types of palm trees

Types of Palm Trees and How to Take Care Of Them

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Palm trees are often described as majestic because of their beauty. With different varieties of palm trees, they can often make your indoor space a whole lot livelier while making your yard and garden lovelier. It’s just a bonus that palm trees are straightforward to care for no matter where you place them.

So if you’re interested in growing palm trees for landscaping or inside your home, here are the things that you should know.

How to Identify Palm Trees

palm tree

In general, palm trees have fan-shaped fronds. You might associate palm trees with warm climates, where most of these trees dot beaches and bask under the heat of the sun, but there are palm trees that do better in temperate climates, and some even survive winters.

Palm trees are one of the most commonly cultivated plants in the world. With more than 2,600 species of palm trees, here are the characteristics they share. First, palm trees have stems with no branches. Instead, these stems are where leaf tufts, called fronds, grow. The leaves can be bushy and large, and these are the most common way to identify a palm tree.


The fronds of palm trees can be pinnate or feather-like, such as the coconut tree or the date palm. Or it can have fan-like leaves.

These fronds can range from silvery to bluish-green.


A palm tree can have a single trunk or a number of trunks that appear to be clustered together. Further, the trunks can be smooth, or they can have leaf bases that are arranged in intersecting or braided patterns.

To make it easier for you, palm trees:

  • Do not branch and has a single growing point
  • Unlike regular trees, palm trunks do not become thicker over the years. Instead, they set their diameters early and then grow upwards from these trunks.
  • Once you have the trunk and fronds, you can then narrow down the palm tree you have by looking at its height, fruits, and flowers.

Aside from these, you should check out other characteristics as well. For instance, do they have drooping fronds? Or is their fruit vividly and brightly colored?

This video will introduce you to the common characteristics of palm trees and how you can identify them. You also see some of the most beautiful palm trees featured here as well:

Some Interesting Facts About Palm Trees

Before we continue, let’s throw in some bits of interesting facts about palm trees:

  • The coco de mer has the biggest seeds out of all the plants in the world. Their seeds measure 1.0 to 1.3 feet (30 to 50 centimeters) and can weigh anywhere from 33 to 66 pounds (15 to 30 kilograms).
  • The biggest leaves of any plant also belong to a member of the palm family. The Raffia palm has leaves that can grow 82 feet (25 meters) long and span 10 feet (three meters) wide.
  • Talk about prolific! The Corypha pam has a 25-foot (7.5 meters) inflorescence and can contain millions of small flowers.
  • The tallest palm in the world is the wax palm, which can grow up to 230 feet (70 meters).

Where Do Palm Trees Grow

A vast majority of palm trees grow in tropical or subtropical climates. The subtropics have an average temperature of more than 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), while the tropics are very near the equator. That means that palm trees thrive in dry and hot places.

More than two-thirds of all palms are found in tropical forests, where larger ones provide canopy and shade for the smaller varieties. Palm trees have different habitats as well, with some being able to flourish in tropical mountains, desert oases, scrublands, and grasslands. Some thrive in acidic soil.

Uses of Palm Trees

While most of us living near the equator see palm trees daily, we usually think about how good they look in our gardens or as part of the landscape. Those who love coconut and dates also have the palm family to thank for their favorite food. However, there are more uses for palm trees.

  • Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that’s not only used for cooking but also for making other things such as detergent, makeup, lotions, soap, medicines, and pizza dough.
  • Palm oil also has health benefits such as being rich in vitamin A, fighting cholesterol, and preventing cancer and heart disease.
  • Palm fruits can also be fermented into alcoholic beverages such as palm toddy. With its milky color and sweet taste, toddy can contain up to four percent alcohol.
  • Palm trees are also used as housing materials. You can get fibrous lumber from taller palm trees, while the fiber can be woven to create wall coverings, baskets, brooms, and furniture. The fronds are sometimes used for outdoor cottages and huts.
  • Palm wax is an all-natural ingredient that’s used to make scented candles.

How to Grow Palm Trees From Seed

If you’re trying to grow palm trees from seed, the best way to go about it is to completely remove the fleshy part of the fruit and clean the seeds. You will need something like the Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix, which has the nutrients to help palm trees thrive for up to six months.

Place the cleaned seeds just below the surface of the potting mix, keeping it very shallow. You can keep the pot indoors, but you will need to ensure that the potting mix is moist without being soggy.

