I receive a lot of inquiries from people inquiring if palm trees can grow in pots. Yes, they can. Many palms are ideal for growing in pots near swimming pools, patios, and porches.
For many homeowners who live in areas with colder temperatures, potted palm trees could be the best choice to give an exotic and tropical appearance to their outdoor spaces. When grown outdoors, potted palm trees can meet the same lighting temperatures, temperature, soil, and water requirements as they would if they were planted in the soil.
As fast-growing palms overtake containers in a short time, you should choose slow-growing palms which will be capable of remaining within the container they are in for up or four years. Then, you can report the palms in an enormous container.
If you plan to bring them inside during the cold winter months, look for palms that take low humidity and low light levels. The ideal palm is slow-growing, compact, extremely drought-tolerant, able to adapt to light and low humidity levels and possesses a stunning tropical look.
If you reside in a warmer area and plan on keeping your home outside all year, you’re not required to be concerned about humidity and light levels significantly.
Best Palms for Growing in a Pot
In The nursery, all seedlings of palms are cultivated in a container until they reach a size to be incorporated into the garden. Although all palms can be grown in a perfect environment in a pot, palm species thrive in the soil.
It is challenging to replicate perfect conditions for drainage, nutrition, and water supply for palms within the gardens. I would suggest selecting palms that have historically performed well in containers.
Some palms also can grow exceptionally quickly and outgrow the size of one container after the next. The plant may become severely stunted if they are not repotted to larger containers. Palms may also grow too tall for the size of the container, which can cause instability in strong winds and storms.
If the container with the soil isn’t heavy enough to support the plant, it will easily fall over. Some fast-growing palms that aren’t suitable to grow in containers include King Palm, Queen Palm, Carpentaria Palm, Acai Palm, Mexican Fan Palm, and Foxtail Palm.
The most desirable palms for growing in a pot include Majesty Palm, Pygmy Date Palm, Lady Palm, European Fan Palm, Sago Palm, Ponytail Palm, Bottle Palm, Jelly Palm, Fishtail Palm, and many more.
What is the Best Soil for Potted Palms
There are plenty of different soil mixes for potting. However, there isn’t one ideal solution for all palm species. Every gardener has the best mix for their needs and the options available to him. However, don’t be shocked if your soil is different from that of a gardener in the US, and both mixes perform well.
One of the most basic mixes used by many gardeners includes half peat moss, half perlite, or coarse sand. It is excellent for younger seeds, but it’s not great for long-term use. I suggest adding some topsoil as well as some coarse sand.
It’s also possible to use well-drained potting soil with very little organic matter, for example, Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix. Any mix that is suitable for succulents and cacti can be used.
Whatever mix you are using should ensure your palm has adequate drainage and support. The more heavy mixture, the less the drainage. The more light the mix, the better the drainage. Topsoil and fine sand hinder drainage, as coarse sand, peat moss, and perlite improve drainage.
If you are repotting your palm, ensure the container has enough drainage holes that allow the water to drain away.
How Much Sunlight Do Potted Palms Need
Different palms require different levels of light. Some require full sunlight and are tolerant to some shade, whereas others prefer shade and aren’t able to do well in full sunshine. Additionally, the palms can tolerate lesser direct sun as the humidity decreases.
A palm that can endure full sun in tropical conditions may require protection in hotter regions such as the desert. However, those who prefer hot and dry conditions struggle to adapt to tropical conditions.
Before buying any palms, think about the kind of palm you’d like to purchase and the best location for the palms. Check if the location is receiving all-day sun or is completely shaded.
This will determine the type of palm you need. Remember that most young palms, regardless of preference for light, must be kept out of the direct sun until they’re mature enough.
Additionally, if you’ve purchased an ornamental palm grown in a shaded area, it’s not accustomed to full sun and must be adjusted initially. To prevent palm trees from sunburning, it is essential to acclimate them gradually by exposing them to sunlight levels over four to 6 weeks.
You can accomplish this by placing an unpotted palm in a shaded spot and then moving it a bit each week until it becomes used to sunlight. Another method is to put the potted palm in full sunlight under the plastic cover. Every week, create a few holes to boost the amount of light.
Watering Potted Palms
The palms in containers outside might receive some rainwater from the storm, but they will rely on the water you provide them. The roots of these plants don’t have the alternative to getting nutrition and water directly from the garden’s soil. Most of the time, palms in pots tend to dry much more quickly.
