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Palm trees bring exotic flair into the room or onto the balcony. In order for them to develop well, you should pay attention to the right substrate. The palm trees have different demands on the soil.

In a nutshell

  • There is no one earth for all 2,600 species of palm trees
  • Distinguishing between palm trees from dry and humid regions
  • with their own mix to meet the needs of the palm species
  • pay attention to the quality of palm soil from the trade

Palm trees

Palms (palm family, bot. Arecaceae or Palmae) form their own family in the plant kingdom. This includes 183 genera and about 2,600 species. The natural habitat of many species of palm trees are the tropical and subtropical areas of our planet. Others live in semi-arid climate zones, i.e. in areas with long dry periods. It is therefore not surprising that not all palm trees make the same demands on their soil.

Palm trees & preferred substrate (selection)

Because of the biodiversity of the palm tree, the pH value has proven itself as an indicator for the right soil. Below is the pH for a small selection of palms along with other properties:

  • Mountain Palm (Chamaedorea): 6.5 - 7.9; good drainage, moderately sandy, slightly calcareous
  • Date Palm (Chamaedorea): 5.6 - 8.4; not too dense, moisture-retaining
  • Hemp palm (Trachycarpus): 5.5 - 7.2; moderately sandy, undemanding
  • Kentia palm (Howea): 5.4 - 7.0; lots of sand, good drainage
  • Coconut palm (Cocos): 6.0 - 6.6; good drainage, moderate to a lot of sand, rather undemanding
  • Christmas palm (Veitchia): 6.5 - 8.4; high proportion of sand (60 percent), calcareous soil
chinese hemp palm

As can be seen from the overview, palm trees prefer a

  • slightly acidic and
  • well drained

Earth. One agent that makes the soil acidic is peat. However, since this is problematic during dismantling, alternatives such as:

  • Coconut fibers (coir) or
  • coconut hum

Clay granules or perlite, for example, are suitable for loosening the substrate.


In order for the soil to match the palm tree, a basic distinction is made between species that prefer it moist and those that prefer a dry substrate. For the composition of the substrate this means:

  • dry environment: higher proportion of perlite and expanded clay
  • humid environment: higher proportion of clay and perlite

Irrespective of this, the mineral components of the palm soil should make up about 30 percent. Important sources of nutrients for palm trees are sand and quartz split. In the organic sector, guano or horn shavings are good sources of nutrients.

Tip: With large palm species, the proportion of garden soil should be more than two-thirds so that the often top-heavy palm plants have a better grip.

Novel plant substrates consist of expanded clay pellets, which are durable and store moisture in their pores.

Mix the substrate together

Palm species from humid regions

  • humus rich
  • angry
  • Coconut substrate-garden soil mixture (or potting soil-hummus mixture)
  • quartz sand
  • calcareous loam or clay
  • Drainage layer: lavalite, perlite or vermiculite plus shells of peanuts or hummus on pine bark

sample recipe

  • 70 percent coconut substrate (Kokohum, CocoBlock)
  • 5 percent clay or loam (finely crumbly, low in lime)
  • 10 percent quartz sand
  • 15 percent mineral (pumice, lavalite, rock wool, etc.) and organic drainage (pine bark, peanut shells)

Palm species from arid regions

  • Flower or garden soil based on bark humus plus coconut humus (ratio 3:2)
  • mineral-bearing drainage layer of perlite, vermiculite or lavalite

sample recipe

  • 50 percent coco substrate
  • 20 percent loam or clay (finely crumbly, low in lime)
  • 10 percent quartz sand
  • 20 percent mineral drainage (lavalite etc.)

Buy palm soil

Whether special soil for palm trees from the trade is just as good for the plants or not is judged differently. Since it is looser than potting or plant soil, you should always prefer special soil to conventional soil.
You can recognize high-quality palm soil by the following characteristics:

  • mixed with expanded perlite (loosening)
  • quartz sand
  • Agrosil (slow-release fertilizer)
  • coconut hum (peat substitute)

Lime is added to the palm soil if necessary, as some palm species love calcareous soils.

frequently asked Questions

Can I increase the proportion of clay in an older palm tree?

Yes, this is possible and is often recommended by experts.

Can I add bark humus to the sample palm soil recipe?

Yes, bark humus or loose compost can be mixed in up to 20 percent of the soil mixture in the example recipe.

Do I need to prepare the garden soil?

Regular garden soils do not need special palm preparation. You should improve heavy soils with sand and light (sandy) soils with clay.

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