When looking for the best fertilizer for palm trees, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Not only do you need to find one that provides the right balance of nutrients, but you also have to be sure that it delivers them in the right way.
Because of the environment where palms primarily grow, the type of soil, and how it interacts with the fertilizer are important factors to consider. Whether your palm is growing outdoors or growing in a pot indoors matters, too.
Here are some things to think about before choosing the right fertilizer for your palm tree.
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Palm Tree Fertilizer Requirements
Palm trees usually grow in tropical or subtropical climates where the soil is sandy and rain is plentiful. Nutrients are quickly leached from this type of soil, particularly during heavy rains, which is why fertilizer is so important.
Palm tree fertilizer needs to replace the lost nutrients and maintain them. That’s why it’s really important to use a long-lasting fertilizer for palm trees. It fixes the immediate problem and helps prevent more in the future.
All plants, including palm trees, require a combination of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and other micronutrients. In palm trees, deficiencies of different nutrients present in various ways:
- Magnesium (Mg). Not enough magnesium presents as yellow or orange leaves on mature trees or deep green leaves in younger trees of new foliage.
- Potassium (K). A deficiency in potassium can cause leaves to develop yellow or orange spots.
- Manganese (Mn). Low manganese causes new growth to turn yellow or wither.
- Iron (Fe). A palm without enough iron will also have yellow leaves, particularly on new growth, though the veins will remain green initially.
- Nitrogen (N). Nitrogen deficiency presents as a uniform yellowing of the palm leaves.
These deficiencies not only affect the way the plant looks, but they will also eventually kill the palm if not corrected. Using the right type of fertilizer with the right application is really important.
When choosing your fertilizer, the longer-lasting is it, the better. There are some slow-release formulas that are really effective at maintaining the right level of nutrients over time, even if they’re leached away.
These products are available in several forms including granules, liquids, pellets, and spikes. Although they’re applied differently, most are formulated to work over long periods of time. In fact, some only need to be applied twice a year.
The 8 Best Fertilizers to Use For Your Palm Trees
There are a lot of great options when it comes to palm tree fertilizer. Whether you’re looking for something to use on an outdoor palm or potted plant, here are some of the best.
Palm Tree Fertilizer Reviewed
1. Jobe’s 01010 Fertilizer Spikes Palm Tree
These fertilizer spikes from Jobe’s deliver nourishment right to the roots. There’s no wasteful runoff or mess and no harmful odors. All you have to do is insert the spikes twice a year between March and October to deliver a constant supply of nutrients for active root growth.
One package includes five spikes which can be used for multiple plants. For best results, water the area well first. Then, insert the spikes at the drip line using a hammer and the plastic driving cap. Drive the spikes in until they’re about two inches below the soil’s surface.
Make sure spikes are evenly placed around the area and at least 24 inches away from the tree trunk. Because these spikes release nutrients directly to the roots, you don’t have to worry about the fertilizer leaching away when you water.
2. Jobe’s Organics Granules Palm Plant Food
Jobe’s makes a great fertilizer that works quickly for all types of palm plants. That’s not all, this blend is also USDA certified organic which means it doesn’t contain any synthetic materials.
What makes this fertilizer so effective? Jobe’s Bizome, a microorganism specially formulated by the brand. It aggressively breaks down the nutrients in the soil to deliver faster results. This fertilizer comes in an easy-to-pour bag and should be applied every two to three months.
This product actually improves soil conditions and helps resist disease, drought, and insects. That’s not all, it increases root mass for stronger, heartier plants. It delivers long-term results without harsh chemicals and is safe to use around children and pets.
3. Miracle-Gro 3002910 Shake ‘N Feed Continuous Release Palm Plant Food
One of the easiest fertilizers to apply is Shake ‘N Feed by Miracle-Gro. It has the magnesium, iron, and manganese palm trees need to grow strong and lush. Plus, it prevents yellowing and curling of fronds for a heartier look.
You can use this fertilizer anywhere. It’s great for individual trees or those included in your landscaping. You can even use it potted palms.
One of the cool things about this product is it contains compost that feeds the natural microbes in the soil. The microbes break down the nutrients so that they can be absorbed more quickly by the roots. Plants become more water-efficient and grow stronger roots.
All you have to do is shake the applicator so the fertilizer falls within the drip line. Just be sure to avoid contact with the trunk and foliage to avoid damage. Lightly mix the granules into the top layer of the soil and water to begin feeding your palm. Reapply every three months for best results.
4. Jobe’s 05101 Fern & Palm Fertilizer Spikes
If you’re looking for a palm fertilizer specially made for potted plants, take a look at these spikes from Jobe’s.
Potted palms are a little different than those planted outside. They’re not exposed to heavy rain and the nutrients don’t leach away in the same way.
