatively, a suitable soil mixture can be prepared from the following ingredients:
- 1 part sand;
- 1 part humus;
- 2 parts of garden soil.
It is also good to use a mixture of soddy and leafy soil, taken in 2 parts each, peat, coarse sand, rotted manure and crushed charcoal, one part of each component. In equal proportions, a substrate is prepared from lowland peat, coarse sand, mineral complex composition and dolomite flour.
In order to avoid further problems with indoor palm, it is necessary to disinfect the soil substrate to rid it of pathogenic microorganisms. There are several ways to dress the soil:
- heating in an oven at 100 °C;
- steaming for 30 minutes over a boiling water bath;
- treatment with weakly concentrated potassium permanganate solution.
When transplanting palm trees, disinfected soil is used only after it has completely cooled down.
Methods and technology of replanting
Algorithm of actions for the planned replanting of a room palm tree:
- Carefully remove the plant together with the earthen clod from the pot.
- Shake it lightly and if diseased, infected areas are identified, cut off the roots without affecting healthy tissue.
- Powder the wound surface with powdered charcoal.
- Lay a drainage layer of broken bricks, expanded clay, pebbles, ceramic shards on the bottom of the container. Its thickness should be 3-4 cm.
- Sprinkle with fertile soil.
- Place the plant in the center of the flowerpot, if necessary, spread the roots, and fill the resulting voids with new potting mix.
- Lightly compact the soil.
- Moisten it.
- Add primer after shrinkage.
Deep root collar is not recommended.
Features of care after the procedure
The transplanted tropical beauty should be determined in partial shade, direct sunlight should not be allowed to fall on its leaf mass. Otherwise, there is a risk of burns on the sheet plates. Indoors, it is desirable to maintain a temperature regime within + 18-23 ° C. Irrigation activities are carried out when the top layer of soil dries out. Spraying the first time after transplantation is not desirable. Feeding procedures are also not carried out during the first two months after changing the container and soil.
Growing palm trees at home with a competent approach is quite a promising occupation. The main thing is to adhere to the rules of agricultural technology and correctly transplant into a new pot. A signal of the need for such a procedure will be the roots of the flower peeking out of the drainage holes.
How to grow a palm tree from seeds. Propagation of a palm tree division of a bush
Author: Galina Goncharuk Category: indoor plants reprinted: Last amendments:
- How to grow a palm tree
- Palm Reproduction Claim
- Useful references 05 Comments on the Internet are striking in their diversity. Once I looked at one of the online auctions, and there the wonderful Date Palm is being sold for 400 hryvnias. But Hamedorea is much cheaper. But the problem is that you want, as in the famous cartoon - everything and more. Therefore, such a decision would be quite logical: what can be grown with our own hands, we will propagate and grow it ourselves. Not all palm trees are easy to grow, especially from seed. They hatch for a long time, and they do not soon give the first sprouts. But flower growers are not looking for easy ways. Cultivation of palm is not an easy process, but an interesting one. There are two options: from seeds and the method of dividing the bush.
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How to Grow a Palm Tree from Seeds
Growing a palm tree from seeds is probably the most curious and exciting activity that a florist can be interested in. For example, I was very curious: it will germinate - it will not germinate. And since it takes more than six months to wait for an answer, the further the interest, the stronger.
I will tell on the example of Hamedorea seeds. But, in principle, other types of palm trees can be grown in this way. Especially we like to grow date palms.
When buying seeds, you should immediately pay attention to the packaging and expiration dates. Because old palm seeds have very low germination. If they are packed a year ago - do not buy - they will not rise.
For sowing palm seeds, you can take plastic disposable cups (100-200 ml) and make drainage holes at the bottom. We pour soil into them, consisting of sheet earth (1 part), perlite (1 part) and vermiculite (1 part). The mixture should be 1-2 cm below the rim of the cup.
Palm seeds are pre-soaked in water for 5 days. We clean it from the remnants of the fleshy shell. And we file the hard coating a little with the help of an abrasive stone or a file. All this speeds up the germination process.
We water the soil in a cup and bury the seeds of Hamedorea (or other palm tree) into the soil, one in each cup with the sawn part down. It is not necessary to cover the earth.
Then we arrange a greenhouse for seeds - we put a plastic bag on the cup. So moisture will not evaporate from the ground. We put the cups with seeds in a warm (at least 25-27 ° C) and well-lit (at least 10-12 hours) place.
Now we are waiting for the seeds to germinate. We water constantly. We ventilate once a day. And we are waiting. For a long time. The seeds of some palms germinate from six months to 9 months.
When the seedlings are 2-4 cm long, transplant each into an individual permanent pot using palm soil. The first year, a young palm tree should be well shaded from direct sunlight.
Propagation of palm trees by dividing the bush
Not many palm trees propagate by branching or dividing the bush. Of the widespread ones, for example, Hamedorea. Other types of palms are either impossible to propagate in this way, or too troublesome.
But in the case of Hamedorea, propagation of palm in this way is preferable than from seeds. This way you will get results faster. If you have to wait about six months from the seeds of the sprout, then 4-6 weeks will go to rooting by dividing the bush. And after 4 months you will get a young plant.
Separation of the young bush from the main one should be carried out during the growing season - best in May. At this time, transplantation of already mature palms is usually carried out. So, during transplantation, you need to separate the young branch, which is located on the side. It is better to take a process no higher than 25 cm, so that it takes root more easily. Also, a young Hamedorea bush should have flexible stems, a fully formed small branch and its own roots.
We release the roots of an adult palm tree and a process from the ground (so that it was clear where to cut). Carefully separate the young bush with a knife, while cutting the connecting roots as close as possible to the main part of the palm tree. Sprinkle slices with charcoal, crushed into powder.
In a pot (small size) pour soil for palm trees or a mixture of leaf humus (2 parts), soddy soil (1 part) and perlite (2 parts). We place a shoot there, water it and sprinkle it with soil. We also plant an adult plant, but already in fresh soil.
We put the young Hamedorea for rooting in a warm place (temperature about 30-35°C). If possible, you can make a frame over the pot from a thin wire and pull a transparent bag over it to make a greenhouse. This is especially recommended if the house is not very warm even in May. If without a greenhouse, then the desired humidity can be provided by constant spraying.
Watering is also needed frequently, but as the topsoil dries out. This is important, as excessive watering can rot the roots. In this way, watering the branch differs from watering the seeds - it needs a lot of soil moisture.
If you did everything right, then the new Hamedorea palm will take root in a month.