The pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) is small in size—a mature pygmy palm can reach a height of 8 to 10 feet. It is easy to care for and it has become a popular accent plant for tropical settings. While most people grow them indoors, they will thrive outdoors in warmer climates.
The pygmy date palm is commonly grown in a container, although they are also popular in landscape design and are quite often grown in clumps. To maintain optimum growing conditions indoors, they will need bright natural light. While outdoors, place them in a well protected area (this palm does not like drafts), such as next to a wall or close to your home or building. A southern location is best.
Palms need warmth. When indoors, make sure that they are not placed near doors, windows or air conditioning vents. Temperatures should be maintained at 60 degrees F at night and between 70 and 80 degrees F during the day. Outdoors, they are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11 (temperatures below 30 degrees may cause damage).
Keep the pygmy date palm moist by providing a good, thorough watering once a week. The soil should be dry to 2 inches in depth before watering again. It is also important to mist the leaves twice a week.
Make sure that your palm tree does not dry out and that it does not sit in water. If you allow it to sit in water, your tree may develop root rot. If your pygmy palm is in a container, make sure that you dispose of any water that is sitting in the saucer. Also, the palm needs to be planted in a container that has a drainage hole or holes.
Soil Mixture and Fertilizing
The proper soil will help to maintain the moisture and drainage that the pygmy date palm requires. Plant them in porous soil that contains lots of organic matter—a good general-purpose potting soil will work. If the soil seems too compacted, add sand, perlite or peat moss to loosen it up. If you decide to make your own soil mixture, mix one part garden soil, one part coarse sand or perlite, one part moist peat and a light dusting of lime.
During the growing seasons of spring and summer, feed the pygmy palm weekly. A water-soluble fertilizer will work best. Do not over-fertilize; too much fertilizer can be detrimental.
Rinse the leaves to clean them—this will help to keep scale, thrips and mites under control. Only re-pot every two to three years, as palms do well with having their roots confined. When the tips of the lower leaves turn brown, prune them; this will show off the trunk.