Palmettos (Serenoa repens) grow wild in southern states such as Florida and Georgia. They are members of the palm family, but do not grow straight, tall trunks as most palms do. Palmettos grow up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Their trunks lie upon the ground or grow underneath. Palmettos are clumping plants that have multiple trunks and fan-shaped fronds. Being heat lovers and tolerant to salt, they are perfect plants for coastal gardens and warm areas in planting zones 8, 9 and 10. Drought-tolerant and relatively maintenance-free, palmettos will be a carefree addition to any landscape

Growing Palmetto

1 .Situate a palmetto where it will receive abundant sunshine, a minimum of six hours of direct light each day. If given less light, the plant slows its growth, forming fewer and less-robust leaves. Palmettos will tolerate growing in some shade, but will perform best receiving some sunlight during the day.
Consider the palmetto's size at maturity, when selecting a planting site. With a width and height of 6 feet, select a location that will be permanent, where the plant will not interfere with any buildings. Palmettos do not transplant well.

2.Provide soil that is fertile to nutrient-poor and is moist. Amend the planting site with compost. Work the compost into the existing soil to a depth of 1 foot. Water the soil. Water must drain through the soil well, never flooding or waterlogging the area where the palmetto grows.  A rare flooding event after an intense rainstorm will not harm the palm if it drains away within two to four days.

3. Dig a hole that is two times larger than the palmetto's root ball. Place the palmetto into the hole, facing in a direction that is pleasing to the eye. Fill the hole with soil and stomp down to release any air pockets.

4. Water the newly planted palmetto. Continue watering the palmetto 2-3 times per week for the first three weeks. Cut back the watering to once per week, after the plant begins to establish itself. Palmettos are drought-tolerant once established.
Allow the palmetto to receive less irrigation water in the winter when temperatures are cooler. Natural rainfall in your region is fine; just do not add supplemental watering during the winter or tropical "dry season".

5. Fertilize the palmetto in spring and early summer with a good quality palm fertilizer. Spread the fertilizer so it will cover the entire area to the drip line. Do not butt the fertilizer up against the palmetto's trunk. Water the fertilizer in well.
You can Fertilize the palmetto using a "palm special" fertilizer in a slow-release, granular form with micronutrients. Follow label directions for dosage. Fertilization by liquid watering is not practical for these slow-growing palms, especially in sandy soils.

6. Maintain the palmetto as needed, removing only brown fronds. Green and yellowing fronds are still providing food or nutrients to the greater plant; do not rob the plant of these resources. Pruning off the seedpods before they develop will not damage the plant.
Tips & Warnings

  • Palmetto palms tolerate most seaside conditions, including dry, sandy soils and the saltspray winds.
  • Small-sized palmettos may be grown as houseplants, but must receive intense levels of sunlight for good health
  • Fertile, heavy clay soils must have excellent drainage for palmettos to perform well.
  • Some palmettos, such as the saw palmetto, have sharp spines on their leaf stems.
  • In some parts of the United States, it is illegal to dig out some species of palmetto from the wild without a permit.
  • Seek advice from your local cooperative extension office regarding timing and tips for transplanting or planting non-containerized, nursery-grown palmetto palms. Some species have deep taproots when young and are not successfully transplanted if not grown in a nursery container.

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