How to replant palm tree

10 Best Steps For Transporting Palm Trees (And How To Do It)

Looking around your yard, you might consider planting a palm tree in order to brighten your outdoor aesthetic. Or, you might ponder transplanting a palm tree to a different location in your yard for a practical purpose. Either way, these musings lead to a question: how do folks transport and plant a palm tree in their yard as well as reduce the transplant shock?

Here are 10 simple steps to transport a palm tree:

  • Dig around the root ball of your palm tree
  • Dig out the palm tree
  • Remove old leaves
  • Prepare for transport
  • Prepare the planting location
  • Plant the palm tree
  • Untie the fronds
  • Water the palm tree
  • Add mulch
  • Support the palm with timbers

Keep reading to learn about the root system of a palm tree, the steps in transporting it as well as helpful tips in reducing the tree’s experience of transplant shock.

Just to add – when you shop using links from Tree Journey, we may earn affiliate commissions if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

How To Transport A Palm Tree

Palm trees are some of the least complicated trees to transport and plant. This is because they have a sizable, fibrous root ball instead of a deep, extensive root system. The root ball is fairly easy to dig out, and palm trees can usually have a speedy recovery after transporting and planting.

To safely transplant an adult palm tree, you must prepare the planting location. Afterward, plan to dig out the palm tree with minimal damage to the root ball, successfully transport it to the planting location, and care for the palm tree after it is securely planted in the ground. Remember that a palm tree grown in the field experiences more severe transplant shock than a palm tree grown in a container, which correlates to the amount of damage on the root ball.

A palm tree grown in a container is not cut like a palm tree grown in the field, even though the root ball is still exposed to the air during transportation. Transplant shock occurs when a tree copes with the stresses of its new environment, which include different soil and sunlight exposure. Lessening the severity of transplant shock in a palm tree is discussed in the section, “How to Reduce Transplant Shock in a Palm Tree.”

A quick note before we get started, did you know that you actually can grow certain types of palm trees in New York? Not tropical palm trees, however. You can read more about that in our piece: Here’s Why You Can’t Grow Tropical Palm Trees In New York

Step #1: Dig Around The Root Ball Of A Palm Tree

As previously mentioned, palm trees have a root ball that is composed of small compacted roots. The roots of broadleaf trees, like oaks, grow in diameter and also plunge deep into the soil; this is untrue of the roots of palm trees. The root ball of a palm tree remains the same size, and the small compacted roots stay closer to the surface of the soil.

A University of Florida study discovered that various palm tree species respond in different ways to the cutting of their root systems. The sabal palmetto’s roots, for example, die after cutting and are replaced by new roots; so, it does not make a difference if the roots are cut close to the palm’s base. For the coconut palm, 50% of its cut roots survive and keep growing regardless of how close they are cut to the palm’s base. 

With this in mind, the root ball can be kept small for the sabal palmetto and coconut palm trees when digging out these species. For palm trees that are up to 15 feet in height, dig a one to two feet radius from the trunk and dig one to feet into the soil. If you are in doubt about the sensitivity level to root cutting for your palm tree species, dig a larger radius around the trunk.

Step #2: Dig Out The Palm Tree

After digging around the palm tree, you will cut some of the roots. Root cutting happens regardless of how large the radius is around the trunk.

Cut the soil and palm roots with a spade that goes in a circle around the palm tree. This circle is about 12 to 24 inches away from the trunk of the tree, and it creates space for the root ball. Cut the palm tree’s roots about 12 inches underneath the surface of the soil.

Digging out the palm tree requires lifting, which usually requires multiple people depending on the palm tree’s size. For palm trees that are between 20 and 25 feet in height, a crane or a tractor is required in order to successfully move the tree. Palm trees can be monstrously heavy; in fact, a 20-foot palm tree is approximately 1,000 pounds.

Step #3: Remove Old Leaves On The Palm Tree

Many nurseries remove up to two-thirds of old leaves on palm trees to minimize the level of water stress in the trees. Some homeowners will even remove all of the leaves. 

