It's hard to resist the call of the tropics as soon as the sun and mild temperatures hit the ground. Nothing better than a palm tree on the patio or the balcony to remind us of a well-deserved vacation.
In spring, you will find in our garden centers magnificent palm trees coming directly from the South. The most popular are the Majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis) and the Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens). Although they are easy to keep in the summer, a minimum of care and attention is required. After all, they are tropical plants. And yes, it is possible to keep them year-round simply by bringing them inside as a houseplant.
Maintain a palm tree in summer
Before placing your palm tree on the patio and pouring yourself a glass of Tequila, read this.
- Once at home, repot it. The roots are probably too tight and they will dry out quickly.
- Choose a container slightly larger than the root ball, about 2 to 3 cm more in diameter and make sure there are holes in the bottom;
- Loosen the root ball and cut off the dead roots;
- Use quality potting soil;
- Plant the base of the palm tree at the same depth as before.
- Take the time to acclimatize your palm tree outdoors. When temperatures are milder and remain above 12 to 15ºC, place it in a shady area of your yard, sheltered from the winds. After a week, move it to spaces a little brighter and sunnier. Although it prefers intense light, the foliage can burn if placed in direct sunlight.
- Make sure to water frequently, or better yet, place the pot in a saucer filled with water so that the roots get the water they need.
- Fertilize with an all-purpose granular or water-soluble 20-20-20, 2 to 3 times during the season.
Keep your palm tree after the summer months
Palms are annuals in Quebec. Whether you keep them in a planter or place them in your flower bed, you can keep them indoors over the winter, just like any houseplant.
- As soon as the nights get cooler, bring them inside.
- Check for insects before bringing it in so that it does not contaminate other plants. They are prone to mealybugs and spider mites (tiny tiny spiders).
- Place in a bright area, away from heated sources. The perfect ambient temperature is between 18 and 26ºC.
- Water generously and frequently to keep the soil moist but not excessively.
- Gently clean the leaves with a slightly damp sponge.
Should you prune a palm tree?
Unlike other plants, cutting does not encourage new palm growth.
- Only prune damaged or dead palms. A massive cut weakens the palm and slows its growth.
- Never cut off the top (head) of the palm tree!
Identify the problems
Here is a short guide to help you identify problems that might occur your palm tree.
- Tips of the leaves turning brown - need water, too much fertilizer or direct sunlight.
- Leaves fold up - need water.
- Leaves turn yellow - roots soaking in water and the soil is soggy; excessive exposure to sunlight or the presence of pest.
- White powder that looks like flour under the stems - Mealybugs. Clean with a solution of water (1l), black soap (1 tsp), vegetable oil (1 tsp) and 90% alcohol (1 tsp).
- Thin webs on the plant - Spider mites.
- Eliminate diseased palms,
- Clean cobwebs and remove insects with a damp cloth,
- Rinse the palm tree in the shower and then spray an insecticide such as black soap,
- Keep away from other plants so as not to contaminate them.