Palm Tree Planting Step-By-Step

Planting Palm Trees is not much different from the way you would plant any other kind of trees. Nursery-grown palms should be potted, balled or burlapped at the root. Try to plant your palm tree shortly after buying it. If there is going to be a delay between purchasing and planting, make sure root ball is kept moist but not soaking. Palm Trees cannot live in pots for an indefinite period of time. Typically, a palm can grow two or three years in a pot. After that, the palm tree needs to be planted in the ground or re-potted in a larger pot with fresh soil.

Transporting Palm Tree

Be careful when transporting and handling Palm Trees. Fragile bark is very easily damaged. Damaged areas leave the tree vulnerable to insects and fungus. If you live in warm climate, the best time of year to plant is during the warmer months when the soil temperature is at least 65 degrees F.

Planting Palm Trees Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Pick a Spot

Make sure it’s a shady spot if your palm tree needs partial shade. Also, think about size of your palm tree, and make sure that it’s not going to get in the way of your power lines down the road.

If you’ve purchased a palm tree from the greenhouse or shade-grown environment, it is not used to full sun. Palm trees that require partial shade should be fine in the shady spot, but what do you do if your palm tree requires full sun? Your palm tree will get sun burned if you plant it in the full sun right away. You need to slowly acclimatize your palm tree to the higher levels of sun light. You can do that in 2 ways:

1)  Put it in the pot, if it’s not in the pot already, and place it in the shady spot outside. Keep increasing light level a little bit every week till your palm tree gets used to the sun. After that, you can plant your palm in the full sun.

2) Plant your palm in the full sun and cover it with plastic cover. You can put 4 sticks in the ground with a plastic cover on top. Every few weeks put more holes in the plastic cover to expose your palm tree to more sun light.

You need to acclimatize your palm tree slowly because it will be already in shock after transplanting and it doesn’t need extra stress from the sun.

Step 2: Dig a Hole

You need to make a hole wide enough to fit the root ball of the palm tree with plenty of room to spare. Making it twice as wide would be a good idea.

The hole should be just deep enough, so that the palm tree is planted at the depth at which it was grown. Do not plant it any deeper, as this may deprive the roots of nutrients and water.

Step 3: Score the sides

Score the sides of the hole with a small shovel. It will loosen the soil, allowing the palm tree roots to penetrate through the ground.

Step 4: Add Soil Mix

Add some water to the hole and then add some soil mix. You want to use soil mix that will ensure good drainage for your palm tree. Most palm trees like moist well drained soil. You can add 30% sand to the soil mix, that should do it. The best soil mix is based on Canadian peat moss. Here is what I use to make sure my soil has excellent drainage – Sphagnum Peat Moss.

Step 5: Get the Roots Wet

Get your root wet and situate your palm. To minimize the transplant shock used the soil from the pot of your palm tree. You palm tree is used to this soil, so that should decrease the stress. Back fill the rest of the hole with your soil mix.

Step 6: Build a Barrier.

When the Palm Tree has been planted, next step would be to build a soil barrier around the circumference of the hole. This will form a dam that holds water. Add about 3 inches of organic mulch around the palm tree. I usually use Scotts Organic Classic Black Mulch because it’s made from natural forest products and not waste wood. Also, it will hold for a year.

Step 7: Brace your palm tree.

The tree brace consists of three wooden blocks with two adjustable straps that are designed to protect your new tree from storm and wind damage. You can purchase this brace at any home improvement store. The brace should be placed around the bark.

Watering Newly-planted Palm Tree

Frequent watering is important for newly-planted Palm Trees. Daily for about the first two weeks and then tapering off over several months as the tree establishes itself. Use a bubbler or arrange a hose to slow soak the area around the tree. It is important not to allow the soil to dry out as this will severely weaken your new Palm.

For more details read my article on Watering Palm Trees.

Fertilizing Palm Tree

Palm Trees also require periodic fertilizer applications. It’s better to use fertilizer that has continuous release formula that feeds your palm tree for few months rather than using a cheap fertilizer that will wash away after 2-3 rains.

One of the products that I personally love is Jobe’s Palm Fertilizer. This product is great, because it promotes root development and the long-term vitality of all types of palms. It won’t burn the roots and has all the nutrients your palm trees need. More info about Palm Tree Fertilization.

Newly planted palms should not be fertilized until after they put out a new spear, I would say about 2 month after planting. Be sure to fertilize only during the growing season.

I’ve just found a very good book for beginners, that has step-by-step planting and care instructions, all nicely illustrated – All About Palms. It has around 200 different species with a lot of beautiful photos. This book is perfect for an average homeowner who loves palm trees.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments by using a comment box below. I always love to hear from you. Have a wonderful day :)

~Susan Brian

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  1. Susan Stagg says

    Mature palms. Expanding pool. Palms will have more earth beside them. Will that hurt them? How high can the soil be above the roots for a Royal Palm?

  2. Gary dobbs says

    Thanks for the advice. Great article and very informative. I have just planted a 5 ft windmill Palm 2 days ago and I wish I had seen this article first. I did everything ok for the most part. Dug the appropriate side hole, cut the pot away from the Palm so not to disturb the roots. I prepped the hole with a organic soil and cactus mix along with some sand. The Palm was placed right away gently in the hole to minimize the light exposure on the roots. I filled it in with the same mix keeping it at the same depth that the pot was. The problem is I did it in full sun. Even though the roots were not exposed anymore than about 45 seconds it is in transplant shock and it does not like the sun. It’s lower fronds are getting brown tips which I’m sure is just the transplant shock but I covered it with a homemade burlap roof to block some of the sun. I’ll keep it on for a couple of weeks gradually increasing its exposure. I planted 3 small windmill palms in full sun back in the spring and they are dark green and growing so I’m hoping this is only temporary until it a acclimated. It is a beautiful tree though. Thanks for the article.

  3. jamie says

    My aunt gave me a palm tree after her house foreclosed, I don’t know what kind & she doesn’t either. I don’t know the sun/shade it got at her house & she doesn’t either, go figure? It’s a fan palm & small right now, no idea how big it’s supposed to get. I planted in spot that is kinda shady because I assumed it was shady where she had it, from where we dug it up. Did good for a long while but then turned brown when summer got real hot. I thought not enough sun & not enough water so I just transplanted it to beside the creek in our backyard. Looks almost dying, still brown & fan stalks died & just pulled out of trunk. Trunk seems softer now :/ Suggestions?

  4. janice Bigger says

    I dug up the small seedlings and planted them in 1-2 qt pots. I put rocks on the bottom then peat moss and permliteI have 30 seedlings that have done well since moving to a pot. It is getting ready to turn cool (southern North Carolina) how do I care for the babies? do they need to come inside? these are windmill cold hardy plants. I am looking forward to watching them grow.

  5. Ray mears says

    Can’t understand why the center limbs coming up are dead but the others are green . I planted it a year ago it’s a 7ft wind mill palm and I planted it in full sun as it was used to . I dug a 2ft deep hole and wide then I put tree in hole and put miracle grow potting soil around it then some soil from the hole with mulch around it . Is there something I did wrong if do plz let me know I like to save it . Ty

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