Expert Tips: How To Water Palm Trees The Right Way

A lot of palm tree enthusiasts over water their palms or don’t provide enough water, because they don’t know how to check for soil moist level. They have no idea how much water their palm needs and how often to water it.

A newly planted palm should be watered every day for the first week and every other day for the second week. Then you can switch to the regular water schedule which should be 1-3 times a week depending on the season and moister requirements of this species.

Since palm trees vary greatly in the amount of water they need, it’s important to know the exact water requirement of your palm. Overwatering or underwatering your palm can cause irreversible damage.

How Much Water Does My Palm Need

For OUTDOOR palms that are growing in the ground, the amount of water should be 10-20% of the container size for that palm.  If it’s a 10 gallon container, then use 1-2 gallons of water. During hot weather use a little bit more, during cold weather a little less.

You should understand, that it depends on the palm type and on the type of soil. Always check the soil to make sure it’s moist and adjust your water amount if needed. Its important for the soil to be wet but not soggy.

How Often Should I Water My Palm Tree

Newly planted palms go through the transplant shock and loose a lot of moister. That is why I recommend watering it more often during the first two weeks while they establish and develop new roots.

You should water your newly planted palm tree every day for the first week, every other day for the second week and then switch to the normal schedule. Since the goal is to make sure the water reaches the roots, deep watering works the best.

Established Palm Tree needs watering 1-3 times a week. Adjust your watering depending on the season. Palm Trees grow more during warm months and slow down during cold months. Watering once a week in the winter should be enough.

What Is The Best Time For Watering My Palm Tree

You should water your palms early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s not too hot. Why? Because if you water your palm tree in the middle of the hot summer day, when the temperature is around 100F, and get the water on the palm tree frond it will fry the leaves.

When you are going tanning, you put oil all over your body to maximize the result. The water on the leaves works the same way oil works on your skin. That’s why, watering your palm in the middle on the hot day can result in a leaf burn.

Mist or hose your palm to clean up all the dust on the leaves, but do it in the cooler time of the day. After you figure out how long to water and how much water your Palm tree needs, it’s is a great idea to get a sprinkler system with a timer.

Timer is a very useful thing that will prevent a flooding around the house in case you forget to turn off the sprinkler system.

How To Check The Moist Level

I like to use electronic soil moister meter.  It provides accurate, easy to read results. Since soil probe is separate from meter, you can even monitor hanging plants. It also got great reviews on Amazon.

Moisture meters start at about $6 and run up to well over $100. I think this one is priced very reasonably.

Another thing you can use is a soil probe.  Take a soil probe and push into the ground as far as it can go, twist it and pull it out. If the soil is too dry, the probe will stop. Feel the soil.

If it’s moist, you don’t need to water more. Check to see how far the root extends. You don’t need to water deeper than that, since the roots can’t get to the water below the root depth.

Check to see how long the soil stays moist after you water. If the soil is wet, do NOT water your palm. For the best result DEEP water your palms.

What Is Deep Watering

I’ve already mentioned deep watering a few times above. Basically it is slow dripping the water over extended period of time instead of dumping it al at once.

Let’s say you have 20 gallon palm that needs 2 gallons of water. You can water your palm two ways:

One way, is to take all 2 gallons of water and dump it around your palm tree in 2 minutes. The water will simply runoff and the roots will not get enough since it takes time for the soil to absorb water.

Another way, to water your palm tree is to slow drip 2 gallons of water over the course of 1 – 2 hour.

If you have a sprinkler system with a timer, that is what I would highly recommend, water your palm tree for 30 min, turn the water off, let it soak into the ground for 30 min, then resume watering for the remaining 30 min.

This should not only water the top of the soil but also get a few inches deep into the ground. And this is very important especially for the newly planted palms that have experienced the water loss during the planting process.

Note: You don’t need to water your palm when it’s raining, in case you didn’t know.

How To Water Indoor Palms

Indoor palms don’t need as much water as outdoor ones. Generally, you should keep the soil of an indoor palm moist, but not soggy. Water your palm once the top of the soil is dry.

Make sure the pot has good drainage to avoid root rot. I personally make a hole at the bottom of the pot, if it doesn’t have one and also add some rocks to the bottom of the pot before putting soil in. This will ensure your palm is not sitting in water even if you overwatered it.

