Olive Grove Nurseries Palm Tree Care Guide

Palm Tree Care Guide


Taking care of your palm tree is an essential part of helping it to grow strong and healthy. Regular watering, proper nutrients and timely pruning are all important to increase the overall strength and beauty of your palm.  Here are a few helpful tips to help you with the care.


When you bring your palm tree home you can either plant it in the ground or, in many cases people opt to leave them in a pot.

Unlike what is the case with most other trees, palm trees seem to like being in small containers and most live happily in containers which may seem far too small for them, and for amazing amounts of time. 

Only when the palm tree can no longer absorb sufficient micronutrients and/or water runs through the pot so fast the roots cannot take enough up is it time to consider repotting into a larger pot or planting into the ground.  What is important when leaving palm trees in pots is to make sure that both the soil and the pot is free draining.

If you decide to plant your palm outdoors, dig a hole wide enough to fit the root ball with plenty of room to spare. Twice as wide might be a good rule of thumb in many cases. The hole should be just deep enough so that the tree is planted at the depth at which it was grown. Do not plant the tree any deeper as this may deprive the roots of nutrients and water.  When the palm has been situated in the hole, backfill with the freshly dug soil, then build a soil barrier around the circumference of the hole to form a dam that will hold water. A good idea is to then place a layer of organic mulch around the palm, about three inches deep should do, in order to keep the roots warm.  Frequent watering is crucial for newly-planted palm trees. Daily for about the first two weeks and then tapering off over several months as the tree establishes itself. It is important not to allow the soil to dry out as this will severely weaken your new palm.


Watering your palm tree is very important because the tree will not tolerate long periods of drought. Palm trees like to have moist soil in a site with a far amount of sun. This means you should keep the soil constantly damp or moist. You must know, however, palm trees do not perform well in soil that does not drain properly.

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 dry out newly planted trees. Here are some considerations that will affect the amount of watering that your palm will require.

Amount of sun exposure

Palm species

Size of the palm and its root-ball

Density of plantings

Soil type

Seasonal changes in weather


We recommend regular fertilising of all your palms with a slow release granular feed, ie Osmacote, in the early part of the season, which will then slowly release throughout the growing season. No additional feeding is required during the dormant winter months.


Palm trees require little maintenance and grow quickly with ideal conditions. Pruning a palm tree can be beneficial when done correctly; however, over pruning a palm is harmful to the health and growth of the tree.

Look for yellow, brown and broken leaves on the palm tree.

Prune off any discolored and broken leaves.

Remove loose petioles by hand. Leave them on the palm if they do not pull off easily.

Remove all flower and fruit stalks from the palm.

Thin out clumps of palms, and trim back new growth when the tree is growing too big for its surroundings.

Leave on all of the green leaves on the palm. Do not take more leaves off the palm than it will produce in a year.

Do not cut off leaves too close to the trunk. Leave enough of the leaf so that the tree is not damaged when it is removed.


Cold weather can affect plants in a variety of ways. First, frost or freezing temperatures can damage the actual tissue of the plant as well as limiting the conduction of water through the trunk.

Cold weather will slow down the growth of your palm and reduce the activity of the roots. As this occurs, the palm is weakened and susceptible to the perils of disease. There are a number of preventative measures one can take to encourage the survival of palms through the winter. If you have the advantage of being able to choose where to plant a new palm, ensure that you decide upon a warm and sunny spot well protected from winter winds. Winds from the north and west are particularly harmful. Any number of evergreens will serve as adequate windscreens – fences or walls that allow some air through work well also. If you are able, situate your palm close to the south or east sides of your house. The heat of your home will further protect them.

Depending on the ‘Hardiness’ of your palm, tying up the leaves and wrapping the trunk of your plant with fleece will prevent the bulb of the plant from freezing in the colder months


Hardy – No need for protection from the winter elements

Frost Hardy – Wrap the pots with bubble wrap, tie up the leaves of the palm and fleece around the trunk of the tree during winter months. If in the ground, tie up the leaves and wrap the trunk of the palm with fleece.

Half Hardy – Wrap the pots with bubble wrap, tie up the leaves of the palm and fleece around the trunk of the tree during winter months. If in the ground, tie up the leaves and wrap the trunk of the palm with fleece.

Frost Tender – Bring the palms inside during winter months.

Hardyto -15 C/5 F
Frost Hardyto -5 C/23 F
Half Hardyto 0 C/32 F
Frost Tenderto 5 C/41 F

To better help you know the hardiness of your palm, here is a list of all the palms supplied at Olive Grove Nurseries and their level of hardiness during the winter months.

Brahea Armata (Mexican Blue Palm) – Frost Hardy

Butia Capitata (Pindo Palm, Jelly Palm) – Frost Hardy to Hardy

Chamaerops Humilis (European Fan Palm) – Frost Hardy to Hardy

Chamaerops Humilis Cerifera (Dwarf Blue Fan Palm) – Frost Hardy to Hardy

Cordyline Australis (New Zealand Cabbage Plant, Cornish Palm) – Frost Hardy

Cordyline Indivisa (Broad Leaf Cabbage Plant) – Frost Hardy

Cycas Revoluta (Sago Palm) – Frost Hardy

Dasylirion Longissimum (Mexican Grass Tree) – Frost Hardy

Dasylirion Wheeleri (Blue Desert Spoon) – Hardy

Phoenix Canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm) – Frost Hardy

Sabal Causiarum (Puerto Rican Hat Palm) – Frost Hardy

Sabal Minor (Dwarf Palmetto) – Hardy

Sabal Palmetto (Cabbage Palm) – Frost Hardy

Trachycarpus Fortunei (Chusan Palm, Windmill Palm) – Hardy

Washingtonia Filifera (Desert Fan Palm) – Half Hardy to Frost Hardy

Washingtonia Robusta (Thread Palm) – Half Hardy to Frost Hardy