Pygmy date palm, the botanical name Phoenix roebelenii, is a small to medium-sized palm originating from the Yunnan Region of Chine, Laos, and Vietnam. It is a slow-growing palm that reaches a height of 6-20 feet when grown outdoors with a canopy that spreads about 10 feet wide. But indoors, these palms don’t usually grow beyond 6 or 7 feet, earning themselves the name Dwarf Date Palm. These palms are perfect for growing in containers and make excellent patio plants. They are also widely cultivated as landscape accents.
They have attractive pinnately-arranged leaves that can grow quite large given the proper care. The trunk is usually single-stemmed, but clustered trunks can sometimes develop. The flowers typically bloom in thick, drooping clusters in spring. After ripening, they produce edible dates (these are date palms, after all!), but these fruits are much thinner than standard dates. Note that fruits are only produced on female varieties of this tree.
- Pygmy Date Palm Main Characteristics
- Pygmy Date Palm Care
- Propagating Pygmy Date Palm
- Potting and Repotting Pygmy Date Palm
- Common Pests
- Common Problems
- Pygmy Date Palm Care and Growing Guide (VIDEO)
Pygmy Date Palm Main Characteristics
|Dwarf Date Palm, Miniature Date Palm, Pygmy Date Palm, Robellini Palm
|Deciduous Palm Tree
|China, Laos, Northern Vietnam
|USDA Hardiness Zones
|10 to 11
|Height: 6-12 feet; Spread: 5-10 feet
|Full sun to part shade
Pygmy Date Palm Care
Depending on if you’re growing your Phoenix roebelenii outdoors or indoors, the type of care you need to provide this palm will differ. If you’re unsure where you want to keep this plant, know that it is much easier to care for it in a container plant. Here’s how you go about it.
Light and Location
Roebelenii palm is different indoors and outdoors. Outdoors, the amount of light it needs depends on the region’s climate. As a rule of thumb, the colder the temperature is, the more light it will need. In contrast, when grown outdoors, pygmy date palm requires plenty of sunlight; in fact, it will not grow well if it does not receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
When grown indoors, it needs a large pot to accommodate its root system and regular watering. Water it only when the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch during the growing season. Lessen the frequency of watering sessions in the winter. Overwatering is a primary concern, so ensure proper drainage at all stages of growth.
Pygmy Date Palm likes to grow in the warmth of the tropics and sub-tropics, but it can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. It just needs different types of care for different climates. You can confidently grow your palm outdoors in a garden in warmer regions. But in colder areas, it’s better to pot your dwarf palm in a container, so you have the option of moving it indoors in winter. Alternatively, you can grow it as a houseplant in any climate; just keep it away from cold drafts.
Phoenix roebelenii likes warm, humid environments. But once established, it is somewhat drought-tolerant. Just don’t let it become exposed to cold drafts, and you should be fine.
When it comes to fertilizing your Roebelenii Palm, you will want to use a high in potassium and nitrogen fertilizer. This will help encourage healthy growth and ensure that your plant produces plenty of dates. You can use a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10, but you may need to adjust the dosage depending on the condition of your plant. Fertilize your palm tree once every month during the growing season, typically from spring until fall.
Propagating Pygmy Date Palm
Pygmy date palm propagation is relatively easy, as the seeds germinate quickly and the plants are relatively hardy. It would be best if you planted seeds in moist, well-drained soil. Full sun is necessary for good growth, but give the plant partial shade to full sun initially to slowly acclimate it to brighter light. Fertilizer is not needed right at the beginning, but regular watering is important. Roebelenii palms can also be propagated by planting suckers that grow from the base of the plant, but these suckers are only produced by female palms and, even then, rarely.
Potting and Repotting Pygmy Date Palm
When potting a Roebelenii Palm, using a pot with a drainage hole is essential. The pot should also be large enough so that the tree will not outgrow it in a few years. As a good rule of thumb, use a pot that is at least 2-3 times the size of the root ball. This plant has high soil tolerance, so you don’t need to worry too much about specific potting mixes. Ensure that the soil drains well, isn’t too acidic or alkaline, and you should be fine.
Hold off on repotting until the roots are spilling out from the pot. These plants like to be rootbound, so don’t be hasty if you feel the plant can remain in the same pot for a bit longer. When repotting, be sure to use a well-drained potting mix. Pygmy Date Palms do not like soggy compost, so ensure the potting mix is sandy or gritty to ensure fast drainage. Finally, fertilize your palm every month in the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.
The Phoenix roebelenii is considered to be non-toxic. In fact, it even has air purifying properties, according to NASA Clean Air Study. Just be careful of the sharp spikes on the trunk.
The Pygmy Date Palm is prone to spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. This is a hardy plant that can withstand a moderate amount of pests. However, that doesn’t mean you can let these pesky interlopers do as they please. Use standard pesticides or horticultural oils to deal with the problem.
Are leaves not dark green?
Check your feeding schedule if the leaves are washed out, pale green. The palm is in dire need of more fertilizer. See the fertilization section for more details.
Are leaf tips going brown?
Low moisture can cause this deformity. Increase the humidity around the plant and water it more. You might also want to check for cold drafts; if your palm is near a door or window, move it away from them.
Brown spots on leaves?
Brown spots can occur for two reasons: Overwatering or cold drafts. If your plant is getting too much water, start by giving it less and less and don’t let it sit in soggy soil. Also, check if your plant is exposed to chill breezes, especially at night. Move it somewhere else if that’s the case.
Are leaves going brown?
If only the lower leaves turn brown and the problem isn’t widespread, it’s just the leaves getting old; perfectly natural. However, if younger leaves are also being affected, you might have a case of root rot on your hands (overwatering causes this!). Remove any affected roots and replant.
Pygmy Date Palm Care and Growing Guide (VIDEO)
How to care for Pygmy Date Palm?
Roebelenii palm is a hardy plant that’s easy to care for. Make sure the soil is well-drained and fertilized regularly. Give it bright light and shield it from the hot afternoon sun. Although drought-tolerant, try to keep the plant in warm, humid environments and move it indoors in the winter. Spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects can be a problem, but you can control them.
How often to water Pygmy Date Palm?
Watering frequency will depend on the climate, soil type, and pot size. In general, though, you should water the plant moderately when the top inch of soil is dry. During the winter months, water only every other week.
How tall does Pygmy Date Palm grow?
Given the right conditions, these plants can reach up to 12 to 20 feet tall outdoors. Indoors they don’t usually go higher than 7 feet. Making them highly suited as indoor houseplants.