- The Pygmy Date Palm, Phoenix roebelenii – the Dwarf Date Palm By Phil Bergman, Jungle Music
- NATURAL HABITAT AND HISTORY
- APPEARANCE AND MORPHOLOGY OF THE PYGMY DATE PALM
- HOW TO GROW PYGMY DATE PALMS
- COLD TOLERANCE OF PYGMY DATE PALMS
- HYBRIDS WITH THE PYGMY DATE PALM AND SINGLE AND MULTIPLE TRUNK FORMS
- PECULIAR FORMS OF PHOENIX ROEBELENII
- PRUNING OF THE PYGMY DATE PALM
- PESTS ON PYGMY DATE PALMS
- SUMMARY COMMENTS ON THE PYGMY DATE PALM
- I was in a hurry to plant my new pygmy date palms
- Were my dwarf date palms dying?
- What did I do wrong with my dwarf date palm trees?
- 1. I did not amend the soil
- — Amend your soil
- — Feed your pygmy date palms
- — Garden soil is essential for potted pygmy date palms
- 2. I watered the dwarf date palm trees too much
- — Water deeply when top two-to-four inches of soil is dry
- Update — three weeks after planting and amending soil
- Did I make other mistakes with my pygmy date palms?
- Pygmy Date Palm in a Nutshell
- Environmental Preferences
- Landscape Use
- Growing in Containers and Indoors
- Care and Maintenance
- A Picture Perfect Palm
- How to Transplant a Palm Tree
- Pygmy Date Palm
- Phoenix roebelenii
The Pygmy Date Palm,
Phoenix roebelenii – the Dwarf
Phil Bergman, Jungle Music
Phoenix roebelenii – the Dwarf
Phil Bergman, Jungle Music
NATURAL HABITAT AND HISTORY
Phoenix palms can be found native to many areas of the world. Phoenix roebelenii, however, has its origins in Asia, specifically in Southern China. Laos and Vietnam. Perhaps its exact origin is in Laos. In these localities, the Pygmy dates grows in more humid areas and is often seen along river beds. In habitat, this species is often a suckering species with thinner trunks and sparse crowns. It was named after a 19th century botanist from plants collected in Laos. Fifty years ago it was thought that this species never got above six feet. I suspect this was because specimens in domestic gardens at that time had not had the time to get larger. Presently specimens can be found that are ten feet or taller.
Older Phoenix roebelenii,
Older Pygmy Date double in a domestic
APPEARANCE AND MORPHOLOGY OF THE PYGMY DATE PALM
When old and mature, specimen Pygmy Date Palms are typically between six to ten feet in overall height. Pictures here show single trunk specimens, either as a single plant or a grouping of multiple plants. As mentioned above, several plants are often put into the same container to give the appearance that this dwarf date palm actually suckers. As mentioned above, this confuses people because in habitat it is often seen suckering. But, somewhere along its development as a commercial palm, this species has lost the ability to sucker. Seeds collected from wild habitats often do sucker, especially with seeds from Laos. Domestic seeds typically don’t sucker. But, the average plant you see in a nursery is a single trunk palm, often planted as a “multiple”.
Well grown single trunk
Triple Pygmy Date in a front
Another triple Phoenix
The trunks are quite thin, averaging three to six inches in diameter. They are typically thick with fibers right below the crown of leaves. With age and when old leaf base debris is removed, the trunks take on a bit of a “knobby” appearance with remnants of old proximal leaf bases. The trunks can be straight or somewhat curved. If planted at an angle, plants will eventually go upwards toward the sun. This gives them a curve in the stem. The upper trunk below the crown shows lots of retained leaf bases. It’s further down the trunk that the knobby appearance is seen when cleaned.
The leaves of the Dwarf Date Palm are typically three to five feet long on specimens. The leaflet color is typically glossy green, silver-green, or darker green when grown in filtered light. The crown is often described as “delicate”, “soft”, or “lush”. The overall crown is rounded with as many as thirty to fifty leaves. The leaf stems (petioles) are armed near their base with sharp spines that can be as long as three inches. Protective eyewear should be used when pruning or cleaning this species.
