How long palms can go without water | Indoor + Outdoor watering guide

Indoor palms can survive for 3-4 weeks without water while outdoor palms may survive for 3 months without you watering them yourself. Rainfall can be enough to keep outdoor palms growing if you live in a tropical region but if you live in a dryer temperate climate they may need watering every 2 weeks over summer.

This article will explore how long indoor and outdoor palms can go without water, how to keep them alive without water for longer and how to deep water palms.

How long indoor palms can go without water

Indoor palms can grow well on their own without water for up to 4 weeks. During cooler weather indoor palms including parlor palms can survive well without being watered.

Take the indoor palm out of the outer pot and water it deeply in a sink or outdoors. Thoroughly wet all areas of the soil surface and let it run through the drainage holes. Let it drain for 10 minutes and then you can move it back onto a pot tray or inside an indoor pot without drainage holes.

Indoor palms are easy to overwater so you will need to check the soil before adding more. Move the soil back in a small area and it if is dry 1 inch down, water the palm. In the heat of summer if your palm is near a window you may need to water more often.

I find that most palms will grow better when they are moved out of the direct sun in summer. The heat from a glass window can radiate a large amount of heat and even cause the palm to burn. Move the palm away from warm windows in summer and you can keep the watering to around once every 2 weeks.

How long can outdoor palms go without water

Outdoor palms will need to be watered if they are not getting enough from the rain. If you are experiencing a dry summer, you can water your palms once every 2 weeks to keep them happy. Water at the base of the plant around the root zone rather than on the leaves.

Avoiding watering palms on the leaves will reduce the risk of fungus growing and causing problems.

Outdoor established palms can survive almost all winter without water if you are getting regular rainfall. As long as you are getting rain once per month they will usually be fine on their own.

How to keep palms alive for longer without water

There are some tips that you can use to keep your palm alive with less water. Saving water is a great idea so try out these 4 easy tips to grow palms without adding more water.

1. Bark mulch

Bark mulch is my favorite to surround the palm tree base. This works well for kentia palms, golden cane palms and parlor palms. Bark mulch will break down slowly and will need to be topped up after around 6 months. Layer it around the base of the plant 2 inches thick and do your best to keep it away from the stem.

Bark mulch will help to reduce the weed growth around your palm which can compete for water. The bark mulch will also help to reduce the evaporation of the water from the soil. Bark mulch will also absorb extra rainfall and will slowly release it to the palm gradually. By adding bark mulch around your palm you will need to water less often over all seasons.

2. Seaweed solution

Seaweed solution given to your palm over spring will help it to last longer without water. Seaweed helps to strengthen the root system and feed soil bacteria which will break down organic matter and release nutrients to the palm. A strong root system and healthy stems help to make the palm more drought hardy and last longer without water.

3. Organic fertilizer

Adding organic fertilizer is a great way to feed your palm, soil and help it to keep moist for longer. Organic fertilizer will increase the water holding capacity of the soil and keep the palm growing well without extra water.

Add aged cow manure, pelleted chicken manure or fish emulsion to your palm tree. Organic fertilizers will release nutrients gently to your palm and improve the soil at the same time.

4. Improved soil

Planting palms in the best soil will help them to survive longer without extra water. Plant palms in soil that has been improved with compost, worm castings and aged cow manure. Mix through the soil and this will be perfect for planting a new palm.

It is best to improve all soil before planting palms. Sandy soil will drain too rapidly and clay soil will stay wet for too long. Organic material is best for both soil types so mix it through before planting a new palm.

When repotting palms choose a premium soil mix which will hold water for longer. Some soils will also contain a wetting agent which helps the soil to stay moist for longer and means you will need to water your palm less often.

New palm fronds will appear in spring.

How to deep water palms to keep them alive

Deep watering palms is the best way to water them particularly throughout summer. Deep watering less often will encourage the palms to send down deeper roots to help to stabilize them and reach deeper ground water. This keeps them alive for longer during hot weather.

Use your garden hose to water completely around the base and keep the water on the palm for around 5 minutes. Make sure the whole area around the base of the palm is damp including the mulch. The mulch will absorb some of the water and release it down to the palm roots.

How long palms can go without water | Summary

Most palm trees can last for 4 weeks outdoor or indoors without water. Outdoor palms can survive in most tropical and sub-tropical areas without additional water once they have grown beyond 6 feet. Young palms will need regular water until their established by usually only every 3-4 weeks in mild weather.

During the heat of summer you can give your palms extra water if there is no rain and you can keep them growing rapidly with new fronds replacing old.

Palms are generally low maintenance and often suffer most if they are overwatered rather than overwatered.  

For more on this, check out my previous article: Overwatered Palm Trees | 8 Signs and Easy Solutions

Happy growing.