Southern Warmth and Charm in Cooler Climates
Yearning to plant a Southern Palm even though you’re just North of the Mason Dixon line? Then warm up to the Pindo Palm. This date palm with desert appeal can withstand the chilliest Southern winters. It’s been known to shrug off frigid temps below freezing, even as low as 20℉. And it’s a gorgeous, low-growing palm that will produce a hefty yield of juicy, amber-colored fruit in warmer climates.
Basically, its name is well-deserved. So succulent and delicious are the Pindo dates that they are often used to create savory jams and jellies, which is why the Pindo is nicknamed the Jelly Palm. But the pale green leaves are what give the Pindo its character.
Supported by inward curving fronds, the leaves are accentuated by a blue-gray sheen that gives it a distinctive look, unlike any other Palm.
Although it won’t grow beyond 25 feet in height, the leaf span can spread to an impressive 20 feet, and its trunk base can exceed 2 feet. Still, the single trunk, slow root growth and extreme drought tolerance make it an excellent candidate for container growing. Pot them up and put them on the patio, the deck, or plant them in your yard to create a relaxing Southern retreat.
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Planting & Care
Pindo palms (Butia capitata) is a cold tolerant palm tree that slowly grows up to heights of 20 feet tall with fronds that spread out 10-20 feet. Cold tolerant all the way down to 20℉, this tree is one of the most versatile palms for planting in the ground for USDA growing zones 8-11 with minimal protection needed in the northern zones. This palm can also be potted and kept as a house plant if you are in an area where it is too cold for them. Pindo palms are widely adaptable and can grow in many conditions from full sun to partial shade and in a variety soil types. In warmer climates (zones 9-11) this palm can produce a small edible fruit called “pindos” that can be made into jelly.
Choosing a location: Pindo palms will thrive in a variety of conditions, in cooler climates they will like a full sun location, in warmer areas they will prefer some afternoon shade. Pindo Palms can tolerate almost any soil type and can be grown in small areas like parking lot islands and small spaces. They prefer well draining soil and can tolerate dry conditions, but look better with adequate moisture.
Planting Directions (in ground):
1) After choosing your location, dig a hole that is twice as big around as the container the palm is in (the root ball), and just as deep. If you have a hard clay soil you can dig the hole a little deeper to amend the area more so the roots can establish more easily.
2) Remove the plant from the container and lightly comb the roots to loosen them.
3) Place the plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is even with the surrounding soil.
4) Backfill the hole with a mixture of 60 % native soil and 40% good compost or garden soil. Water lightly every few inches or tamp the soil to remove air pockets.
5) Water well when done, saturating the area to ensure that all of the roots are moist.
6) Mulch the planting area when done to conserve moisture and protect the roots from temperature fluctuation.
Planting Directions (potted):
1) Choose a container that is 1-2 times larger than the container that the plant initially arrived in.
2) Use a quality acidic potting mix such as a palm or citrus mix.
3) Fill the container part way and place the palm in the container so that the soil is just below the top of the container and fill the remainder of the way.
4) Water until the water just flows through the bottom, keep the plant slightly moist but not wet.
Watering: Palm trees are drought tolerant once established, but will require frequent watering while getting established. Allowing the soil to dry out will weaken the root system of the palm tree, only allow the soil to dry 1-2 inches down before watering again. The frequency will depend on the climate and how much rain you are receiving.
Pruning: Palm trees need very little pruning, only needing brown fronds or old fruit removed on occasion. This can be done any time of the year as needed.
Fertilizing: Young palm trees do not need fertilized until after they put out a new spear, about 2 months. After that they will perform best when fertilized with a slow release fertilizer such a 10-5-10 formula.