How to Care for Phoenix Palm Trees


If you enjoy the variety of looks offered by the Phoenix genus of palm trees, you have a wide selection to choose from for your landscaping needs. One of the more popular species of Phoenix palms, the majestic Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix carnariensis), has both a cold and heat hardiness that make it desirable for planting in zones 7 to 11. The Sylvester Date Palm (Phoenix sylvestris), known for its long and elegantly slim trunk, is another popular landscaping palm in many resort areas, while the Medjool Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera) produces delicious fruit in addition to being ornamental.

Canary Island Date Palm--Phoenix canariensis

  • This slow-growing tree flourishes in full sun and has a high tolerance for a variety of moist, well-drained soils. They usually grow to heights of 40 to 60 feet with a spread of 20 to 25 feet. The full leaves span 12 to 18 inches and have a hardiness zone from 7 to 11. These magnificent trees are popular for landscaping and should be lightly pruned with care to avoid damaging the lower trunk or root areas. Canary Island Date Palms are susceptible to yellowing disease, leaf spot and ganoderma rot. Be sure to leave plenty of space when planting, and avoid placing near sidewalks or structures.

Sylvester Date Palm--Phoenix sylvestris

  • The Sylvester Date Palm is a hardy, easy-to-care-for palm which can withstand cold freezes and times of drought; it is also fit for zones 7 to 11. This plant originally hails from India and graces many luxury resorts and golf courses. It has large, green and silver fronds that, when properly pruned, produce diamond-shaped knobs. These spectacular trees grow from 50 to 60 feet with a radius of 10 to 15 feet. They prefer moderate to high sun exposure, and when small enough may be potted and taken indoors during cooler temperatures. This tree is slow-growing in addition to being saltwater tolerant, and like other palms does well with a yearly fertilization program. In fact, most nutritional deficiencies in mature palm trees can be prevented by following a yearly fertilization program; fertilize only during the April-to-September growing season with a complete granular fertilizer. Palms that are newly planted should not be fertilized until after they have put out a new spear.

Medjool Date Palm--Phoenix dactylifera

  • Although a number of palm tree species go by the common name of "date palm," this species is the one that actually produces the delicious date fruit, and it is one of the first species of palm to be cultivated by man. This suckering palm is pruned to have one trunk and will grow up to 100 feet in height, even in poor soils. The Medjool Date Palm flourishes in bright sunlight (zones 7 to 11) and although drought-resistant, the deep root system seeks out moisture from subterranean water sources. The Phoenix dactylifera should be regularly irrigated to promote the proper growth and health of the plant.


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