Planting Royal Palms

Palm Tree Installation

To achieve the best results possible for your Royal Palms, make sure your trees are handled and installed by a professional Landscape Contractor that has experience planting large palm trees.

Since lots of qualified Landscape Contractors in California have not worked with Royal Palms specifically, we came up with this guide to help!

Hole Prep:

On delivery day, it is best to have your holes already pre dug & your backfill soil staged by each hole. Our Royal Palms are delivered in wire tree baskets approximately 50” wide x 31“ deep, with a bottom width of 25”.  Planning for a 5’ wide x 4’- 4.5’ deep hole is best so the soil surrounding the rootball is freshly tilled and amended.

We recommend examining the native soil composition of each hole so you have insight on what you’re working with. If you can perform a soil analysis test, that is ideal. If not, grab a jar, a scoop of soil, some water and do a simple shake test. This will at least tell you how much sand, silt, and clay you have in each hole.  Lastly, to test drainage, fill each hole with 1-2ft of water and observe how fast water is absorbed into the soil. 

Do you have 100% clay that will hold too much water and be hard for new roots to penetrate? Or do you have DG or Sand, which will offer great drainage but very little organic matter for water retention and nutrition. We believe it is fundamental to study your native soil which will then help determine what you will use for backfill. 


When our truck arrives, we offer one hour of complimentary offload time. Royal Palms should be planted asap and not stored on the job site for any period of time. They can be removed from the truck and installed with a 6-8,000lb telehandler or crane.

If the trees need to be temporarily staged horizontally, it is imperative that the necks below the green crown shaft are supported. Here is an example of how to correctly stage Royal Palms horizontally while waiting to plant. Once one tree is supported horizontally, the rest of the trees can be supported by resting on another tree’s rootball as seen in the photo below. 




Untying & Pruning:

The petioles or stems of Royal Palm fronds are very woody and stiff. The trees are only tied for transport and we recommend untying them before install. We do not recommend the practice of leaving the trees tied up once they are installed. The cumulative weight of the fronds all tied up together can cause the entire canopy to bend and be detrimental to the crown. It is best to also trim any unwanted fronds before standing the palm vertical.

Planting & Prep:

Royal palms are sensitive to changes in soil level or grade. When lifting the tree into the hole, the first step is to make sure you establish the proper planting depth for the tree so that the surface of the rootball sits at the same grade as the native soil. Deep planting or high plating can cause stress, irrigation issues, root rot, or even death. Place the tree in the hole with the rigging still attached and establish proper planting depth. Once your hole is the correct depth, make sure the bottom of the hole has been well compacted to minimize any sinking or settling which could cause the tree to end up below grade.

The Install:

Before placing the tree in the hole for install, add a 1” to 2” layer of our root initiator amendment at the bottom of the hole.  Lift the tree, gently remove the basket and burlap trying to not disturb the rootball, and slowly lover the tree into the hole. Dust the sides of the rootball with root initiator and use the rest of the 15lb bag to amend your backfill. Make sure to also save enough root initiator for one more 1”-2” layer as top dress. While backfilling, apply water every 12 inches to help eliminate air pockets. This is a very important step, as air trapped in the planting zone will cause stress to the tree and settling issues.

Water & Top Dress:

Place a large soil berm around the tree that is as wide as the entire existing rootball. With a 50” wide rootball make sure your berm is 50” wide. The berm should be compacted and able to hold a significant amount of water.  The berm is a very important part of the install process. It will hold water like a reservoir and direct it down into the existing root system.

Once you have a berm set up around your tree, apply a 1” to 2” top dress layer of our root initiator inside the berm and cover the entire surface of the root ball. Fill the berm with a 5g bucket of water, and allow it to absorb into the root sYates. Once the first bucket has been absorbed, add two more buckets of water, one at a time. Make sure to allow about 15-30 minutes between each bucket for the water to be absorbed by the tree. Before before leaving the job site add one more 5g bucket with your solution of diluted worm tea. Here is an example of an adequate berm size showing how this system ensures the water applied is directly absorbed by the root system. Without a large berm, water can bypass  the rootball and be absorbed by the tilled soil around the palm, instead of actually hydrating the tree.

