Fall comes with an onslaught of seasonal expectations such pumpkin spiced lattes, warm sweaters, and the coloring of the leaves as the trees go dormant in preparation of winter. However, for those of us that reside in warmer tropical climates, such as here in Hillsborough County and the Greater Tampa Bay area, the seasonal shift into fall is not that dramatic. As a result, our climate is perfect for the long-term growth of palm trees, as they can be seen meticulously scattered throughout our urban landscapes. The palm tree is unlike any other tree, in the fact that its leaves do not change into beautiful hues of red, orange, and yellow, colors commonly associated with autumn. However, despite the warmer climate trees, including the palm trees, do in fact go dormant during the winter months. Therefore, October is the month to get all of your fall, or 4th quarter, palm tree care completed.
Preventative Palm Tree Care in Fall
Quarterly palm tree care is an important preventative measure necessary for protecting palm trees against diseases and insect pest infestations. A majority, of palm tree diseases CAN NOT be cured or corrected; however, they are ALL preventable with the right tree care plan. How does quarterly tree care protect your palm tree? Diseases and insects attack trees that are more susceptible, this means they prefer trees that are already suffering from nutritional deficiencies and other ailments, as the trees’ defense systems will be weaker. Healthy well cared for palm trees are less susceptible to diseases and insect pest infestations, which is why quarterly tree care is so important.
Although your palm trees are going dormant for the winter, we use this term loosely for the Floridians, they still have certain tree care needs to keep them healthy until the next growing season, spring. Below we have listed a couple of routine palm tree care steps and tips for fall.
Palm Tree Fertilization
Fertilizing your palm trees in the fall is a necessity, to maintaining the health of your palm tree. In Hillsborough County we do palm tree fertilization through the end of October. So, if you haven’t already had your palm trees fertilized, now is the time to call Tree Medics. Failure to have your palm trees properly fertilized, before the cooler weather set in, could result in the palm tree becoming stressed, leaving it susceptible to diseases and insect pests.
Palm tree fertilization should be done by a professional arborist, so that soil samples can be collected to ensure the right balance of nutrients are being added to the soil. However, if you’re a do it yourself kind of person, you can use a proprietary fertilizer. Fertilizer should be scattered around the tree, starting about 6-inches away from the trunk and extending outward so that it has full access to the roots. Use caution, applying fertilizer directly at the trunk of the palm tree can cause serious damage.
Watering Palm Trees in Fall
Watering your palm is just as important as ensuring proper drainage. The soil should be saturated, but not over flowing with water. In Hillsborough County supplemental watering during the fall is only needed during periods of drought, occasional dry spells through the cooler months is not uncommon. During these months, palm trees only require approximately 1-inch of rain fall per week. Should we experience a dry spell lasting more than a week, supplemental watering will be needed.
Mulching Palm Tree
For the most part are winters are relatively mild, however it has been known to get down to 35 and 40-degrees. In the event of an unusual cold snap, you may want to take extra measures to protect your palm trees. One way to protect your tree against the cold is by spreading mulch around the base of the palm tree, leaving a few inches between the tree trunk and the mulch. The mulch, behaves like a jacket, providing warmth while helping to keep the palm tree’s root system from freezing. In addition, mulching around your palm tree helps the soil to retain moisture, with in the root zone.
For those palm trees still short enough to reach the top, covering with a light blanket, in addition to mulching, will protect the palm trees fronds. Be sure to remove both once the cold weather has passed to ensure the palm tree can breathe.
October in Hillsborough County and the Greater Tampa Bay area is an important month when it comes to tree health care prevention. So, don’t forget to have your palm trees properly fertilized before the cooler months set in, to ensure your tree is well fed and ready to defend against diseases and insect pests. Be sure to only use supplemental watering if there is not at least an inch of rainfall in a week, over watering can result in tree health issues. If that unusual cold snap does happen, go ahead and lay down some mulch to keep your palm tree roots toasty and prevent freezing. Tree Medics is here to help Hillsborough County residents’ with all of your fall palm tree care needs, give us a call today to schedule your appointment.