The amount of leaves that are removed depends on the particular palm tree species that is being transported. For example, since the sabal palmetto species’ roots all die and regrow during transplanting and planting, completely removing the leaves is the best option to help ensure the tree’s survival.

Step #4: Prepare To Transport The Palm Tree

Tie together the extra fronds of the palm tree to avoid damaging the leaves, which should be done before using a crane to lift the palm tree. Attach two splits on opposite sides of the tree trunk to prevent the palm tree from fracturing, which is particularly needed for skinnier palm trees. 

A palm tree cannot repair itself if its trunk is harmed, so it is crucial to avoid nailing something to the trunk. Also, any scratches along the palm tree’s trunk can make the tree more susceptible to fungus and insects.  

Wrap the trunk with nylon or polyester slings before fastening ropes, cables or chains. Using soaked burlap, wrap the root ball so the root system stays wet during transportation. 

If you are using a truck to transport the palm tree, then wrap the whole tree with a wet tarp. This shields the tree from damages to the fronds, bark and roots. This also protects the root ball from the wind, which can dry out the roots.

Step #5: Prepare The Planting Location

Test the planting location’s soil to ensure that it is the right spot to transplant a palm tree. Palm trees must be in a location with decent drainage. To begin the test, dig a hole that is two times the diameter of the palm tree’s root ball.

Pour water into the hole until it is filled and wait. After an hour, pour more water into the hole and observe the length of time it takes for the water to disappear. The location has decent drainage if it only takes a few hours for the water to leave; however, if the water has not disappeared after a few days, this indicates a drainage issue.

It is possible to create better drainage in this location by placing stones in the planting hole and drilling several holes at the bottom, which breaks up the soil. You can also install a pipe for drainage.

Step #6: Plant The Palm Tree

It is important to plant the palm tree as soon as you can. If you are unable to immediately plant the tree, then simply keep it in a shaded area and make sure that the roots stay moist. You can even put mulch over the root ball to keep it from possibly drying out.

Plant the palm tree at a similar depth in which it was previously growing. If the palm tree is planted too deeply in the soil, it could experience water stress and deficiencies in nutrients. If the palm tree is planted too shallowly in the soil, this could also be a problem because the wind might blow over the tree.

Before planting the palm tree, drench the soil with water and center the tree in the planting hole. Backfill the area with native soil, water and backfill again. Ensure that there are zero air pockets, and then make a soil boundary around the palm in order to hold the water.

Step #7: Untie The Fronds Of The Palm Tree

Gardeners have different opinions about the placement of this step: untying the fronds of the palm tree. Some think that leaving the fronds tied for several weeks after transplanting the palm tree can reduce water loss and stop the palm from shifting in the wind.

Other gardeners think that leaving the fronds tied does not help the growth of the palm tree. Rather, they think it might make the tree more susceptible to diseases. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether to untie the fronds after planting the palm tree or waiting to untie them at a later time.

Step #8: Water The Palm Tree

Palm trees grown in the field have cut roots, which means they have a tinier root ball in which to take in water. While the palm tree is growing new roots, its necessity for water is significantly larger than a palm tree grown in a container. Whether you have a palm tree grown in the field or one grown in a container, it will need to be watered on a daily basis for three weeks.

Once you have hit the fourth week, you can water your palm tree every other day. To successfully water your palm tree, turn on your water hose so that it drips water for about 20 minutes in the soil around the root ball. After six weeks, you can reduce your watering frequency.

Step #9: Add Mulch Around The Palm Tree

To keep moisture and prevent weed growth, add mulch around the base of the palm tree. Over time, the mulch will break down and enrich the native soil. Add around two inches of mulch, making the area thinner closer to the trunk and thicker directly above the root ball.

While adding mulch around the palm tree, place it about one foot away from the trunk of a tinier palm tree and about two feet away from the trunk of a bigger tree. An overabundance of mulch directly against the trunk can bring about rot in the trunk and even fungal diseases. It can also stop water from reaching the root system of the palm tree.

