Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Minature (pygmy) Date Palm ( Phoenix roebelenii )




12/3/08 We now have 3 distinct stalks and the palm is about 6' tall.

12/3/08 We now have 3 distinct stalks and the palm is about 6

This palm will grow up to 10′ and is a slow grower ( ~6″/year ) making it a great potted plant as well. By late summer 2008 it had reached 5′ tall. By late summer 2009 it was about 6′ tall.

It will grow as far north as zone 9 and there are stories of it surviving at occasional temperatures into the mid to low 20s once it has been established. But it must be covered with a sheet or some plastic to provide frost protection.

During the winter of 2007-2008 it lost a few leaves after the ice storm. During the cold winter of 2009-2010 I lost it. All the pygmy date palms are reduced to trunks after that winter. As of June I’ve only seen one in the neighborhood even begin to show life again.

Flowers are tiny and cream colored followed by the dates. The dates, while not poison, are not especially eatable either.

They will grow in sun or part shade.

They like lots of water.

When the oldest, closest to the ground, fronds die, trim them back to the stem of the plant, taking care not to damage the trunk.

Wear thick leather gloves to protect your hands when trim this plant. It has some amazing thorns.

Date palms get frayed looking at the top when they are under fertilized. If yours looks frayed put it on a steady low dose of fertilizer.

Things to watch for:

Bud rot is caused by a fungus.  The top of the plant just rots.  Try treating with a fungicide containing copper.

Frizzle top is not usually seen in Houston, it is caused by a lack of fertilizer.  New grow appears light yellow and frizzy.

Palmetto weevils can cause trees to wilt in just a few days.  You can’t save it but treat nearby trees with a pesticide containing permethrin.

Phoenix species are especially susceptible to RoundUp damage.  So take care not to use it to weed around your palm.

I’m told this plant is damaged by frost and must be protected.  I have not protected this one and have not had any troubles with it.

Other than cold damage this plant grew with no help from me and did quite well. Perhaps on the south side of the city it would be warm enough.

More information
Floridata: Phoenix roebelenii
Palms and Cycads, Garden Web Forums