Expert Tips: How To Water Palm Trees The Right Way

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

Typically, for a newly planted palm, it’s recommended to water it daily during the first week, and every other day during the second week. After this initial period, you can transition to a regular watering schedule, typically ranging from 1 to 3 times a week. The frequency should be adjusted based on the season and the specific moisture needs of the palm species you’re dealing with.

It’s crucial to emphasize that the water needs of palm trees can vary significantly, making it essential to understand your palm’s specific water requirements. Both overwatering and underwatering can lead to detrimental consequences for your palm.

How Much Water Does My Palm Need

For OUTDOOR palms planted in the ground, the general guideline is to provide 10-20% of the container size in water. For example, if your palm could fit in a 10-gallon container, you should use 1-2 gallons of water.

Adjust this amount based on weather conditions; use a bit more water during hot weather and slightly less during colder periods. Always check the soil to ensure it’s moist but not waterlogged.

How Often Should I Water My Palm Tree

When you’ve just planted a new palm, it goes through a bit of a shock, and it loses a good amount of moisture. That’s why, during the first couple of weeks while it’s getting established and developing new roots, I recommend watering it more frequently.

For the first week, it’s a daily watering routine, then every other day during the second week. After this initial period, switch to a more regular schedule. The key here is to ensure the water gets down to the roots, so deep watering is the best approach.

Now, established palm trees, generally need watering about 1 to 3 times a week. But remember, you should adjust your watering based on the season. Palms tend to grow more during the warmer months and slow down in the colder ones. So, during winter, once a week should suffice.

What Is The Best Time For Watering My Palm Tree

The best time to water your palms is either early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s not scorching hot. Here’s why: if you water your palm tree smack in the middle of a scorching summer day, with the temperature soaring around 100F, and the water splashes onto the palm fronds, it’s like frying leaves in a hot pan.

Think of it like this: when you’re sunbathing, you slather on oil to maximize the tan, right? Well, water on the leaves behaves like oil on your skin in a sense. So, watering your palm during the blazing heat can lead to leaf burn.

If you need to freshen up your palm by rinsing off dust and grime, it’s better to mist or hose it down during the cooler parts of the day.

Once you’ve figured out the ideal watering duration and amount for your palm tree, consider investing in a sprinkler system with a timer.

Having a timer is a handy addition that can save you from accidentally flooding your surroundings if you happen to forget to turn off the sprinkler system.

How To Check The Moist Level

Checking the moisture level is a crucial step in proper palm tree care. One effective method is using an electronic soil moisture meter.

These meters offer accurate and easy-to-read results, and the separate soil probe makes it convenient for monitoring even hanging plants. Plus, they often receive excellent reviews on Amazon.

Moisture meters are available in a range of prices, starting at about $6 and going up to well over $100. I think this one is priced very reasonably.

Another useful tool for checking soil moisture is a soil probe. Here’s how to use it effectively: Push the soil probe into the ground as deeply as it can go, give it a twist, and then gently pull it out.

If the soil is excessively dry, the probe will come to a stop. At this point, feel the soil to assess its moisture content.

If the soil feels moist, there’s no need to water more. It’s also a good idea to check how far the roots extend. Watering shouldn’t go deeper than the root depth, as the roots can’t access water beyond that point.

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 mentioned deep watering a few times above. Essentially, it involves slowly dripping water over an extended period rather than dumping it all at once.

Let’s say you have a 20-gallon palm tree that requires 2 gallons of water. There are two ways to water your palm tree:

One way is to take all 2 gallons of water and dump it around your palm tree in 2 minutes. In this scenario, the water will simply run off, and the roots won’t receive an adequate amount because it takes time for the soil to absorb water.

The other way to water your palm tree is to slowly drip 2 gallons of water over the course of 1-2 hours.

If you have a sprinkler system with a timer (which I highly recommend), you can water your palm tree for 30 minutes, then turn the water off and let it soak into the ground for 30 minutes before resuming watering for the remaining 30 minutes.

This method ensures that the water not only reaches the topsoil but also penetrates a few inches deep into the ground. This is particularly crucial for newly planted palms that have experienced water loss during the planting process.

How To Water Indoor Palms

Indoor palms require less water compared to their outdoor counterparts. In general, you should maintain the soil of an indoor palm at a moist level but avoid making it soggy. Water your palm when the top layer of soil becomes dry.

Ensure that the pot has proper drainage to prevent root rot. If your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, you can make one at the bottom and add some rocks before adding the soil. This will prevent your palm from sitting in excess water even if you accidentally overwater it.

Additionally, make sure not to let the soil completely dry out. If you notice the palm’s tips turning brown, it’s a sign that you should water it more frequently.

Signs of Overwatering a Palm Tree

Overwatering can kill your palm tree and can lead to various diseases. One of the signs of an overwatered palm tree is a wilted canopy and leaf discoloration.

If you observe that the younger foliage and newly emerging leaves are turning brown, it could be a sign of overwatering.

Excess water can also lead to nutrient deficiencies. Overwatering may result in root rot, which can be challenging to detect and treat. In severe cases, you might even notice a foul odor coming from the rotting tree.

Signs of Palm Not Getting Enough Water

Underwatering can often occur during summer droughts. If your palm isn’t receiving enough water, you may notice some leaves turning brown and becoming dry.

They might also appear droopy and wilted. To assess whether you’re providing sufficient water, check how long the soil remains moist after watering.

7 Palm Tree Watering Tips

  1. Apply mulch around the tree to extend soil moisture retention.
  2. Enhance soil drainage by incorporating sand into the soil.
  3. Water your palm tree from the bottom to prevent canopy rot.
  4. In the absence of a moisture probe or meter, use a shovel to dig until you reach the root zone.
  5. Avoid deep watering each time you irrigate.
  6. Pair your palm with plants that share similar watering needs.
  7. During the winter months, allow the soil to dry between watering sessions.

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 Katrin
    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. Katrin, 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.

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