How to Buy a Palm Tree (and Start Palm-Scaping!)

By: Ken Wilson

How to Buy a Palm Tree? It may seem simple enough, but there are a number of factors to consider. Like many other living things, choosing the right palm tree will provide you with not only a great investment, but also with tropical beauty that only palm trees and can provide!

Start by deciding if your new palm will be for indoors or part of your outdoor landscape. Palm trees make wonderful indoor plants, and they act as a natural indoor humidifier as well as a natural indoor air purifier! An interesting palm can add tropical flavor to a home office, den, living room or bedroom. How great is it to have a sun room in a cooler climate, complete with an indoor palm! Many commercial offices, such as medical offices, lawyers, real estate and others have a tropical beauty in the corner to help their clients settle in to a relaxed mood.

When “Palm-Scaping” outdoors, consider what overall effect your palms will add to your beautiful landscape. Are they going to provide shade for a pool or patio area? Will their unique leaf shapes help to create interest in your garden, or will the trees simply become your garden. Only you know how to create the perfect tropical world from your mind’s eye! Buying the right palms provides a great start!

Once you have considered if your tree or trees will be for indoor or outdoor pleasure, start by choosing an appropriate variety. Some trees do better indoors and some outdoors. Palms that are slow-growing, and ones that do well when potted would be a better choice for indoor Palm-Scaping. Try to choose a palm for indoor use that has interesting leaves, but consider it’s size inside your room. Vertical leaf growth could be a benefit here, rather than a palm that spreads out. Try to choose a variety that does not require too much water or maintenance. Always use a saucer under any indoor plant or tree to catch extra water than may run of the pot after watering. This will protect your floor or carpets!

Outdoor palm trees allow for more freedom in size and characteristics. First consider your location. There are cold hardy varieties that can tolerate some snow and below freezing temperatures! These beauties would be great in northern climates, and those living outside tropical areas can finally choose to Palm-Scape their yards. If you want to be the hit of your next backyard BBQ in New York, try planting a Palm in your backyard!

Next consider the fully grown height of each palm. Some palm trees can grow to 50 feet tall or more, which might not make sense in a small backyard. Will the tree be there to provide shade? Choose a variety with long and wide fronds (Palm Leaves) to provide better shade opportunities. If you are looking for appealing shapes or textures to add interest to your landscape, there are palms in many shapes and sizes. When buying palms, consider how fast they will grow, and how they will look and interact when fully grown.

One of the best joys of planting palms is that many have individual benefits.Some trees provide food, such as a coconut, date or banana tree. Some palms provide nesting opportunities for certain birds, and even some even have historic significance! There are palms whose seeds are poisonous to pets and even children, so care must be taken to make a safe choice. In almost all cases, knowledge is key and buying from a reputable source, that provides you with honest information, is the best choice that you can make.

Lastly, lets talk about weeds. A weed, by definition, is anything growing where the garden owner does not want it to grow. Open land in many southern climates are filled;with palms that may have grown wild, possibly altering the characteristics that someone buying a palm might find important or even necessary. There are those people, just like in most endeavors these days, that to make a quick buck will simply dig out and resell these “wild palms” at premium prices. This can cause untold stress as palms mature into something other than what was planned, possibly too tall, too short, too suceptable or even too dangerous, than the real palms of your landscape goals.

To avoid this, buy only from the most reputable sources, that sell only certified, true to variety palm trees, and will give this to you in writing along with a written guarantee. To insure that you get what you pay for, insist on organically grown palm trees If a plant is claimed to be organically grown, the grower must have had control and used only accepted organic practices on the palm tree during it’s entire life cycle.

About the author 

Ken Wilson

Long time career in the home services industry from remodeling to patio construction. Currently residing to in SWFL and active contributor to multiple home & garden publications.