A Blog From Arborist Action

Written by Justin Gaynor

Caring for Palm Trees is today’s topic. Welcome back to ‘A Lumberjack’s Notepad’.  Glad you’re here. As we get into mid-April the crew at Arborist Action has been going strong.  The government has classified us as an ‘essential business’ in the midst of all this COVID-19 craziness.  That’s very encouraging, in a strange sort of way.  We’ve been getting a lot of great feedback from customers during this time.  That helps keep us going strong, so a big thank you to all of our vocal friends and customers.   As you visit with us here on the blog, we hope that you are both entertained and have an opportunity to learn some helpful things.  Speaking about learning, onward to our topic for this edition, caring for palm trees.

We Love Palm Trees!

Palm trees are abundant in Florida with many different species.  Taking good care of the palms on your property is important.  Palm trees can provide small areas of shade individually and comfortable canopies when clustered together.  Robellini palms and royal palms offer a beautiful tropical feel to pool areas, coconut palms bear delicious fruit as well as coconut water which is both delicious and healthy and well…you get the point…palm trees are one of the high points of Florida living.

Caring For Palm Trees

With as many species of palms as there are, what should every Florida property owner know about how to best care for their palms?  That is the question we are going to be exploring.  We basically want to offer seven tips to help you with your palm trees.  Let’s get to it!  We are going to be jumping into the number of different species, common characteristics of palm trees, proper planting, protecting your palms from mold and other issues, dealing with hurricane season, fruitfulness and finally we will take a look at palm tree removal. 

Just the mention of palm trees brings to mind visions of Caribbean vacations, Elvis movies and relaxation.  Ok…Let’s explore this wonderful Florida resource together.  

Palm Tree Species

There are well over 2000 palm tree species.  Florida, with its amazing climate, is home to most of these palm trees.  Of course, not all species are native.  As a matter of fact, the town of Palm Beach, Florida has a pretty wild story about how it got its name.  A shipwreck that occurred while transporting coconuts from Havana Cuba essentially launched the coconut industry in South Florida. The cargo of coconuts washing up on shore resulted in re-naming a portion of the beachside portion of Lake Worth, FL.  You can read more about Palm Beach and the incident HERE.  With all the different species of palm trees, you may be asking, ‘What makes a palm tree a palm tree?’

Professional Tree Service-Hillcrest-Florida-Arborist Action
Professional Tree Service-Hillcrest-Florida-Arborist Action

Characteristics of Palm Trees

There are some characteristics of palm trees that are unique.  Even if there is such a wide variety of these trees.  Palm trees typically have no complex system of branches like the oaks we talked about in our last blog.  However, at the top of most palms you will find something called fronds.  These fronds are defined as either palmate or pinnate.  Palmate fronds are so called because they look like fingers protruding out from the end of a stem.  Pinnate fronds are a little different.  These fronds are more like wings with the leaves spreading out along the whole edge of the branch.  I remember my dad teaching me how to fashion a bow and arrow from the branches of certain palms as a boy here in Florida.  Good times!  Another of the characteristics of palm trees is that they haven’t got a tap root.  Rather, they have a root ball that stretches forth in all directions.  This makes them great for planting around pools since the root system is less likely to bust up concrete slab as the root systems of other trees can do.

Proper Planting

Proper planting of palm trees is fairly simple.  In Florida, nurseries that sell everything from palm saplings to full grow palm trees are plentiful.  Depending on the size of the tree, you will want to dig a hole that has an additional 6 to 10 inches around the root ball.  Then, prior to placing the palm in the hole, you will want to put enough sand in the bottom of the hole to leave the top of the root ball at least two inches beneath ground level.  Saturate the hole with water and then place the root ball in the hole, adjusting the stem as desired.  Then fill the remaining space around the root ball with the soil that was removed when the hole was dug. 

Keep the water running to help compact the soil and give the newly planted tree a firm stance.  Proper planting also includes building up soil around the base of the tree and then creating a sort of wall of soil 1.5 to 2.5 feet from the trunk and 8 to 10 inches above ground level.  This will create a sort of moat around the base of the tree.  Palm trees will take root a lot better with generous amounts of water and your moat will help keep the water where it is needed.  You may need to stake the tree in place to secure it while it takes root.  Also, after giving the newly planted tree about two months the settle in, you will want to add the proper amount of fertilizer around the base of the tree.

Mold, Fungus and Pests

With Florida’s humid climate and abundant rainfall … mold, fungus and pests may become a problem for your palm trees.  When dealing with mold on your palm trees we recommend spraying the mold off with your garden hose and then applying some horticultural oil.  This process can help with fungus as well.  Also, scale infestations are fairly common and they should be dealt with using insecticidal oils, but will likely need multiple treatments.  In addition to these treatments, your palms should be tended to by a professional arborist like Arborist Action at least annually.

Arborist Action-palm trees-blog
Arborist Action-palm trees-blog

Hurricane Season

The Daytona 500 and Bike Week are great; hurricane season … not so much.  However, it is something we Floridians are aware of.  Being prepared includes keeping all the trees on your property in good health and properly trimmed and pruned.  This helps keep everyone safe and reduces property damage.  Palm trees hold up in hurricane force winds much better than most trees due to their structure.  Applying a pruning technique called a hurricane cut just before hurricane season is part of normal Florida life.  A professional tree service like Arborist Action can get you all set up and we remove all debris so you will be safer. 

Good Fruit

My mom used to own a restaurant called the Countryside Café there in Orange City, with a second location in Deland.  One thing people came from miles around for was her coconut cream pie.  SO GOOD!  Not only is the flesh of the coconut good for pies, cakes and other delicious treats, but coconut water is sweet and extremely healthy.  More than that, palms produce oil, acai, hearts of palm, dates and more.  When you are talking with your local landscaper or nursery make sure to find out what kind of fruit producing palms might be good for your land.

Arborist Action-Palm Trees-Blog

Palm Tree Removal

Finally, there may come a time when you need to have palm trees removed from your property.  This may be due to normal land services to make room for building, a scale infestation that can’t be gotten under control, a lightning strike or a number of other reasons.  Arborist Action can be called on for this service and we can remove the tree, all debris and branches and we even offer stump grinding services.  Arborist Action is here serving Central Florida for all of your professional tree service needs.  If you want to give us a call today to have one of our professionals stop in and provide a free estimate, just give us a call.

Call Today! 386-259-8182


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