The Christmas Palm Tree is one of the easiest palm trees there is to grow. With no effort it will form a beautiful short trunk, topped with a splendid crown of long, green fronds. Unlike most palms, which only have leaves, this palm will produce large clusters of berries, that ripen in time for the Christmas festive season, and brighten up your home or yard. It can be grown outdoors if you live in Florida, or indoors everywhere in the country. It just needs a sunny spot, some water from time to time, and a large pot, to grow into a beautiful small version of a real palm tree, complete with an attractive smooth grey trunk. This palm comes from the Philippines, and it is also called the Manila Palm.
- Beautiful arching crown of fronds
- Dramatic bunches of bright-red berries at Christmas
- Attractive smooth gray trunk
- Top choice for an indoor palm tree
- Easily grown indoors or outdoors
Grow the Christmas Palm tree in a sunny spot, and it will thrive in a hot window where other indoor plants will not grow. Plant it in a large, strong pot with a drainage hole, and water whenever the soil has become completely dry. Use houseplant fertilizer from time to time during the growing season, and your tree will take care of itself. It has no significant pests or diseases and grows easily. In summer, indoor trees can be placed outdoors to decorate your terrace or patio – you can even grow it on your balcony in summer if you have no garden, and use it to shade your outdoor table.
Palm trees always conjure up images of tropical beaches with silver sand, and blue, cloudless skies. The elegant fronds rustle in the warm breezes and life is beautiful. Even if you live in a cold place, there is something magical about growing a palm tree in a pot indoors during the winter, or all year round, and the Christmas Palm Tree is an easy-to-grow and beautiful palm that has the added bonus of producing bright-red berries that ripen in mid-winter. If you visit Florida at Christmas, you will see these berries brightening the gardens, so it is no wonder it is called the Christmas Palm. If you live in zone 10, then this palm is a terrific small palm for your garden, but if you don’t, you can always grow it indoors and imagine…
The Christmas Palm Tree (Adonidia merrillii) grows wild in the Philippines, so it is sometimes called the Manila Palm. It is also found growing naturally in the West Indies, and it will often be seen in Florida too. Our trees are produced from seed collected from the very best trees, specially selected for their attractive form and sturdy health. Cheaper trees can be of uncertain origin.
Growing Christmas Palm Trees
The Christmas Palm Tree might grow to 20 feet tall outdoors, but it is often shorter, so it is the ideal smaller palm for a restricted space. Being small, it is also excellent for growing in a large pot. It will reach a height of 6 to 8 feet indoors, large enough to decorate a room, but not so large that it becomes a problem. Unlike other types of palms sold as potted plants, this palm develops a real trunk, not just a clump of leaves, so it really does look like a real palm tree. Outdoors the fronds can be 6 feet long, or even more, but in a container they will only be around 3 feet long. At any time a tree will have about a dozen fresh green fronds growing.
The trunk is smooth and gray, swollen at the base and narrower higher up, so it looks a little like a slender bottle. The upper section is green, where the fronds grow out of the top, and this is the type of palm called ‘pinnate leaved’. This means the leaves have a straight central stem, with narrow leaflets all along it, longer lower down, and shorter towards the end, creating that typical ‘palm frond’ shape. Young leaves emerge from the top of the stem, and the oldest leaves further down eventually begin to yellow, at which time you simply cut them off close to the trunk. Some palms keep that leaf-base on the trunk for a long time, but the Christmas Palm Tree soon sheds it, so that the smooth trunk is seen. After the leaves fall they leave an attractive circular scar, which creates a series of interesting ring marks around the smooth trunk. At any one time there will usually be about a dozen leaves in the crown of your tree.
After a few years of growth your Christmas Palm Tree will produce clusters of flowers just below the leaves. These are large sprays of many flowers, which are white and fluff. Gradually these transform into oval green fruits about one inch long. By winter the fruits ripen to a bright red, making a very attractive display for the holiday season. Established trees flower regularly and the large trusses of fruits hanging below the leaves make the tree very attractive and festive.
The Christmas Palm Tree is a very tough, easy palm to grow in the ground or in a container. It grows best in full sun, and it is very drought tolerant. To grow it in a container, choose a large, strong pot with a drainage hole. Allow the soil to become completely dry, and then water it well until water flows from the drainage hole. An occasional feeding with houseplant fertilizer is all the attention that this easy plant needs. It can be grown indoors in bright light all year round, or placed outside in summer in a sunny location to decorate your terrace or patio.