Gabriel Growers Inc. Thanks You for your Palm Tree Purchase. Now lets talk about how to care and maintain a healthy Palm Tree throughout the year.
Whether you Picked up at our Farm or we Delivered to your location, Installation is key to a successfully and healthy Palm. Our Palms are either in Containers / B&B (Bagged and Burlap) or Plastic wrapped ready to be planted or sized up for larger container.
Selecting your location is probably the most important in the factor process. As with real estate Location / Location / Location. Here are some factors. Does it get enough sunlight in this location? Does the ground drain well in this location? Will this Palm be planted to close to the Home or other structures? If Planted in a open area will I be able to cover the Palm if it gets to Windy and Cold? Will the Sprinkler System water the Palm Tree too much or can I redirect it, to not water the Palm? Was their a Dead Tree in this same location? Not wise to plant in this location but, if necessary remove all soil , do to soil diseases and replace with new fresh soil. Set wooden stakes in the location you are planning to plant the palm. This will allow you to look at the location from several angles to make sure you are selection the right location without having to move your palm or dig an new hole.
Planting your Palm. After properly selecting your location it's time to plant. Measure the root ball Height and width. Let's say your width on the root ball is 32 inches you will need to have the hole dug 56 inches across allowing 12 inches to back fill while the palm is in the center of the hole. We always mark the width of the hole we need to dig with landscapers spray paint or with shovel marks, making a complete circle taking out any guess work or mistakes. As you start digging place the Dirt/Soil to One Side of the Hole, Not around the entire hole remember you need to plant the Palm, any dirt in your way will be an obstacle to plant the Palm. As you start digging make sure you do not disturber the outer border marks. With the shovel as you are digging make sure the outer wall of the hole, in this case 56 inches has a straight side wall. Think of the side wall as if you had to place a round table top in the hole and the side wall would have to be completely straight for the table top to go down.
As you are digging down the Root ball Height comes into play. Let's say the root ball is 24" in height. The depth of the hole will need to be 26" deep. Why 26" deep? You will need to put a layer of Soil Conditioner/Soil Amendment at the bottom of the hole so the root ball will not be exposed to the existing soil. Make sure when you get to your measurement in this case 26" deep, measure again to make sure it is at the proper measurement, some of our Palms can weight 700 lbs. and lifting the palm back out of the hole to dig deeper can be challenging to say the least. Place a layer or Soil Conditioner / Sold Amendment (We use Moister Control by Miracle Grow) at the bottom of he hole about a couples inches deep. Tamp the Soil Conditioner / Soil Amendment so it compresses. We go in the hole and step on it so it presses down. You might have to do this process a few times. In this case the root ball is 24" and we dug a hole of 26" and we added Soil Conditioner / Soil Amendment we need the depth of the hole at 23" this will have 1" over ground level. Why 1" over ground level? Well, we want to make sure that proper drainage is considered. Without proper drainage the palm will lie in water and cause root rot and other soil born problems. As the palm is ready to go into the hole we, place the palm on it's side and place the root ball as close to the hole as possible. Take off the Plastic or Burlap and roll the root ball into the hole. Once in the hole straighten the palm up-words and make sure it is in the center. Add some Soil Conditioner / Soil Amendment to the sides of the root ball and start adding the soil you dug out of the hole back into the hole. Take your time adding soil back into the hole. While adding the soil back into the hole add water with a hoes and allow the water to drain down. As the water is draining down turn the shovel around and tamp the dirt in with the top of the shovel. This will pack in the soil tight. Keep adding soil / water and tamping until you fill the entire hole in. Once complete you may need to Stake the Palm if it 10 feet or taller until the Palm is established. Staking the Palm consist of 3 stakes around the palm about 10 feet from the center of the hole making a triangle. The stake are in the ground about a foot to foot and a half. With string tie the Palm more then half way up from the base to one of the stakes and repeat to the remaining stakes. The will straighten the Palm until the roots are established. I leave the stakes on for a least 3 months. Once complete add Mulch to the Top layer of the Palm.
There is no need to fertilizes your Palms for the first 2 months. The Palms will need to heal from the Digging process. They need to heal before you fertilize. After the 2 months have passes and they are starting to establish themselves, We like to use Liquid fertilizer. We have noticed that Granular fertilizer takes about 3 months to break down thus not giving the Palm any Food for this period of time. The liquid fertilizer we use is 20/20/20. You can find this at any Home Improvement store. Read the directions carefully every company is different with different instructions. We fertilizes our Palms every 2 months but , not in the Winter months since they go dormant. Another Great way to keep your Palms healthy is a Compost Tea Solution. This is made up of many different types of compost. We use a Cow Compost and a Swain Tea Solution. Example; Get a Long cotton sock and fill the sock with compost halfway. Tie the sock in a knot so no compost will escape. Get a 5 gallon bucket and place the sock into the 5 gallon bucket adding water to the bucked about 4 1/2 gallons worth of water. Place into the sun like you would make Tea. Allow 3 days to pass and you will now have one of the best fertilizers in the planet. You can place the fertilizer into a hose sprayer, drenching the entire Palm Fronds or simply pour onto to base of the Palm and other Plants.
November through February no need to fertilizer since the Palms will be dormant.
Water. This is were most people get confused. Should I water or Should I not? The best way around this is to have a Water Meter. Every part of the country is different. Do you have good drainage or do you have sand that you can't keep enough water on the palm? Everyone has different types of soil dictation different percolating of water. The Water Meter will take out the guess work. Rain water is of course the best. But if rain is not enough you will need to water from a Well or Home were it is tied to a local water source. We have notice over the years that Well water is second to rain in most cases. Third, Water from your home. This is where we can get into some problems. Over the years we have notice Local Water Plants like to add chemicals to the water for drinking. Like Flouride, Chlorine, and who knows what else. If your home is on County / State water ask the department head when do you Guys add chemicals to the water. We have notice that most County/State water department add their chemical at the beginning of the month. If this is the case I would encourage watering at the end of the month. Palm Trees do not like these chemicals on their Fronds nor on their roots. Water purification would eliminate this but cost can be expensive. Some of our customers say if its bad for the plant why would I shower or drink with those chemicals.
Winter Protection. You have your Palms established and been fertilizing throughout the year and the Palm is strong and ready to handle the Winter months. Yes, and No. Some Palms still have not established enough to make it through the winter months without some Tender Loving Care. For those in Colder climates you will have to take some steps in protecting your Palms. The first step is watching weather in your area. Be knowledgeable of your weather conditions and how it will effect your area. Knowledge is Power in being prepared. If tempts are dropping below freezing you will need a game plan on protecting. Over the years many customers are ready and have a game plan others are just going to wing it and hope for the best. Yes, these Palms are Cold Hardy but need attention.
Below I have some pictures of how to tie the head of Palm. A 55 gallon plastic bag Black or Clear over the Fronds so, Water and Snow will not damage the Heart of the Fronds.
Their are many was to protect your Palms. Blankets / Burlap / Christmas Lights not LED / Cardboard Boxes / Plastic Wraps / Winter White Cloth / 4 corners of 4x4 's with a plywood roof-lean too / Green House /Layering the base of the root system with Mulch. If you are expecting a lot of Snow place Plastic around the base of the Palm so the Snow can be removed.
Do not allow Snow / Rain to remain in the Heart of the Frond this will encourage Bud Rot. Keep this area Dry.
When the Temperature rises to above 32 degrees uncovered to allow the Palm to Breath.