How Deep Are Palm Tree Roots?

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Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Griselda M.

How deep are palm tree roots is one question most gardeners want to be answered, before they plant this tree so they are sure where to grow it.

Palm trees are outstanding yard trees that can grow along the fences to beautify your home.  Some species like the areca palm can grow indoors with proper root management. However, how deep do palm tree roots grow?

These trees have a fibrous root system which means, the roots grow shallowly at a depth that does not exceed 36 inches deep in most cases.

These roots grow horizontally and remain narrow even as the tree grows taller.  The narrow roots extend out and spread in the soil instead of growing downward. They remain thin even as they grow longer forming a root ball under the soil cover, with some remaining exposed above the ground.

Some roots die off while more roots regrow to help the plant feed and anchor itself firmly in the ground.

The length of the roots never increases to match the height of the tree. For example, a tree can be over 50 feet tall with roots way shorter than that. However, the palm tree root system is adapted in such a way that roots branch out in a bid to maximize water and nutrient absorption.

How Deep Are Palm Tree Roots?

Palm tree roots grow with a horizontal growth pattern up to a palm tree roots depth of 36 inches at the topsoil area.  The roots stay narrow and uphold a shallow depth all their life.

How Do Palm Tree Roots Grow

The queen palm has roots that grow up to about 24 inches deep.  Even if the tree is big, its roots spread wider, not deeper. If you are growing a queen palm in your yard, water it at a wider diameter every year to ensure all the horizontal roots get access to water and nutrients.

Functions Of Palm Tree Roots

  • Palm Trees have long fronds, and trunks; their roots have a major role in keeping the other parts well-fed and moist. Here are some of the important functions of palm tree roots.
  • Roots stabilize and anchor the long trunk of palm trees.
  • They absorb moisture from the soil around them and keep the tree well hydrated.
  • The leaves absorb dissolved minerals in the form of manganese, magnesium, and iron that are necessary to prevent yellowing in the fronds.
  • They absorb water and nutrients and send them up to the trunk and the fronds keeping them fresh and green.
  • The fibrous roots bind up the sandy soil around them by holding the soil particles together with the roots.

Find more about Do Palm Trees Produce Oxygen – The Amazing World Of Palm Trees!

How Do Palm Tree Roots Grow?

Palm trees at a fast rate of about 3-10 inches every year if the growing conditions are favorable. However, the roots do not grow as deep as one would expect for a tree reaching heights of about 100 feet.

Its roots grow in the top 36 inches of topsoil.  Here it is easy to access nutrients and water easily. The roots form a root ball from thin strands of roots that grow at the base.  They also spread horizontally to tap the most nutrients from its surrounding. Some roots remain exposed and visible above the ground.

How Deep Are Palm Tree Roots

Interesting facts about how the roots of a palm tree grow:

Roots Grow Horizontally

Instead of these roots growing straight down as most plants do, they grow horizontally and spread within the topsoil region.  They grow up to 12-36 inches deep and spread away from the trunk of the tree. They do this as an adaptation that helps them absorb water and nutrients from around

The hotter the area, the more the roots spread horizontally trying to reach water and nutrients to keep the plant growing.

Planting palm tree requires you to space them adequately at least 11 to 12 feet apart.  This will provide them with enough space for their roots to develop.

The Root Ball

The palm tree roots form a root ball that helps keep the large tree firm in the soil.

The root ball size does not equal the size of the tree.  For example, a palm tree of about 16 ft. can have a root ball of about 24 inches in diameter.

These trees develop a root ball when they are young that helps them anchor the tree firmly in the ground.  When planting a palm tree, it is advisable to dig a hole twice the size of the root ball to give it room for growth.  This reduces the risk of the palm tree toppling over in strong winds or storms.

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Roots Exposed Above Ground

The palm tree has roots that grow on top of the surface.  The area at the base of the trunk has actively growing cells and roots that are exposed above the ground.

