Palm plants are easy to care for. This segment gives tips on watering and fertilizing your palms for maximum success.

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Indoor Care of Palms

On palms, much like most houseplants, watering is an important process. But there is an easy way to water them. Just saturate them. It’s impossible to give them too much water at any one time when you water. Remember to water them enough to saturate all the growing media or soil in the pot. Then, let the excess run off, and don’t let it stand in water. Just drain the water out of the saucer. Or, if it’s too big to lift, you can take a turkey baster and siphon the excess water out of the base.

Then, the critical part is when should you water again? The answer to that is – not until the soil has dried down significantly. Don’t reapply small amounts of water. You’ll need a large amount of water, and then let it really dry before the next watering.

For example, on a six-inch diameter pot with a dwarf palm, you should water again when the soil is dry an inch below the surface. On a larger pot, a ten-inch or larger, you’ll need to wait until it’s dry two to three inches below the surface before you water again. What I really mean is, poke your finger in it. And if it feels moist, don’t water it. If it feels very dry, especially at the proper depth in a large pot, then it’s time to water. But, if the soil feels slightly moist, don’t water. You can tell by how well it sticks to your finger.

So, the critical part is not how much – that’s easy – just saturate. But, the really important tip is to let them dry down between waterings. When fertilizing, any houseplant fertilizer is good. You’ll need to fertilize during the spring, summer and fall. Don’t fertilize in the late fall or winter. When the light levels are less, you don’t want to stimulate growth. So, it’s really easy to take care of palms.

This feature story prepared with Alan Stevens, retired Kansas State University Research and Extension State Leader, Horticulture. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

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