Triple Pygmy Dates near entry sidewalk
Single Dwarf Date Palm near entry sidewalk
Being a dioeciously palm, any given Pygmy Palm is either a male or female. This means, that to set pure viable seeds, one must have both sexes in proximity. Insects will typically transfer male pollen to the female. If no male is around, hybrid seeds are often produced from pollen of other nearby Phoenix species. Flowers with seeds hang below the crown and can have several hundred seeds per blossom stem. Seeds change from green to black when mature and are typically one half inch or smaller in size.
HOW TO GROW PYGMY DATE PALMS
Phoenix roebelenii are fairly easy to grow. They survive well in tropical and temperate regions. In coastal areas with good humidity, this species prefers full sun. Further inland and in desert areas, they do best in filtered light or partial sun. Plants along the coast that are in dense shade tend to be lanky and perform poorly. They can even die in full shade. Therefore, it’s best to give them some exposure to sunlight. They like rich, good draining soil. Clay can be tolerated if not overwatered. Average watering schedule is three times a week although specimens can tolerate a bit of drought. With ample water, Pygmy Date Palms have a more lush, tropical appearance.
The Pygmy Date can be planted as a single stem specimen, and as a single will show more rapid growth than groupings of multiple plants. In other words, a single stem plant will put on height more quickly if there is less adjacent competition for nutrition. Most commonly, when purchased, the Pygmy Dates are in groups of three. They can show stair stepping in size, although this is not always seen. This means that one plant is tallest, one shortest, and one in the middle. The picture below shows three fairly matched plants.
Pygmy Date large triple (nursery)
Pygmy Date large single (nursery)
As this species is grown in huge numbers commercially, most plants sold at depot type stores are imported from more tropical regions where production is quicker. One might find locally grown specimens (from your locality) to be more vigorous after planting. Imported plants might also need acclimation to your sunlight. I have noted that plants brought in from tropical areas often have very thin trunks whereas plants grown locally here in Southern California have fatter, more robust trunks.
Growth rates of Pygmy Date Palms are slow to medium in speed. A small specimen of two feet height can obtain a height of six or more feet in five to seven years. Germination of seeds typically takes three to six months and gives a single blade of grass type seedling. Seedlings should be grown in filtered light until they are vigorous one gallon plants.
COLD TOLERANCE OF PYGMY DATE PALMS
There are many factors which affect cold tolerance of the Pygmy Date, but in general it is felt that this species tolerates temperatures down to the mid-twenties F or perhaps a bit lower. Temperatures in the teens will kill Pygmy Dates. If one lives in a colder climate, the Pygmy Date Palm is far from the most cold hardy Phoenix. In such a situation one should consider species such as Phoenix canariensis, Phoenix dactylifera, Phoenix theophrastii or almost any other species. These alternative species, however, don’t have that miniature size and charm of the Pygmy Date. On can cold protect this species to some degree by wrapping the crown with protective cloth or by other techniques. It is surprising that large chain stores continue to sell Dwarf Date Palms in localities where most likely they will die.
HYBRIDS WITH THE PYGMY DATE PALM AND SINGLE AND MULTIPLE TRUNK FORMS
As previously mentioned, the Pygmy Date Palm like all Phoenix species has a high tendency to hybridize with other species among the genus. Thus, one gets all sorts of offspring variations. Some feel this might even be one of the mechanisms whereby the Pygmy Date became a single trunk plant. Regarding hybrids, I have seen crosses between the Phoenix roebelenii and the huge Canary Island Palm. The offspring are a suckering plant with huge trunks as you would expect. Some feel that the common Pygmy Date propagated in Florida tends to have a more coarse and larger leaf than other “more pure” strains. This might represent hybridization. The bottom line is: if you collect seeds off your Pygmy Date Palm and didn’t control pollination, you’ll probably end up with a hybrid.
As mentioned above, in the wild the Pygmy Date is often seen as a suckering species. The photograph below shows a true suckering habit from seed collected in the wild in Laos. Not that the “sucker” is coming directly off the parent trunk.
Compare the growth habit above to two single trunk Pygmy Date young plants that were grown, side by side, in one pot (below). Both appear similar, but careful examination shows that the two trunks below are not attached but rather just side by side. The plant above is a naturally suckering plant from Laos. Below are separate, individually planted plants. Below is what you see in most nurseries, although the number of plants per pot does vary.