Step #10: Support The Palm Tree With Timbers

Palm trees grown in the field tend to have tinier root systems in relation to their height; this means that they usually need support after planting. This contrasts with palm trees grown in containers; their root systems tend to be large enough in order to maintain the trees in upright positions.

To stop a freshly planted palm tree from blowing over during storms, support the tree with timbers. Again, avoid nailing to the trunk because a palm tree cannot repair itself if its trunk is harmed. Using burlap, wrap the trunk and attach four short lengths of wood with bands; this will not harm the trunk, and it stops the wood from sliding out of place.

Nail up to five supporting timbers into the larger wood pieces. Maintain this support structure for around one year, or until you have noticed that the tree has grown enough new roots that allow it to stand on its own.

How To Reduce Transplant Shock In A Palm Tree

Even though you have done your best to be careful while transporting and planting a palm tree, the tree still experiences stress as it adjusts to its new location. If you observe drooping, yellow or brown leaves on your transplanted palm tree, this is a sign that the tree is experiencing transplant shock.

This might look like the tree is dying, but it is not: transplant shock is when the root ball hardens because it has been cut, moved and directly exposed to sunlight, air and different soil. Mother Nature did not create an organic situation in which palm trees are transplanted, so the tree is forced to cope with these unnatural changes.

It can take one year for a palm tree to fully recover from transplant shock. After three years, a transplanted palm tree is considered to be completely established in its new planting location. 

While transplanting a palm tree, much of its root system is lost or dies. The roots that survive face challenges in bringing in enough water for the palm tree, which causes water stress. In fact, any changes to the root ball of a palm tree causes stress to the tree. Again, this transplant shock is unavoidable, but there are a few tips to follow that allow you to reduce the shock in your palm tree.

To add, at this point you may be interested in another popular palm tree article: 5 Reasons New Orleans Has Palm Trees (Plus Growing Tips)

Tip #1: Transport And Plant The Palm Tree During Warm Rainy Months

The best time to transport and plant the palm tree is during months that are warm and rainy. Depending on where you live, this might not include the springtime. If you live in Florida (a state with a plentiful amount of thriving palm trees), transporting and planting a palm tree should be done between June and November, which is the rainy season.  

If you transplant your palm tree during a time that is warm and rainy, it profoundly assists in your palm tree’s survival and minimizes the transplant shock. In addition, planting in the evening is ideal because the sun is less intense and temperatures are cooler. This provides the palm tree both the evening and the entire night to start acclimating to the new location before its extensive exposure to sunlight the following day.

Tip #2: Acclimate The Palm Tree

If you are transporting a palm tree grown in a container, you can set the palm tree in the general area of its new planting location a week prior to planting it. Doing this offers the palm tree more time to acclimate to the varying levels of sunlight and temperature in its new planting location. 

You can also consider planting the palm tree in its new location and then covering it with a plastic canopy. Every week, you can poke holes in the covering, which slowly allows in more light.  

Tip #3: Leave The Old Soil In The Palm Tree’s Root Ball

Although you might be planning to offer healthier soil at the new planting location, you still want to leave the old soil in the palm tree’s root ball. This reduces the root system’s exposure to the elements, which decreases the tree’s stress levels. When you backfill the planting hole, this is when you can utilize a healthier, better soil around the root ball.

Tip #4: Avoid Fertilizing The Palm Tree After Planting It

Avoid fertilizing the palm tree immediately after planting it because this invites more stress for the tree. Make sure that you allow your transplanted palm tree some time to regenerate its root system. Wait at least two months or until you see significant root growth before you fertilize the palm tree. 

Be mindful of the fact that palm trees grown in containers are accustomed to high nitrogen levels because of the potting soil. This means that they require fertilizer that contains high nitrogen levels in order to thrive. If these palm trees do not receive that nitrogen, they can develop a deficiency in the element and be slow in establishing their root system.

Here are a few other tips you can consider to help reduce transplant shock in your palm tree:

  • Saturate the rootball area with a fungicide between two to four times during the first several months.
  • Between two to four months, apply a slow-release fertilizer to the palm tree. You can also utilize a foliar spray because the absorption by the root system is minimal.
  • Offer protection from the cold during winter until the palm tree has completely established its root system.
  • Frequently check for signs of diseases and insects, the latter of which can be attracted to weaker plants.