When the seedlings grow, you should move the pot outdoors where it can receive bright light.

Palm Trees Growing Conditions

Because of the many varieties of palm trees available, the growing conditions may vary depending on the specific species of palm tree you have. Generally, however, palm trees like sand-based or fast-draining soil. Palm trees may become unhealthy in clay soil because there are not enough air pockets.

As such, clay and compacted soil can suffocate the roots of your palm tree. When this happens, your palm tree might suffer from stunted growth. Worse, it might develop root rot.

You can augment sandy soil with humus or peat moss, as these materials will provide your tree with the moisture and nutrients it needs to thrive. But be careful not to put in too much. You should never go over 20 percent of the soil volume when adding amendments.

Palm trees also have other care requirements, such as the right amount of water and light. For one, newly planted and growing palm trees have different water needs than those that are already established.

You should be watering young palm trees once every two weeks. You should ensure that the moisture reaches around 18 inches (46 centimeters) deep with each watering. You can use a moisture meter such as this Classy Casita Soil Meter, Moisture Tester Kit to help you know if you’ve watered enough.

When your palm tree enters its sixth month, it will have many roots to give it the moisture it needs. You can gradually decrease the watering from twice a week to every other week as your palm tree should be drought tolerant.


If your garden has a high water table or poorly draining soil, you should consider creating mounds for your palm tree so that its roots are well above the waterline. You can use the same augmented sandy loam soil for this mound.

When to Plant Palm Trees

One of the keys to healthier palm trees is planting them at the right time. Most people think that like ornamental shrubs, you should plant palm trees during autumn to have a lot of roots when summer comes.

However, you should be planting palm trees in the spring or early summer at the latest. The days should get warmer after you’ve put the seeds into the ground. Planting during spring will give the palm tree about half a year to develop roots that can help them be hardy and robust enough to survive their first winter.

What’s more, planting palm trees in the spring means that you don’t have to water the new growth as often as necessary because of the rains.

How to Plant Palm Trees


If you want, you can plant grown palm trees instead of seeds. This way, you can instantly beautify your yard, and you don’t have to wait a long time for the palm tree to grow large.

But how do you plant palm trees?

  • Dig a hole that’s six inches (15 centimeters) more than the pot that the palm tree came in.
  • Do not plant the palm trees too low to stunt their growth and make them unhealthy. Planting them deeply will make it difficult for the palm tree to get the water and air it needs to be healthy.
  • Put the palm tree into the hole and fill it up with the soil that you’ve dug up to make the hole.
  • Water the newly transplanted palm tree to get rid of air pockets and force the soil to settle down on the roots.
  • Spread mulch over the base of the palm tree. Ensure that you get up to two to three inches (five to eight inches) of mulch. The mulch keeps the moisture in while preventing weeds from growing around your palm tree.
  • Water the newly transplanted tree following this schedule:
  1. Daily for the first week
  2. Every other day for the second week
  3. Twice a week during summer

This video demonstrates just how you should transplant a grown palm tree.

Palm Trees Sun Requirements

There are palm trees like basking in the sun, such as the Manila palm, the Chinese fan palm, and the Bismarck palm. When you plant them in the shade, they will have a hard time developing roots and may have thin foliage. That doesn’t mean that you should just put all palm trees in sunny areas of your garden. Shade-loving palm trees such as the sago palm, pindo palm, needle palm, and lady’s palm will burn under direct sunlight.

These palm varieties will turn brown and wither if you put them under direct sunlight. Therefore, it’s best to learn more about the particular palm tree variety you have before deciding on where to plant it in your yard.

Palm Trees Water Requirements

We have talked about how much water to give newly planted palm tree seeds and transplanted palm trees. However, established palm trees have a root system that provides the plant with the moisture it needs. However, you still need to water your palm trees to keep them looking their best. In general, palm trees will love moist soil. That moist soil translates to watering your palms two to three times a week. Don’t water if it rains.

The recommended amount of water you give your palm tree should be equivalent to the pot’s volume: a palm in a 10-gallon (38 liters) pot will need 10 gallons of water. On hotter days, you might want to give your palm trees more water.


