- Needle Palm Information: How To Care For Needle Palm Trees
- Needle Palm Information
- Growing Needle Palm Plants
- Care for Needle Palm Trees
- HOOKED ON PALMS
- Needle Palm Care
- Needle Palm
- Planting and Care
- Palm Tree Types and Pictures Home
- Palm Tree Information
- Appearance of the Tree
- Palm Tree Types
- The Many Looks of the Palm Tree
- Where the Palm Grows
- Popular Uses
- Interesting Facts
- Palm Diseases
- Palm Care
- Exotic Appeal of Palm Trees
Needle Palm Information: How To Care For Needle Palm Trees
Growing needle palms is one of the easiest tasks for any gardener. This cold hardy palm plant from the southeast is highly adaptable to varying soils and sunlight amounts. It grows slowly but will reliably fill up those blank spaces in your garden and provide a green backdrop for flowers. Needle palm tree care is as simple as finding a good place for it and watching it grow.
Needle Palm Information
The needle palm, Rhapidophyllum hystrix, is a perennial shrub native to the southeastern U.S. Although it is native to this warmer region, the needle palm plant is actually very cold hardy and gardeners further north prize it for giving their beds and yards a more tropical look. It puts out multiple stems, with sharp needles that give the plant its name, and slowly grows into a large clump that may
be approximately 6 feet (1.8 m.) across and high.
The leaves of the needle palm are glossy and green and the plant produces red drupes and tiny flowers that may be white, yellow or brownish-purple. Naturally, the needle palm grows on shaded and wooded slopes or along streams. Many gardeners like to plant it under trees, especially live oaks.
Growing Needle Palm Plants
Growing needle palms is actually very easy. Because it is cold hardy, adaptable to different conditions, tolerant of drought, and happy in either shade or full sun, the needle palm is a versatile shrub that can be grown by gardeners of all ability levels.
One of the most important considerations is choosing an area of your yard or garden that will give the needle palm adequate space to grow and spread. It grows slowly, but will fill up a space of at least 6 by 6 feet (1.8 by 1.8 m.). You can grow it in shade or sun, under trees, and even next to pools. Just avoid narrow walkways where people could be pricked by the needles. The needle palm prefers moist, well-drained soil, but will adapt to nearly any soil type.
Care for Needle Palm Trees
Once you have it in the ground, needle palm tree care is mostly hands off. You should water it regularly until the plant is established, but then it can adapt to dry conditions or a lot of rain.
Needle palm plants are slow growing, so although it isn’t necessary, you can use fertilizer twice a year to speed the growth. Use palm fertilizer that has extra magnesium and apply it in spring and late summer.
HOOKED ON PALMS
Needle Palm is a bush type palm, the sole member of the genus Rhapidophyllum. Sometimes called hedgehog palm, blue palmetto. It is the most cold-hardy palm in the world.
The scientific name Rhapidophyllum means “needle-leaf”, while hystrix is from the scientific name of a genus of porcupines. The English name likewise refers to the 4 to 8 inch long needle-like spines produced at the petiole bases; for similar reasons, it is also occasionally called “porcupine palm”.
The Needle Palm assumes a shrub like clumping form with several stems growing from a single base, the stems growing very slowly and tightly together, eventually forming a dense base 3 to 4 feet The whole plant can reach 4 to 8 feet tall to the top of the erect central leaves. It is a fan palm (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), the leaves with a long petiole terminating in a rounded fan of 8 to16 leaflets; each leaf is up to 2 m long, with the leaflets up to 60–80 cm long.
The Needle Palm is very popular among palm enthusiasts in temperate climates for its extraordinary ability to tolerate cold. Reports have claimed survival of temperatures as low as -20 degrees F, although more realistic estimates are approximately 5 degrees F to minus – 5 degrees F. Younger or potted plants are less hardy and may need protection on colder nights. Needle Palms prefer hot, humid summer temperatures to thrive.
To plant and grow them in the Pacific NW you will need to mix top soil (potting soil) 50 / 50 with a sand & small gravel mix Have the root ball raised about 1/4 out of the hole but mounded up with the soil mixture. Try not to get the trunk wet when watering. I recommend using a water meter the first year. They usually only need to be watered in the summer months and then only when young or after transplanting.
