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How do I Choose the Best Palm Tree Fertilizer?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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The best palm tree fertilizer typically has a 2-1-2 or 2-1-3 nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium (N-P-K) ratio. While other fertilizers may work fairly well for palm trees, fertilizers with these ratios give the tree the best chance at being healthy longer. If a tree is showing signs of nutrient deficiency, then switching to a fertilizer specific for palm trees is important.

Nitrogen is especially useful for palms, especially potted palms that have a great deal of green in proportion to the rest of the plant. This nutrient aids in the transfer of energy and is a part of chlorophyll, which is vital to the photosynthesis process. Signs of a nitrogen deficiency in palm trees include slower growth, as well as lighter green leaves than the palm normally would have.

While nitrogen is necessary, palms that suffer from lack of potassium are often more at risk for long-term problems. That is why choosing a palm tree fertilizer that has more of this nutrient is recommended. For palm tree owners using a general-use fertilizer, the potassium content may not be enough to truly help the tree. Yellowed to brown older fronds could signal a deficiency, which could take two years or more to completely correct, or could be fatal to the tree if not corrected. Choosing the right fertilizer will help prevent this situation.

Phosphorous, while also a vital component in photosynthesis, is typically not a big problem for palm trees. That is why most palm tree fertilizers do not have as much phosphorous as they do nitrogen and potassium. It is not good to totally deprive the tree of phosphorous, but the best fertilizer will focus on those other nutrients.

One of the other important ingredients in a good palm tree fertilizer is magnesium. In fact, if a gardener is trying to correct a potassium deficiency, then magnesium becomes even more important because as potassium is added, it can make a magnesium deficiency worse. A good fertilizer for palm trees will have 1 to 3% magnesium. While low amounts of this mineral is rarely fatal, it will make the palm look unhealthy.

Growers may also prefer choosing an organic fertilizer rather than a chemical one. This is a personal preference and typically makes no difference to the palm tree. No matter which fertilizer is used, choosing one that has a 2-1-2 or 2-1-3 ratio is the most important criterion.

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Discussion Comments

By Sporkasia — On Apr 06, 2014

You can also make your own palm tree fertilizer at home. You still use the fertilizer ratios mentioned in the article, but you are able to choose where those nutrients come from.

For example, you can add soybean meal to your fertilizer mixture to add nitrogen. Bat guano is also a good source of nitrogen as well as phosphorous and potassium. For manganese, add leafy green vegetables and nuts and whole grains to your mixture. These last three ingredients will also add magnesium to your fertilizer, and we know how important magnesium is to a palm tree.

To find an exact recipe for a homemade palm tree fertilizer you should check gardening magazines or books at your local library, or go online and find a recipe that fits your needs.

By Drentel — On Apr 05, 2014

As well as not choosing the proper fertilizer with the adequate percentage of individual nutrients, many people simply do not follow a productive schedule when fertilizing their palm trees. Knowing when and how to feed your palms goes hand in hand.

During the growing season, a mature palm tree should be fertilized three or four times. Feeding the plants at the beginning of spring and then leaving them to fend for themselves the remainder of the year is not a good method for producing healthy trees. Also, palm trees should be fertilized only during the growing season. This period may differ depending on where you live, but the growing season generally begins in late winter or early spring and ends in autumn.

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