That’s A Wrap!

Whether you are purchasing a palm tree from a nursery or intending to transplant a palm tree from one spot in your yard to another, the steps in how to transport and plant the palm tree are the same. Knowing how palm roots grow and react to being cut can prevent damage to the root system. Plus, implementing this knowledge will bolster the likelihood of the palm tree’s survival. 


Hinkamp, Dennis. “Transplanting: Think Twice, Dig Once.” (2001).

Hodel, Donald R., A. James Downer, and Dennis R. Pittenger. “Transplanting palms.” HortTechnology 19.4 (2009): 686-689.

Hunsberger, A. G. B. “Tree Planting: A Quick Guide for Homeowners.”

Pittenger, Dennis R., Donald R. Hodel, and A. James Downer. “Transplanting specimen palms: a review of common practices and research-based information.” HortTechnology 15.1 (2005): 128-132.

Moving a Palm Tree | Home Guides

By Amy Rodriguez Updated October 30, 2019

Adding a tropical appearance to your landscape, palm trees also shade your sensitive garden plants with their widespread fronds. However, you may need to move your palm tree for aesthetic or functional reasons -- some species grow too large near a structure and need more root spread or canopy space. Moving a mature palm with a maximum 10-foot height, like dwarf palm (Sabal minor) growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10, allows you to safely transplant the tree compared to younger palms; immature palms may not survive a transplant.

Considering Palm Tree Roots 

To move a palm tree successfully, you need to consider the unique root structure of palm tree roots. Unlike trees with wide, sprawling roots, palm trees grow roots from a trunk section called the root-initiation zone. Multiple, narrow roots extend out in every direction from the initiation zone, but they do not grow any wider in girth.

As a result, your transplanting palm trees process does not involve cutting into large, anchoring roots that can easily kill an established tree. Roots are constantly generated from this zone when the palm is planted in ideal soil conditions.

Preparing for Planting Palm Trees in Pots

Before you remove the palm from the ground, carefully water the soil surrounding the rootball. This dampening strategy provides adhesion for the thin palm roots to remain intact during removal – you reduce root loss as the moist soil holds the roots in place.

Create a hole in the new palm location using the rootball's size as a guide. In general, your planting site diameter should be two times the width of the rootball. If you move a full-sunlight palm tree to a shady area, allow approximately one year for normal growth to resume. Your palm tree must acclimate to the new surroundings and growth may be stunted after transplanting.

Digging and Transplanting Palm Trees

Because you need to cut some palm tree roots to remove the tree from the ground, you want to transplant the palm during its most active growing season to recover from the stress. The mild months between May and July are suitable for successful palm transplants, especially since the soil should have a warm temperature of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a tree spade or shovel, cut the palm from the ground while leaving at least 3 feet of space around the trunk. This rootball size provides enough anchorage for the tree at the new site, as well as adequate root quantities for moisture and nutrient absorption as the palm generates new roots.

Success Planting Palm Trees in Pots

As you settle the palm into its new location, inspect the soil line against the trunk. Your palm tree needs to be transplanted to the same depth as its previous location to avoid growth stunting. Maintain a moist soil environment around the palm for six months after the move; the moisture encourages root growth away from the original rootball space.

If your palm is relatively tall, support the transplanted trunk with angled lumber pressed against it and secured with straps – do not harm the tree by sinking nails or staples into the trunk. With consistent watering and support, your transplanted palm should thrive for many years.


  • Kendall Palm Nursery Inc.: Transplanting Palms
  • Reef Tropical: How to Transplant a Palm Tree in South Florida
  • Better Homes and Gardens: Palm Tree Care

Writer Bio

Writing professionally since 2010, Amy Rodriguez cultivates successful cacti, succulents, bulbs, carnivorous plants and orchids at home. With an electronics degree and more than 10 years of experience, she applies her love of gadgets to the gardening world as she continues her education through college classes and gardening activities.

