How to Plant a Christmas Palm


Christmas palms, or Veitchia merrillii, are found flourishing all over South Florida in the United States. They reach up to 20' in height and are hardy from USDA zone 10 and higher. Many gardeners love to grow these palms for their trademark red berries, which bloom annually. The red berries are where the nickname "Christmas palm" comes from. These palms can be tricky to grow, but if you plant them correctly, your chances of a healthy, disease-free Christmas Palm are greatly improved.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Sterile garden soil
  • Hose
  • Measuring tape
  • Mulch
  • Determine the best place to plant your Christmas palm. They require full sun, so find a spot in your landscaping that receives sunlight all day.

  • Pick a location where Christmas palms can be planted at least 15' apart. If you plant them any closer together, you may risk the chance of crowding the palms, and optimal growth and health may not be achieved.

  • Test your soil for its neutral or alkaline attributes. Christmas palms will flourish in soil ranging from 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral) to 7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline). Soil kits can be purchased at garden-supply centers or from gardening-supply websites.

  • Dig the hole for your palm. This depth and width of the hole will depend upon the size of the root ball of your Christmas palm. Measure the depth and width of the root ball and multiply them by 2. The depth of the hole you dig should be twice the height of your root ball, and the width should be twice the length of the root ball. If you don't dig a hole that large, the roots of the palm will not be encouraged to grow.

  • Mix 1/8 of the ground soil with fresh, new garden soil and place on the bottom of the hole. Water this mixture thoroughly.

  • Place your root ball of your Christmas palm into the hole. Take the ground soil, mix it with the new garden soil and fill in the sides around the palm. Tamp this soil down so there are no air holes.

  • Water this new soil thoroughly. Add more soil if the mixture settles too much. Add mulch around your newly planted palm to help it retain water between waterings.

  • Water the palm every day for a week. The next week, water every other day. After two weeks, you can water the soil as needed to encourage healthy roots.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check with your local garden center about a fertilization schedule for your Christmas palm.
  • Check with your local agricultural department about "lethal yellowing" disease. Ask if it is present in your area. If so, you may want to think twice about planting this type of palm, because it may fall victim to the disease and die.

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