(may need some protection on colder winter days)
Needle Palm Care
Needle palm trees are one of the few tropical plants that are proven to be cold hardy trees. One needs to follow proper care to ensure the plant has a good chance to withstand the cold winds.
One of the most cold hardy trees in US is the Rhapidophyllum hystrix. In simple words, I am talking about the needle palm tree. It can tolerate temperatures as low as -5°F. Not only can it survive subzero temperatures, but is also a low maintenance plant. This highly adaptable plant is also drought resistant. Thus, it is a favorite plant for gardeners and is suitable as an ornamental plant for offices and homes. It does not matter which zone you live in, you can add a tropical look to your surroundings with these trees. However, these plants are a bit rare as their growth rate is extremely slow. This makes them hard to find. If you own a needle palm or planning to bring home one, it is important you read a bit about its care. This will help your plant flourish and live a long life.
The needle palm tree is a beautiful tree, native to southeastern United States. It can grow about 7 to 10 feet tall and does not have a trunk as such. Instead it has stems that grow tightly together from a single base. It is covered in sharp, brown or black needles along its trunk. It can be propagated using seeds as well as division of clumps. The leaves are palmate or fan shaped. They are deep green in color and about 2 feet long and 4 feet wide. In spring, the plant produces yellow to brownish flowers that grow in clusters. It is a dioecious tree, where the male and female flowers grow on separate plants. Thus, it becomes very difficult to propagate the plant sexually. Until and unless you have both the male and female plants growing close together, sexual propagation is not possible. The fruits formed are fuzzy, reddish brown in color which are about an inch in size and grow close to the petiole.
How to Care
Would you like to write for us? Well, we’re looking for good writers who want to spread the word. Get in touch with us and we’ll talk…
Let’s Work Together!
Caring for the plant begins the minute you bring one home. When planting the tree, make sure you dig the hole wide and deep. The hole should be dug near a partially shaded area or an area that receives full sunlight. The soil should be moist and well drained. Add organic compost to the hole before planting the sapling. Now, place the tree into the hole. Spread the roots around, so that they have room to spread and grow. The best time to plant needle palms is in spring or summer. Add a little soil to the hole, then pat it down well. Pour a bit of water, then add another layer of soil. Pat it down and pour water. Continue adding soil and water, till you fill the hole to ground level. Now, add a bit of palm tree fertilizer and mulch straw or hay around the base of the plant. You need to add water every day for the first 3 months. Then, water once a week during the first year of the tree in your garden. Although the plant is drought resistant, it requires water to establish itself the first year. During winter, you should wrap the trunk with a burlap wrap and mulch the base about 2 to 4 inches. This will protect the tree from cold and help it in extreme temperatures. When the temperatures turn warm, you can remove the burlap wrap.
As you can see, this low maintenance tree does not require much care. Just a little bit of your attention will keep it happy and growing. As it is a slow growing plant, you will find that it grows just a few feet each year. Add a streak of tropic to your garden, by planting this somewhat hard to find, needle palm tree.
Like it? Share it!
Needle palm is a native plant that can work well in home landscapes throughout Florida. Its lustrous, evergreen leaves make it a great accent plant and help it add good textural interest beneath new or established trees.
Needle palm is a slow-growing, shrubby palm that will eventually grow into a clump that is eight feet tall and eight feet wide. Its common name comes from the sharp, black needles found along its trunk.
The palm is especially prized among cold-climate gardeners who want a tropical look, since it can tolerate temperatures several degrees below 0°F. Unprotected specimens are known to grow as far north as Washington D.C. and New York City.
Known scientifically as Rhapidophyllum hystrix, needle palm is native to coastal areas of the Southeast from South Carolina to Florida and Mississippi.
Planting and Care
Choose an area that will allow the palm room to grow and that will be far enough from walkways and children’s play areas so that the sharp needles will not become a nuisance.
Needle palm is a versatile plant that will grow in both sunny and shady locations, though it will perform best if given some shade. It can tolerate a range of soils from wet to dry.
The best time to transplant most palms is in spring or summer, when soil temperatures are warmer. Be sure to plant the palm no deeper than it was originally growing, or else it may be slow to produce new growth.
Needle palm will benefit from regular waterings at first, but will be very drought tolerant once established. After establishment, a palm-specific fertilizer containing additional magnesium and a micronutrient amendment can be applied at twice a year to encourage faster growth.
