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Best Universal Palm Fertilizer?

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PalmTreeDude

What do you think is the best universal palm fertilizer? I have two Pindo Palms, 1 Mediterranean Fan Palm, one Needle Palm, one Windmill Palm, and soon some Sabal minor. Does anyone know of a palm fertilizer that will affect each one of these palms in a positive way? At the time I can not afford separate fertilizers for each palm species. Thank you for any help! If I can order it, can you please include the link to it as well? 

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Jim in Los Altos

IMG_2704.thumb.JPG.ef6653d4098353388d0cfIMG_2705.thumb.JPG.8cc7593b64044cfdd71a7This is my favorite. It's available online at the Home Depot and orders over $40.00 ship free. I've noticed better growth and vitality in my palms with this fertilizer than any other I've used. 

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GottmitAlex

I concur with Jim.

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PalmTreeDude
52 minutes ago, Jim in Los Altos said:

IMG_2704.thumb.JPG.ef6653d4098353388d0cfIMG_2705.thumb.JPG.8cc7593b64044cfdd71a7This is my favorite. It's available online at the Home Depot and orders over $40.00 ship free. I've noticed better growth and vitality in my palms with this fertilizer than any other I've used. 

 

50 minutes ago, GottmitAlex said:

I concur with Jim.

Thank you both, just ordered a bag on Amazon for $12. 

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Ben in Norcal

Sho do stank tho! 

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Brett in Mission Viejo

Somewhat off-topic, but I note the Palmgain label says ideal for Cycads. In my experience, Cycads like more Nitrogen.

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RichAZ

You can also purchase a 50 lb bag on Amazon which is cheaper than 5 ten pound bags even with shipping.  I liked it so much last year that I made the commitment this time and went large :  )

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XYZ

I agree. Great product, well thought through - for palms. Only complaint would be that this is a physical blend so it mush be well-mixed to approximate label ratios. Must have lost my sense of smell since I find odor only mildly unpleasant for the briefest of periods after application.

 

J

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steve99

I use this, and despite it being for indoor plants it works just fine outside.      NPK 15.3, 1.96, 12.6

 

cee337a9.jpg

3b354931.jpg

 

Edited by steve99
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sur4z

This is my favorite blend

IMG_4042.thumb.JPG.6c964ee2fa52972336b5d

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foxtail

And this one? Is good?

Screenshot_2017-04-21-15-20-05.thumb.png

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msporty

I wonder about Nutricote as well! I've used it on cycads for years and I've been happy with it  

 

Also, judging by my Floribunda purchases, I'm guessing that's what Jeff Marcus uses?!

 

I remember high acclaim for Palm Gain from last year's thread, but I recall it's only active for a month or so and I'm too lazy to do this monthly. Nutricote 180 would be sooo much easier, even if a bit pricey. 

 

I've been using some random 'palm fertilizer' from OC Farm Supply and I haven't been blown away by its performance, though I haven't done any scientific comparisons. Looking for something new. 

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XYZ

Please note that there are a wide range of nutricote formulations available. The NPK ratios for one shown above notso-hotso for palms. Dynamite 10-10-17 + micros (270 days; more like 180 under tropical conditions) costly but - IMO - worth it for a few potted treasures. Too expensive for the landscape, but several options shown above look money good to me. Always take your soil pH into account when looking at fert purchases. Len Geiger has superb and concise discussion of the real availability of micros in relation to soil pH on his blog under the recent Palmgain evaluation. Again, the enthusiasm that this product has generated among this forum's participants who use it seems entirely justified based on my experience so far.

The 13-13-13 x 180 day nutricote formulation seems an OK amendment for incorporating into potted cycad soils. I use it a lot, but correct via top dressing down the road depending on the species.

J

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_Keith

The main difference you are going to find with palm fertilizers is the presence of Manganese.  It is available cheaply on its own and can be added to another fertilizer, such as a Citrus fertilizer very economically.

 

 

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RichAZ

I've had some success by revisiting the application area about a week later and hosing it down again.  It seems to help the nodules break down and soak into the soil a bit more.  

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Keith in SoJax

Full disclosure: I've been making my living for 22 years selling controlled release fertilizer.  Our brand is Osmocote.  This is not an ad for our product.  I hope to bring forward some of the professional logic behind fertilizing.  

