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How to care for outdoor palm trees

Palm trees thrive outdoors in warm climates that don't experience winter freezing. They are prized in coastal areas for their ability to withstand the heavy winds that often accompany storms. A large variety of palms is available, from the fruit-producing coconut palm to the low, bushy pindo palm. A palm tree works well as a single specimen planting, planted in clusters or when used to mark a property line. The trees are relatively low maintenance and live for many years when properly cared for.

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  1. Plant palms in an area that receives full, all-day sunlight. Choose beds with well-drained soil that aren't prone to standing water after rain or irrigation.

  2. Spread a 5 cm (2 inch) layer of mulch on top the soil around the trunk of the palm. Cover a 90 cm to 1.5 m 3 to 5 foot) diameter so that surrounding grass does not grow up to the trunk.

  3. Water the palms every two weeks during the spring and summer, supplying enough water to thoroughly moisten the top 60 cm (2 feet) of soil. Water every six to eight weeks in winter, but avoid watering if temperatures are near freezing.

  4. Feed palms a fertiliser formulated specifically for the plants, usually called a palm special. Apply the fertiliser at the rate and frequency recommended for the size of your tree. Spread fertiliser over the entire root zone of the palm, and then water the fertiliser into the soil.

  5. Prune out only completely brown, dead fronds. Avoid removing fronds that still have green on them. Most palm varieties drop their fronds naturally.

  6. Tip

    Hire a licensed arborist to trim tall palms. This ensures they are pruned correctly and alleviates the chance for injury.


    Lawnmower and weed trimmers damage the trunks of palm trees. Palm tree trunks cannot heal, so any wound provides a permanent opening to disease and pests.

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Things You'll Need

  • Mulch
  • Fertiliser

About the Author

Jenny Harrington

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

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