Bismarck palm

Bismarck palm


Bismarckia nobilis is a massive palm that will give dramatic effect to any landscape. Domestic Bismarck Palm can grow up to 30-40ft tall and 20ft wide, but in the wild it can reach 70ft. It is a fast growing palm that can grow from 3ft to 15 ft tall in 5 years.

The Bismarck Palm has a single smooth trunk topped with 20-25 wide fronds forming a spherical crown. Younger Bismark Palm has grey trunk covered with old leaf bases which gets smoother as it matures. The Bismark Palm has palmate waxy leaves supported by thick stems. Stems are 8-10ft long, 10 inch in diameter and covered with small sharp teeth. Wide spread of beautiful silver-green leaves can reach 10ft across.

During late spring Bismark Palm produces small fragrant flowers. The Bismarck Palm is dioecious, male and female flowers are on different plants. Cream flowers grow in clusters on 3ft long stalks which gets bent downwards by the fruit weight. Beautiful flowers are followed by not-eatable blue fruits. Fruits are oblong and 1/2 – 1 inch in diameter.

Transplanting a Bismark Palm

The Bismark (Bismarck) is one palm that does not like to be moved.

You can transfer it from a nursery pot into the ground successfully. Cut the pot if you need to in order to avoid disturbing the sensitive roots. Be prepared to help the palm through a period of transplant shock by keeping it moist.

If however, you attempt to move an established Bismark palm tree from one in-ground location to another, you will probably kill it.

The deceptive thing is that the tree will often fool you into thinking you've succeeded in moving it.

For a time...

A transplanted palm will often look well for weeks before showing symptoms of shock (dying fronds). Transplant shock can last for months, so don't give up on the tree too soon.

It aint over til it's over.

Unfortunately, there's no way to tell during this time if the Bismark palm tree will make it. You just have to be patient and wait it out.

Instructions for Transplantation

Conduct a soil pH test on the designated planting location. Bismarck palms need a pH range between 6.1 and 6.5. Purchase a soil pH testing kit from your local gardening center. Dig a 6-inch hole in the planting location to collect soil samples from the bottom. Follow the directions on the kit.

Amend the soil based on the results. Spread lime on the planting location if the soil is too acidic. Apply sulfur to the location if the results indicate a range above 6.5. Plan on testing the planting location a few months prior to transplanting the Bismarck palm, because it takes several months to adjust the range.

Choose a time in the spring to early summer to transplant the Bismarck palm. Palms react better when transplanted while soil temperatures are increasing. Soil temperatures should be above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Drive a soil thermometer into the ground to check to see if it is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water the area around the palm to soften the ground four to eight weeks before transplanting. Dig a hole 1 foot away from the base of the palm. Expose the root system of the Bismarck palm. Prune off roots with a pruning saw that make the root ball larger than the head of a shovel. Pack the soil back around the the root system. Bismarck palms can begin to regenerate roots after pruning and a smaller root system will make transplanting easier.

Dig 1 foot away from the base of the Bismarck palm. Wet the soil around the root system to protect it from drying out. Prune away older leaves with lopping shears. Have a friend help you lift the palm from the hole. Wrap a burlap sack around the root system. Move the plant to its new planting location.

Measure the root ball with a tape measure. Dig a hole that is twice the width of the root ball and at the same depth as the palm was planted in its previous location. Place the palm in the hole and pack soil around its base. Drive two 4-inch stakes on each side of the palm and wrap a soft string around each side and to the stakes to give the palm some support.



1 Avoid placing a soil amendment in the backfill when replanting the palm, because the tree will not react well to additional nutrition.

2 Keep the soil moist, but not saturated for the first three to four months after transplanting.

3 The Bismarck Palm are fairly cold hardy and can tolerate cold down to 23F  when mature enough. It’s a great tree for gardeners who want low maintenance palm tree. Adapts to many kinds of soil and likes full sun. If you don’t have sunny spot, don’t worry it will tolerate some shade. This palm can be used as a focal point or for nice shade and screening.

4 Propagated by seeds.

5 You are not going to get any serious problems with this palm tree.

Light: Sun

Zones: 9-11

Plant Type: Tree,Indoor Plant

Plant Height: 40-50 feet tall

Plant Width: 20-25 feet wide

Landscape Uses: Beds & Borders

Special Features: Attractive Foliage

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