Soak the palm until water seeps out from the drain holes. Allow the pot to drain for about half an hour, then empty the excess water of the saucer. Continue watering until the soil is dry to the surface.
It is possible to stick your finger around an inch in the dirt to test the moisture levels. If you’re not keen on getting your hands filthy, purchase a soil moisture meter. I am not a fan of sticking my fingers into the soil, so I purchased an affordable meter daily.
If the soil is damp and cool, wait until it’s dry before watering it again. Do not let the soil beneath the planter dry. When watering my planters in the container, I use an irrigation wand attached to the water hose. This way, I can control water dispersion rather than blasting my container with water.
There’s an irrigation system that you could install that is specifically designed for water or marine potted plants. Once you have figured out your watering schedule, you can use the system to set it.
It is best to water your palms during the day or in the evening when the sun isn’t too hot. Palms generally require more frequent watering during the growing season when the weather is hot or dry. They also require less frequent watering in winter when temperatures drop.
Since most palms originate from humid climates, they are prone to occasionally misting water in dry seasons.
Salt Buildup in Soil
The salt buildup is among the main problems facing container palms. Most palm farmers use city or healthy water with salt that is dissolved. When water evaporates from the soil, it leaves behind salt.
Over time, salts from the fertilizers and water build up in the soil, causing the plant to lose its nutrients. The most apparent salt accumulation sign is the leaf’s tips yellowing. In more severe cases, the leaves at the bottom will brown and disappear until the sour leaves remain.
Measuring salt levels using a cheap and straightforward soil tester that checks soil pH is possible. A suitable pH range for palm trees is 6.5 up to 6.8.
To eliminate salts that are unnecessary, you must water your palms 10 times. This kind of leaching ought to be carried out two or three times a year, based on the degree of buildup. Utilizing rainwater that is collected or distilled will help slow down the buildup.
Fertilizing Potted Palms
The palms that grow in containers are different in their fertilizer routine than palms that are in the ground. Consider fertilizer not as a food but as a source of vitamins for your palm. It provides the palm with essential nutrients to ensure good growth and development.
Essential nutrients for palms include nitrogen (N) and phosphate (P), along with potassium and potash (K). The label usually has three letters NPK and the proportion of elements using three numbers, such as 12-1-4-12 or 3-1-3. There are many essential microelements, such as iron, manganese, copper, zinc and boron, which should be included in the fertilizer or could be added on their own.
To grow container palms, it is recommended to use a balanced fertilizer that has K and N in equal quantities. Certain fertilizers, which will perform, include NPK in almost equal quantities. The higher the number, the more effective the formula.
I prefer a slow-release formulation that feeds the palm for 6 to 9 months. Keep in mind that using lower fertilizer levels will slow the growth rate of the palm, and too much fertilizer will cause it to die. It is best to apply fertilizer once you have cleansed the plant of all salt accumulation.
Follow the directions on the packaging, and remember to water your plants before applying them. The growing season is the best time for fertilizing your palm. If your region experiences cold winters, don’t fertilize in the early autumn. Fertilizing during wintertime can stimulate the growth of new plants that cannot handle frigid temperatures.
Pruning Potted Palms
The palms of potted plants usually remain tiny for an extended period, so you don’t require numerous trimming tools to make them look great. Simple hand pruners or regular utility knives are a great way to trim leaves of small size, and ratchet lopping or lopper shears work well for larger leaves. Whatever tool you employ, you must clean them up after each plant.
If your palm is sharp along the stems, be sure to wear gardening gloves.
When trimming palms, it is essential to take off old brown leaves, which tend to be lower leaves in the canopy. Avoid cutting off green leaves, as palms use them for nutrition. While trimming the leaves, trim as closely as possible without harming the trunk.
Leave leaf bases on your palms until the point of being removed. The forceful removal of leaf bases could leave permanent marks on the trunk. After a while, you can effortlessly remove them from the trunk.
For a medium-sized pot, it will take only some minutes to prune and cleaning on the foliage. Be sure to get rid of any unwanted weeds that are growing at the bottom of your plant.
Potted Palm Trees Garden Ideas
Container palms can be excellent for any deck, patio, or pool space. Here are some photos to help you understand how to integrate potted palm trees into your outdoor living space.