Ocean County Palm Tree Care Guide
Alborn Supply Of Ocean County Shares This guide on How Pick and Care for the perfect palm tree this season
Palm trees are perfect for adding a tropical touch to your Ocean County garden. But to keep your palms looking their best, make sure you know exactly what they need. There's not a one-size-fits-all answer -- it all depends on the type of palm you grow. First, determine where you plan on placing your palm. Then, use this guide to help determine what palm will thrive in that spot. The better you can make your plot, the happier your palm will be.
Palm Tree Light Requirements
Palms can be picky when it comes to light. Knowing your palm's preferences is key. If a type of palm tree prefers sun, planting it in the shade will result in a weak plant that has a thick trunk and stretched-out palm tree leaves from reaching toward the sun. And if your palm loves shade and you plant it in direct sunlight, its leaves will burn and brown until they die.
Palm Tree Moisture Requirements
Moisture is key for any plant, including palms. Some palms prefer moisture once a week (palms from desert areas may need even less), while others may prefer five times a week. If mixing palms, make sure you group them by water habits; otherwise you could jeopardize one plant while another thrives.
Planting Palm Trees
Once you've picked the right spot, the next step to ensure palm tree success is to plant it right. In colder areas, plant palms in spring, when threat of freezing temperatures has passed. Avoid planting palm trees during dry seasons; young palms are more susceptible to damage from weather changes. When you're ready to plant your palm, dig a hole at least twice as wide as the diameter of the root ball, and make the hole no deeper than the root ball.
Bracing Your Palm Tree
Bracing a palm typically works better than staking because palm trunks are often smooth, causing ties to slip down the trunk. Because a field-grown palm often has a smaller root ball than a container-grown plant, it's more top heavy and susceptible to toppling over in heavy winds. To prevent this, brace your palm in place for a year or until it has reestablished sufficient roots to stay anchored.
Caring for New Palm Trees
Give your palm two to four weeks to acclimate to your garden before you apply any fertilizer. Once it's established, use a complete fertilizer that contains two parts nitrogen, one part phosphorus, and three parts potassium along with one part magnesium. Fertilize four times a year.
Additionally, water it frequently to help form more roots. Make a small dam on the soil surface around the outside of the root ball. Add water inside the dam to direct water into the root zone. If you're replanting a field-grown palm, it's going to need extra watering. This is because these trees have had their roots cut, and until they grow, they need all the help they can get reaching water.
Keep in mind that too much water may discourage roots from growing, delaying the palm's progress. Watering three or four times a week is sufficient for most species -- except moisture-loving palms, which will need more frequent watering. During unusually dry or hot weather, give new plantings extra water as well. Also, field-grown palms may require daily watering and, on hot days, watering in the morning and the evening. After three to four weeks, gradually cut back on watering to four or five times a week for another period of three to four weeks. Do this until your watering schedule is down to three or four times a week. If a palm's lower leaves turn yellow and brown, this could be a sign that it's thirsty for more water. However, be aware of drainage, because too much water can cause roots to rot.
Pruning Palm Trees
Pruning palm trees is simple: Remove dead fronds (leaves) and old fruit stems. Once the old fronds turn completely brown, it's safe to prune them from the palm. Just make sure you wait until there is no green left on the frond. Use a hand pruner for smaller palms and a sharp pruning saw for larger leaf stems. Whichever pruning tool you choose, treat it with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide in between pruning different palms -- this helps prevent the spread of disease from plant to plant.
When removing a leaf, cut it as close to the trunk as possible. The remaining leaf base eventually falls off, but it may take several years. And if you try to strip it off before it's ready to fall off, you can scar the trunk.
Palm species vary greatly in their sensitivity to cold. Some palms can handle temperatures in the high teens for short periods, while others are damaged when temperatures hit 45 degrees F. Know the freezing patterns of your region, and make sure to buy a palm that can handle it.
Protecting your palm from cold damage can be simple. If you have a cold-sensitive palm, plant it in a warm microclimate, such as behind a windbreak or in a sheltered courtyard. This will protect it from the chill of winter winds. Or take potted palms indoors before freezing temperatures arrive. If the palm is too heavy to move, drape a lightweight blanket or sheet over your palm to trap heat inside and keep your plant 4 or 5 degrees warmer than the air.
If your area expects unusually cold temperatures, protect your palm with an outdoor propane heater. Keep the heater far enough from the palm to prevent burns. You may also water the soil around the palm prior to a cold snap; moist soil stays warm longer because water loses heat less rapidly than dry soil. Take care to keep water off the palm -- when water freezes on the palm, it causes damage to the plant tissues below.
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