In summary,99.5% of Pygmy Dates grown in the U.S. are single trunk yet sometimes planted as “multiples”. Yet, in the wild in Asia, they are quite often suckering plants. And, if you get seeds from your female Pygmy Date and didn’t control pollination, the chances are you will get a hybrid and it may sucker. But, it won’t appear quite like plants from the wild.
PECULIAR FORMS OF PHOENIX ROEBELENII
When one grows palms for quite a while, one sees unusual things. There are forms of a plant called “crested” (or showing fasciation) which have, for some unknown reason, the appearance of multiple growth points at the top of the stem. There is another thing called “monstrose” where a single trunk plant begins to fork and divide for no apparent reason. Sometimes a crested form can change into the montrose form. Pygmy Date Palms have shown both of these peculiar variations. Interestingly enough, when a plant develops one of these “abnormalities”, it actually becomes more valuable to some collectors. This is because it is rare. The pictures below show what appears to be a crested Pygmy Date Palm. This is seen with four plants in a single front yard. There is only speculation as to what caused this. Some feel it could be genetic, others say it’s environmental. Environmental factors might include chemicals, infections, disease, etc. Pauleen Sullivan in Ventura, CA tells a story about how her husband grew several hundred Pygmy Dates and about ten to twenty years later these palms all began branching at the same time and at various locations. This would suggest something genetic as they were all sold and went to various areas of Southern California. I mention this abnormality because you may see them as you look around at palms.
Group of four Pygmy Dates with
A closer view of two plants
Close-up of one of the trees above. Note
|A good illustration of the montrose Pygmy Date|
DIGGING AND TRANSPLANTING THE PYGMY DATE PALM
Even though many large Phoenix specimens are successfully dug and replanted elsewhere, digging and moving a Pygmy Date Palm is many times difficult. This is probably the result of the viewpoint that they are small and therefore a man or two can dig them up and move them. Statistically, most dug Pygmy Dates don’t make it. This could be a combination of the species dislike for being transplanted and too small of a root ball. If you have a good sized Pygmy and want to move it, get a root ball that is enormous; one that takes three or four men to lift and move. Otherwise, you probably will be wasting your time. A crane transferred root ball would be preferred for all but the smallest of plants. If a dug Pygmy Date Palm is having difficulty, you will first see trouble with the newest leaves or speared. After digging, a Pygmy Date’s shock is evident by the dug plants failure to open up new leaves. Such a plant can show four to five new spears, none of which has opened. Leaves may appear limp and hang downwards. Or, they may show decline with a brown or dead color. The plant below shows limp, drooping leaves probably the result of a transplant.
Decline of a transplanted
Pygmy Date Palm
PRUNING OF THE PYGMY DATE PALM
Basically, pruning a Phoenix roebelenii is similar to pruning other types of palm trees with the exception that protective eyewear should be used on any palm with spines. And, the Pygmy Date Palm definitely has some nasty spines. They are not huge but can hurt you or injure your eye if you are not protected. When removing leaves, start at the bottom of the crown of leaves and remove the lowest leaves that have turned brown and are ugly. Removing green leaves results in loss of chlorophyll or plant energy. Remove one leaf at a time and work your way up to healthy looking leaves and stop there. Be careful when putting leaves in the trash as the spines have a way of whipping around and hitting you.
You can also tidy up the trunk of the Dwarf Date Palm. This is referred to above. One can remove the old leaf debris and fibers down to the actual woody trunk. This will result in the “knobs” of the trunk being visible. Such a pruned trunk is quite appealing and interesting. Similar but larger appearances are seen on other species such as the True Date Palm, Phoenix dactylifera. Also, when one cleans the trunk up to the top where the most recently removed leaves are more adherent, one can make a “pineapple” just like they do with the Canary Island Date Palm.
If no pruning is done whatsoever, old leaves will hang down near the trunk and, over time, the plant will become very unsightly and more prone to disease. Fusarium infections, which afflict the Phoenix canariensis would be most rare with the Pygmy Date Palm. In any case, cleaning of pruning equipment prior to trimming the tree might be in order.
Single trunk Pygmy Date Palm
A close-up of the “pineapple”
The “knobby” trunk of a
Pygmy Date cleaned to show
PESTS ON PYGMY DATE PALMS
Phoenix roebelenii are usually considered a near pest free species. However, insect pests can infect them. Most common would be some form of scale. This is a small, dome shaped insect that is quite easy to recognize. These pests suck nutrition from the plant. Other pests to watch for would include mealy bug and aphids. Crawling large insects such as weevils and grasshoppers have been known to feed on the Pygmy Date Palms. All of these insects can be controlled with insecticides or beneficial predator insects/animals. Sometimes bad looking leaves are secondary to nutritional deficiencies. If you see no insects and yellow spots on the leaves, try giving some fertilizer or microelements.