How to transplant a palm tree at home?

Palms are hardy plants that are quite easy to grow at home. They can be placed in a house, in an apartment or even in an office, they are also found in commercial premises. Often they order ready-made specimens, which are sent from the store already in a cache-pot. Such an indoor palm tree received comprehensive and timely care, therefore it is full of strength for full growth and development. In order for her to continue to delight with her appearance, she needs to provide good conditions for growth.


1. Do I need to transplant a palm tree immediately after purchase?

2. How to transplant a newly purchased palm tree?

3. How to transplant an adult palm tree?

4. How often will a transplant be required?

If you have acquired a palm tree, sooner or later the question arises about its transplantation. This procedure is simply necessary for the normal development of the root system, and hence the whole plant. If you ignore planting in a new pot, growth retardation will appear, diseases may occur and pests may be disturbed. To avoid these unpleasant consequences, you need to properly monitor the exotic representative and provide him with the proper conditions for development.

Do I need to repot a palm tree immediately after purchase?

As a rule, after the purchase, many people try to immediately replant the plant, but this is not always necessary. First, it is advisable to quarantine it, separating it for 2 weeks from the rest of the flora. This will help prevent infecting others if the palm is infected with fungus or pests. If she is sick and needs to immediately change the pot, she may die from such stress, since there will be no strength to recover.

But in certain cases it is better to transplant the palm tree right away - this information is listed in the table:

Small planter Often, when selling, a palm tree is planted in a rather narrow and shallow pot and the root system simply does not have enough space for normal growth. If you delay with a transplant, there may be difficulties with further cultivation.
Spring This time of the year just corresponds to the transplant. If it is not possible to withstand quarantine, you can carry out the main procedure, and then isolate the plant for 2 weeks.
The tree began to get sick, but there are no signs of diseases and pests These symptoms indicate that the root system is cramped in a store planter. An urgent transplant is required into a new soil and into a wider and deeper container.
As recommended by the seller Honest florists always give useful advice when buying and hide nothing. If you are advised to transplant a palm tree immediately, you need to urgently address this issue.

How to transplant a newly purchased palm tree?

The general rule is with old soil, so as not to injure the roots. For the first landing, you need to use a specialized substrate purchased in a store; you should refuse to prepare it yourself. The pot is selected 3-4 cm more than the previous one, and drainage is formed at its bottom, so there should be holes. It is better to abandon plastic containers, opting for ceramics. Under such conditions, the root system will have a place for new growth, it will "breathe", and the soil will not be waterlogged.

For replanting, the following actions are carried out:

  • the old soil is poured abundantly so that it can be separated from the walls;
  • in a new container, a layer of coarse gravel is laid on the bottom to ensure drainage;
  • , if necessary, a small layer of earth is added if the pot is higher than the previous one;
  • then the plant is transplanted into a new container carefully so as not to damage the stem and roots;
  • free space around the periphery is also sprinkled with new soil.

This is the first transplant done with the old soil, so the tree should not get sick. If any symptoms appear, they will talk about acclimatization in a new place. Further procedures are carried out already with the change of the substrate and they require more responsibility.

How to transplant an adult palm tree?

But if the plant has already acclimatized and stood in the room for several months, its transplantation is a little more difficult:

  • We prepare the substrate - for it you need to take 1 part of rotted manure, 2 parts of light clay-turf, 1 part of peat, 2 parts of humus-leaf soil, 1 part of sand and a little charcoal. This is the most optimal substrate; palm trees do not grow very well on others.
  • We select a pot - depending on the state of the measles system. To do this, you need to carefully remove the tree and inspect the roots: if they have grown in width, you will need wider dishes. When they accumulate at the bottom, we select a deep container.
  • We prepare a new pot - we pour small pebbles on its bottom, then sand and a pre-formed substrate. In the center, be sure to make a hole for the convenience of landing.
  • Then water the palm tree abundantly so that the old soil softens. You can additionally lower the pot into water and leave it there for 10-15 minutes. You can check the condition of the soil with a tool.
  • Carefully remove the palm tree from the pot, separating the old soil. This is done manually so as not to damage the root system. We cut off old and dead tissue with secateurs.
  • We plant a tree in a new pot, sprinkle the roots with earth, but don't tamp down much. Water thoroughly and leave in partial shade at room temperature to restore.

