Fertilizer for palm trees must meet the specific nutritional needs of palm trees.
The best fertilizer for palm trees typically has a 2-1-2 or 2-1-3 nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) ratio. While other fertilizers can work very well for palm trees, fertilizers in these proportions give the tree the best chance of being healthy for longer. If a tree is showing signs of nutrient deficiency, it is important to switch to a palm-specific fertilizer.
Fertilizers typically contain nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus to feed plants and promote growth.
Nitrogen is especially useful for palm trees, especially potted palms that have a lot of green in proportion to the rest of the plant. This nutrient aids in energy transfer and is part of chlorophyll, which is vital for the process of photosynthesis. Signs of nitrogen deficiency in palm trees include slower growth as well as lighter green leaves than the palm tree would normally have.
Many types of palm trees naturally grow in rainforests or areas that typically have tropical or subtropical climates.
While nitrogen is needed, palm trees that suffer from a lack of potassium are often at greater risk of long-term problems. Therefore, it is recommended to choose a palm fertilizer that contains more of this nutrient. For palm tree owners who use general purpose fertilizers, the potassium content may not be enough to really help the tree. Older yellowing to brown leaves can signal a deficiency, which can take two years or more to completely correct, or can be fatal to the tree if left uncorrected. Choosing the right fertilizer will help prevent this situation.
Phosphorus, while also a vital component in photosynthesis, is normally not a big problem for palm trees. That’s why most palm fertilizers don’t have as much phosphorus as nitrogen and potassium. It is not good to totally deprive the tree of phosphorus, but the best fertilizer will focus on these other nutrients.
One of the other important ingredients in a good palm tree fertilizer is magnesium. In fact, if a gardener is trying to correct a potassium deficiency, magnesium becomes even more important because as potassium is added it can make the magnesium deficiency worse. A good palm fertilizer will have 1-3% magnesium. While low amounts of this mineral are rarely fatal, it will make your palm look unhealthy.
Growers may also prefer to choose an organic fertilizer over a chemical one. This is a personal preference and normally makes no difference to the palm tree. No matter which fertilizer is used, choosing one that has a 2-1-2 or 2-1-3 ratio is the most important criterion.