When choosing the best fertilizer for palm trees outdoors, be sure to choose a slow-release formula designed specifically for use with tropical palm trees.
This combination of qualities will ensure your palms get just the right amount of nutrients at the right time for several months.
Timed release fertilizers for palm trees can come in several different forms.
You may purchase a granular fertilizer which is dissolved in water.
Alternately, some good tree fertilizer spikes are also available.
Whichever you choose, be certain it has an ample amount of nitrogen along with manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, and copper sulfates.
A good, slow-release fertilizer for palm trees will deliver just the right amounts of nutrients at just the right time.
This adds up to convenience for you and correct nutrition for your palm tree.
What About Homemade Palm Fertilizers?
No matter how good your homemade fertilizer mix is, it will not provide the correct nutrients for palm trees.
Examples of common palm fertilizer recipes include those using ingredients such as:
This is a popular do-it-yourself fertilizer mix for palm trees, but it does not deliver enough magnesium, manganese, and iron.
There’s another home recipe for palm fertilizers using:
- Epsom Salts
This recipe is very low in nitrogen and potassium.
When you choose a fertilization program, it’s very important you stay with an established formula based in science.
A professional fertilizer mix will fulfill all of your palm trees’ needs.
Your Local Extension Can Tell You Exactly What You Need In Your Location
Another thing to take into consideration when deciding what kind of fertilizer to give your palm is your soil.
Your location in the United States will determine the type of soil you have.
For example, in the Western United States, alkaline soil, which is high pH, is very common.
This means a homemade mixture containing bone meal (and therefore a great deal of calcium) will be problematic.
Fertilizing Palm Trees
Is It Good to Fertilize Palm Trees with Epsom Salts?
As a general fertilizer, Epsom salts on its own is not very good.
It adds too much potassium.
On the other hand, if your palm has a magnesium deficiency, it is possible to use Epsom salts as in addition to your regular fertilizer.
To do this, you would sprinkle a couple of pounds of Epsom salt on the surface of the soil directly under the canopy of the tree (in the drip line).
Follow this up with a thorough watering.
It is important to note any time you fertilize or treat your palm tree, you should apply the fertilizer to the area directly under the tree extending it to the edge of the canopy.
This is the drip line.
Conversely, if you fertilize your lawn surrounding the tree, you should not allow any of the fertilizer inside of your palm tree’s drip line.
While palm fertilizer is not likely to hurt your lawn, lawn fertilizer can hurt your palm tree.
How Can You Tell If Your Palm Has a Magnesium Deficiency?
- A tree with a lack of magnesium will show yellowing at the margins of older leaves.
- The central band of the leaf will stay green, but the edges will turn yellow.
- If left unattended, the tips of the leaves will begin to rot.
This problem can affect just about any palm tree, but date palms have particular problems with magnesium deficiency.
How Can You Tell If Your Palm Has a Potassium Deficiency?
- When palms are not getting enough potassium, the margins of its mature leaves will develop brown, orange or yellow spots or flecks.
- The leaves will then begin to wither and may take on an overall orange or brown appearance.
- If left untreated, potassium deficiency will also affect new foliage.
- Eventually, a palm suffering from potassium deficiency will die.
- It’s important to be careful when addressing a potassium deficiency because doing so you may inadvertently cause a magnesium deficiency.
It’s important to apply magnesium and potassium together to avoid this problem.
Palm trees in Florida are especially susceptible to potassium deficiency.
How Can You Tell If Your Palm Has a Manganese Deficiency?
If your tree produces new leaves already necrotic and yellow and very small in size, you should suspect a manganese deficiency.
- Manganese deficiency affects most species of palms including windmill palm and foxtail palms.
- If left untreated, this problem will cause your trees’ leaves to become ragged and withered.
- Left long enough, a manganese deficiency will kill your tree.
While this problem can affect any palm tree, the ones most susceptible are:
- Royal palms
- Queen palms
- Paurotis palms
When Can You Start Fertilizing Palm Trees?
When you initially plant a palm tree, you should not add any fertilizer at all.
Just backfill the hole with the existing, unamended soil and add a thick layer of organic mulch to help keep the temperature of the soil stable and retain moisture.
Water every day at first.
After three or four months, provide a light feeding of specially formulated slow-release formula fertilizer for palms.
When Is the Best Time to Fertilize Palm Trees?
Your location goes far toward determining how often you need to fertilize your palm tree.
- Florida has very sandy soil and gets a lot of rain.
- For this reason, feed with a time release fertilizer at least three times a year for your palm needs.
- Four times a year is optimal.
In other states with more substantial soil and less rain, fertilize your palms a couple of times a year.
- Three times would be better.
- When you are fertilizing, be sure to fertilize at least once during the growing season (spring and summer).
- In Florida, twice is better.
What’s the Best Kind of Fertilizer for Palm Trees?
Landscape palms have unique requirements quite different from other types of landscape plants.
While they look carefree their fronds reveal the truth of their state and since they’re often grown in sandy soil they require plant food to thrive.
Established palm trees need a specialized, tropical tree liquid fertilizer marked with these specifications:
- 8 – 2 – 12 (NPK Ratio)
Micronutrients are especially important to palm trees, and a palm suffering from nutrient deficiencies can easily die.
Be sure any fertilizer you give your tree contains between 1% and 2% iron and manganese.
It should also have trace minerals such as boron, copper, and zinc.
Formulations containing boron typically also contain all of the essential nutrients necessary for good palm growth throughout the growing season.
Keep in mind fertilizer for palm trees should not contain mineral oxides such as iron oxide.
This is rust, which is not at all useful for palm trees.
Double check to be sure the iron contained in the fertilizer you use is either chelated iron or EDTA iron.
Both of these are water-soluble versions of iron which your tree can use.
Use Jobes Spikes (Miracle-Gro) to reach into the ground at the plants’ feeder roots and provide nourishment directly where it’s needed.