Caring for Queen Palm Trees
By Robin Odach
, last updated August 28, 2011
Queen palms are easy to care for as long as they are planted in well-drained soils that keep the roots aerated. Queen palms grow in USDA planting zones 9 through 11, areas that often have sandy soils. Sandy soils are porous and problematic because nutrients tend to leach out easily. Provide the best care for a queen palm tree by making sure it receives the recommended amounts of fertilization.
Healthy Queen Palms have dark green lacy fronds that appear lustrous in canopies of feathery plumes. The trees have showy flowers that emerge from pods in summer that are followed by hanging clusters of date-like fruits that appear in mid-winter. The trees do not generally require pruning, although it may be necessary to remove dead fronds by hand.
Palms show mineral deficiencies in a conspicuous manner with leaf symptoms. Pale green leaves and a lack of robust growth indicate a need for more nitrogen. Translucent yellow or orange leaf spots means the palm needs more potassium. Potassium deficiency is a common condition that affects all kinds of palms and not just the queen palms. Magnesium deficiency shows up as a yellow band on the outside of older leaves, while the middle part of the leaf stays green. Scorched or frizzled leaves indicate a manganese deficiency. These conditions are prevented with a good fertilization program.
Professor Timothy K. Broschat, environmental horticulturist at the University of Florida, recommends a “palm special” granulated fertilizer be applied 4 times per year. Palms may be able to manage with 2 applications but less is not recommended. For palms under 8 feet tall, 2 to 5 lbs. is an adequate amount. Newly planted palms receive less, generally 1 to 2 pounds, depending on size. Spread the fertilizer by hand under the canopy. Avoid allowing the fertilizer to touch the trunk, because it may damage newly emerging roots. Fertilizer spikes for palms are also available at garden centers.