SUMMARY COMMENTS ON THE PYGMY DATE PALM
The Pygmy Date Palm or Dwarf Date Palm, Latin name Phoenix roebelenii, is a very popular single trunk palm that is most often sold as multiple plants in the same pot. However, in the wild, it often suckers naturally. It is also called the Dwarf Date Palm and often (misspelled) as the roebelenii palm. This is a somewhat small palm, usually not getting over ten feet in overall height. The leaves are glossy green and leaf stems are armed with spines. Protective eye ware should be used when pruning. Growth is fairly easy. This species prefers full sun unless one is in a harsh desert environment where filtered light might be optimal. Average water is needed. Like other types of Phoenix, the Pygmy Date Palm will hybridize with other species giving a whole array of different appearing offspring. Male and female plants are needed to set fertile seeds. Typically plants are fairly pest free and pruning can accentuate the “knobby trunk” or be pruned to show a miniature “pineapple” below the leaves. Like all palms, the Pygmy Date Palm needs fertilizer and microelements or leaves may begin to look bad.
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These are my observations about mistakes I made when I planted my pygmy date palm trees. Included are the ways I corrected my mistakes. I will keep you updated on how my new pygmy date palm trees are doing.
I was in a hurry to plant my new pygmy date palms
Only one month ago, I separated and planted four small pygmy date palms (Phoenix roebelenii). Because my four pygmy date palms were growing closely together in one pot, they had become root-bound.
Before I planted, I pruned and unwrapped the roots. Then I separated the trunks from each other. After planting each one, I watered them thoroughly.
They looked so tropical, green, and beautiful. After a couple weeks, though, some of the older, lower branches had turned brown. To make things worse, the new growth in the center of my two smallest pygmy date palms was turning brown.
They had looked so good when I planted them, but now they looked so barren and dry. Were they dying?
The outer, older leaves turned brown,
but the center growth was still green
photo by Doug Martin
Were my dwarf date palms dying?
After the fourth week, the two smallest trees were completely dried out and brown. However, my two larger dwarf date palms looked straggly, but the new growth in the center was still green. I believe those two trees will make it.
I was disappointed that two out of my four dwarf date palm trees had died in only 30 days. The techniques I used were exactly the same that I successfully used with my other southwestern-style plants.
In fact, only a few months ago, I had separated and planted four, tightly-packed soaptree yuccas. They have all rooted well, and even the smallest soaptree yucca is showing new green growth — even in the middle of winter.
What did I do wrong with my dwarf date palm trees?
I went into the Lowe’s garden center, and sought help from one of the associates. After I explained what had happened to my dwarf date palm trees, she gave me a few ideas.
1. I did not amend the soil
Ever since I have lived in the southwestern United States, I have never amended the soil when I added new plants in my landscape. However, in the areas around established plants, I have amended the soil with coffee grounds.
But, when I planted my new dwarf date palm trees, I just dug a hole into the caliche, clay-based dirt, and planted them. In most cases, I have had great success with unamended soil. But, the Lowe’s associate told me I’d get much better results with the dwarf date palm if I did amend the soil.
— Amend your soil
She added that even the more drought-tolerant palm trees, like a young Canary Island date palm, will get off to a better start with its soil amended. In either case, the Lowe’s associate recommended that I mix the amended garden soil half-and-half with the natural soil in my landscape.
To amend my soil, she recommended the Miracle Gro garden soil for cactus, palms, and citrus plants. Lowe’s also carries a generic version with a lower overall cost, but the per-unit cost of the Miracle Gro was less expensive. So, I went with the Miracle Gro.
I mixed the Miracle Gro garden soil
about half-and-half with my natural dirt
Please note that I am not receiving incentives from Lowe’s or Miracle Gro, but I am an affiliate marketer with Amazon and Walmart. When mentioning product names, my only intention is to accurately represent my experiences.
— Feed your pygmy date palms
On the bag, the manufacturer claims that their garden soil for cactus, palms, and citrus plants contains “iron and bone meal”. Those ingredients stimulate strong root growth and will feed your new plant for up to three months.
