Drought Tolerant Palms and Cycads
Palm Trees, Exotic Gardens, Mediterranean Gardens, Tropical Gardens, Water-wise Gardens
To most people, Palm trees evoke images of the tropics, warm sunny beaches or tropical islands. However, palms are a much more diverse plant family than most people imagine. They come from many different climate zones, tropical, subtropical or temperate. Some species are at home in a desert oasis while others thrive along streams where they are occasionally flooded.
While the drought tolerance of palms varies by species, there are also other factors to consider such as age (established plants are more drought tolerant), humidity, sun exposure and wind. Low humidity, full sun exposure and windy conditions will increase the water needs of your palms. Newly planted palms need extra water the first few months to get going.
Generally speaking, all palms thrive with year-around moisture, even those with high tolerance for drought. Few palms can survive long in fully dry soil. Some palms may require water once a week, others 2-5 times a week.
Applying a thick layer of mulch (wood shavings or chips) around the base of your palm will help the soil retain its moisture and reduce evaporation. As the mulch breaks down, it will also provide nutrition around the palm and improve drainage. Another benefit of mulching is weed control. Be careful: excess mulch piled against the trunk can lead to rot and fungal disease in the trunk.
There are dozens of beautiful and exotic palms that perform extremely well in arid climates, as long as there is water available for their roots. These highly drought tolerant palms can survive several months of rainless periods once established.
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.