With their long heights and attractive, vibrant green color, Palm Trees form a beautiful contrast against the clear, blue skies.
These trees are one of the oldest and tallest plants to exist. While some grow out to be of average height, several palm trees reach over 150 feet, providing shelter and numerous food staples to thousands of living beings.
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What are the best fertilizers for palm trees?
Palm Trees are large beings; therefore, they require good quality fertilizer that fits all their essential needs. When buying fertilizer for your Palm Tree, choose an NPK Fertilizer with a ratio of 3:1:3; N for Nitrogen, P for Phosphate, and K for Potassium. Preferably, get a slow-release fertilizer, which gradually releases nutrients, allowing the plant sufficient time to absorb all of them. Furthermore, apply the fertilizer to damp soil; never add fertilizer when the soil is dry as it may lead to little to no absorption.
Best Fertilizer for Palm Trees
A good fertilizer for Palm Trees is the Dr.Earth Exotic Blend. It is 100% organic and has an NPK value of 6-4-6. This is very close to an ideal composition of 3-1-3.
As you can see Nitrogen and Potassium are present in the Palm Tree fertilizer in a high ratio.
You can buy it directly from Nature Hills nursery here.
Types of Palm Trees
Knowing its type, needs, and other trivial details is necessary to properly care for a plant. While the basic requirements remain the same, some minute changes may be essential to form the plant’s ideal care guide.
The Palm Trees have over 2600 species that can be found worldwide, some existing for over a century. Some species grow in the driest of deserts, while others nurture in the wettest of rainforests. Some species also grow exceptionally well in mild, average environments.
While this wide variety is highly fascinating, it can also create a lot of confusion and debate.
However, fortunately, most of these wonderful species have similar requirements. Therefore, growing Palm Trees is not much of a hassle. Some of the most prominent species include:
- Date Palm: Popular due to its sweet, scrumptious fruit.
- Queen Palm: Native to South America, now found worldwide.
- Cocos Nucifera: More commonly known as the Coconut Tree; an interesting fact about this beauty is that while all Coconut Trees are Palm Trees, not all Palm Trees are Coconut Trees.
While other Palm Tree species are equally fascinating, reading about them can take you a considerably long time. However, if you master a few quick tips and tricks to grow your Palm Tree, you can care for just about any species.
Palm Tree Fertilizers: The Ingredients
Undoubtedly, Palm Trees are a treat for sore eyes. The trees’ typical vibrant green color can brighten up the dullest of skies, and of course, your day.
To keep such a beautiful plant happy and healthy, knowing its needs and the reason behind each of its needs is imperative. Ideally, a Palm Tree’s feed should contain the following:
When you buy fertilizer for any plant, including Palm Trees, the first feed component you will see is Nitrogen.
Nitrogen holds immense importance for every plant, making up about 3% to 4% of its structure, more than any other mineral. Nitrogen is one of the prime promoters of a plant’s growth and development.
It helps the Palm Tree grow by enabling it to form amino acids. The amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are involved in a plant’s metabolic and growth activities.
It is a major component of chlorophyll, the compound that plants use to trap sunlight and produce appropriate sugars by the process of photosynthesis.
Without Nitrogen, the plants cannot synthesize proteins and will ultimately die. These proteins are either significant structural units of the plants or act as enzymes, allowing them to carry out their biochemical processes required for living.
Nitrogen helps the Palm Trees from ATP (Adenosine Tri-phosphate), the basic compound of energy, making it possible for the plant to perform all its natural cycles.
Moreover, Nitrogen is an important constituent of DNA, the genetic material the helps plants grow and reproduce. Conclusively, for plants, Nitrogen is the key to life. Without it, the plants cannot function normally.
While Nitrogen is of massive importance, Potassium falls right behind.
Potassium has various functions in Palm Trees; however, it is primarily involved in the movement of all essential sugars and nutrients through the plant.
Potassium is classified as a micronutrient in plants, as they take up large quantities of it during their lifetimes. It promotes the movement of water, plant carbohydrates, and nutrients between all plant cells.
It also encourages enzyme activation in the plant, which helps form starch, protein, and ATP (energy). Additionally, it speeds up the rate of photosynthesis.
An ideal supply of Potassium is necessary because it also regulates the opening and closing of plant stomata, which allow the gaseous exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
For some Palm Trees species, it limits damage during the winters, when the plant is more prone to dehydration.
