Many landscape managers and home owners, especially on the gulf coast, wants to add the tropical feel to their landscape. The chief way to achieve this is by incorporating Palms and other tropical plants to their surroundings. Like with any other plant one would like to care for it properly. The improper care of Palms, I would like to blame on simple lack of “know how” and nothing else. Some palm care practices are a real problem in Northwest Florida; whether it is pruning, installing, or fertilizing. University of Florida has some great resources available on Palm care and maintenance. Let’s hit some highlights and use these tips to improve Palm care in northwest Florida.
First, installation is very important with Palms, as it is with all plants. One practice that ultimately results in death to a Palm is planting too deeply. Some have done this in the past to help secure the Palm from falling over. This may seem like a good idea but will harm the plant in many ways. Look at these two palms that were planted at the same time, see the difference?
Make sure when your planting to dig the hole twice as wide as the rootball and only as deep as the rootball is tall. Then for support build a supporting structure, but do not nail directly into the trunk (this will allow an entry point for disease). Once planted, water the palm in thoroughly, allowing for all the air pockets to be compromised If the fronds are tied up, untie them as soon as your palm is planted.
The next issue that faces palm lovers is pruning palms. Many prune a palm too much for a variety of reasons. Take a look at this palm for an example of a palm that has been pruned too much.
Follow the 9 to 3 clock rule, only pruning above the horizontal line of the crown of the palm. If you follow this rule you will generally be pruning correctly.
Photo Credits, University of Florida.