How to Water Palm Trees

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Figuring out the watering needs of palm trees is essential to help keep your palm healthy and free of stress. Too much water puts the palm at risk for root rot, an often deadly condition, while too little water can slow the plant's growth. Established palms typically do best with two to three weekly deep-watering sessions. Get into a routine for watering your palms to keep your landscape trees beautiful and healthy.

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How Often to Water Palms

Specific watering needs can vary based on the palm species, but in general, palms thrive with consistent moisture levels. The age of the palm also affects how often you need to water it. Newly planted palms benefit from daily watering for the first week. In the second week, water your new palm every other day. Starting in week three, move to three weekly watering sessions until the palm is well-established.

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Established palms typically need to be watered two to three times per week. However, the growing conditions, temperature and weather all play a role in the timing. Lots of rain naturally supplies the moisture your palm needs, so you might not need to supplement with irrigation until the rain eases. Hot, dry periods require more frequent watering. During colder periods, you might need to back off and water the palm less frequently.

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Checking Soil Moisture

To determine when to water, check the soil around your palm for dryness. A soil moisture meter can help you determine when it's time to water, but you can also use your finger or a shovel to check the soil. If the soil is dry a finger-length deep, it's time to water. Another option is to take a small shovel and gently dig down a few inches to see if it's dry. If the soil is still moist, you can hold off on watering. Letting the soil get a little too dry is usually better than overwatering your plant.

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How to Water Palms

Palms appreciate slow, deep watering to the roots. A slow-dripping soaker hose is an ideal option for directing water to the root zone. If you dump lots of water onto the palm's roots quickly, it might run off to other areas before it can absorb into the soil, leaving your palm roots needing more moisture. Water until the soil is deeply moist but avoid making it saturated. The best time to water a palm is in the morning or evening during cooler temperatures.

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Signs of Overwatering

The leaves often show signs of watering issues first. Routinely note how the leaves look to spot a watering problem early when it's still correctable. When the palm is getting too much water, the leaves are often discolored — either yellow or brown — and the canopy is wilted. The newer leaves sometimes appear brown when they emerge in an overwatered palm.

Signs of Underwatering

Palms that need more water usually display brown and dry-looking leaves. You'll likely notice that the tips of the older leaves turn brown first. The palm fronds might start to droop or wilt. The plant could also experience slowed growth if it's consistently underwatered. If you notice those signs, dig down into the soil to check for dryness. Try increasing your watering and see if it corrects the leaf issues.

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