The Pygmy Date Palm is truly one of the most beautiful palm trees available, and it has the great advantages of remaining small, and of growing in lower light than most other palms. Bigger palms become too large for most home, and need a lot of light, but the Dwarf Date Palm never outgrows its welcome, and it will thrive indoors for decades. Place it in moderate light, water when dry, fertilize from time to time, and it will be happy. It has the classic ‘palm tree’ look, with a rough brown trunk and circular crown or arching leaves, each with a central stem and many slender side leaflets. This palm tree fits into any kind of room, from classic antiques to ultra-modern, and everything in-between. It will grow well in any room with bright to moderate light, and it is normally pest-free and easy to grow.
- Graceful dwarf palm tree
- Suitable for lower light levels
- Slender, arching green fronds
- Hardy outdoors to below freezing
- Top-pick palm tree for inside or out
Outdoors the Dwarf Date Palm can be grown from zone 9b and warmer, so there are large areas of California and Arizona, as well as Florida and southern Texas, where this tree can grace your garden, even if it is too cold for other palms. It will grow in full sun or partial shade, in almost any kind of well-drained soil. Once established outdoors it is drought resistant, and pest resistant too. It will grow only to 10 or perhaps eventually 12 feet tall, so it fits well into the smallest garden, or it can be grown in a container if you have no garden at all. In fact, if you have somewhere to keep it in the coldest months, this is an ideal container plant to give that tropical look to any garden.
Many palm trees quickly grow too large for ordinary indoor spaces, but the Pygmy Date Palm is the ideal size for even a small room. It grows slowly to around 3 feet tall indoors, so it is small enough to fit almost anywhere, yet large enough to make a real statement, and give that classic ‘palm tree’ look. As well, this is a tree that grows naturally in the shade of taller trees, so it is much more shade tolerant than other palms. This means it grows well in the lower light levels found indoors – another big plus for this beautiful plant. Not only that, it is a powerful air-filter, removing benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene from the air. This makes your home a healthier environment, especially in winter when natural ventilation may be lower.
Growing Pygmy Date Palm Trees
Easy to grow indoors, but also very beautiful, the Dwarf Date Palm has a short trunk, and a plume of beautiful palm leaves at the top. Each leaf is 18 to 24 inches long, with a central stalk and many small side leaflets, each one pleated into a ‘v’ where it joins the stalk. These leaves radiate out from the top in a circle, each one rising up and then arching over, giving a graceful and attractive look to this lovely plant. The trunk is slender and roughly-textured, so the tree is simultaneously rugged yet elegant. It fits well into any kind of interior décor, from classical to modern, and also in Chinese traditional or Zen modern decorating. This eye-catching plant simply looks good anywhere.
The Dwarf Date Palm is also one of the hardiest palms for growing outdoors, where it can survive short periods of cold down to 26 degrees. This means that in the warmer part of zone 9, it will grow well outdoors, and of course in any areas warmer than that too. So in central Florida, and coastal California, as well as southern Texas and much of New Mexico, this tree thrives outdoors. There it will stay small, eventually reaching 6 feet tall, and then perhaps 10 to 12 feet, with a crown of leaves 4 to 6 feet across. This is one of the smallest and neatest palms you can grow that has the classic long palm leaves, rather than the rounder leaves of some palms.
Outdoors it will grow in sun or partial shade, and in shade it will benefit in winter from the protection of trees overhead. It will grow in most soils, as long as they are well-drained, and once well-established it is drought-resistant. Use a palm fertilizer which will have a large last number (for Potassium), such as 8-2-12. The fertilizer should also have supplementary Iron (Fe) and Magnesium (Mg).
In cooler areas, you can of course grow this plant indoors all year round, or bring it inside when the temperatures reach 50 degrees, and place it back outside when it is safely back to that level again. Indoors, choose a location with light levels from bright to medium – it is more shade tolerant than almost any other palm tree. Near an east-facing window is a good location, and of course higher light levels will suit your tree as well. Grow it in a pot with a drainage hole, using regular houseplant soil to plant it in.
If you have a decorative pot that does not have drainage, use a plastic pot fitted inside it, but after watering always remove excess water, so that your tree is not left standing with wet feet. Use a foliage houseplant fertilizer regularly from spring to fall, and in winter reduce watering, and keep the soil almost completely dry. If possible, use a high-Potassium palm fertilizer.
History and Origins of the Pygmy Date Palm
The Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) grows naturally in southwestern China, Laos and Vietnam, as a lower tree under jungle giants. It is a relative of the palm tree which produces edible dates, Phoenix dactlyifera – cultivated for millennia throughout the Middle East. The fruit of the Dwarf Date Palm is also edible, but it is small, and only produced outdoors on older trees.