Heat-Tolerant Palm Trees for Pots


Their gently stirring leaves create a feeling of restful calm on hot summer days. Palm trees are found in desert, tropical and beach landscapes. Growing palms in pots offers the flexibility to modify garden designs seasonally, or on a whim, and to garden on hard landscaping. Most palms tolerate reflected heat from patios, driveways or other hard surfaces well, but container-grown palms must have very good drainage.

Full Sun

  • Full sun sites are usually the hottest area of home gardens, and palm trees are a suitable landscaping choice. Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) prefers a full-sun site and grows well in containers while young. Suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, this heavy-trunked palm has dense, arching, evergreen fronds. Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) also can grow in pots in full-sun sites and is hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11. Its blue-green foliage look great with night lighting and withstands the reflected glare of swimming pools well.


  • Shady, sheltered areas can heat up significantly in warm climates. Metallic palm (Chamaedorea metallica) tolerates low light , and is hardy in USDA zones 9 through 12. Named for the blue-green sheen of its foliage, this palm's leaves are undivided and take the shape of a fishtail. Majesty palm (Ravenea spp.) is suitable for USDA zones 9 to 11, partial-shaded sites. It has beautiful, feather-shaped leaves sprouting from a flared trunk. Both palms grow well in containers.


  • Drought-tolerant palms suit busy or forgetful gardeners in hot climates. Two suitable for container growing in USDA zones 9 through 11 are Chinese fan palm (Livistona chinensis) and Senegal date palm (Phoenix reclinata). Chinese fan palms have bright green, deeply divided, fan-shaped leaves up to 5 feet wide above single brown trunks. Senegal date palms are multi-stemmed and bear long, feathery, yellow or dark green leaves with thorns at their bases. To keep this palm looking its best, cut away the lower fronds and remove suckers.


  • To minimize the need to re-pot palms into larger containers as they grow, choose slow-growing varieties. Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana), hardy in USDA zones 9B to 11, is known for its slow growth rate. One of the most popular ornamental palms, it has feathery leaves that are dark green above and yellow-green underneath. Bottle palm (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis) is another slow-grower, and is suitable for USDA zones 10 and 11. This palm is named for interesting, swollen trunk. Its feather-like leaves arch upward from a small crown.


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