Worm Tea:

For the best transplant results and long term health of your Royal Palms, we highly recommended purchasing a worm tea brewer.  Worm Tea is a fermented brew packed full of microbiology that is derived from a blend of worm castings, rock ash, and kelp. It will help create the most ideal growing environment for your new palm tree.  

Plant nutrition goes hand in hand with healthy soil biology. Healthy soil must include a diverse balance of bacterial and fungal organisms. When you water with worm tea on install day, you are making sure the level of desired microbiology is present in the root zone. It will help expand the volume of the root mass, make existing nutrients in the soil biologically available, and act as a natural fungicide protecting the root system from disease. It also coats the roots and creates better water retention for the tree.

Your worm tea should be brewed 24 hrs before install. Follow the step by step instructions that come with the tea brewer and make sure the brew is made with bottled water. Chlorine and other additives in tap water will prevent the growth of biology during the fermentation process. Once your brew is ready, it is in concentrate form and will last 12hrs in the machine. Right before applying it to each tree, mix 1g of brew with 4 gallons of water, tap is ok for this process. Each tree gets one 5 gallon bucket of diluted worm tea solution. This procedure should be repeated once a month for optimal tree health, especially for the first year. 

When ordering your Royal Palms, we highly recommended you purchase one of our home brew kits and we will ship it to you prior to the delivery of your trees! 

Irrigation/Watering Schedule:

Royal Palms need a steady supply of water and they should not be allowed to completely dry out between watering like a date or fan palm. For the first few weeks we recommend daily irrigation. To achieve optimal hydration, a slow drip system should be applied to each tree on installation day or the morning after. Inside the berm, we recommend circling the rootball with a few wraps of Netafim Techline CV. Make sure to use the Techline CV with 12” spacing that has a .9GPH flow rate.  After completing a few wraps around the tree you should count a total of 40 emitters. With each emitter releasing .9GPH, this will give the trees water at a rate of approximately 36 gallons per hour of irrigation. It’s advisable to set up a timer with three 20-25 minute cycles spaced apart so water can be absorbed by the rootball and runoff away from the root zone is minimized. Keep in mind this is a general recommendation and irrigation needs vary depending on soil composition, weather and tree health. The trees should be watched daily for the first few weeks and irrigation adjusted based on how the trees and soil are responding. Here is an example of how to wrap and install techline around the surface of the rootball.

Transplant Shock:

Royal Palms are sensitive when transplanted. It is normal to see some desiccation of fronds, yellowing, and signs of stress as the tree acclimates to it’s new environment. After being dug from the ground, the root system is compromised and smaller. Until new roots start to grow, the tree will not have the ability to property nourish the existing foliage above. By following these instructions you may be able to minimize transplant shock, but it is a part of moving and installing large field grown palm trees.

If you tree was delivered with a full canopy and it starts to show stress, removing lower fronds or trimming 1’-2’ off the tip of each leaf will help reduce evaporative loss and alow the tree balance the availability of nutrition. With less roots below, it’s normal to experience some leaf die off, but this can be compensated by having less foliage up top. Once a leaf has completely died, make sure to trim it off at the base of the stem and don’t wait for it to fall off naturally. On average, you can expect your Royal Palms to be totally recovered with an established root system and beautiful full canopy in 1-2 years from install.


Adding fertilizer to the backfill or applying it as a top dress on installation day is not recommended. We suggest waiting at least 3 months before adding any fertilizer. When ready, we recommend starting slow and using organic products that contain kelp, worm castings, rock dust and blood/bone meal. This will work in harmony with monthly applications of worm tea and help preserve your soil biology. If using granular, use a polymer coated slow release fertilizer like Nurticote 18-6-8. 

Please contact us if you have any questions about installing or maintaining your new Royal Palms!