Palm Tree 101

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For many people living in cold northern regions, the palm tree evokes images of a peaceful relaxing lifestyle amidst beautiful white beaches and warm sunshine. Those living in southern areas may have a better understanding of all of the possibilities that these beautiful plants create. Palm trees are extremely beneficial to southern and tropical regions because they can be used in many applications to produce products that are good for the economy, but they're also beautiful to look at and can add a lot to your landscape.

Varieties of Palm Trees

There are more than 2,500 species of these magnificent trees that live in a variety of environments including the rainforest and the desert. Here are a few of the most popular.

The Coconut Palm is known for its popular fruit, which it produces until it reaches about 80 seasons of growth. Coconut Palms are also known for their size: they can reach 100 feet in height and produce a canopy up to 30 feet in width.

Needle Palms have spines that resemble the needles on porcupines. This variety is typically small compared to other palms, rarely growing higher than 10 feet.

The Bismarck Palm produces an immense canopy. It can grow up to 60 feet in height and is able to survive in both excessively hot and cold temperatures.

The Royal Palm has a smooth trunk and can grow up to 80 feet high. It produces bright green leaves and white flowers. It need warm temperatures and direct sunlight to thrive.

Parts of the Palm Tree

Every species of palm tree has similar features including leaves, a trunk, flowers, fruit, and seeds. Palm trees have two types of leaves, also called fronds: the palmate and the pinnate.

The palmate leaves grow as a bunch from the stem.

The pinnate leaves resemble feathers and grow along both sides of the stem.

The trunk of a palm tree is usually tall and cylindrical in shape, but doesn't grow wider as it gets older like some trees. Instead, the trunks grow only taller. Some trunks have sharp prickles and others have smooth surfaces. The flowers of a palm tree are typically small, ranging in color from yellow to green. Palm tree fruit comes in many colors and sizes; the most common fruit of a palm tree is the coconut which features a hard brown exterior and white interior that can be eaten.

Palm Tree Care

Palm trees are fairly simple to grow, but they can develop issues if not cared for properly.

To Prune or Not to Prune?

Palm trees should not be overly pruned -- only remove the obviously dead branches that hang lower than a parallel line to the ground. They should never be topped, either. If the crown of the tree is removed, it will not grow back and the tree will eventually die. It’s best to have a professional palm trimming service do all of the necessary pruning in order to prevent health issues that might ruin a perfectly healthy tree.

The Prefect Growing Conditions

Palm trees require a well-drained soil and need to be watered regularly. However, overwatering a tree can cause the leaves to turn brown and yellow. Palm trees should be watered at the bottom of the trunk. Watering the top of the tree can cause bud rot. New palm trees do not need to have fertilizer added to their soil, which could cause damage to the roots and lead to burning within the trunk. Palm trees should not receive fertilizer until they are a minimum of 3 months old. Temperatures affect palm tree survival; extreme cold will cause a palm tree to die. Most need humid and/or warm weather to thrive.