These spikes can be used in pots between four and 12 inches in diameter. The larger the pot, the more spikes you need. Follow the package directions to make sure you’re using the correct amount.
One of the best things about these spikes is they eliminate any mess, hazards, or smells. Each one is premeasured to provide a continuous supply of nutrients, right to the root. One application lasts for up to 60 days.
This package comes with 30 spikes which should last a while, depending on the size and number of potted palms you have. They’re pre-measured, easy to use, and perfect for indoor and container-grown plants.
5. Miracle-Gro Fruit & Citrus Fertilizer Spikes
These fertilizer spikes from Miracle-Gro are great for palm trees as well as citrus and other fruit trees. They release nutrients right into the root zone to promote strength and strong growth.
Application is pretty easy. For best results, use these spikes once in the spring and again in the fall. This provides a long-lasting, continuous release of nutrients to promote lush foliage. Wet the ground slightly before driving the spikes into the ground at least three feet apart from one another.
Use the plastic cap to protect the spike when hammering it into place at least two inches below the top of the soil. Spikes should be placed at the drip line. That said, these spikes should always be placed two feet away from the trunk, even if the drip line is closer.
6. Earth INC 756P Exotic Exotic Blend Palm, Tropical & Hibiscus Fertilizer
Dr. Earth is a great product, especially if you’re looking for something that’s Non-GMO Project Verified. It’s people and pet safe and contains no synthetic chemicals or other toxic ingredients. Plus, it’s sustainably made in the USA.
So, what’s in it? Feed-grade ingredients enriched with multi-minerals, proteins, and trace elements that create healthy soil for growing strong, hearty plants. This blend is ideal for palm trees as well as other tropical and sub-tropical plants.
This product works best when applied every other month from early April until late August. You can actually use it effectively with new trees, use one cup in the planting hole then an additional cup inside the drip line. For established trees, mix ½ to ¾ cup for every foot of plant height.
7. Carl Pool Palm Food
A product that was formulated especially for palm trees is this food from Carl Pool. Specifically, this blend has higher levels of magnesium and manganese that palm trees need.
That’s not all, it also contains three different sources of nitrogen to support both fast growth and long-term support.
Because this formula uses insoluble nitrogen, it resists leaching and won’t contaminate groundwater. That’s not all, one application provides three to four months of coverage.
Another great thing about this fertilizer is it can be used for landscape plants, potted plants, or even as a broadcast application. This is a good choice for all palm varieties. In fact, a lot of professional palm growers prefer Carl Pool so you’re bound to see results.
8. Palm Tree Liquid Fertilizer HighTech NPK, Root, Soil, Foliar, Fertiliser
For those who prefer liquid fertilizer, check out this product from Green24. It’s a great choice for palms as well as other tropical and subtropical plants and supports lush green leaves, strong stems, and balanced roots. Just be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
This 250 ml bottle of concentrate makes between 60 to 125 liters of liquid fertilizer. Mixing it is easy, just use the cap to measure out the right amount of concentrate. The final product can be absorbed through the roots or leaves. A spray bottle delivers a quick and easy application.
Detailed instructions are included so you can make sure you mix the right dose. The wrong mix can be very harmful to your palm tree. This formula is compatible with most pesticides and, because it’s so rich, it’s absorbed rapidly. You should see quick results.
What is the Best Fertilizer for Palm Trees?
It’s hard to choose which is the best palm tree fertilizer. It really depends on what your preference, the type of soil your palm is planted in, and the climate.
Jobe’s Fertilizer Spikes for All Outdoor Palm Trees is the best choice for outdoor palms, especially if you prefer fertilizer spikes as opposed to granules or liquids. This package contains five spikes in all and they’re really easy to apply.
The best thing about this fertilizer is it delivers nutrients right to the roots. It absorbs more quickly than granules or other fertilizers that need to be watered in. There’s less chance of leaching, no wasteful runoff, and no harmful odors.
If you’re looking for something organic, try Jobe’s Organics Palm Tree Fertilizer with Biozome. It’s USDA certified and doesn’t contain any synthetic materials. One thing to note is that it doesn’t last quite as long as some other options and should be applied every two to three months.
This organic fertilizer also helps to improve conditions of the soil for the long term and is safe to use around children and pets.
Finally, if you prefer a liquid fertilizer, check out Palm Tree Liquid Fertilizer HighTech NPK, Root, Soil, Foliar, Fertiliser. Mix the concentrated formula as appropriate and apply to the roots of leave for fast results.
Remember, pay close attention when mixing concentrated liquids so you don’t end up with something that’s too strong.
When Should You Fertilize a Palm Tree?
As we mentioned, most palm tree fertilizers are long-acting and only need to be applied a few times a year. Each product has its own schedule but here are some general guidelines as to when you should apply fertilizer.
