How Deep are Palm Tree Roots?
[Impressive Pictures!]

Palm trees are tall but what about their roots? Do they really go very deep? Let's have a look!

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Jimena Bolívar

June 27, 2021


How Deep are Palm Tree Roots? [Impressive Pictures!] Thumbnail

Palm Tree Roots

Standing tall and swaying in the breeze, palm trees catch everybody’s attention. Whenever I see a palm tree, I stop and marvel at its glory for a couple of minutes. If you live in a coastal location, these super tall, beautiful trees don’t need an introduction. But what about their roots? How deep do they go?

Palm trees grow very tall, but their roots are comparatively shallow, extending into the ground within the limits of 36 inches. Palm tree roots are fibrous, which means that they grow horizontally rather than vertically.

Whenever you see a palm tree again, notice how its roots are spread around the trunk. They seem to cover the soil like a carpet, which is indeed very different from other trees.

The roots never go deeper than 36 inches from the topmost soil layer. Therefore, you can see palm tree roots if they have been planted shallow.

If palm tree roots don’t grow deep, are they strong?

There’s a reason why palm tree roots get blown away when it’s super windy!

A closeup shot of palm tree roots

Palm tree roots are thin and are strong enough to make the tree stand upright. However, the shallow depth may cause easy uprooting.

Shallow depth may not be the only reason behind a palm tree uprooting. If sandy soil has been used and the depth is too shallow than the minimum requirements of 12 inches, then the roots may not form a strong network and will also hold the tree weakly. This is the main reason why palm trees grown in sandy soil are more likely to fall over due to strong winds and harsh conditions.

How are Palm tree roots different from those of other trees?

The features of Palm tree roots stand out compared to other trees!

A palm tree with some roots spread on the soil surface

Palm tree roots are fibrous. The fibrous root system grows horizontally instead of vertically to support a tree.

Usually, the regular root system has one main big root, from which many tiny roots reach out beneath the soil. This is known as a taproot system, and the roots that grow out are thinner than the main root.

However, palm tree roots all have the same thickness and look very similar too. The most astonishing part is that as the tree grows taller, the growth of the roots remains the same.

Also, palm tree roots are fragile! If you’ve ever looked at exposed palm tree roots, you’ll be amazed at how skinny they are!

Do Palm Tree Roots grow differently when planted in a container?

A palm tree planted in a container will be restricted!

Palm trees grown in a container will never attain mature height and width. The horizontal, fibrous growth system of palm tree roots will become restricted.

Suppose you have a pot that is 15 inches in diameter. You plant a very small palm tree, whose roots are much smaller and don’t spread to 7.5 inches on either side. As the palm tree grows, the roots will expand horizontally, since they have fibrous growth.

At one point, the roots won’t be able to expand anymore and your palm tree will stop growing.

If you want a tall palm tree, planting in a small container is never an option.

WARNING!

Use a small container for indoor palm trees.

Since palm trees have a fibrous root system, their roots expand horizontally. So restricting a palm tree’s growth is all about confining its space. Even if you have a huge indoor space, it’s ideal not to let your palm tree grow too tall indoors due to the chances of toppling over.

Do you have a small space?

Palm trees always look best when grown outdoors. However, people also keep palm tree species at home. If you don’t have much space outside, it’s best to grow your palm tree in a container.

Do palm tree roots go deeper as the plant grows?

Palm tree roots can go deep to underground systems!

Palm tree roots can go deep into the ground somewhere between 12 to 36 inches from the base of the soil.

It also depends on the Palm tree species as to how wide the roots grow. But for the depth, the range of 12 to 36 inches is followed by palm tree roots of all species. Here are some palm tree species that have roots going as much as 50 feet away from the trunk:

  • Bismarck
  • Canary Island date palms
  • Bailey
  • Royal

Even though 50 inches seem like a lot of width, the roots remain thin regardless.

What do palm tree roots do?

You’ll be amazed at how the roots promote the palm tree’s health!

Palm tree roots grow in sandy soil to assure healthy tree growth by absorbing moisture, dissolving minerals, and stabilizing the tree trunk.

Don’t underestimate the shallow, thin roots of a palm tree! They are responsible for several functions other than just keeping the tree standing tall, proud, and swaying the breeze.

Palm trees have large trunks, regardless of the size you decide to keep them. These trunks require tremendous support from the roots and well-balanced nutrition. Here is how palm tree roots work to keep the trees healthy and going:

The palm tree roots are responsible for absorbing sufficient moisture from the soil and hydrating the tree. All necessary minerals are also absorbed by the roots and not other parts of the palm tree. Without minerals, the palm tree will turn yellow and eventually die. The roots make it easier for nutrients to get evenly distributed up to the tree trunk and across the leaves. If placed in sandy soil, the roots act independently to make sure their grip with the ground is tight.

All in all, that is how palm tree roots work around the clock to assure stable and healthy palm tree growth!

Not just that, but palm tree roots can also be good for you!

PRO-TIP

Palm tree roots are good for your health!

Did you know you can use palm tree roots to treat various conditions? They are effective against kidney problems, gall bladder, and urinary infections. You can take around four palm tree roots and boil them. Once the water has cooled off, you can drink it for better blood flow.

If you want to learn more about palm trees and connect with enthusiasts, have a look at the International Palm Society.

Can palm tree roots cause any sort of damage?