The garden soil was a rich dark brown color. My impression was that this garden soil will work well my dwarf date palms. However, the garden soil retains water, which I think would be bad for a cactus plant. The soil retention will be great for the palms, because the dwarf date palm does not like its soil to be completely dried out.
In addition, this garden soil will protect against over-watering. I don’t know how over-watering protection works, but if it does, that is another good thing. Here in the southwest United States, it is so easy to kill a drought-tolerant plant by giving it too much water. I’ve done it!
For the pygmy date palms I planted first,
I carefully amended with garden soil around plant
— Garden soil is essential for potted pygmy date palms
This inexpensive Miracle Gro garden soil would also be good if you are keeping your dwarf date palm in the house. Whenever I have potted plants in the house, I always forget to water them. At least this garden soil will retain moisture for a longer period of time.
In addition, I plant to use my leftover garden soil to plant cactus seeds inside my house. When cacti have just sprouted, they benefit from a richer soil. At least that has been my experience in the past. After the young cacti have grown, they would benefit by being transplanted to a pot with sandier, better-draining soil.
2. I watered the dwarf date palm trees too much
You know, I figured that since the dwarf date palm trees originate from tropical southeastern Asia, they would appreciate lots of water. I think I was wrong. Besides not amending my soil, my second biggest mistake was watering my dwarf date palms too much.
— Water deeply when top two-to-four inches of soil is dry
The associate in the garden center at Lowe’s recommended I wait until the top two-to-four inches of the soil is dry before watering again. Then, I should water deeply so all the roots benefit from the moisture.
Periodic deep soakings would also unlock the vital nutrients in the garden soil. The roots then absorb the iron and bone meal. My hope is that with my new amended soil, I will soon see healthy green new growth shooting up from the center of my newly fortified pygmy date palms.
I just planted my two new pygmy date palm trees yesterday. When I checked the top soil this morning, it was still moist. Right now, it looks like watering my young palm trees twice a week will work best. After a year or two, when my pygmy date palms have grown a large network of roots, I might water once a week.
Since I live in the metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, area, the hot summer days might cause a problem. I hope they survive the full sun and 120-degree Fahrenheit heat. The first summer for my pygmy date palms might be hard.
I know that my first few summers in southern Arizona were difficult. If I had not hydrated myself with water, I would have wilted, too.
I repaired my mistakes —
now my pygmy date palms should survive
Update — three weeks after planting and amending soil
— Amending my soil with garden soil made a big difference. So far, all the new pygmy date palms are green. They even have new, green growth in the center of the plant.
I think they’re all going to make it, thanks to the soil amendment. Plus, the near-dead palm seems to be hanging on. It still has green fronds, and the center growth is still green. I should know in another few weeks if it will survive.
— So far, I had to water my pygmy date palms every day. I know the sales associates at Lowe’s told me I should be able to cut back to twice a week. Yet, when I test the soil with my finger, the top few inches feel dry after only 24 hours. Maybe I’ll have to water these every day for longer than I thought.
Did I make other mistakes with my pygmy date palms?
I don’t think I made any other mistakes. My first mistake was not amending my caliche soil. My second big mistake was giving my new palm trees too much water.
Even though I separated the roots of my pygmy date palms and planted them as separate trees, I don’t think that was a mistake. In fact, I believe that giving my young palm trees a little extra space now will help them stay healthier as they develop and thrive.
— Don’t disturb roots or separate trees
However, the garden associate at Lowe’s disagrees with my view. She told me that disturbing the roots and separating the trees before planting was also a mistake. Instead, she advised that I buy a larger, single pygmy date palm and plant them close to each other to get the oasis effect I wanted.
She claimed that disturbing and cutting the roots of the pygmy date palm might reduce their early survival rate. Because I am always skeptical of up-selling, where an employee tries to get you to spend more money, I doubted her claims.
In hindsight, I think she may have been correct. For best results and to be sure your pygmy date palm survives the first few months of transplanting, do not separate the trees and do not disturb the roots.
— Potted pygmy date palms look beautiful and tropical
However, my neighbor planted three beautiful pygmy date palms in a pot (see photos), along with a few smaller annual flowers. They look beautiful, and did not suffer any die-back when she planted them.