There are visible signs when you overwater a palm tree:

  • Slow or stunted growth
  • The tips of the oldest leaves will turn brown
  • In some plants, leaflets will fold or wilt
  • The trunk can start to hollow out

How to Water Palm Trees

Water palm trees deeply, and it’s preferable if you water the soil around the roots rather than just spraying the leaves or topsoil quickly. When summer rolls in, water only when it’s early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

If you water in the midday sun or when the sun is hot, your palm tree might have burned leaves. In the winter, avoid watering in the afternoons as the night temperatures might drop.

Best Palm Trees Fertilizer

One of the telltale signs that your palm trees are not getting enough nutrients is when their fronds turn yellow. Like all plants, palm trees need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as micronutrients that can help them keep their foliage green and healthy.

A lack of magnesium can cause older leaves to turn yellow but newer ones will have a deep green color. If your palm tree is craving for potassium, you will see orange or yellow spots in the leaves, while a manganese deficiency will turn the new leaves yellow.

Thankfully, some fertilizers are explicitly formulated for palm trees. You can opt for slow-release products that can feed your plant for anywhere from three months to a year. Try out these products:

Best Palm Trees Companion Plantings

The thing with palm trees is that it’s a gorgeous plant with unique characteristics. It can provide a backdrop to flowering trees or be a focal point for your garden. It can also give a canopy for shade-loving plants. Some taller palm trees also have ample space for shrubs to grow in. As such, there are a lot of choices when it comes to companion plants.

  • Subtropical plants, such as bird of paradise, ginger, banana, and gunnera, add a more natural and in-the-wild feel to your palm trees.
  • Desert plants such as aloes, yucca, and dracaenas make an exciting contrast to the tropical looks of palm trees.
  • Hibiscus, rhododendrons, and other subtropical bushes and trees can be showy and colorful, which helps to break the monotony of colors most palms have.

Other good companion plants for palm trees include:

  • Bamboo
  • Bromeliads
  • Cycads
  • Ferns
  • Orchids

Palm Trees Diseases and Common Problems

Aside from nutrient deficiencies that we have already mentioned, palm trees may be attacked by pests and diseases. And here are the ones that you should be most wary of:


Palms are susceptible to leaf-spotting that is caused by fungi. These leaf spots are brown and circular, but some are elongated. In some cases, the site may appear oily. The good news is that in most cases, leaf spots will not kill your palm tree.

To prevent leaf spotting, do not wet the fronds and leaves of your palm trees. In some instances, when the spots are getting too severe, you might want to use some type of fungicide that has copper as one of its main ingredients.

False smut is common in places that have high humidity. False smut is seen only on Arecaceae palms, such as the Chinese fan palm and the Washington palm.

Also, the Graphiola leaf spot can cause black spots with thin filaments on the older leaves. You should avoid this by spacing your palm trees apart to make sure that it gets all the air needed to dry off the water when you irrigate the plant. You can also use a fungicide that has copper in it.

Other diseases that palm trees have to deal with include:

  • Ganoderma root and butt rot make the older fronds wither and droop. It can also prevent new growth from growing normally.
  • Bud rot is caused by another type of fungi or bacteria. It can be a symptom that the palm tree might be overwatered or the soil is getting soggy. Bud rot causes the new fronds to have black lesions. If you don’t treat it, the affected areas may become slimy.

As with the case with the earlier mentioned diseases, you should avoid getting the foliage wet when you water this palm.

Insects and Pests

Aside from diseases, you also have to contend with pests and insects. These include:

Insect Treatment
Palm aphids, which feed on new fronds and leaves and produce honeydew that attracts sooty mold fungus.

They are commonly seen in: Chinese fan palm, coconut palm, date palm, Alexander palm, and Washington palm.

Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil kills it on contact
Palm leaf skeletonizer are tiny caterpillars that can attack in huge numbers and leave your palm fronds bare, withering, or skeletal Use a high-pressure hose to wash away the larva or remove the severely infected fronds.

You can also try insecticide with carbaryl as the main ingredient.

Mealybugs can suck the sap out of plants and produces honeydew. They can colonize your palm trees. An equal mixture of alcohol and water with liquid soap can slow down mealybugs. Spray with insecticidal soap to kill them
Palmetto weevil is a large beetle that feeds on wounded or dying palm trees or stressed palms recently transplanted. It can also attack healthy palms such as Bismarck, latan, and Canary Island date. Make sure to lessen the stress when transplanting palms. If you can detect these insects early, you can use insecticidal soap to kill them.
Saddleback caterpillar usually feeds on the underside of palm leaves and leaves big holes in them. Control these caterpillars with biological insecticide.
Spider mites feed on your palm tree, causing the appearance of yellow spots or leaf stripling. Kill with horticultural oil, miticides, or insecticidal soap.
Coconut mites eat the husk of coconuts. Pruning the coconut fruits will help control these mites.
Royal palm bugs cause the new leaves of your palm trees to look burned and often cause the stunting of its growth. Use insecticide spray to kill these bugs.

