Feeding Your Palm


One of the best ways to keep your palm tree health so it thrives summer and winter in colder climates is to make sure it has all the nutrients needed. Keeping you palm looking nice and green will help it withstand the moderately cold temperatures we can get in Southwestern Coastal BC.

Macronutrient fertilizers are generally labeled with an NPK analysis, based on the relative content of the chemical elements nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) that are commonly used in fertilizers.

Palm trees nutritional deficiencies are easily prevented by following a yearly fertilization program. Mature palms in the landscape should be fertilized with a complete granular fertilizer formulated for palms. Most landscape palms will require fertilization twice during the growing season.

I use a commercial slow release fertilizer with a higher nitrogen and potassium content with micro nutrients. For example a mix ratio of 8-2-12 is close to ideal. It is very important the palm tree gets magnesium. Get a high quality fertilizer as the cheaper ones generally are not reliable.

Soil amendments such as Sea Soil at planting time also help provide essential nutrients and a good base to start from. You can also use organic fertilizer mixed into the soil at planting and as a top dressing for established trees. If you suspect that there is a nutrient deficiency then a specialized horticultural product would be the best remedy.

Here are the two most common nutrient deficiencies and symptoms. If you suspect that your tree is suffering a nutrient deficiency get a specialty fertilizer with these nutrients in it.


Potassium Deficiency


Causes yellow, orange or brown flecks and necrotic margins of older leaves. Withering (“frizzling”) begins on these older leaves first. From a distance these leaves often appear brown or orange in color. If deficiency is severe enough, new shoots will eventually be affected. If unattended, the palm may die. Curing the potassium deficiency can lead to magnesium deficiency. To balance, potassium and magnesium should be applied together.


Magnesium deficiency


Affects the older leaves, causing them to yellow at the edges while the center band stays green. In severe cases leaflet tips also become necrotic. Magnesium deficiency can affect most species of palms