While her pygmy date palms were also planted close to each other by the grower, they weren’t rubbing up against each other. Since the individual trees aren’t touching each other, they look happier and more natural.
Her pot was wide, maybe about 24″ wide. That gave her room for her smaller annual flowers. The depth seemed shallow to me — only about 12″ deep. The whole grouping of palms and annuals looks beautiful, but I thought they would have required a deeper pot for palm roots. We’ll see how they do throughout the year.
Mistakes I made when I planted my pygmy date palm trees
My two big mistakes in my latest garden venture was not amending the soil and watering too much. Now that I’ve fixed those errors, I believe my pygmy date palm trees will thrive. I’ll let you know if I run into other problems.
Another mistake that really hurt my first planting was separating the trees and disturbing the roots. A better choice for me would have been to buy single date palm trees and just plant them close together. That way, I could have enjoyed the oasis look without disturbing the roots.
Have you grown pygmy date palms? Please share your experiences in the comments section below. Thank you!
By Doug Martin, Opportunity Muse.
Pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) is a dwarf palm for subtropical landscapes, but is small enough to grow in a pot and bring indoors for winter in colder climates. Its soft leaf texture and idyllic form have made it one of the most popular palm varieties.
Pygmy Date Palm in a Nutshell
Though they can reach 25 feet in an ideal tropical environment, pygmy date palms are more often seen in the 10 to 12 foot range, or less if they are grown in a pot.
The six to eight foot canopy is composed of long feathery fronds comprised by numerous narrow leaflets that give the tree a soft appearance overall. That being said, the leaflets do terminate in sharp spines, but the trees lack the stout look of palms that have stiff fronds, thorns or not.
The slender trunk has decorative protuberances along its entire length from where fronds were once attached, but have fallen off as the tree grows. The tree naturally has just one trunk, though it is commonly planted in tight clumps which creates the look of a multi-trunked palm as they grow, often resulting in picturesque curved trunks.
Fruit and Flowers
While pygmy date palm is closely related to the larger edible date palm, this species is not really grown for its fruit – it’s more like a pit surrounded by a thin edible skin, rather than something that could be harvested and enjoyed. Because of their slow growth rate, it may be five years or more after planting until the palms flower and fruit.
The flowers are long clusters of cream-colored blooms that emerge from the center of the canopy each spring, followed by reddish fruit that turns dark as it ripens in summer.
|Fruit (c) Mmcknight4||Flowers (c) mgonline.com|
Pygmy date palms tolerate light frosts, but a hard freeze will kill the tree. They enjoy full sun, but also grow well in partial shade or filtered light. Regular moisture is needed though it is important that the soil be well-drained. Otherwise, they are not particular about soil type. The palms are hardy in USDA zones 10-11.
Pygmy date palms are a quintessential ‘dooryard’ palm, a traditional use of a palm or other small tree as a focal point in the front of or next to the front door. They are just the right size, have a trim and tidy growth habit, and an inviting appearance. They can be used this way when planted in the ground or in a pot.
Its small stature also makes it useful as a patio tree or as an accent for beds of perennials. Plant pygmy date palm with lush, brightly-colored, tropical-looking plants for the best effect, such as canna lilies and begonias.
Growing in Containers and Indoors
This palm is not a good candidate for growing year-round indoors, but keeping it inside for a few months in winter is a realistic option, as long as there is a space available for it with bright natural light throughout the day.
A 25-gallon size container or larger will be necessary to accommodate a mature pygmy date palm, which could be expected to reach six or eight feet in height when grown in a pot. Since they are slow growers, it’s fine to start out with a 15-gallon pot, which will accommodate the tree for several years. Use a standard soilless potting mix and abstain from fertilizing when the tree is indoors.
Care and Maintenance
Pygmy date palms need regular water and fertilizer. The soil should be kept moist at all times, making it a good idea to maintain a thick layer of mulch over the root zone. Use a fertilizer prepared specifically for palms and apply it according to the rates and frequency indicated on the package. Otherwise, the only real maintenance is to trim off the lower fronds periodically as they begin to droop and turn brown.
