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I’ve had an inquiry into bottle palm tree care.
I’ll do my best to fill you in on the care of this tree based on my own experience and some additional research. Follow the instructions, provide the growing conditions they need and your tree will thrive!
Soil, sun, water, climate, fertilizing and more are all covered below.
First I need to clarify that there are a couple of different kinds that may go by the common name of "bottle palms", so the care for each one will vary slightly.
One example is a close relative-- the spindle palm. Another but totally unrelated-- is the ponytail palm. It isn't even in the same plant family at all.
These bottle palm tree care guidelines will apply whether yours is planted in a pot (indoors or out) and in soil in the garden.
They do make great potted palms because of their slow growth, small root ball, easy care and overall appealing appearance.
Regardless of where your palm is planted, they need to have well drained soil.
Make sure if it’s in a pot that there’s a drain hole in it and some rocks, gravel or something similar in the bottom.
The roots should never be sitting in water.
If you are like most, the water from the house is probably treated and has chlorine in it.
It’s best if you have a container of water sitting out for at least 24 hrs before using to water any plants.
That way the chlorine will have evaporated and your plants won’t have any adverse effects.
The absolute best water you can use is rain water accumulated in an outdoor bath tub or rain barrel.
Not as many chemicals and no extra charge on your water bill.
You can even place the barrel under a roof gutter down spout and collect quicker.
In important part of bottle palm tree care or for any plants growing in containers is the possible salt and mineral build up that can occur.
Your city water supply may also have other added things to
it like fluoride. You may even add salt by using it as a water softener.
After awhile you could notice a whitish discoloring of the soil, mulch or decorative stone you have on top.
This is an indication that you may need to flush out the over accumulation of salts and minerals.
Original image found here at Wikipedia.
This will make a bit of a mess so is best done outside or for small palms- in the bath tub or shower.
Let lots of water run constantly thru the soil for about 15 minutes or so. Let it run from the top of the soil to right out the bottom of your container.
Don’t run the water too fast, you want the flushing effect and not to spray dirt everywhere.
Once finished give your palm some time to drain any excess water before putting him back in his place.
The only way to prevent this build up, is to water your plants with distilled water. But this can be a bit expensive.
Mineral or salt build-up is not a concern if planted in outdoors in soil. The rain will flush the soil for you naturally.
If you plan on doing any flushing during the warm summer months once a year for the ones you bring inside during the winter. Then you won't have to worry about making a mess.
Next in bottle palm tree care is to fertilize is with a water soluble plant food.
Use a palm fertilizer with minerals, specifically for them. These are the minerals that they really need, not the ones from the city,ground or rain water.
If your palm has premature yellowing on the tips of the leaves, he’s probably lacking a specific mineral.
The most common one is magnesium and can be solved really easy by dissolving a teaspoon of Epson salts in his water every so often.
The experts say the best remedy to this is to use a complete palm fertilizer with the proper micro/macro nutrients in it. Less likely to have any type of mineral deficiency .
A common misconception is that the swollen trunk holds water. This is not the case.
They are very drought tolerant, and they originate of the coast of South Africa-the Mascarene Islands to be exact.
To thrive they do require watering at regular intervals.
If Mother Nature hasn’t helped out some, then plan on watering every other day in extreme heat.
Best practice is to water early morning or late afternoon. That way he'll get the most benefit.
If you water during the heat of the day believe it or not most of the moisture will evaporate before you tree gets a chance to use it.
Your bottle palm will love you even more if you give him a weekly shower.
Indoors? How about a mist bath?
You may think pruning is part of bottle palm tree care.
Really it’s something you will probably never do.
These guys generally don’t have any more than 4-6 leaves at one time.
If you must remove a leaf then wait for it to go entirely brown before doing so.
Now for the sun!! The bottle will grow in sun, part sun or part shade.
This makes it an easy one to place.
If there isn’t enough sun you will see them, over time, trying to reach for it by leaning their leaves that way.
You will end up with a very weird looking, misshapen, not very attractive tree. If you see this starting to happen it's best to move it to a more sunny location.
Make sure they have enough sun to stay happy and good looking.
If you just bought one and aren't sure about the amount of light in your planned location, leave him in the container. Place in the spot you have picked out and wait up to a couple of months to see how it grows.
If all is good then plant away. If not then pick a brighter area.
This palm tree is used to a tropical, warm climate. They are not cold hardy and don’t do well outdoors if the temp even gets close to freezing.
So if you are farther north than the middle of the state of Florida, you’ll have to consider bringing them indoors over the winter or colder months.
Place him in a space with a lot of direct sunlight. The more the better.
If you don't think there's enough you can always add some artificial lighting to keep him happy while he's indoors.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions about bottle palm tree care.
You may find these other articles useful:
The easiest to grow indoor palms are listed here.
Growing will define the plant hardiness zones, soil and lighting types, as well as other commonly used garden terminology.
Planting gives you best practices to get your tropical specimen off to the best start.
Fertilizing teaches how to read the label, what the numbers mean, calculating the correct amount and where to apply.