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