The Q&A Archives: Watering Palms

Question: How much water does a 5 foot Mexican fan palm need in Nevada during the summer season?

Answer: The answer to your question really depends upon how long your palm has been planted. If it's new, water thoroughly at planting time. Make a berm above grade (about 2 feet out from the trunk) so that slow soak from hose or bubbler can gradually fill it and saturate the root zone. Palms that are set out in warm weather will probably need to be watered every day for the first 2 weeks after planting. Check the soil moisture content in the root ball to determine this, since the container soil will often dry out faster than the surrounding backfill soil. The goal at this stage is to keep the root ball moist but not constantly soggy wet.

As roots begin to grow out and draw moisture from a greater volume of soil, irrigations can be spaced further apart.

If your palm is already established, watering guidelines are as follows:
Bubbler Irrigating: every day for the first 2 weeks gradually increasing the interval to every 7 days for the remainder of the first growing season, depending on soil type (see below).

Drip Irrigating: with 4 emitters spaced 1.5 ? 2 feet from the trunk, and 8 emitters spaced 4 feet from the trunk. Daily to start, then gradually increase the time between irrigations according to the soil type.

In both cases, the timing and frequency of irrigations will depend on how well the soil holds water. Sandy soils will drain quickly and need more frequent applications than clay soils. Always water to a depth of 2 ft. Check with a probe, long screwdriver or piece of rebar to see if the soil is soft to that depth. A layer of mulch spread 2?4" over the irrigated zone will help to reduce soil temperatures and conserve water so that less frequent applications are necessary.

Best wishes with your palm!

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