Also, don’t let the soil to dry out completely. If you are notice the tips of the palm are turning brown, water more frequently.

Signs of Overwatering Palm Tree

Overwatering can kill your palm or lead to various disease problems. One of the signs of overwatered palm is wilted canopy of the tree and leaf discoloration.

If you notice that the younger foliage and newly emerging leaves are brown that could be sign of overwatering. Nutrient deficiencies caused by excess water can also be a problem. Overwatering can also cause a root rot that is very hard to remedy and detect. In extreme cases, you could even smell a four odor coming from the rotting tree.

Signs of Palm Not Getting Enough Water

Underwatering can easily happen during a summer drought. If your palm is not getting enough water, you will notice some of the leaves turning brown and dry. Or they could start to look droopy and wilted. Just check to see how long the soil is staying moist after the watering.

7 Palm Tree Watering Tips

  1. Mulch around the tree to help the soil to stay moist longer.
  2. Add some sand to the soil to improve drainage.
  3. Water your palm from the bottom, as watering from the top can cause rotting of the canopy.
  4. If you don’t have a probe nor a meter to check the moister level, use a shovel. Dig to where the roots end.
  5. Don’t use deep watering for every time.
  6. Plant palm with the plants that have the same watering requirements.
  7. During winter allow for the soil to dry between watering.

Here is a great article on palm tree care.

Related articles:

Palm Tree Care 101: Ultimate Guide to Health & Happy Palms
Top 10 Palm Tree Planting Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make
5 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies In Palms (with Pictures)
Expert Tips: How And When To Fertilize Palm Trees

30 thoughts on “Expert Tips: How To Water Palm Trees The Right Way”

  1. Hi Suzan,

    I have been away from my house for 3 weeks and have been told that there has been lots of rains and my surprise I found my most beautiful rich palm tree dead what could be the cause?

    I am so heart broken I can’t even sleep at night. How do I revive my Palm tree?


  2. good information ,
    but what about old palm tree 20 years or more. should I continue irrigation or it will depend on it’s roots

  3. Which trees and plants do you recommend for planting in ft. lauderxdale, fl. CONSIDERING THE WATER SHORTAGE.

    we are currently replanting our landscape on a large, beachfront condominium.


  4. Hello Susan
    My king palm Tree leaves turning yellowish. Am I under watering the tree? How much water do I need for a 10 foot tree (triple king palm plant). I can water more but afraid that over watering might kill the tree.
    Thank you very much

  5. Greetings,

    I would like to know why triangle palm tree leaf became yellow? Is it too much water or its a normal process? Thks

  6. Quick question: how many gallons “container” would a permanently planted 25 foot palm tree be?

    It also should be noted that a soil probe and/or moisture meter works in good soil. Compacted clay, or clay/organic/rock mix is very difficult to push through, such as here in Phoenix.

  7. this posting was very helpful. I’m new to Florida. We put in palm trees. I water slowly over 1/2 to one hour. My husband complains and make me doubt myself. The tree guy told me to do this. Post winter I have some browning on the fronds. Too wet or too dry? It’s a learning process. Thank you.

  8. Does aiming irrigation water directly at the trunks of my palms rot or otherwise damage them? The trunks are black where the water is always hitting them.

  9. For the moisture meter, what is the ideal number for determined moisture level? Also, for established palms, perhaps ones that are over 10 feet in height, the probe length is probably not adequate to get down from the soil surface to the root level. Therefore, when using the meter, is it to be assumed that 6-8″ of soil (i.e. a small hole) first be removed before pushing down the probe? Thanks!

  10. I have a home in the Ruby Lake community of Winter Haven. Know little about palms, but plan to learn all I can. We have an HOA that sends violation notices “Cut your palm fronds.” Had no idea what to cut. At the time all fronds were green, some hanging lower than others. Drove around the community, took some photos and was horrified about the damage being done to our beautiful palms. All of your information is very helpful, but I am from MA and do not yet know one palm from other, and it seems most of we residents are unaware of how to care for palms on our properties. I seem to be on a mission to learns as much as I can. My guess is that our property management is no more knowledgeable than we residents, so I am hoping somehow to share what I learn. Janet

  11. thanks I have lite brittle brown tips on my 4ft circumference palm trees they are about 4ft round and 4ft high. Can you tell me how many gallons of water i need and when to water. Is that the reason. I live in Las Vegas s It’s April and 80 degrees already.