The plant is endangered in the wild, so take care to buy only from reputable dealers who raise the plants in a nursery setting.
For more information on needle palm, contact your county Extension office.
- Florida Plant ID: Rhapidophyllum hystrix (Needle Palm)
- Needle Palm, Rhapidophyllum hystrix — UF/IFAS Extension Nassau County
- Needle Palm, Rhapidophyllum hystrix — Gulf Coast Research and Education Center Plant City Teaching Garden (PDF)
Palm Tree Types and Pictures Home
True Date Palms
The “edible” or Date Palm Tree makes for spectacular landscaping large areas. The True Date reaches heights of 100′.
Canary Island Date Palms
Canary Island Dates are massive, tough and durable. It has a leaf scar pattern on the trunk which adds to the impressive look.
Texas Sabal Palms
(Sabal texana, mexicana)
Use the Texas Sabal in formal groupings, as a lawn tree, in large-scale plantings and as that special accent tree.
Mediterranean Fan Palms
Also called the European Fan Palm this versatile, cold hardy and beautiful. With the fan leaves trimmed up to clear the trunk it makes a beautiful specimen Palm – a delightful natural sculpture to grace your patio or entryway.
California Fan Palms
The largest native palm of the continental United States as well as the only western species, it is also known as “Desert-palm”
Windmill Palm Tree
Windmill Fan Palms are one of the hardiest in cultivation. They have a distinct look with the trunk covered by dark brown fibers.
Pindo Palm Tree
The Pindo is the hardiest Feather leaf palm in wide cultivation. The species are extremely variable in nature with differences in height, leaf colors and trunk thickness.
Sago Palm are actually Cycads or plants. It is not a true Palm but commonly associated as one.
Mexican Fan Palm
Mexican Fan Palm is very drought and salt tolerant once established. Adapted to a wide range of soil types, and climates.
Queen Palm Tree
Tall and graceful with leafy fronds, this palm gives landscapes a tropical look. Very showy, especially when clumped.
Beautiful compact, very hardy, and can be grown as far north as USDA zone 6. Probably the hardiest palm species in the world
Saw Palmetto Palm
Very old Saw Palmetto can grow trunks above the ground several feet tall capped by a rosette of exotic fans of palm leaves.
Palm Tree Information
We hope you find the information and pictures of the Palm species useful. Tropical plant and Palm hobbyists are growing Palms in marginal climates now. You can just look at all the Palm Tree Discussion Boards across the country and many focus on the Northern US.
Please contact us regarding any recommendations/suggestions about the site.
Palm trees are among the most exotic and recognizable foliage on the planet. While they may be known as the “Princes of the Vegetable Kingdom,” most people associate Palms with the sun, sand and surf. Fortunately, you are not relegated to decorating your home with the blow-up versions. With a little know-how you too can transform your backyard into a luxurious Palm tree-lined oasis.
Appearance of the Tree
The Palm’s distinctive fronds and fruit make the tree stand out among its peers. However, despite its highly distinguishable appearance, there are nearly 3,000 different species of Palm trees throughout the world. Each type features a few similar characteristics, including:
- Leaves: The leaves of the Palm are very large and are known as fronds. They are divided into two major groups: fan-shaped and feather-shaped. The former, also known as palmate, are characterized by large segments that spread out like fingers on a human hand. Meanwhile, the feather-shaped or pinnate variety, are characterized by leaves that sprout out along each side of a central axis and look like unruly tufts of hair.
- Trunk: Most Palms feature tall, cylindrical trunks that look very similar to a columns or pillars. In some types, the trunk includes hooked prickles, while others boast smooth trunks with very few markings.
- Flowers: Palm tree flowers are small and insignificant. They range in color from yellowish-green to light green and typically feature six stamens, though some Palm tree types have blossoms with twice as many of the stick-like offshoots.
- Fruit: Palm fruits vary in size, color and character; however, the most recognizable is the coconut. The hard, brown fruit has a brown shell and an edible white interior. Other Palms produce a berry-like fruit with a fleshy rind that covers a hard kernel.
Palm Tree Types
Palm trees are often associated with fun in the sun and other memorable moments spent in tropical locales. Not surprisingly, many homeowners enthusiastically plant Palms near their patios and pools to recreate those fond memories. However, before you start adding Palms to your property, it’s a good idea to select a type that will prosper in your particular neck of the woods.