Potted plants generally need more complex blends than plants growing in Earth.  That's because Earth contains lots of minerals that are not present in potting soil.  Products like our Osmocote Plus and Nutricote Total are made for potting soil because they have almost all essential elements plants need to grow. But even these excellent formulas are part of a triad of mineral sources:  fertilizer, water and soil or potting soil.  Irrigation water quality is more important than most people realize because the nutrients it carries can be the difference between success or failure, especially in potting soil or in areas with low rainfall. Just try to grow an azalea using the salty, alkaline water from the Colorado river, it won't happen.  They grow just fine using the low salt, pure water from the Sierra Mountains.

Plants growing in Earth often don't require any fertilizer at all, if they are adapted to their planting site, but they often respond favorably if fertilized.  When we develop a fertilizer plan for an agricultural crop, it's based on the elements removed with harvest, along with known quantities of those elements native to the planting site.  Not all planting sites have the same natural mineral resources, and some nutrient losses occur for a variety of reasons like leaching, mineralization, and volatilation, the the fertilizer program has to take those losses into consideration.  Growing corn in FLORIDA'S sandy soil requires dramatically different fertilization practices than in Illinois' clay loam, even if its the same variety.  That's because Illinois soil inherently has many more nutrients. For us palm growers in the US, California generally has better soils than Florida, though there are areas with poor sandy soil there too.  

This brings me back to the post subject "best universal palm fertilizer".  There can't be a universal palm fertilizer for palms growing in Earth.  For palms in pots, Osmocote Plus or Nutricote Total are the best.  I don't use Osmocote Plus on my palms growing in the yard, unless I add a balancing dose of Potassium and Magnesium, which still doesn't make it optimum.   Osmocote Bloom is a better choice, though I still add extra potassium and magnesium.  In the ground, 8-2-12 with a full, rich compliment of micros and lots of magnesium is great for our leached, Florida sand.  It's not perfect for other soils, though if it's bringing lots of micros, and organic matter, those are going to be good.  But If your soil has lots of available potassium, the 12% potassium in that formula is a waste of money.  

Be aware, there are times when applying the wrong fertilizer is far worse than applying no fertilizer at all.  We see that here in FL all the time and Dr Timothy Broschat has written thoroughly on this subject.  Google his name, and "palm fertilization" and you will be rewarded with a ton of great information that applies to Florida.  I know of no equivalent in CA, or anywhere else for that matter.  Palms growing in FL yards with beautiful St Augustine turf are often terribly deficient in potassium and magnesium because the homeowner applies way too much nitrogen causing a massive imbalance often killing the palm. I've never seen anything like that anywhere else, though I know it obviously would where conditions are similar.

Im stepping off the lectern now.  I hope my "Fert 101" helps a little and doesn't come off preachy.   Feel free to pm me is you have a specific question.  

 

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XYZ
14 hours ago, _Keith said:

The main difference you are going to find with palm fertilizers is the presence of Manganese.  It is available cheaply on its own and can be added to another fertilizer, such as a Citrus fertilizer very economically.

 

 

Good point, but I believe you'll find that the N to K ratio is almost inverted from recommended on some commercial bagged citrus ferts, while in others they are only slightly biased towards K, but coupled with desired lower P. Almost any "balanced" fert will work OK on many palms, the topic here is what is the "best" one for regular use by hobbyists. Balancing micros is a challenge for some gardeners.

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Lou-StAugFL

I have heard that regular palm fertilizer is not good for Rhapis excelsa, do you all agree and if so what kind of fertilizer do you recommend for them?

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Keith in SoJax

Can't think of any reason why Rhapis would need anything special.  Mine in Jacksonville thrived on 8-2-12, or nothing at all.  In fact, they were becoming slightly invasive.  My soil there was much better than here, but they grow well here too, with or without fertilizer.  In a sunny spot, they are light green instead of that vibrant, rich, shiny dark green they have in shade.  I'm planning to put a variegated one in the ground tomorrow.  It's filled the pot with roots and I'm having a tough time keeping it moist so it's declining. I hope it thrives too and I can get pups that'll grow in pots in the office.  .  

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Umbrae

I like carl pool brand 

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Keith in SoJax
7 hours ago, Umbrae said:

I like carl pool brand 

There are many fertilizer's sold under the Carl pool brand.  Just make sure you get their palm fertilizer.  

A very good palm grower I know (The best Trachycarpus and Sabals) uses Carl Pool brand palm fertilizer on his palms in the ground.  He's been extremely satisfied and recommends it highly, and I believe him!