These roots are known as adventitious roots and appear to be dry. The exposed roots are inactive or dead, but the plant continues to feed through the roots underground.

When transplanting a palm tree, ensure you dig a deep enough hole so that the root zone is at least 2-3 inches under the soil surface.

Removing Palm Tree Roots

If you notice that the roots of your palm trees are invasive and pose a risk to structures nearby, removal may be necessary.

Uproot the tree stump and roots carefully not to damage the system around it like drainage trenches, building foundations, or sprinkler systems in your lawn.

Dig around the trunk with a shovel and remove about 20-25 inches of soil that surrounds the tree. This gives you access to the roots.  Cut them off with an axe and dig up any big roots that remain.

The roots of the palm tree grow back.  To stop this, apply a herbicide that is strong enough to kill the roots of palm trees and prevent them from growing again.

Apply a herbicide like a roundup or any other glyphosate alternative herbicide that is strong enough to kill these roots.

How Do You Dig Out Palm Tree Roots?

Generally, just dig down, and when you find the roots chop through them with a machete or if you can find one, a better panga machete.

How Much Does it Cost to Remove a Palm Tree Stump?

This will depend on the type of palm tree and the size of the stump. I have removed palm tree stumps that were really easy to remove. Small pams with narrow diameter trunks such as Bottle palms (Hyphorbe lagenicaulis) are really easy to remove. You just dig a trench about two and a half feet from the base of the palm and dig this trench right around the stump. Once you have done this, you can tie a strong tow strap around the tree stump and bump it out of the ground using a pickup truck with a tow hitch.

If you cannot get a vehicle in situ to pull the stump you can use three poles tied together over the stump and use a small block and tackle such as this one. I have an almost identical but much older version of this little block and tackle and it is just a useful thing to have around. You will pay a company more to come and dig the stump out than the block and tackle will cost, and, over the years you will find other uses for the block and tackle too. 

So, if you do it yourself, it will either be the cost of a tow rope, or the cost of a block and tackle – so work on somewhere between 20 dollars plus your time for option one and 140 dollars or so for option two.

If you are trying to remove big palm stumps such as that of a Canary Palm (Phoenix canariensis) you will need to do a lot more work. These palms can have stems that are a few feet across, and it is a lot of work to dig one of these out. My brother and I once helped my parents remove two of these that died and it was a solid week’s work to dig one palm out. We left the second stump for a few months and watered it every few days and put compost over it.

The stump composted into the best compost I have ever seen – and this was very easy to dig out and spread around the garden as mulch and took very little time to complete the task. Hence my advice on a big palm stump is to cover it in compost, water it weekly and allow it to rot, and then harvest the beautiful compost! You will get a few hundred dollars worth of the best compost you can imagine!

What Type of Root Does a Coconut Tree Have?

Coconut palms have fibrous roots. They are non-intrusive roots and you can plant these trees close to your house if you have some sort of roof that will not mind being hit by coconuts. Thatch rooves and coconut palms go together well. Tile rooves and coconut palms are not a good match, as the coconuts will make holes in your roof.

The roots are quite thin in general, and anchor the palm into the ground firmly.

Can You Trim Palm Tree Roots?

You can trim the roots – naturally use common sense – if you trim an entire circle of roots right around your palm you will either cause it to fall over or starve of nutrients.

Are Sago Palm Tree Roots Invasive?

Sago palm roots can extend over a great distance but they are not invasive in the sense of damaging the foundations of buildings. I have seen them creep into old clay sewer pipes because they do seek out water. In general, they are not a particularly problematic plant in terms of the roots being invasive – but the roots do spread far away from the plant.

Are Areca Palm Roots Invasive?

Areca palms have a dense fibrous root system. The roots are not invasive per se – they will not damage the foundations of buildings. The roots, however, tend to seek out water and will try to ingress into old clay sewer pipes. Modern sewer pipes should be fine. 

The roots will form a dense mat and can make it difficult to dig in flower beds near the palms.

