Palm trees need a proper balance of macro- and micronutrients in order to stay green and thrive. They may turn yellow when they’re deficient in essential nutrients such as nitrogen, manganese, magnesium — and especially in Florida — potassium. Pick up a nutrient-rich fertilizer, such as O’Neil’s Plant Health Care 3-Season Blend or Summer Blend for Florida palms, to restore the proper balance of nutrients to your trees.
Established palm trees need to be watered 1 to 3 times a week depending on the season and species of your palm tree. Palm trees need more water during warmer months and less during cold months. During the winter, watering once a week should be sufficient. The soil should always feel damp, not wet. Adjust the water amount accordingly.
Newly transplanted palms have a tendency to lose moisture, so if you’ve newly planted your palm tree (in which case, congrats, new palm parent!), water it more often for the first two weeks — every day for the first week and every other day for the second week — until they’ve developed new roots. And water it deeply to make sure moisture is reaching the roots.
Water your palms early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures aren’t too high, especially during the summer. This helps avoid frying the leaves of your palms.
A general rule of thumb is that Florida trees should be watered about once a week during the growing season, but this can depend on the tree species as well as temperatures and rainfall. The best way to tell if your Florida tree needs water is to check the soil about 1” deep around the tree. If it’s totally dry, your tree should be watered. If it’s moist or wet, you should wait and check again.
A general rule of thumb for watering Florida trees is 5 gallons per inch of trunk diameter. Rather than water directly next to the trunk, target the drip line or the edge of the root ball, unless your tree hasn’t established roots yet outside of the planting hole. Make sure to apply the water slowly, and water deeply to encourage deeper root growth to help anchor your tree better and protect it from droughts.
How often you need to fertilize your trees in Florida depends on the type of tree and the fertilizer formula you use. For instance, a lot of leading, off-the-shelf fertilizer brands may require more applications, as their formulas can contain as much as 25% fillers. But if you use O’Neil’s Plant Health Care blends, which have absolutely no fillers and a 6-month slow-release polymer coating, you only need to apply our blend 4 times a year — once every season.
Unfortunately, due to Florida’s unique climate and soil composition, the conventional, store-bought fertilizers you find on the shelves of most retailers aren’t designed to meet the needs of our plants and trees. With the porous nature of Florida’s sandy soil and our heavy rainfall, it’s difficult for Florida soils to retain key macronutrients such as potassium and nitrogen. Whereas a standard NPK fertilizer (“N” stands for Nitrogen, “P” stands for phosphate, and “K” stands for potassium) has a ratio of 12-12-12 or 12-8-6, Florida’s trees requires unique ratios that account for the rich phosphorus levels and low potassium levels in our soil — 0-0-22 during the summer and 8-0-15 the rest of the year. Additionally, a variety of other macro- and micronutrients, such as magnesium, manganese, and iron, are needed in order to ensure proper tree health. For this reason it’s best to use fertilizers specifically formulated for Florida’s soil, such as O’Neil’s Plant Health Care blends.