The palm will be sore for a few days and this is absolutely normal. It needs to be watched, periodically watered, but not too plentifully. The exotic tree is very afraid of drafts, especially at a young age. It is better to put it in a place with good lighting, but avoid direct sunlight.

How often will a transplant be required?

Usually the first transplant is carried out immediately after purchase, in the year and at 3 years, then every 3-5 years is allowed. Mature trees do not like this procedure very much and can live in a pot for quite a long time. If the container is spacious, and the conditions for development are suitable, this representative feels comfortable for years, grows and develops normally. If you need a transplant, you need to treat it as responsibly as possible.

home palm care tips and tricks for gardeners

Pavel38 Pavel38 8 January 2016

What do you need to know about palm tree transplantation? Firstly, that it cannot be carried out when you want. A palm transplant should be really necessary for the plant. Therefore, the option of annual transplants disappears immediately.

Monitor the condition of the plant's root system. As soon as it grows so that the roots begin to intertwine with each other, and the total volume of the root system significantly exceeds the volume of the substrate in the flowerpot, the risk to the life and health of the plant begins. In general, if you plant a palm tree in a light plastic flowerpot with thin walls, it is possible that the powerful roots of the plant will simply break through them - so you will know for sure that the time has come to transplant. With ceramic flowerpots, of course, things are more complicated; the state of the roots cannot be traced in it. If you decide to buy a large flowerpot, so to speak, for growth, you will have to be very careful about watering, because it is very easy to flood a palm tree. In general, most often in the process of transplanting flowerpots have to be broken, so it is easier to buy an inexpensive plastic flowerpot, plant a palm tree in it, and only then put it in a ceramic planting container. Ceramics are not cheap nowadays, so breaking it all the time is expensive.

By the way, when choosing the next planting container, you do not need to look for a completely huge pot, which would be 2-3 times larger than the previous one. It is better to choose a pot with a larger width. Remember: the larger the flowerpot, the more difficult the soil dries out in it, and, therefore, the higher the risk of stagnant moisture and rotting of the root system. In the process of transplanting a palm tree, watch how the roots are located in the flowerpot. They should not be intertwined - gently straighten them. If you have previously slightly shortened the root system on other plants by cutting off excess roots, do not even try to repeat this number with palm trees - it can be fatal. Remember that the root system of house palms is incredibly sensitive, so any damage can be fatal. If you took a palm tree out of an old flowerpot and saw that the root system of the plant had completely taken its shape, you should not disturb the roots - just put them in a new flowerpot and just pour fresh soil on the sides.

Transplanting house palm: the nuances

For transplanting house palm, of course, it is advisable to wait for the arrival of spring, because this is the standard time for transplanting the bulk of domestic plants. Transplantation is somewhat more difficult for palm trees than for other plants, but if you approach the task correctly, nothing bad will happen to the plant.

As mentioned above, it is strongly not recommended to remove healthy roots from a palm tree. But in the presence of diseased or rotten parts of the root system, the situation is different - they should be carefully cut off. At the same time, make every effort not to damage the healthy tissues of the plant. Transplanting a home palm tree always starts with good drainage, as the plant will require fairly frequent watering, especially immediately after transplanting. If you want the palm to grow actively and successfully, cover the drainage layer with rotted horse manure, although cow manure is also fine. The thickness of the manure layer should range from 3 cm to 8 cm. Focus on the size of the plant and its age, as well as the size of the flowerpot. Place a palm tree on top and sprinkle the roots with soil, gently compacting it.

You can prepare the soil for transplanting yourself. To do this, you will need humus-leaf soil - 2 parts, clay-soddy soil - 2 parts, rotted manure - 1 part, sand - 1 part, charcoal - 1 part. If you plant a palm tree in light and too poor soil, the palm tree is unlikely to grow and develop well.

Learn more