The palm tree is huge, but can its roots have a drastic effect too?

Palm tree roots cannot cause damage to concrete or underground pipes because they are thin.

Palm trees are enormous, and hence, one would expect they may inflict damage to underground pipes. However, remember that although palm tree roots are widespread, they are incredibly narrow.

Also, most of the roots remain above the topsoil layer and hardly penetrate deep enough to cause subsurface damage. But the case could be different if the palm tree is super tall and massive!

WARNING!

Beware of giant palm trees!

The bigger the palm tree, the more likely it is for the roots to achieve maximum depth. If you’re trying to move a giant palm tree from one place to another, never uproot it. You’ll have to make a careful cut from the trunk base; otherwise, the underground pipe system may get damaged if the roots have entangled it.

How can palm tree roots be maintained?

You can grow palm trees even if you’re not living in a tropical or sub-tropical place!

Palm tree roots beneath the soil surface

If palm tree roots are correctly maintained, palm trees can be grown quickly in the backyard.

To help maintain palm tree roots, you need to know about the various species because each type can have multiple length requirements for healthy palm tree growth.

The primary and common needs of all palm tree roots are proper nutrients and moisture. Therefore, always be mindful of the watering. If you want to give moisture to the soil, you can use a soaker hose and surround the palm tree trunk with it.

The main substances required by a palm tree are iron, manganese, and magnesium. They protect the tree from losing its refreshing green color and from turning yellow or brown.

PRO-TIP

Some watering tips

When the palm tree roots have not entirely developed, it is necessary to water regularly. After the roots have become mature, you can water twice a month, for around 15 minutes.

Types of Palm Trees

Did you know that Palm Trees have a total of 2600 species?

Palm tree roots of all species grow according to the fibrous root system.

If you are new to palm trees, you need to know of all the beautiful varieties. Here are some common palm trees along with useful facts:

  • Coconut Palm Tree cocos nucifera

Not all coconut palm tree roots go deep into the soil. Coconut palm trees with broader leaves may have larger roots, but all of them remain uniform and consistent in their size. Mostly, the roots of these palm trees can horizontally spread up to 32 feet.

  • Date Palm Tree Phoenix dactylifera

Date palm trees can grow up to 75 feet tall. And of course, beneath the crown of its leaves, it has lovely dates for you to eat!

  • Areca Palm Tree Dypsis lutescens

The Areca Palm tree has very fast-growing roots. Whether you’re growing this tree indoors or outdoors, you can expect it to grow about 5 to 10 inches every year. While it is the best for growing outdoors to get its maximum height, it can grow up to 7 feet tall when grown indoors.

  • Queen Palm Tree Syagrus romanzoffiana

The Queen Palm tree is a South American native plant. They are incredibly tall, growing up to 50 feet in height in the outdoors. As a result, their roots can require pretty much water, significantly if they are growing in the desert regions. Although they can be drought-tolerant, they won’t mind a bit of watering to develop proper roots, especially when they are younger.

  • African Oil Palm Tree Elaeis guineensis

The African Oil Palm Tree gives us plenty of palm oil. Some of the primary roots of this tree go deep down, and the radius they cover can be astonishing - up to 5 meters!

  • California Palm Tree Washingtonia filifera

The California palm trees can also be found natively in the desert regions of Mojave and Colorado. These trees can grow about a foot annually, up to 66 feet in height. However, their root growth and tree growth may vary if you’re growing them in a confined garden space.

  • Mexican Fan Palm Tree Washingtonia robusta

The Mexican palm tree can grow up to 36 inches tall annually. The height of these trees can be anywhere between 80 to 100 feet. Although this tree is native to the Northern Mexican region, it can also be grown quickly in Florida.

Can Palm trees fall over because of roots?

If palm tree roots are thin, can they hold the trees well?

Many tall palm trees against the blue sky

A flawed root system may cause palm trees to topple over, especially in harsh weather conditions.

Newly planted palm trees (especially if they’re tall) may be more prone to falling over due to absence of consistent support from the roots. Although palm tree roots are shallow, they do need soil to support their horizontal growth and the few inches of soil that they penetrate.

If the roots haven’t penetrated the soil well enough, it’s more likely that the palm tree will fall over. Another reason could be that your palm tree gets the crown drop infection which causes the trunk to decay slowly. Finally, the borer beetle species are also capable of damaging a palm tree to its core.

Therefore, it is always advisable never to plant a palm tree too close to the house. However, if you don’t have much space in your garden, try planting a palm tree in a container to make sure it doesn’t grow too tall in the first place.

PRO-TIP

Palm trees aren’t fond of low temperatures!

If you live where it’s cold primarily, growing a palm tree can get more complex. The fibrous root system may also collapse from freezing temperatures since the roots can be exposed.

Conclusion

So if you want to grow any palm tree species, the roots are fibrous and horizontally spread. For some species, the depth may be lesser than it is for other species. However, the minimum penetration of palm tree roots is 12 inches, and the maximum is around 36 inches. Also, the size and width of the tree are directly related to how wide the roots spread on the base layer of the soil.

Do you wish to learn more about beautiful trees? Then, you’ll love to read about these 14 gorgeous pink flowering trees!

14 Most Beautiful Pink Flowering Trees [with pictures!]

Pink flowers add a light and beautiful feeling to any garden space. Look at these low-maintenance wonderful pink flowering trees!

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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