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Umbrae

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DCA_Palm_Fan

I have two Chamaedorea Cataractum, and I'd like to know which would be best to use on these as fertilizer.   One was from a higher end nursery, and is the oldest and best looking of the two.  It recently tried to bloom but aborted it after it opened likely because I let it dry out.  The other is the typical box store palm.   Thanks for any advice!  

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PalmWarbler
On 4/22/2017, 12:27:47, Keith in SoJax said:

Full disclosure: I've been making my living for 22 years selling controlled release fertilizer.  Our brand is Osmocote.  This is not an ad for our product.  I hope to bring forward some of the professional logic behind fertilizing.  

Potted plants generally need more complex blends than plants growing in Earth.  That's because Earth contains lots of minerals that are not present in potting soil.  Products like our Osmocote Plus and Nutricote Total are made for potting soil because they have almost all essential elements plants need to grow. But even these excellent formulas are part of a triad of mineral sources:  fertilizer, water and soil or potting soil.  Irrigation water quality is more important than most people realize because the nutrients it carries can be the difference between success or failure, especially in potting soil or in areas with low rainfall. Just try to grow an azalea using the salty, alkaline water from the Colorado river, it won't happen.  They grow just fine using the low salt, pure water from the Sierra Mountains.

Plants growing in Earth often don't require any fertilizer at all, if they are adapted to their planting site, but they often respond favorably if fertilized.  When we develop a fertilizer plan for an agricultural crop, it's based on the elements removed with harvest, along with known quantities of those elements native to the planting site.  Not all planting sites have the same natural mineral resources, and some nutrient losses occur for a variety of reasons like leaching, mineralization, and volatilation, the the fertilizer program has to take those losses into consideration.  Growing corn in FLORIDA'S sandy soil requires dramatically different fertilization practices than in Illinois' clay loam, even if its the same variety.  That's because Illinois soil inherently has many more nutrients. For us palm growers in the US, California generally has better soils than Florida, though there are areas with poor sandy soil there too.  

This brings me back to the post subject "best universal palm fertilizer".  There can't be a universal palm fertilizer for palms growing in Earth.  For palms in pots, Osmocote Plus or Nutricote Total are the best.  I don't use Osmocote Plus on my palms growing in the yard, unless I add a balancing dose of Potassium and Magnesium, which still doesn't make it optimum.   Osmocote Bloom is a better choice, though I still add extra potassium and magnesium.  In the ground, 8-2-12 with a full, rich compliment of micros and lots of magnesium is great for our leached, Florida sand.  It's not perfect for other soils, though if it's bringing lots of micros, and organic matter, those are going to be good.  But If your soil has lots of available potassium, the 12% potassium in that formula is a waste of money.  

Be aware, there are times when applying the wrong fertilizer is far worse than applying no fertilizer at all.  We see that here in FL all the time and Dr Timothy Broschat has written thoroughly on this subject.  Google his name, and "palm fertilization" and you will be rewarded with a ton of great information that applies to Florida.  I know of no equivalent in CA, or anywhere else for that matter.  Palms growing in FL yards with beautiful St Augustine turf are often terribly deficient in potassium and magnesium because the homeowner applies way too much nitrogen causing a massive imbalance often killing the palm. I've never seen anything like that anywhere else, though I know it obviously would where conditions are similar.

Im stepping off the lectern now.  I hope my "Fert 101" helps a little and doesn't come off preachy.   Feel free to pm me is you have a specific question.  

 

excellent post, thank you

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Keith in SoJax

Thank you PalmWarbler

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DCA_Palm_Fan
On 4/20/2017, 7:30:24, Jim in Los Altos said:

IMG_2704.thumb.JPG.ef6653d4098353388d0cfIMG_2705.thumb.JPG.8cc7593b64044cfdd71a7This is my favorite. It's available online at the Home Depot and orders over $40.00 ship free. I've noticed better growth and vitality in my palms with this fertilizer than any other I've used. 

Would this be good for potted Chamaedoreas and Rhapis? Needle?    I also notice the photos that the top pic is palm gain, but the second pic shows the analysis for "citrusgain".     That confuses me a bit.  