The most common problem with pygmy date palms is potassium deficiency. This causes the tips of the fronds to turn yellow, then brown, which can progress to consume entire fronds, causing them to fall off and leave the canopy looking sparse. Fortunately, treatment is usually very simple, as the deficiency is invariably caused by using the wrong type of fertilizer or not fertilizing at all. Palm fertilizers are typically designated as 8-2-12 or 8-0-12, which means they contain 12 percent potassium that is essential for pygmy date palms. Most other fertilizers have a lower ratio of potassium content and are not suitable.
Ganoderma butt rot is the most common disease affecting pygmy date palms, which slowly causes the lower portion of the trunk to rot. There is no cure for it, but care should taken when disposing of plants infected with this disease, as it is highly contagious and affects and large number of palm species.
A Picture Perfect Palm
Pygmy date palms capture the essence of palm trees and offer it in a small, manageable form. If you live in Florida or southern California, you can grow it in the ground; otherwise it will survive happily for years in a pot as long as it is brought indoors for winter.
How to Transplant a Palm Tree
Palm trees create a distinctive outline on the horizon, creating a tropical vibe while adding appeal to the space. Whether you’ve picked up a palm tree from a nearby nursery or are moving it from one location to another, it’s important to pay attention to the details when settling it into its new home. While transplanting a palm tree is not difficult, you must take precaution not to damage the plant. Before you bring a new tree to your yard, pick out a spot that receives full sun and has well-draining soil. With the right location picked out, follow these steps to transplant your palm tree.
Step 1 – Dig the Hole
Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball of the palm. Make sure it is deep enough to partially cover the roots. The aeration in the soil will keep the palm happy and help prevent transplant shock.
Step 2 – Prepare the Transplant
If you are digging up the plant that you are transplanting, start by creating a circle around where the main root supply is. Tenderly dig the root ball out of the ground. When pulling the plant out, try not to damage the roots. Wet the burlap cloth and wrap the root system while you finish preparing the new hole.
Step 3 – Lift the Palm Tree
Lift the tree from the base of the roots with support up to the top of the tree. Take care not to damage the bud of the tree as this is where new growth comes in.
If you are using machinery, still lift from the bottom and allow for support at the top. Keep the tree in an upright position throughout the move.
Step 4 – Place in Shallow Hole
When you transplant, make sure that you do not plant the palm too deep. The top of the root system should be above the top of the soil. Fill the hole with a good quality compost mixed with added fertilizer and some sand for drainage.
Step 5 – Water
Give the new transplant lots of water, and let the water compact the dirt down into the hole. Add more dirt, and let that settle in as well. Keep the soil moist, but do not overwater.
Check the water level weekly to make sure that the soil is not too wet. Too much moisture will cause root rot that can decay the root system and lead to the tree falling over or dying.
Step 6 – Mulch
Add about three inches of mulch around the base of the tree but not touching the trunk. The mulch will break down over time and act as a fertilizer as well as keep the exposed roots healthy and safe until they establish themselves.
Transplanting palm trees is similar to moving other plants. Growing palm trees after they have been transplanted takes just a little extra care to prevent transplant shock. The soil preparation and the new location for the tree are very important. Be sure to take all of this into consideration before you start a transplant project.
Pygmy Date Palm
When it comes to filling up those tight spaces in your landscape or even that empty space between your bigger palms, an ideal palm for use in Southern California is the Phoenix roebelenii, also known as the Pygmy Date Palm.
At Moon Valley Nursery, we have custom grown all of our Pygmy Date Palms from our best specimens at our farms ranging from Southern California the Arizona desert. Our climate and special Super Palm Juice fertilizer generates thicker trunks, fuller crowns, and more robust roots for the Pygmy Date Palm. This separates our Pygmy Date Palms from other you’ll see at other nurseries. Our look better than the average Pygmy Date Palm, perform better, thrive in hot full sun, and are more cold hardy than typical Pygmy Date Palms.
Pygmy Date Palms can be used in many landscape applications. Depending on your need, we carry both single and multi-trunk varieties. Its versatility and dwarf growth pattern allow it to be planted in tight spaces around pools, patios, courtyards, and pots. The Pygmy Date Palm can also be grown in shade and its roots and non-invasive. This allows it to be a fantastic option for planting under larger palms, in between palms, or in a cluster.
Hailing from Southeast Asia, Pygmy Date Palms are one of the cleanest palm varieties. They require minimal maintenance and only needs to be pruned when the soft looking foliage turns brown. They require minimal water and it is a slow growing palm. It is adaptable to a wide range of soil.