Most landscape managers and homeowners, especially on the gulf coast, wants to add a tropical feel to their landscape. One way to achieve this is to incorporate palms and other tropical plants into planting beds. Like any other plant, proper care is key to success. The improper care of palms stems from a lack of knowledge about the unique physiology and needs of palms. Palm care practices such as installing and pruning could be improved in Northwest Florida. University of Florida has some great resources available to homeowners and green industry professionals 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, do you see the difference?
Make sure that when you plant, dig the hole twice as wide as the rootball and only as deep as the rootball is tall. 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, ensuring that all the air pockets are filled If the fronds are tied up, untie them as soon as your palm is planted.
The next issue that faces many homeowners and landscape professionals is how to prune palms. Many prune a palm too severely for a variety of reasons. Take a look at this palm below for an example of a palm that has been pruned too drastically.
Follow the 9 to 3 clock rule, only pruning below 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.