If you’re planting a new palm, it’s usually best to wait until the plant puts out a new spear to add fertilizer unless the label specifically states it’s for new plants. A new spear that comes right from the heart of the bud is an essential growth point for a new plant and signals a healthy plant.
Established plants are a little different. Their nutritional needs can be met by following a yearly schedule but that varies from one product to another. It’s really important to use a fertilizer that’s made especially for palm trees and follow the directions on the package.
Some products only require application twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. Others should be applied every two to three months. Generally, how often fertilizer needs to be applied depends on the soil and climate.
In warm climates where the temperature doesn’t go below freezing, palms may need fertilizer up to four times a year. Although they go dormant when the temperature drops, in warm climates, they grow continuously throughout the year and require more nutrients.
Although they’re primarily known for growing in warm or tropical climates, palm trees can grow just about anywhere. If you live in a climate where the temperature regularly goes below freezing, some recommend that you stop fertilizing the plant two months before the first frost.
Continuing to fertilize a palm tree in the winter can encourage the plant to continue growing even though conditions aren’t ideal. This may result in weaker growth and vulnerable leaves.
Another school of thought is that you should fertilize your palm before the cold weather hits. The thinking is that the availability of nutrients can help the plant stay strong over the winter and be ready for growth when the weather warms.
So, should you fertilize in the winter or not? There’s no clear answer either way. Ask people in your area who also have palms if they’ve had success either way before trying it for yourself.
Again, it’s important to read the package and follow the directions for the fertilizer you choose. Each is formulated differently and should be applied according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
How Much Fertilizer Does a Palm Tree Need?
It’s hard to give the exact amount of fertilizer that a palm tree needs because there are so many variables. It depends on the climate, where the palms are planted, the type of soil, and what fertilizer you choose. Your best bet is to follow the directions on the package.
Remember, in sandy soil, palm trees rely on the nutrients that fertilizer provides. It’s important to follow the directions carefully to make sure your palm gets what it needs to thrive.
It’s always better to under fertilize than over-fertilize so if you’re unsure, start with a low amount and add a little more as needed. There’s no way to correct over-fertilization and it could cause problems long into the future.
How to Fertilize a Palm Tree?
In addition to using the right type and amount of fertilizer, applying it correctly is also really important. Follow the directions on the package carefully because too much fertilizer placed too close to the tree can have disastrous effects.
Most of the time, fertilizer is placed at the drip line – the outer circumference of the branches where water drips to the ground. Spikes are usually driven into the ground at this point and granules are distributed along the drip line as well.
Potted palms are an exception to this rule. They’re a completely different scenario because the soil, roots, and nutrients are contained and leaching isn’t a problem. Salt can accumulate quickly, though, so monitor it closely.
In addition, there are some other important things to keep in mind when fertilizing palm trees. Here are some helpful tips to set you up for success.
1. Only apply fertilizer when the soil is moist and water thoroughly after fertilizing. This helps the nutrients get down to the roots.
2. Don’t fertilize dry soil because the roots can burn easily which can damage or kill the plant.
3. It’s always better to use too little fertilizer than too much. Under-fertilizing can easily be corrected but over-fertilizing could kill the plant.
4. A 3:1:3 NPK ratio with added magnesium and calcium is ideal.
5. Slow-release is better than quick-release for outside palms. It provides long-term coverage and doesn’t need to be reapplied too often.
6. Don’t shy away from different combinations of fertilizer. A slow-release spike fertilizer used with organic granules or a quick-release liquid might do the trick. Just don’t overdo it!
7. Apply mulch over the soil if possible. It helps improve the overall quality of the soil and prevents it from drying out too quickly. Some people even add organic granules over the mulch for added benefits.
8. Granular fertilizer should always be placed at the drip line. Avoid getting too close to the trunk of the tree unless the manufacturer’s instructions indicate otherwise.
9. Don’t fertilize new palms right away. Remember, it’s best to wait for a new spear to develop so you know that the water content is good and there’s less chance of shocking the plant. It can take as long as four to six weeks.
10. If you’re growing your palm in a pot, keep in mind that potted plants have a tendency to collect salt buildup. Check regularly and leach the plant outside if necessary.
11. Store unused fertilizer in a water-tight container. If it gets wet, the nutrients will be leached out and it won’t be as effective.
Remember, there’s more than one way to successfully fertilize a palm tree. There are so many factors that affect how a plant grows which is why it’s so important to choose the best palm tree fertilizer for your unique situation.
A palm tree planted in sandy soil in a tropical climate has different needs than one planted in dense soil in a cool place that goes dormant in the winter. And both of these plants are different than an indoor potted palm.
It’s very important to follow the instructions for the product that you choose. While there are a lot of things that all fertilizers have in common, each is formulated differently. Some are great for potted plants while others can help maintain a healthy palm outside for multiple seasons.
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