Fertilizing Palms

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					Fertilizing Palms

By Ralph E. Mitchell

The care and feeding of palms is a mystery to many people. For sure, proper
nutrition for palms in our area is very important. Nutritional deficiencies not only
lead to unthrifty looking plants, but may also lead to the eventual death of the
palm. This may be especially true of introduced palms that may not find our
alkaline soils as accommodating. However, with the proper complete materials,
gardeners can keep common palms healthy and growing. Let's look at some
palm fertilizer requirements and offer some nutrient management strategies.

First, take a look at the condition of your palm. Color and leaf condition will tell
the story of your palm's health. Light leaf color may mean the need for nitrogen.
Yellowing or orange spots may indicate a need for potassium. A lack of
manganese will cause "frizzletop" where the leaves are withered and appear
scorched. Our soils are often so high in pH that this nutrient may have difficulty
becoming available to the plant. Cold temperatures may even reduce the uptake
of Mn. All of these nutrients must be provided in proper balance for good growth
and healthy plants.

Now, while it is true that certain severe nutritional deficiencies may need to be
corrected with the element that is missing (manganese sulfate for manganese
deficiency for example), a complete "palm special" fertilizer is the best
maintenance fertilizer to use on a regular basis based on the label instructions.
Typical granular applications in the landscape may involve 1.5 pounds per 100
square feet of canopy four times per year, or 1 pound per 100 square feet of
canopy 6 times per year. This is best applied in a slow release form to include
the elements of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, iron,
manganese, with trace amounts of zinc, copper and boron - again commonly
found in a "palm special" fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer in a broadcast method and
not up against the trunk or in thick bands.

Take a look at your palms today. Are they crying out for some fertilizer? Instead
of throwing a handful of this or that in questionable quantities, why not use the
proper material in proper quantities and see some solid long lasting results to the
benefit of key aspects in our landscapes - palms. For more information on all
types of horticultural topics, please contact our Master Gardeners on the Plant
Lifeline at 764-4340 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Our office is located at 25550 Harborview Road, Unit no. 3 in Port Charlotte. Our
Plant Clinics are available across the county:
Demonstration Garden at 7000 Florida Street, Punta Gorda from 9 a.m. to 11
a.m every Thursday.
Englewood/Charlotte Public Library 9 a.m. to noon every Monday.
Monthly Plant Clinics are Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the following
locations: Peachland Promenades Publix ‹ second Saturday of the month; Burnt
Store Publix ‹ third Saturday of the month
Ralph Mitchell is the county extension director/horticulture agent for the Charlotte
County Cooperative Extension Service. You may contact him
by e-mail Ralph.Mitchell@charlottefl.com You may also contact a volunteer
Master Gardener from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at
764-4340 or by e-mail Master.Gardener@charlottefl.com


Broschat, T. K. (2000) Palm Nutrition Guide, The University of Florida
Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS.
Worden, E. C., Broschat, T. K. & Yurgalevitch, C. (2002) Care and Maintenance
of Landscape Palms in South Florida, The University of Florida Cooperative
Extension Service, IFAS.

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