There is not much more relaxing and reminiscent of the tropics than a beautiful, thriving palm tree. But to make your palm trees really flourish, certain conditions need to be met. So we looked high and low to make this guide on potting soil for palm trees.
Palm trees need a slightly acidic soil with good drainage. Loose, sandy potting soil in a container with plenty of drainage holes is ideal. The ideal soil for palms can be mixed by hand or bought. While standard potting soil is fine, you can also add soil amendments to make it more ideal for your potted palm.
Let us take a closer look at what palm trees need and how you can take good care of them.
What kind of soil do potted palms need?
Palm trees need sandy soil with plenty of drainage. To help prevent root rot in potted palms and soil with limited drainage, add a layer of rocks to the bottom. An alternative to that method is to cut up an old sponge and use that as the bottom layer instead of rocks (as long as the container has sufficient drainage holes). Both of these methods help minimize the chances of root rot. Even with alternative methods of improving soil permeability, it is best to make sure your palms have plenty of good drainage.
Watering Potted Palms
Because palms need well-draining soil, make sure you have an appropriate watering system in place. Overwatering your palms can increase the chances of root rot and fungus regardless of how good your soil is.
Before watering your plant feel the soil to check how damp it is. Even if it is slightly damp, consider waiting a day if you can. Not only will this help the plant develop a healthy root system, but it can also help keep the soil from getting too compacted.
If you are worried about forgetting to water, consider adding pumice or lava rock to your soil. Not only do they help with drainage, but they also help with proper water retention.
Are Palms acid-loving plants?
Another factor many people forget to consider when choosing or making potting soil is the soil's pH. Palm tree soil pH should be moderately acidic, around 5.5 to 7.5.
Many plants prefer slightly acidic soil, so even standard potting soil should meet this need. However, using recipes and potting mixes specifically for palm trees can help you feel confident the soil is just right for your palms. If you are particularly worried about your soil's acidity for whatever reason, you can get a soil test kit or have it tested by your local extension.
You can test a small portion of your soil by using vinegar or baking soda. However, do not make the common mistake of testing a large amount of soil this way, as doing so can damage your soil and plants. So make sure to follow the directions carefully and throw the soil away after you have tested it.
DIY Palm Soil
Because palm trees are originally from sandy or otherwise well-draining location, potted palms need well-draining soil. One simple way to help with this is by putting them in a pot with plenty of drainage holes. However, the soil also plays a key role.
Some people will mix their own soil from scratch or amend soils for palms because of how specific palm soil needs are. If you really want to dig in and mix a perfect soil, talk to experts in your area. Local extension agents and gardening groups are a great place to start. There are also online communities that share soil recipes, like this one.
Mixing your own soil can be tedious, so amending potting soil you already have is another good option. Some common ingredients to amend your soil and improve drainage are sand, sphagnum peat moss, pumice, and perlite.
Lava rock and lava pumice are great soil amendments because they are porous and help manage soil moisture. They are also great for preventing root rot and keeping the soil from getting too compacted. Some lava rock mixes can also have a slight acidity, making them perfect for adding to potting soil for your palm trees.
While you can mix your own soil for palm trees, there are also many pre-made options. If you do not want to put a ton of time and energy into your soil, this is probably the best option for you. Premixed palm soil is already made with palm trees in mind, so they usually have the pH and drainage tailored to the plants' needs.
Many soils are formulated specifically for palm trees and include the basic ingredients from DIY soil recipes. For example, the one pictured above contains both perlite and sphagnum peat moss. Both of which are popular for improving soil drainage.
While it is not ideal, you can also use general-purpose potting mixes for palm trees. Another good alternative is to use succulent or cactus soils since they have similar needs. Both succulents and palms enjoy good drainage.
Palm Fertilizers and Foods
Provide your palm with well-draining soil but also fertilize most palm trees a few times a year. On average, three times a year is good, but you can fertilize more or less depending on your palm's needs. This also varies depending on your soil. If you are using old soil or soil from around your house, it may be good to get a soil test done to see which nutrient it lacks. Soil tests also tell you the soil's pH, which is especially handy when planting palm trees.
Granular fertilizers are best for sizable outside plants. This is primarily because of their smell and slow release. However, they are great for amending nutrient-poor soils.
Fertilizer spikes tend not to smell as strongly, so they are suitable for smaller indoor plants and moderately sized outdoor palms. They also give a long-lasting slow release of nutrients to the plants.
Last but not least is liquid fertilizers. They are especially popular for small indoor plants because they plan most liquid fertilizers for easy application and minimal smell. Many people enjoy using liquid fertilizer because the roots can quickly uptake the nutrients and benefit the plant almost immediately.
Want to learn more about palm trees and how to help them thrive? Maybe you want to know which palm suits your lifestyle best? Check out these other informative articles!