Potted palm trees bring the feeling of the tropics indoors. Each variety of palm tree has its own sun, shade and humidity preferences. In coastal areas, potted palm trees can tolerate full sun exposure. In hot desert areas, potted palm trees need protections from full sun. Palm trees need pruning to remove old leaves that have become damaged. Removing too many of the leaves can stunt the growth of the palm tree. Discard the pruning debris because it can harbor plant pathogens. Besides sun and pruning, potted palms need some other care to thrive.
Most potted palm trees do well in the same container for up to two years. As a general rule, palm trees need to be transplanted when the roots are coming out of the pot bottom, the soil becomes compacted or the palm tree becomes too unstable. When transplanting, leave at least 6 inches below the rootball for soil and growth. Also the rim of the pot should be at least 2 to 3 inches above the soil line to leave room for watering. Palm trees need heavy container to encourage stability. If the pot is too lightweight, the palm tree will tip over and suffer damage.
Potted palm trees like high humidity. One way to solve the humidity issue is to place a large tray filled with pebbles under the palm tree. Keep the tray filled halfway with water. Evaporation will create the humidity the palm tree needs. Another way is to mist the palm tree daily. The best way to determine the watering requirements of the palm tree is through observation. The first time you water your palm, take it outside or to the bathtub and pour water through it until it comes out the bottom. To determine when it needs more water, wait until the soil is dried out to the depth of 1 to 2 inches. Drench with water again. Flushing the palm tree with water helps prevent the build-up of salts in the soil. Salt buildup causes leaf tip burn and eventual death of the palm tree. If you do not water generously and your palm tree is suffering from salt buildup, the only solution is to change the soil in the plant pot.
Fertilizer provides nutrition to the palm tree. The best fertilizer for the palm tree is an organic fertilizer like bone meal, blood meal or fish emulsion. Organic fertilizer is slow to release and has less chance to burn the palm tree than inorganic fertilizer. Follow the manufacturer's directions on the fertilizer. Do not be overly aggressive when fertilizing. It is better to under fertilize a palm tree than over fertilize one. Never fertilize a palm tree in a dry container. Pre-water the palm tree and do not get any fertilizer on the crown of the plant. To prevent winter growth, do not fertilize during the fall or winter.