A slow-growing tree with gorgeous stiff, waxy leaves, Bismarck palm creates a big presence in the landscape. Not only do its 4-feet-wide palmate leaves come in intriguing shapes and textures but its trunk also displays intriguing patterns created by persistent leaf bases. Plant Bismarck palm as a focal point in the landscape, but keep in mind that its eventual height (up to 60 feet) may overpower a small home.
Planting Partners for Bismarck Palm
With its great height and majestic presence, Bismarck palm deserves to stand alone as the focal point of your landscape. Or make this slow-growing tree the center of a color-rich tropical planting bed. A third option: Pair Bismarck palm with small- and medium-size flowering and shade trees for a lush landscape and a dense privacy screen. Great planting partners include sweet acacia (Acacia farnesiana), spicewood (Calyptranthes pallens), locustberry (Byrsonima lucida), floss silk tree (Chorisia speciosa), and fiddlewood (Citharexylum fruticosum).
Bismarck Palm Care
Plant Bismarck palm in full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. This tree tolerates a variety of soil types, including sand, loam, and clay, but you will encounter problems if your soil lacks boron, magnesium, or potassium. Correct any deficiencies by applying a controlled-release granular fertilizer of 8-2-12 plus micronutrients.
Commit to watering the palm every day during the first month. For the next five months, water it two to three times a week, keeping the roots moist but not waterlogged. Then water once a week until you reach the two-year mark, after which the tree should be established and drought-resistant. Gauge the amount of water you need to use per watering by the container your tree came in. If your new palm arrived in a 25-gallon container, use 25 gallons of water per watering—a little more when the temperature climbs.
Bismarck palm can be pruned any time of the year, but only remove leaves that are completely dead (cut them off near the trunk). Cutting off partially dead leaves depletes the tree's potassium supply. Plus removing living leaves releases a chemical that attracts the palmetto weevil. The weevils' larvae can eventually kill the tree.
Although generally disease-free, Bismarck palm is also susceptible to Ganoderma butt rot, a fungal disease that may lead to the tree's instability and even death. There is no treatment. The fungus often enters the tree through an injury to the trunk, so maintain a large grass-free zone around the trunk to prevent mechanical injury from mowers and weed whips.