Some of the other Potassium functions include:
- Enhanced root growth
- Greater drought resistance
- Helps in food formation and photosynthesis
- Aids in translocation of plant sugars
- Promotes plant protein synthesis
- Involved in cellulose formation and lessens lodging
- Protects plant against dehydration and associated diseases and infections
Phosphate, another one of the most important Palm Tree nutrients, has an approximate concentration of 0.1 to 0.5 in plants. It forms a major component of several plant functions, such as Palm Tree development and reproduction.
Phosphate, or phosphorous, is what helps form ATP, the basic energy unit. Without energy, no plant, including the Palm Tree, can live.
It is the driving source behind processes such as energy transfer, photosynthesis, passing on of genetic information to other generations, and nutrient movement within the plant.
Phosphate deficiency is relatively quick to show in Palm Trees as the leaves begin losing their characteristic color, and the plant appears dehydrated and unhealthy overall. The Palm Trees’ leaves also show a striking reduction in spread and surface area, and the number of leaves also decreases.
Similarly, the Palm Tree’s roots and shoots are also adversely affected. The shoot to root dry weight ratio lessens, and water and nutrient absorption decrease drastically.
The plant carbohydrate synthesis continues normally, but its utilization slows down significantly. This leads to plant carbohydrate buildup, which ultimately causes abnormal darkening of the plant’s green color.
For the Palm Tree to develop healthily, it is necessary that the plant receives an adequate amount of Phosphate, which helps it maintain its usual green color and complete all normal functions.
Iron is a vital micronutrient for almost all plants since it plays a critical role in metabolic processes, including respiration, DNA synthesis, and photosynthesis.
Additionally, many plant functions are activated by iron as it forms a prosthetic-group component of many enzymes.
An imbalance between the supply of iron in soil and its demand by the plant is the chief cause of iron chlorosis. Although in surplus in most well-aerated soils, iron’s biological activity remains low because it tends to form highly insoluble compounds at neutral pH levels.
Iron plays a major role in various biochemical and physiological pathways in plants. Some of its functions include:
- Involved in the production of chlorophyll
- It helps the plant maintain its color
- Aids in carrying oxygen around the plant
- Part of protein synthesis
- Acts as a catalyst in various functions
- Forms a structural component
- Required for the utilization of Nitrogen
Manganese is an important micronutrient for Palm Tree growth and development and sustains various metabolic roles within the plant cell compartments. Although not required in great quantities, it serves as a major catalyst in several plant functions, including Nitrogen metabolism and photosynthesis.
Manganese deficiency is a grave, widespread plant nutritional disorder in dry, poorly-aerated, and calcareous soils. Surprisingly, it can arise as an issue in highly organic soils.
The bio-availability of Manganese can decrease far below the level needed for normal plant development.
Generally, Manganese toxicity occurs in inadequately draining and acidic soils. Consequently, plants, such as Palm Trees, have evolved mechanisms to regulate Manganese uptake, storage, and trafficking tightly.
Manganese deficiency can show up as chlorosis, yellowing of the plant leaves due to inadequate amounts of chlorine. Chlorosis occurs on young leaves when grey or tan necrotic areas develop in the affected regions.
The minor functions of Manganese are numerous. However, its main functions include the following:
- It plays a key role in photosynthesis
- Aids in Nitrogen metabolism
- Helps form necessary plant compounds
- Activates several enzymes that help produce amino acids
- Help synthesize plant’s structural components
- Helps in the transport of essential nutrients within the plant
Although Magnesium has a considerable role in plant function, it receives little emphasis. Magnesium is the chief core of chlorophyll, the substance that gives plants their characteristic green color. Therefore, if the chlorophyll supply drops, the Palm Tree’s growth is fairly stunted.
Magnesium also helps activate certain enzymes systems required for the plant’s normal development and metabolism.
In many fertilizers, Magnesium is added in a small quantity because most soils naturally contain adequate amounts. However, soils that are too acidic may need an external Magnesium source.
Approximately, the soils with a pH below 5.5 need relatively high amounts of Magnesium in the fertilizer. The amount of Magnesium is also related to Calcium concentration in plants.
Many plant experts believe that an ideal ratio of both Magnesium and Calcium is necessary for a plant to grow normally.
The Palm Trees deficient in Magnesium show a wide variety of symptoms, such as yellow or discolored leaves, yellow leaf edges, and yellow or abnormal-looking veins. Some other colors, for instance, brown, red, or purple, may also appear.
Usually, older Palm Trees, some as old as decades, show deficiency signs first and fall off. The deficiency then begins to affect the new growth, stripping the foliage of its color and healthy appearance. If treated initially, the damage is reversible.
How to Fertilize Palm Trees?
