Name: palms, palm trees.
Height: varies according to species, from less than 1m up to 60m tall.
Foliage: compound pinnate and palmate fronds, leaflets arising from stems or trunks. Variable, but predominately green; some silver, grey or red/brown with marked or variegated leaves.
Climate: most naturally occur in tropical and sub-tropical environments, with some also suitable for growing indoors or outside in sheltered temperate or mild growing environments.
Soil: fertile well-drained soils in the garden. A premium potting mix for indoor palms.
Position: full sun to shade, depending on variety. Many make very good indoor plants.
Flowering and fruiting: branch-like stems bear small cream, white, yellow, orange or pink sweet-smelling flowers, often with a conspicuous tough protective bract. Fruits can be large or small and fleshy (date) or hard (coconut).
Feeding: use a controlled-release fertiliser when initially planting, and two to three times during the warmer months.
Watering: will vary according to individual species, as there are tropical and drought-tolerant palms. Usually once per week, and more frequently during the hot summer months.
Most palm trees usually carry clusters of large compound leaves on top of single or solitary stems or trunks, sometimes with distinct rings or swellings. There are also numerous other varieties of palms, which may exhibit branching trunks, multiple or suckering trunks, or hooks and spines to climb up trees. They grow anywhere from under 1m up to 60m, so there are varieties suitable for growing in most garden or landscape situations. Palms also provide huge economic benefits around the world, being used extensively to produce oils, wax, food, wine, furniture, baskets, timber, clothing, medicines and dyes.
The extensive palm tree family Arecaceae contains over 200 different genera and more than 2800 species, and is found in most warm parts of the globe. The highest concentrations are in the wet equatorial rainforests of the tropics. Locations with abundant species include Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra, Central America and the upper Amazon region of South America. They are also found on tropical islands, including the Seychelles and Mascarene Islands, Madagascar, New Caledonia and Cuba and Hispaniola.
Most palm trees prefer warm, wet conditions but some have adapted and evolved to specialised environments, including deep shade, swamps and streams, and climbing through trees. Some species are also able to survive in dry, harsh, arid environments with hardly any water. These palms can tolerate severe sun, low humidity and even frost, thanks to their deep root systems and tough, waxy fronds.
Palms prefer a moist, humus-rich but well-drained soil, but will grow in most garden soils with the addition of compost and organic matter. A soil pH between 6 and 7 is suitable for most palm species.
When potting up palms into pots and containers indoors, always use a premium standard potting mix. Keep well-watered during spring and summer, allowing the potting mix or soil to dry out between each watering.
Use a controlled-release fertiliser in spring for palms planted in the ground or for those potted up indoors. Additional applications of fertiliser for trees and shrubs in summer and autumn will encourage strong growth.
The most common occurrence or problem with palms are scale, mealy bug, mites and the palm dart caterpillar. If the foliage is only partially affected, it is often easier to remove just the damaged frond. Severe infestations can be controlled with horticultural and plant-based oils or an insecticide.
Fungal disease and cold conditions may cause brown spotting or lesions. Remove the affected foliage, spray with a fungicide and improve the growing conditions to remedy the problem. Dry air may cause brown tips on the leaf edges. To increase humidity, mist the leaves regularly with water from a hose or spray bottle. Palms can suffer nutrient deficiencies in iron, manganese and zinc when grown in alkaline soils. Use moss peat, compost, pine bark and either granulated or liquid sulphur to lower the soil pH.
Palm trees make a great addition to your garden, providing an instant tropical effect. They also make long-lasting and easy-care indoor plants. So let's look at some of the best ones to choose:
Hibiscus: add a tropical touch with this Hawaiian flowering beauty.
Frangipani: a small tree with a distinctly tropical appearance and richly fragrant flowers.
Bougainvillea: if you're looking for a plant with vibrant colours to bring a tropical look to your garden, then you can't go past bougainvillea.
Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!
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