Palm Tree Landscaping Tips for Warm Climate Dwellers
If you're dreaming of a lush, exotic garden, no tropical look is complete without palms. Here's how you can use palm tree landscaping to achieve the postcard-perfect silhouette for your backyard.
Climate Conditions Perfect for Palm Tree Landscaping
Palm trees can provide a bold, exotic look to your landscape design. When considering palm tree landscaping, think about your climate conditions first. Even if you don’t live in a tropical climate, you can still achieve the lush, verdant look with palm trees. Do your winter temperatures drop below 25 degrees F? Palm trees can actually survive in northern climates as long as winter temps hover above the 25-degree mark. There are even a few varieties of palms that can survive temperatures down to zero-degrees F!
How to Choose the Right Size and Species
There are over 3,000 different species of palm trees. To figure the best size and species for your yard, consult with a reputable nursery that specializes in this type of tree. Tolerance of the sun and cold are the most important factors in selecting the right species. Your desired look and overall budget can help you narrow down a size. Pro tip: Search for tree types that are locally grown in your area as imported plants can yield poor results.
Ideal Place to Plant Palms
One of the most important things to consider when choosing an area for palm tree landscaping is light. Does your desired spot get a lot of light? Depending on the type of palm tree you’re planting, it isn’t necessary to have direct sunlight, as some species prefer a little bit of shade. You also want to take note of how your palm tree grows. Will your palm have large leaves perfect for adding shade to your backyard? Or will it have messy fruit droppings that you’ll want to keep away from your path, patio or pool?
Sun-Loving Palms Still Need to Acclimate
For the best results with palm tree landscaping, your tree will need to get used to the climate and conditions before it’s planted. Even for sun-loving palms, they need to be gradually acclimated from the greenhouse into full sun over a period of at least two to three months. This gives them time to adjust to lower outside humidity, cooler temperatures and more intense sun.
Best Planting Season for Palms to Thrive
There is some debate over the best time of year to plant palm trees. Some experts say to avoid planting before the coldest months, while others argue that planting when it’s colder gives roots time to grow and establish strength for rapid spring growth. Consider both your climate and the palm tree species before determining the ideal planting time frame. A general rule of thumb is to plant in either the spring or fall. These 10 fast-growing trees can add depth and dimension to your landscape.
Does Your Soil Drain Adequately for Palm Tree Landscaping?
How well do you know your soil? Does water stick around or does it travel down and away from plants? Palm trees (and plants in general) like good drainage. Sandy soils have better drainage while clay soils tend to hold onto water. The best-case scenario for your palm tree landscaping is to have a sandy soil with a bit of a slope or incline. If you need to address drainage issues, here’s how you can install an in-ground drainage system.
Tips for Planting Your Palm
Dig a hole six inches wider on all sides and six inches deeper than the plant’s existing root ball. Plant your palm an inch or two deeper than the soil level to create a “watering well” where water can drain down into the roots. Add an organic soil blend and water to the bottom of the hole before planting your palm. Place your tree into the hole and position it. Add organic soil blend to fill around the sides of the root ball halfway, pack the soil down and water again. Fill the rest of the hole with soil and water. The three-step watering process guarantees the root ball gets plenty of water.
A Word on Fertilizers
Should you fertilize your palm tree when you put it into the ground? Most experts say no. Transplanting a palm tree from a pot to the ground is a natural shock to the tree. Adding fertilizers, especially if they’re incorrectly used, can be another shock. Hold off on using fertilizers for six to eight weeks after planting. And, if you still want to fertilize after the eight weeks, utilize a slow and safe fertilizer like blood meal.
Ongoing Care for Your Palm
After your palm is planted, how often should it be watered? It depends on the local weather and soil conditions. If you live in a climate that is really hot, water frequently. Cooler climates won’t require as much water. For the first two weeks after planting, consider watering your palm every day or two. The main goal in watering is to maintain adequate moisture around the roots. Become a pruning pro so you can identify potential problems with your palm tree early and correct them.
Tropical Plants to Pair With Palm Trees
When you plan your palm tree landscaping, think about tropical plants to pair with the palms to create an interesting grouping. Mix smaller plants among large varieties, like a thin-leafed Needle Palm with a plant that has broad leaves, such as a bird of paradise. Low plants, like feathery ferns or philodendron, add texture. Dark, shiny leaves of climbing jasmine vines and vivid caladiums add a pop of color around your palms. These 12 pretty (and easy) plant combos can provide extra inspiration.