  12. Thank you for the info I’m a newly proud owner of a freshly sprouted coconut palm seedling and I got it in Miami and now it lives in Southern California and I need tips on how to keep it health and living, thanks

  13. What do I do if I have overwatered my palm plant. The leaves are brown and dry. They haven’t fallen off though. Can I save this plant. I have taken it outside and put it in the sunlight and removed my palm plant from the large pot that was holding all the water. What do I do next.

  14. Thanks for this informative article. I’m curious, are you in California or Florida? I would think recommendations for planting and caring for palms would be different in these two states. I’m in Carlsbad, CA. and need information on king palms I just had planted on 7-18, 2016 that appear to be in shock. Some of the fronds are burning, drooping, losing their vibrant green color and curling. The center stalks are a bright green to a faded green. The landscapers who planted the trees, which came from Home Depot, made ample bowls around the trees and told me to water every day by filling up the bowls, which I am doing. I’m concerned that the palms are not adjusting. The change in their appearance is very noticeable and they have only been in the ground for two days. Any help you might provide would be appreciated. Thanks. John Cotter

  15. Our newly 3 meter palm trees won’t open their fronds even we water them and look after them. We live in Cyprus. Please is anything else we can do? Thank you Daphne

  16. We planted two palmetto trees two years ago and one is doing great lots of palms and the other just coming out of the top what can we do to help my tree

  17. If the top of my palm is all brown, should I assume it’s dead.? One of my tres has some green at the top but has not changed its look since November 2016…any hope?

  18. If I have a potted palm tree, that’s not very tall, and is the kind that have the pointy fronds how often should I water? Still the 2-3 times a week? Just wanna make sure because the ends of the fronds are turning yellow and my mom was saying that we were watering it too often…. thank you!

  19. Thanks for all your help now i know how to take care of me bottle palm tree and keep it strong and healthy.

  20. My palm trees base is turning like green like fungus or something ang the leafs are browning and firing on the bottom base what can I do to keep it alive just moved to Florida a few months ago so I’m new to this the tree is about 4ft tall I’m not sure how much I should be watering it either

  21. I have a Sylvester Palm live in north east Florida. I just got a moisture meter and don’t know what the best soil moisture reading should be. It was planted a week ago. It is absolutely beautiful, about 12 to 14 ft tall and almost as wide, very full, it was dug up the same day it was planted. It is in an east facing location. Do the moisture reading need to vary due to seasons?

    Thank you

  22. Hi!
    We just got a 7 ft clear trunk Sylvester palm and planted it in our front yard about 3 days ago. We have been giving it 30 galons of water every evening and almost all the branches have turned brown in these three days. We are in Florida where its about 90 degrees every day now. We don’t know what is causing it to turn brown since we have been watering it as recommended by the growers. Any insights on what can be causing this? And will those brown branches ever turn green again or do we need to cut them?
    I greatly appreciate any help !
    Thank you!

  23. I just bought a home with what I think is a small palm tree. The brown trunk is about 3.5ft tall and the tree including the green leaves is above 7ft. The tree looked healthy when we moved in and after a week the leave tips turned brown. The previous owner said to water once a day which I started doing and things got worse and the leaves started shedding (thin brown strands hanging off the leaves) . Everything I read says water 2 times a week. I have started doing that but it is not getting any better. I bought a moisture meter but I am not sure how many gallons the tree is especially since I can’t even identify the type of palm it is. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  24. I have two 25ft canary island palms in Az and they have really been struggling – yellowing fronds and browning tips, have been getting 120 gallons a week per tree. Are summers are super hot and dry. I need help I have one that is really struggling – newer fronds are dying at the ends, Any help would be appreciated!!

  25. I am in Southwest Florida and have a pygmy date palm which was planted about three weeks ago. I have been watering according to your article’s instructions. But I have not been able to find information on approximately how long it takes for the palm to be considered established. The article mentions watering established palms a certain amount of times per week but does not say when I can consider my palm established. Can you give me a ballpark idea of how long for it to be
    considered established?

  26. Susan, can I deep root water my queen palms using a deep root watering tool?
    i have been using a small attachment at the end of a hose slowly applying 1 gallon of water per gallon size of root ball (60 gallon trees) but i seem to have too much run off.

Comments are closed.