Some of the most popular types of Palm trees include:
- Coconut Palm: Known for its versatile fruit, this Palm will keep producing coconuts until it reaches its 80th growing season. Another distinguishable trait is its massive height. Coconut Palms can grow up to 100 feet tall and feature a canopy of fronds that spread nearly 30 feet wide.
- Needle Palm: This pokey Palm is native to the southeastern region of the United States. Its needle-like spines are similar to those found on a porcupine. Another notable characteristic is its small size. The needle Palm’s height doesn’t exceed 10 feet.
- Foxtail Palm: The bulk of the foxtail population is centralized in Australia where it is known for its large leaves and small orange-red fruit. The tree grows to about 35 feet and thrives in direct sunlight.
- Bismarck Palm: The stunning Bismarck captivates with its massive canopy. Native to Madagascar, the Palm got its name from the first chancellor of the German empire, Otto von Bismarck. The tree reaches a maximum height of 60 feet and is very hard to kill because it is tolerant of both extreme heat and cold.
- Royal Palm: This majestic Palm soars nearly 80 feet into the air and sports a light grey, smooth trunk that is swollen at the base. Its bright green fronds decorate the top of the tree where white flowers blossom seasonally. The royal Palm needs direct sunlight and warm temperatures to prosper.
The Many Looks of the Palm Tree
Where the Palm Grows
Of the nearly 3,000 species of Palm trees growing around the world, more than half thrive in tropical regions, including the southern portions of the following countries:
- South Korea
- North America
- South America
- New Zealand
In the United States, Palm trees are abundant in:
- South Carolina
Fans of “Gilligan’s Island” know how versatile the Palm can be. Nearly every inch of the tree can be used to make essential materials, such as:
- Shoe polish
- Surfboard wax
- Dental floss
- Rattan furniture
- Oil for beauty products and cooking
- Building material
In addition to coconuts, heart of Palm is another edible product of the tree that can be added to salads or stir-fry. Palm oil can also be extracted from the tree and used for industrial purposes.
Palm trees have long secured their place in history, having been mentioned multiple times in both the Bible and the Koran. In the Christian faith, Jesus was greeted by a path of fronds as he entered Jerusalem on what is now known as Palm Sunday. In that instance, the Palm symbolized victory.
Other interesting facts associated with the Palm tree include:
- The trunks of Palm trees do not get thicker as they age; rather, they simply grow taller.
Some Palms have trunks that are as skinny as pencils.
- Fossil Palm trees date back 100 million years to the Jurassic Era.
- Muslims regard the Date Palm as the “tree of life,” since it can be traced back more than 5,000 years.
Palms are among the hardiest trees on the planet; however, they are susceptible to a few lethal diseases, such as:
- Bud Rot: The disease is caused by a fungus which attacks the fronds of a Palm.
- Fusarium Wilt: This is another Palm tree fungus which wilts fronds and causes them to lose their green color. Unfortunately, once a tree is infected with this disease, there is no way to cure it.
- Lethal Yellowing: This disease robs Palms of essential nutrients and can spread rapidly from tree to tree.
In addition to the above diseases, Palm trees are a magnet for Palm aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, Palm weevils and caterpillars, which can cause irreparable harm if not addressed.
Most Palm trees are very easy to grow, but they are equally easy to kill if you don’t care for them properly. If you are planning to grow Palms, it’s a good idea to keep the following growing tips in mind:
- Pruning: Do not over prune a Palm tree. The sturdy tree needs nutrients from older fronds to prosper.
- Watering: Palm trees thrive in well-drained soil and should be watered on a regular basis. However, you don’t want to over water your tree. If you notice the Palm fronds turning yellow or brown, then your tree is getting too much water.
- Fertilizing: Do not add fertilizer to the soil when planting a new Palm, as it can damage the tree’s roots and burn its trunk. Newly-planted Palms do not need fertilizer for the first three to four months.
- Environment: Planting a Palm in extremely cold temperatures will be a death sentence for the tree. Tropical Palm trees need warm and humid weather to survive.
Exotic Appeal of Palm Trees
The ancient palm tree has a mystique and exotic appeal to any landscape. It is a highly prized and valuable tree for its aesthetic appeal and practical uses.