This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

March 15, 2015

Fertilizing your palm trees and cycads (sago palms)

Of all the hidden secrets that I've learned about having a lush, tropical garden, fertilizer is at the very top. Tropical plants, like palms and cycads, do better with fertilizer. I always plant them in rich potting soil, with plenty of fertilizer, but since I've had this garden for many, many years, it's important to keep fertilizing them.

It's mid-March and this is a good time to start thinking about fertilizing your palm trees and cycads (sago palms). I use a lot of different types of fertilizer, but this year I'm also using those big spikes that you pound into the ground with a hammer. I've done this in the past and made a mess of things, but this time I actually read the directions, and it's working great. Here is how you do it:

• Water the area first. You don't have to haul out a hose, or use a lot of water, a little bit from a watering can is enough.

• Put the little plastic cap on and pound it most of the way in with a hammer. Then take the cap off and finish pounding it into the ground. Although there are diagrams showing drip lines, etc., really, all you gotta do is get it under the tree. Don't worry about harming the roots. Remember that the roots go into the ground about the height of the tree. And if your ground is hard, this will not only bring in fertilizer, it will open up some room for water to get into the ground.

• Water it in after you pound it in. This is true of anytime you apply fertilizer. Water it in well.

And there you go. These fertilizer spikes will release food over the time when the plant needs it the most, as we approach summer (which in Phoenix starts pretty darn early in the year!). I will give each of my trees one (I have miniature palms) and I will also give my cycads one (even though they won't be growing for a couple of months).
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