A tropical look is a much-desired theme for interiors and exteriors. A simple way to achieve the look is by planting palm trees in your garden.

Palm trees come in various shapes, colours and sizes. Beyond the iconic image of a tree with coconuts, one can find shrubs, woody vines, and trees. With over 2,500 species, palm trees do offer a lot of choice when it comes to picking a few for your outdoors (and indoor spaces). Palm trees stand out for their fronds, which mostly are shaped either like a feather (pinnate) or the palmate, often described as a fan because of its width.

Growing a palm tree

You can only grow a palm tree with a seed. Fresh seeds help the palm grow quickly. You can check the condition of the seed before planting by placing it in warm water. If it floats, it lacks some of the nutrients needed to flourish. Plant the seeds in pot plants. The palm tree will only need a little soil. In tropical islands, these plants grow quickly due to the hot climate.

Palm trees will begin to grow about 70 days after planting the seed; with some species, this can be up to six months. Check with your local plant store when purchasing the seed, so you can understand the expectations and whether your palm tree is on the path to growth.

All palm trees, bar those from arid regions enjoy lots of sunlight and humidity. In the beginning, the plant will need regular servings of water. Add fertiliser once the plant starts to grow with a few leaves.

Signs of an unhealthy palm tree

The first indication would be the colour of the leaves. If the leaves start to brown, this could be a sign of lack of care. During winter, especially in bad weather, you should wrap the trunk with a blanket or plastic sheet. While most palms are wind resistant, they do need protection from cold weather.

Growing a palm tree indoors in Australia

Palm trees can be grown indoors in Australia. Artificial palms are also available for the indoor environment. Living palm trees, however, need some access to sunlight and should be ideally placed near a window that gets indirect light. Watering requirement will depend on the particular species. Some of the common indoor species available include the parlour palm, fan palm, sentry palm, butterfly palm and the yucca palm.

Unlike outdoor palm trees, indoor palms will need to be pruned. When the leaves start to change colour, you can prune them back to keep them looking green and luscious in your indoor tropical oasis.

Low maintenance palm trees

Living palm trees will require attention, love and care. The level of care will depend on the species. For instance, some varieties need a lot of sunlight, while the indoor types can survive with indirect sunlight. These palms may not survive if the room doesn’t have a window or much brightness. Indoor or outdoor, palm trees need water. Though palms are known to be hardy in other climates, in Australia they tend to require water to survive local weather patterns.

But if you are looking for a low maintenance palm tree, go with artificial palm trees. Made from strong plastic or other materials, artificial palm trees look quite lifelike and are perfect for brightening up the space or being an important element in your personal tropical oasis. Recommended for offices as well as living spaces in the home, artificial palms require little to no maintenance except for an occasional dusting.

Designing with palm trees

Palm trees are often best delivered with a nautical design theme. Outdoors, you can commonly find them near pools or on the deck. Palms can be placed anywhere in an interior environment from living room corners and near windows to a table in the bedroom. For the nautical theme, add some watercolours, beach decor and pineapple lights to your interiors to complete the tropical island look.