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March 1st, 2023

Pygmy date palm: Small palm, big appeal

by R.S. Walsh

The pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) is considered one of the most popular palms seen in the residential landscape. It is hard not to admire this palm as it stands out in the landscape. Its featherlike fronds are bright green and curved which gives it the tropical look than many people look for in their garden. Its relatively small height and graceful appearance is one of the main reasons for its appeal.

The pygmy date palm is available and installed as a single trunk or in multiple trunks. It is a slow growing palm which reaches a maximum height of about 10 feet. Often it is referred to as a dwarf palm and can be used in multiple areas within the landscape. They are ideal for a small garden area. They are adaptable and very popular for lanais or atriums as well as growing in containers or pots.

The pygmy date palm will often be seen as an accent within a garden or placed in front of a wall or window for privacy. It is diverse in its use and aesthetically pleasing to plant enthusiasts. In addition, they are a great choice to be included in a pool planter given enough space to grow. One thing to consider, especially if you have small children, is that they do have 2-3 inch spines that grow at the base of the fronds, so some thought in placement is recommended.

The pygmy date palm prefers full sun, however it can tolerate partial shade. They prefer moist to well drained soils but they are also moderately drought tolerant. These palms are not self cleaning therefore periodic trimming is necessary. Overall, the pygmy date palm is a beautiful, low maintenance, accent palm that continues to be a favorite choice among landscapers and gardeners.

This column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s garden center, located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road Sanibel, Florida.

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