General Palm Care
Before taking your new palms and plants home, make sure you have answers to the basic questions. While this is not intended to be an exhaustive list of questions to ask, it will help you determine plant placement, watering frequency and some plant tendencies.
- How high will it grow?
- How wide will it grow?
- How fast will it grow?
- Does it prefer full sun, filtered sun or shade?
- How much water does it require?
Sun, Shade and Canopy Creation
With the correct placement of your new palms and plants, you are off to a good start. Remember: if you purchased a sun-loving palm in a greenhouse, it will need to be acclimated before introducing it to the sun. For acclimation guidelines, click here. Fast growing palms are beneficial when you are trying to create a shaded area or canopy for understory palms. "Fast growing" can be somewhat relative so the list below is comprised of palms genus that we regard as "fast growing."
- Archontophoenix (gradual sun) alexandrae, cunnighamiana, myolensis,
- Arenga pinnata (gradual sun)
- Butia capitata X Syagrus romanzoffiana
- Calyptronoma occidentalis
- Chamaedorea - costa ricana (coastal sun), plumose (gradual sun)
- Caryota (gradual sun) gigas, ochlandra, urens
- Livistona decipiens
- Pheonix - canariensis, dactylifera, reclinata,
- Ravenea rivularis (full/filtered sun)
- Roystonea oleracea, regia
- Syagrus romanzoffiana
Soil and Drainage
Most palms require good drainage. To determine how well water drains in your soil dig a few holes 18" deep and 18" wide. Fill them with water and determine how long it takes for the water to drain. If it drains with in 90 minutes, life is good! For most of us, it will take longer than 90 minutes and require us to amend the soil. The amendment will vary according to your results. For a good amendment mix, call Aguinaga Fertilizer Company in Irvine, CA, 949-786-9558. They can also make custom blends for your exact soil composition. Ask for Roger and let him know we sent you. Paying for high quality soil and amendments is always a good investment. Avoid 'Free Dirt' as you will regret it forever. For long-term palm plantings, install a leach line, pictured in the diagram below. A leach line helps prevent your palm tree from sitting in water, which can cause root rot, fungi and a host of other problems.
For established trees we recommend deep watering with reduced frequency as opposed to shallow watering with higher frequencies. The goal of watering is to provide water to the root ball, not just the surface area. Sprinkler systems may only effectively water the top few inches of soil which can desiccate newly planted trees. Here are some considerations that will affect your watering regimen.
- Amount of sun exposure
- Plant requirements
- Size of the plantings and their root-ball
- Density of plantings
- Soil type
- Seasonal changes in weather
To determine the effectiveness of your watering, follow the steps below. Keep in mind that the season in which you conduct this test will affect your results.
- Water your garden.
- After two days from watering, dig narrow holes with a posthole digger or shovel to various depths (6", 12", 18", 24") and in various areas of your garden. Use a water meter to measure and record the moisture at each depth. We offer water meters that also measure fertility, alkalinity/acidity and sunlight for sale at our nursery.
- Determine the amount of water each plant prefers and categorize them into groups by watering needs (low, moderate, high). Use these results to determine which plants do not have enough moisture, the correct amount of moisture or need more moisture.
- After three days from watering, repeat steps two and three.
- Adjust your irrigation cycle and duration according to your results.
A typical challenge here is that one sprinkler will serve the watering needs of various plants with different watering requirements. Give some plants too much water and they will dampen-off or perish. Give some plants too little water and they will desiccate or die. To fix this challenge, use a drip irrigation because it can be customized for each plants needs and use of the water that a standard pop-up sprinkler uses! Call us and we can provide you with a quote to do this for you. 949.340.5444.
Due to the importance of adequate watering and effective drainage, you can begin to understand the importance of good planning before planting palms haphazardly. There is no hard and fast rule for watering frequency so you will need to examine your soil. The key: examine your soil and learn the watering needs for your plants for each of the seasons of the year. You will thank yourself for installing an automated watering system with that combines drippers, micro-sprinklers, misters and sprinklers. We offer a wide variety of timers, irrigation supplies and plans that will help you consistently provide the correct amount of water based on your seasonal examinations.
Height and Spread
As a part of your design plan, it's important to know what your palms and plants will do. One of the great advantages of planting palms is that they are fairly predictable. Many publications are available that will explain what your palms will do as they grow. When you shop at Tropical Vibe, we will give you an extensive understanding of what your palms will do over the years and how to plan accordingly. Your receipt also contains each palms description and needs. This is especially important in the following circumstance:
- Spacing palms
- Desired scale to your home and garden
- Planning the 3rd dimension (height)
- Working emergent palms into your canopy
- Preventing sun-loving palms from being "shaded-out" by another palm
- Avoiding overhead and underground utility lines
- Damaging concrete or asphalt pads
- Over-crowding and preventing each palm's uniqueness to be appreciated (although many palm enthusiasts purposefully plant palms close together with narrow walkways for a "thick" jungle/rainforest effect)