Sandy soils often drain fairly quickly, and unfortunately, they strip off vital nutrients right along with the water. Due to this reason, using liquid fertilizer when feeding a Palm tree is not as effective. Usually, with liquid fertilizers, the Palm Tree’s roots do not get enough time to soak up the essential nutrients.
I recommend that you opt for a slow-release fertilizer instead that is specifically manufactured for Palm Trees. The slow-release fertilizers are mostly available as granules, spikes, or pellets that dissolve gradually over an extended period.
The slow-release fertilizers tend to deliver small doses of nutrients to the Palm Trees. I suggest that you apply the granules or pellets to the soil directly above the plant’s root zone, right underneath the canopy.
The Palms fertilizer should ideally be applied one to three times a year, depending on the specific feed brand’s instructions. Some slow-release fertilizers may keep the Palm Tree fed up to three months or six months, depending on the manufacturer.
For the three month fertilizers, apply twice more than you would apply the six months fertilizers. Generally, the initial dose of the palm feed is applied in summers or early spring.
For the Palm Trees species requiring two doses, the second dose of the fertilizer is added during the midsummer time. However, for the ideal times and does, follow the instructions mentioned on the product packaging.
Please ensure that you do not over-fertilize the Palm Tree as it can cause considerable damage. Likewise, please avoid feeding the plant insufficiently.
The Dos and Don’ts of Fertilizing Palm Trees
For all plants, there are certain things you should do and specific things you should avoid doing.
The Palm Tree is an excellent plant, providing food as well as other ornaments. Therefore, to ensure it grows healthy and big, you must follow some rules.
- Always read and follow the guidelines on the product package.
- Apply fertilizer to moist soil only and wash out the soil after feed application.
- Use a slow-release fertilizer.
- Water the garden or plant’s surroundings after fertilizing.
- If unsure about how often to fertilizer, under-fertilize it rather over-fertilizing it. The latter can cause significant irreversible damage.
- Choose a fertilizer with a 3:1:3 ratio.
- Please ensure that the fertilizer has micronutrients as well, like Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, etc.
- Use organic fertilizers if possible such as fish emulsion and worm castings. Such feeds are also environment-friendly.
- Ensure that you know which type of fertilizer your plant reacts well to. Some species may prefer liquid fertilizers over solid and granular ones.
- Fertilize during early spring, preferably.
- Follow an appropriate set routine that suits your plant well.
- Salt test your soil in a container if you notice any growth problems. Salt buildup can occur if the Palm Tree is given too much feed and too little water.
- Leach your container with multiple washings if the salt buildup is a frequent problem for your plant.
- Please keep your gardening tools clean.
- Use different combinations of fertilizer until you find the right one.
- Do not leave your plant starved during the winters. Add some amounts of feed to the plant soil and add water afterward.
- Mulch or top dress the Palm Tree’s soil where possible it this helps improve nutrient distribution, quality and conserves water.
- Do inquire and discuss your problems with other Palm Tree owners before treating the plant. You are highly likely to find more effective solutions.
- Do not fertilize on dry soil, as this can lead to irreversible damage.
- Refrain from over-fertilizing.
- Do not throw granular fertilizer on the plant’s crown.
- Do not add fertilizer at only one spot; spread it.
- Do not put fertilizer against the plant’s trunk in a large pile; such mistakes can cause plant necrosis and trunk scarring.
- Do not use cheap, immediate-release fertilizer as they will only cause toxicity and damage.
- Do not directly fertilize the roots, especially with quick-release fertilizers.
- Do not fertilize immediately after pruning. Wait for about 4 to 6 weeks before feeding it.
- Do not compare your plant’s needs to one that is grown in a different region with a different climate.
- Do not stop fertilizing the plant entirely during the winters. Keep the Palm Tree well fed throughout the year.
- In the case of a problem, please do not increase or decrease its fertilizer supply without consulting an expert.
Frequently Asked Questions about Palm tree fertilizers
Can I use homemade fertilizer for my Palm Tree?
The Palm Trees require several nutrients in different quantities. Preparing such a feed can be reasonably problematic; it may lack some nutrients and contain others in surplus. Therefore, getting a manufactured fertilizer made particularly for Palm Trees is more beneficial.
Is an Epsom salt fertilizer good for Palm Trees?
An Epsom salt fertilizer is not recommended as it may contain an excess of Potassium. However, if your Palm Tree suffers from a potassium deficiency, you may use an Epsom salt fertilizer.
How often should I fertilize my Palm Tree?
Most Palm Trees grow exceptionally well when they are fertilized three to four times a year. Please read your fertilizer guidelines mentioned on the packaging for further guidance.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.