Do Robellini Palms Have Deep Roots?

Robellini palms, or Pygmy date palms (Phoenix roebelenii) are relatively small palm trees and have fibrous roots as is the case with all palm trees. Generally, it is reported that these palm’s roots will not penetrate more than 3-4 feet into the ground. I think in many cases, you will find that there will be some roots that will go a bit deeper, but the main root ball will be this size.

I have excavated a very similar Pheonix reclinata, and it had a root ball that was about 5 feet deep, and there were clearly a few roots that had gone deeper. Given that both palms occupy basically the same ecological niche in two different regions, it is reasonable to assume that the Robellini palm probably has a few roots that would go about 6-8 feet into the soil in search of water, but the majority will cluster closer to the surface as is the case with palms in general.

How Deep Do Palm Tree Roots Go Conclusion

The palm tree roots do not grow too deep in the soil; this makes it easy to remove them when you want.

Not all varieties of palm tree roots grow back after cutting. The clustering palms are the ones that grow back from the trunk.  For most of the other types, cutting the trunk alone will mean the tree dies.

Unlike the trunks, the roots of palm trees usually regrow.  You may have noticed that cutting a section of the roots when transplanting did not stop the tree from growing.

Now that you know something about the roots of a palm tree, go ahead, grow your own, and will enjoy its flora and fauna.


Are palm tree roots a problem?

Many people think that palm tree roots are a huge problem in Florida, especially in the state parks. I have always believed that the problems caused by palm tree roots are greatly exaggerated, and that it's not really that big of a deal.

Do palm tree have big roots?

The answer is yes. A palm tree has a deep root system that can grow as deep as 100 feet. If the roots of the palm tree are damaged, then the tree will die and may need to be replaced. When you have a palm tree in your yard, you need to look at the roots and ensure that they are healthy.

If you see any cracks in the roots, you should address them immediately. In addition, you need to take the time to water your palm tree on a regular basis. Your palm tree should get at least one watering a week, but it may need to get more. The reason for this is that the palm tree has a thick layer of leaves that can prevent water from getting to the roots.

How do you take care of palm trees?

If you want to get your palm tree to grow, make sure that you keep it well-watered. If you don’t do this, your palm tree will wither and die. You also need to take care of the soil around your palm tree. You should use a good-quality soil when you plant your palm tree. It needs to have good drainage so that it does not become waterlogged.

ou can make sure that your palm tree is growing properly by checking if it has been fertilized. You should plant your palm tree in a sunny location. If you place your palm tree in a shady area, it is very likely that it will be damaged or killed. If you want your palm tree to grow well, you should plant it in a sunny location.

Do palm trees require a lot of water?

In order for your palm tree to survive, you should water it every week. Your palm tree can get water from the ground. However, it is best to use a drip irrigation system. When it comes to watering your palm tree, do not let it over-watered. If you have a palm tree that is dying, you should dig it up and repot it.

Where is the best place to plant a palm tree?

They are very easy to care for, and they grow well in most areas of the country. If you are planning on having a backyard pool, then I would recommend a dwarf variety of the Phoenix palm (Phoenix canariensis) because they do not require as much water as other varieties.

Palm trees are a beautiful addition to your garden. They are also quite popular in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

There are different types of palms which can be planted in your garden. One of the most popular is the Areca Palm.

It has a very thick trunk and it is commonly used for decoration purposes. The Areca Palm has a very distinct shape and is known for its distinctive fruit. It is also an ideal palm for a container plant because of its long life span and great resistance to diseases.

It will grow in any soil condition, but is best when it gets plenty of sun. The leaves of this palm are dark green in color with a distinctive yellow hue. These leaves are pinnate in structure. Its trunk is wide, and the shape of its frond is oval. This palm does not require much maintenance. If you want to keep it healthy, prune back its branches in spring and fall. If you don’t do this, the crown of the palm will become too heavy and it may break.

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