How to Care for a Palm Plant

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Things You'll Need

  • Pot with drainage holes

  • Organic potting soil

  • Sand

  • Drip tray

  • Gravel

  • Organic slow-release fertilizer formulated for palms

  • Spray mister


Over-watering leads to wilted yellowing leaves. Brown, dried leaves indicate lack of sufficient watering.


Do not allow palm plant roots to sit in water. Unfiltered direct sun burns palm leaves.

Yellowed palm leaves are a sign of over-watering.

Palms are attractive and versatile plants, making them popular as indoor or patio container plants. With many varieties to choose from that generally require minimal care, there is a palm plant for just about any room in your home. Palms are generally easy to care for, as long as their tropical nature and growing requirements are taken into consideration. Rich, well-draining soil, proper temperatures and adequate sunlight are key to providing a healthy environment for your palm plant.

Step 1

Plant your palm in a new container. The appropriate container will be approximately three times the size of the previous pot and have drainage holes. Mix a well-draining, rich potting soil with sand in a 3 to 1 ratio. Fill the pot with the mixture and plant the palm so that the root ball is covered, but the trunk is above the soil surface.

Step 2

Pour a layer of gravel 1 to 2 inches deep in the drip tray. Place the container on top of the gravel. Ensure that when watering, the pot is not left sitting in water, but is raised up on the gravel.

Step 3

Place the palm in an area that receives plenty of bright, filtered natural light. Palms prefer a southeast or west-facing window. Make sure the plant does not receive direct unfiltered light to avoid leaf burn.

Step 4

Provide a consistently warm temperature. As tropical plants, palms do best in temperatures that range from 70 to 80 F during the day and around 60 F at night. Place them in an area protected from drafts near open doors and windows. Palms do not fare well in air conditioned environments.

Step 5

Water your palms when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. Most palms require weekly watering, but in warmer locations such as patios, they need watering several times a week. Use filtered water to avoid salt and mineral buildup in the soil.

Step 6

Fertilize regularly with an organic slow-release fertilizer. Keep the fertilizer away from the palm trunk and only fertilize while the plant is growing. Apply the fertilizer according to the packaging instructions. Palms do not need fertilizer when not actively growing and during colder winter months.

Step 7

Clean the leaves regularly by misting lightly with water. Wipe the leaves to remove dust. Do not use commercial leaf polish because it is harmful to palm leaves.

references & resources

Colleen De Koning

Colleen De Koning is a certified professional herbalist and nutritionist, a consultant for organic gardening and pond design, and has been published in books, magazines, journals, newspapers, cookbooks and on various websites. She volunteers in local community gardening projects, animal rescue organizations, and has contributed to several vegetarian cookbooks.