Last Updated on September 17, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
Palm trees are tropical plants that prefer to grow on sandy soil.
Palm trees are great for adding a tropical feel to your yard and can significantly improve the allure of your home.
However, palm trees have their fair share of maintenance to be done.
Removing the roots after cutting down a palm tree is one of the big concerns that most palm tree owners have.
In this article, we share everything about palm tree roots and answer pertinent questions you might have concerning palm tree roots.
Palm Tree Root System Functions
Most palm tree species have large palm fronds, and long trunks and the roots play a significant role in ensuring that the tree gets enough moisture and nutrition.
They also play other significant roles besides ensuring that the plant takes in moisture and nutrients.
First, palm tree roots ensure that the tree is stable and anchored in the soil.
While their fibrous root system is weaker than the taproot system in anchoring the plant, the roots ensure that the tree can hold its weight.
Other than anchoring the palm tree and supplying nutrients and mixture, palm roots also have medicinal properties. Generally, palm trees are rich in phenolic compounds, oils, and terpenoids.
Also, fruits of most species are rich in fat-soluble bioactive composites and healthy oils.
According to research, some palm tree species are useful in treating infections and disorders in body systems such as the genitourinary, digestive, respiratory systems, etc.
How to Maintain Palm Tree Roots
Palm trees grow in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. If you have a palm tree planted in your home, knowing how to maintain palm tree roots is important.
Palm tree roots require nutrients and enough moisture to nourish the tree. Always ensure that you supply the tree with enough moisture to keep it from drying up.
A soaker hose wrapped at the base of the tree will help in supplying enough moisture to the trunk. Ensure that you give the tree an adequate supply of water during its growth process and reduce the water gradually as it matures.
For nutrients, make sure you supply your palm tree with the right amount of manganese, iron, and magnesium. These nutrients keep the tree healthy and prevent the palm frond from yellowing.
Frequently Asked Questions about Palm Tree Roots
How Do Palm Tree Roots Grow?
When planted outdoors and in favorable conditions, palm tree roots grow fast and extend 3-10 inches in a year. However, the roots don’t grow so deep for a tree that can grow as tall as 100 ft.
Palm tree roots grow only 36 inches below the topsoil to ensure that they are close enough to the surface to absorb moisture and nutrients. The tree first grows a root ball, from which roots grow at the base and spread horizontally.
Rootballs start developing when the palm tree is young, and they function to hold the palm tree firmly in the ground.
Palm trees spreading their roots horizontally from the base of the root ball is part of their adaptation to ensure they absorb as much water and nutrients as possible. Some palm tree roots may get exposed and be visible above the ground.
Since palm trees grow in moist, well-drained (mostly sandy) soils, the horizontal spread ensures an increased surface area for absorbing water and nutrients.
It’s common for palm tree roots to grow above the surface. Since the root system is fibrous, they regenerate regularly and remain thin.
While the root can extend 20ft or 30ft away from the tree, the girth at the farthest extension of the tree will be similar in size to the girth of the root on its farthest end.
Do Palm Trees Have Long or Short Spread-Out Roots?
Palm trees roots system are distinct from other tree root systems as they are fibrous. They spread over the topsoil, only penetrating the soil about 36 inches deep.
Unlike tap root systems that grow vertically below the trunk, palm tree root systems grow horizontally from the trunk. They can grow a great distance from the trunk, but they don’t go deeper than 36 inches. Canary, Bismarck, Royal, and Bailey palm species can grow up to 50 feet away from the tree trunk.
Can You Plant Palm Trees Close to Your House?
Avoid planting a palm tree, or any other tree, near your house.
Ensure you plant your palm tree a safe distance away from your house, such that the canopy of the palm tree does not come into contact with your roofline.
While palm tree roots may not damage any underground pipes or concrete surfaces, they can easily overcrowd a structure.
Palm trees generally need between 100-900ft of space to grow. The height of palms varies by species and their growth environment, and you should consider the area needed before planting one.
If you don’t have enough space, you can grow shorter palm trees with a smaller canopy that don’t take too much lateral space.
Can Exposed Palm Tree Roots Cause Any Problems?
Palm tree roots develop at the base of the trunk, which sometimes can be above the ground.
The root initiation zone for some palm plants can be several feet above the ground, forming adventitious roots.
Often, the roots exposed above the ground stop growing and die off. They can also resume growth if there’s enough moisture.
Exposed roots are not a problem, but they may cause ill health to the tree if they’re infected.
Can Palm Tree Roots Damage Underground Pipes?
Unlike trees with taproot systems, palm tree roots do not cause any damage to underground pipes.
This is because palm tree roots get thinner as they grow farther away from the tree and remain on the topsoil level.
In cases where the palm trees are large, their roots may grow deeper into the soil. They may reach the underground pipes and entangle them but won’t cause any damage.
For palm trees planted near drainage pipes, the root ball may disturb drainage if it grows big and pushes against the pipes, causing damage.
Therefore, if you plan to remove the palm tree, consider cutting the palm tree from the trunk rather than uprooting it. This will help you avoid damaging the underground pipes.
When planting palm trees, consider leaving 11-12ft space between your palm plants and your underground pipes to ensure that your pipes don’t get damaged.
Can Palm Trees Damage Concrete?
Palm trees are highly unlikely to damage concrete surfaces. Their roots grow horizontally, and their diameter remains the same their whole life. This is in contrast to other tree plants whose roots increase in girth as the tree ages.
It’s considered best practice to plant your palm tree at least 12ft away from hard surfaces. This will allow enough room for the palm roots to grow.
Are Palm Tree Roots Invasive?
Palm tree roots are not invasive, but they can grow a long distance from the base of the trunk.
When the roots grow too far away from the trunk, they will compete with other plants for nutrients and moisture. You can always plant short palm tree varieties whose root system does not spread too far.
Do Palm Trees Grow Back?
Some palm tree species grow back their roots after the trunk is cut, and others don’t.
Most palm tree species can regenerate their roots as long as they are not cut back too near to the base. You can cut a few of these roots during transplanting, and the palm tree will survive the transplant.
Roots growing too far from the root ball can also be pruned off without killing the palm tree. The tree will continue growing as new roots will grow. However, this practice may weaken the overall strength of the tree.
How to Remove Palm Tree Roots
When it’s time to remove a palm tree, it is necessary to use a planned approach, which includes removing the palm tree roots.
Removing the roots will ensure that any future growth is prevented.
- Cut the palm tree with a trimming saw and leave at least 2 feet of the tree trunk.
- Dig 18-24 inches around the base of the palm tree trunk using a sutable tool, (a mattock, or Pulaski would be good for this), and remove 20-25 inches of soil as you work the roots with the shovel.
- Continue working the shovel around the root ball, prying it upward. As you progress and cut off most of the roots, use the remaining part of the tree trunk as leverage for prying out the root ball.
- Remove the root ball from the ground, cut off any large exposed roots, and fill the hole back with dirt.
If you consider using herbicides to kill the palm roots, apply glyphosate roundup herbicides that are sure to kill the palm roots and the tree.