Palm Trees Treatments and Maintenance

Maintaining and caring for your palm trees is easy. One rule of thumb is to fertilize palm trees because the sandy soil where they grow can’t hold nutrients that long. As such, you should replenish these nutrients over time. What’s more, you should adequately water them and make sure that the roots get a lot of air. You should water your palm trees when the soil moisture levels drop, and the ground becomes drier than what’s optimum.

Your palm trees need to be pruned. Cut only the dead leaves and trunk as soon as they turn completely brown. Do not overdo pruning, or else it may cause your palm tree to decay or be more susceptible to insects and diseases.

This video shows you how to correctly prune a palm tree:

Other things you should do:

  • Mulch: After removing shrubs and ground cover surrounding your palm trees, you should mulch using organic matter. Apply around three inches (7.6 centimeters) of this mulch within two feet (60 centimeters) of the base.
  • Avoid ball shaping and trunk skinning: Some people skin the trunks of their palm trees because it looks better. But this can also leave gaping wounds in your palms, and that can invite insects and diseases as well.
  • Address pests and diseases immediately: Be sure to spray with fungicides, miticides, or correct whatever is ailing your palm trees as soon as you detect insects or diseases in your palm trees. However, prevention is always better, so read up on how to prevent pests and diseases from attacking your palm trees.

How to Remove Palm Trees

Removing palm trees can be risky, and it may be best to leave it to professionals. These trees can be hefty, and if one falls on you, it can be fatal. It can also damage nearby structures.

Knowing that you should proceed with removing palm trees with caution. If you’re going to save the tree and want to replant it, you should dig up the roots. But if you only want to get rid of it, you should cut it down gradually with a chainsaw.

Some Things to Remember

It may be illegal to cut palm trees in your area. Some localities prohibit the cutting of tall trees for safety reasons.

Digging up the Tree for Transplant

There are valuable palm trees, and it will be a waste to just remove them. Try to check if the palm tree you want to get rid of is of interest to nurseries or growers. If you can sell it, you might want to uproot the tree rather than cutting it down.

This video will show you a way to easily uproot a palm tree for transplant:

Cutting Down a Palm Tree

If you don’t want to uproot your palm tree, you can just cut it down. Wearing a face mask, a hard hat, and earmuffs, you can start cutting the fronds first before starting to trim the palm tree from the top and then work your way down.

Cutting down palm trees serves two purposes: to reduce the tree’s weight and make it more manageable.

This AJ’s Tree Care will show you the proper way to cut down a palm tree:

Meanwhile, this one will teach you how to get rid of the palm tree stump that remains after the tree is cut:

Where to Buy Palm Trees Seeds and Saplings Online

If you’re eyeing a palm tree for your garden, then you’re in luck, as there are a lot of online retailers that can give you the palm tree that you want. First, you can buy seeds and live plants from the usual suspects:

  • Amazon lets you search for particular palm tree seeds or a live palm tree.
  • Etsy also has a growing community of live palm tree sellers. You can choose to buy seeds or seedlings of your choice.
  • Home Depot is selling live palms online.
  • Lowes has a good selection of palms.

Besides these, you can also check out that Bloomscape has a limited selection of palm trees that you can grow indoors. Or you can have your fill over at Brighter Blooms. You can narrow down your many choices according to your USDA Hardiness Zone and how tall the plant is.

Costa Farms is also a good source of palms, including those that you can use for landscaping. EZ Palms is your go-to site if you want to get a lot of palms. You can get palm trees at a wholesale price. Meanwhile, Fast Growing Trees has a good selection of palm trees for sale.

Other retailers, you should check out:

Have Fun Growing Palm Trees

palm 1

Now that you know how palm trees thrive, you can confidently plant them from seeds or transplant a sapling and watch them grow. This general knowledge will help you understand what to do no matter what type of palm tree you have.

However, you still would have to research specific palm tree varieties because care requirements may differ.

Research Citations

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