What to Plant Around a Palm Tree (7 Plants to Try!)

July 16, 2023

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what to plant around a palm tree

Palm trees make a dramatic statement in any landscape with their distinctive tropical flair. But the space around the trunk of a palm often looks sparse or unfinished. 

What to plant around a palm tree to jazz things up? The right plantings around your palm can make the area lush and inviting.

Here are 7 attractive options for landscaping around palm trees that we know you'll love!

The best options for what to plant around a palm tree include crotons, bromeliads, ferns, heliconias, caladiums, elephant ears, and tropical anthuriums. 

1. Crotons - A Palm Tree's BFF

Crotons are brilliantly colorful shrubs that add stunning foliage around a palm trunk. There are around 300 croton species to choose from. Are you aware that crotons feature oval-shaped leaves in multiple colors like red, yellow, orange, pink, copper, and green? The vibrant leaf colors make crotons ideal accent plants to contrast with the green fronds of a palm. 

Grow crotons in zones 10-11. Plant them 2-3 feet away from the palm trunk to allow both plants space. For further beauty and essence, you can add painted rocks or beach glass to the social around the plants. Talk about a real head-turner of a landscape!

2. Bromeliads Make Excellent Playmates for Palms

Bromeliads are tropical perennials that have a similar look to palm trees. Their long, stiff, and often colorful leaves provide great texture contrast to the wide fronds of a palm. Many bromeliads also produce exotic-looking flowers. Use bromeliads with red, pink, purple, or striped foliage to add eye-catching color around your palm. Plant bromeliads 1-2 feet away from the palm trunk. 

Do you know that bromeliads offer many benefits as landscape plants? Their exotic, tropical appearance provides unique visual interest with stiff, often colorful leaves that stand out around palms and other trees. Bromeliads are epiphytic, meaning they grow on other plants and structures without harming them. 

That makes bromeliads a great option for accenting the trunks of palm trees. Many bromeliad varieties also produce striking flowers in shades of red, orange, pink, and purple that last for long periods. The colorful bracts provide ongoing pops of color. Bromeliads are low maintenance, adapted to heat, and drought tolerant once established. 

Their tolerance for a range of light conditions allows flexibility in landscape design. They can be used as groundcovers or clustered onto trees and structures. With minimal care, bromeliads offer durable tropical flair.

3. Do You Like Ferns? Your Palm Tree Does!

For a lush, tropical feel around your palm tree, fill in the area with ferns. Ferns do very well in the shade cast by palms, and their delicate fronds complement the palm's leaves. They give the illusion of little palm trees planted around your large palm. It looks quite whimsical!

Choose ferns like holly, maidenhair, or bird's nest. Plant several ferns around the base of the palm clustered quite close to the trunk. The hardy, full leaves will make the palm's trunk disappear into a tropical, enchanted garden.

4. What to Plant Around a Palm Tree? Heliconias Sound Nice!

Also called lobster claw flowers, heliconias feature vibrant, colorful bracts that resemble petals or feathers. These tropical flowers come in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, and more, creating a splash of color around a palm trunk. Plant heliconias 1-3 feet from palms to allow both plants to flourish. Choose compact heliconia varieties like the 1-foot 'Golden Torch' if you have limited space. 

When not in bloom, the stiff, oblong leaves provide great texture contrast to plants with softer foliage. Heliconias thrive in tropical climates, tolerating heat, humidity, and partial shade. Once established, they are relatively low maintenance. 

Their adaptability allows heliconias to be grown as accent plants, hedges, or colorful backdrops. Few plants can rival the exotic, tropical flair of heliconias. Their vibrant flowers and foliage create a bold, lush look around palms and other tropical trees. Heliconias lend year-round interest for brightening up shady garden beds.

tree planting caladiums

5. Caladiums Hug Your Palm Tree in Color

Have you ever wondered, "How do I make my palm tree happy?" Caladiums are the answer. For stunningly colorful foliage, plant caladiums around your palm tree's base. The leaves come in an array of dazzling combinations like pink and green, white and red, and more. 

Caladiums only grow 1-2 feet tall, so they won't compete with the height of a palm. Plant caladium tubers 6-12 inches from the palm trunk once the soil has warmed in spring. Dig tubers in the fall and store them over winter.

6. Add Elephant Ears Around the Trunk of Your Palm

For tropical drama around a palm, go big with elephant ears. Elephant ear plants (Colocasia species) have enormous heart-shaped leaves that can grow up to 5 feet long. Their gigantic foliage makes a bold statement and provides the look of a lush rainforest around your palm trunk. Plant elephant ears 2-3 feet from the palm so they have plenty of space. Choose smaller elephant ear varieties like 'Black Magic' or 'Black Runner' for tighter spaces. 

The aptly named elephant ear plant provides a huge tropical impact on landscapes. The pronounced veins and green-to-black foliage add striking textural contrast when paired with plants like palms or ferns. Elephant ears thrive in heat and humidity, provided their soil stays moist. 

Once established, they require little care and reliably return year after year. Plant elephant ears close to water features for maximum tropical effect. Use smaller varieties like 'Black Magic' in more compact spaces. For an exotic, tropical look in gardens and pools, elephant ears are hard to beat. Their gigantic foliage makes a dramatic statement unmatched by other plants.

7. What Goes Great With a Palm Tree? Tropical Anthuriums

Anthurium's shiny, heart-shaped leaves and unique flower spathes add a distinctly tropical look around palms. Combine anthurium's glossy leaves with the feathery fronds of a palm for textural and color contrast. Grow anthuriums in bright shade, planting them 18-24 inches away from palm trunks. 

Surprisingly, anthurium flowers last for weeks, providing ongoing pops of color among the greenery. Imagine having a garden party where your palm tree and anthuriums are the stars of the show. That can absolutely be a reality of the splendor the tree and plants create.

tree planting

Final Thoughts

With the right plantings, you can turn the area around your palm tree into a lush tropical oasis. Look for plants with colorful or dramatic foliage that complement the palm's long leaves. Arrange shorter plants near the base of the trunk, and give plants adequate space to grow. Soon your palm's surroundings will be as stunning as the beautiful tree itself.

About Attleboro Tree Removal Services

As a fully licensed and insured business, you can count on nothing but stellar service from Attleboro Tree Removal. The company and crew have decades of hands-on experience working with all species of trees and shrubs. Are you dealing with a fallen tree and don't know what to do? Please call (508) 392-5454 for immediate assistance.

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