Planting a Windmill Palm Tree

Planting your windmill palm is fun and easy! In the Vancouver area Windmill Palm Trees will do best in a sunny location. They will not get as cold in the winter and will grow faster. This is especially true if the tree is in a pot. Location for large pots is very important as large pots are a permanent placement unless you have machinery to move them.

In winter it is important to avoid having the roots freeze solid for extended periods. Not only can the roots die from extreme cold but the tree is also unable to take up water and the leaves can get burned as if by a drought. When the pot is placed against a sunny wall the soil will defrost during the day. The small microclimate a south facing wall provides also helps extend the growing season of the palm so that you see more leaves and faster trunk development.

In the Lower Mainland Area of Vancouver BC we get a lot of rain. Trees that constantly have wet roots will fail to grow well, can be prone to have yellow leaves, and are less cold hardy than a healthy tree. The best way to increase the drainage for your palm tree is proper site preparation while planting. Mixing in a bag of lava rock or perlite helps prevent the tree from drowning in our heavy rains. Course sand is not a good substitution. The key attribute in drainage material for palm trees is that the media will hold a good amount of oxygen as well as drain away water. Palm roots breathe and cannot do so if compacted or waterlogged.

When planting your new palm tree it is ideal to have the bottom of the trunk and top 1/4 inch section of the roots above the soil line. This helps drain water away from the trunk. Using a soil mix of 50% perlite or lava and 50% organic amendments are best. I have had great success mixing in a bag of sea soil (available at Home Depot or Rona). A 1” layer of bark mulch helps retain nutrients protect the top roots and insulate in the winter. It also looks nice. Don’t mound the mulch too high up on the trunk.  Also remember to give your palm a good watering after you plant.