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sonoranfans

First you should know your fertilizer types.  Controlled release(CRF) will keep nutrients in the root zone more consistently and they cost more.

 http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs1247   CRF's also are more efficient with much less pollution. In my sandy soils, I use 3x less fertilizer than I used to with slow release and have better results.  If it never rains and or you have high clay or humus soil,, its easier to control nutrients in the root zone.  In my experience in sandy soils CRF's will make the difference in nutrient sensitive palms.  In heavier clay soils with limited rain, even spikes work great.  when you are talking controlled release, the question will arise: how does the release profile look for the different nutrients.  If you have a 6 month release fertilizer but it releases 90% of its potassium in 2 months, you really have a 2 month fertilizer.  In florida K defficiency is a major problem, the most common deficiency.  Potassium is the most water soluble, followed by CA, Mg.  These are the elements you will lose notably faster than nitrogen in your slow release.. I have too much intested in my palms to cheap it on fertilizer and in reality I use less so the cost is ultimately the same.  If you have those clay soils and little rain, the cheaper stuff may be just as effective as it wont get washed away in a month.

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Jim in Los Altos
On May 2, 2017 at 7:34:20 AM, DCA_Palm_Fan said:

Would this be good for potted Chamaedoreas and Rhapis? Needle?    I also notice the photos that the top pic is palm gain, but the second pic shows the analysis for "citrusgain".     That confuses me a bit.  

I hope this is readable. image.thumb.png.e95bf91ce65c0aba31d626fc

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DCA_Palm_Fan
7 hours ago, Jim in Los Altos said:

I hope this is readable. image.thumb.png.e95bf91ce65c0aba31d626fc

 

Thank you!  I went on amazon and looked at it for clearer photo.   I will purchase some there and see how it goes.  THanks again! 

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rsproule
On 4/20/2017, 4:30:24, Jim in Los Altos said:

IMG_2704.thumb.JPG.ef6653d4098353388d0cfIMG_2705.thumb.JPG.8cc7593b64044cfdd71a7This is my favorite. It's available online at the Home Depot and orders over $40.00 ship free. I've noticed better growth and vitality in my palms with this fertilizer than any other I've used. 

In researching the forum for fertilizer info saw that you used to use Dr. Earth for Palms, is there a reason you switched? I use Dr. Earth, but I can no longer find it online in anything bigger than 4lb bags, so I think I going to need to change fertilizers. Also, what kind of mulch do you use? Do you apply the fertilizer on top of the mulch, or do you rake it back first to exposure the dirt? Thanks!

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PalmTreeDude

Haha, I just ordered my second bag of Palmgain just a few minutes ago and I came back to the forum to see this post at the top again. Palmgain has worked well for me, so I got another 2lb bag. 

Edited by PalmTreeDude
Typos

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kinzyjr
On 4/22/2017, 8:39:10, Lou-StAugFL said:

I have heard that regular palm fertilizer is not good for Rhapis excelsa, do you all agree and if so what kind of fertilizer do you recommend for them?

Here in Lakeland, they are definitely toeing the line of invasive with no special care as @Keith in SoJax mentioned.  I've pulled up runners from clumps more than 20 feet away.

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Jim in Los Altos
On July 30, 2018 at 1:06:19 PM, rsproule said:

In researching the forum for fertilizer info saw that you used to use Dr. Earth for Palms, is there a reason you switched? I use Dr. Earth, but I can no longer find it online in anything bigger than 4lb bags, so I think I going to need to change fertilizers. Also, what kind of mulch do you use? Do you apply the fertilizer on top of the mulch, or do you rake it back first to exposure the dirt? Thanks!

I only bought the Doctor Earth because it was half the price of Palm Gain and thought I'd experiment. I really like Palm Gain and will do my Fall feeding with it. Home Depot online sells 10 pound bags and will ship free for any orders over $40.00. 

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Walt
2 hours ago, enigma99 said:

Love Palm Gain too even though it stinks.

Also I have been using these 50lb bags. Pretty close to palm gain I think.

https://www.seedworldusa.com/products/growers-palm-and-ornamental-8-2-12-fertilizer-50-lbs

I think that's a good NPK analysis, similar to what I'm using (although I can't read the minors in your link label). I buy my palm fertilizer locally in 50# bags, and fertilize in February, May, August, and November. I just today fertilized. Actually, I normally fertilize more often than 4 times a year (mainly rainy season months) due to fertilizer leaching from heavy rain. I use a little less fertilizer per application, but increase the frequency of my applications.

8-2-12 Palm Fertilizeer 50# bag.jpg

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