Bismarck Palm Care: Learn About Growing Bismarck Palms

Large Bismarck Palms
bismarck palm
(Image credit: glasslanguage)

It’s no wonder the scientific name of the exceptional Bismarck palm is Bismarckia nobilis. It’s one of the most elegant, massive, and desirable fan palms you can plant. With a stout trunk and symmetrical crown, it makes a great focal point in your backyard.

Planting Bismarck Palm Trees

Bismarck palms are huge, gracious trees native to the island of Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa. If you are planting Bismarck palm trees, be sure that you reserve enough space. Each tree can grow to 60 feet (18 m.) high with a spread of 16 feet (5 m.). In fact, everything about this attractive tree is oversized. The silvery-green copal mate leaves can grow to 4 feet (1 m.) wide, and it isn’t unusual to see trunks as thick as 18 inches (46 cm.) in diameter. Experts do not recommend growing Bismarck palms in a small backyard since they tend to dominate the space. Growing Bismarck palms is easiest in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11, since the species can be damaged by freezing temperatures. Bismarck palm care is not difficult or time-consuming once the tree is established in an appropriate location.

Growing Bismarck Palms

Plant this stunning palm in full sun if you can, but you can succeed at growing Bismarck palms in partial sun too. Select a wind-protected area, if possible, since these trees can be injured in windstorms. Soil type is not critical, and you’ll do fine planting Bismarck palm trees in either sand or loam. Keep an eye out for soil deficiencies. When you are trying to care for a Bismarck palm tree, you will have problems if your soil lacks potassium, magnesium, or boron. If a soil test reveals a deficiency, correct it by using a controlled-release granular fertilizer of 8-2-12 plus micronutrients.

Bismarck Palm Care

Aside from mineral deficiencies, you won’t have much to worry about to care for a Bismarck palm tree. Irrigation is important when the palm is young, but established palms are drought tolerant. They also resist disease and pests. You can prune this palm during every season. However, only remove leaves that are completely dead. Cutting partially dead leaves attracts pests and depletes a palm’s potassium supply.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.