Although palm trees are often equated with California, pygmy date palms can grow in any place with a warm and humid environment. It may seem like it would take a short time for these palm trees to reach their full height, but they grow at a slow to medium speed. Although it will take years for pygmy date palms to reach their full potential, you won't have to wait forever before you're enjoying the tropical aesthetics of this beautiful palm.
The pygmy date palm takes five to seven years to grow, but the germination of its seeds takes three to six months.
Pygmy Date Palm Origins
The pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii, USDA plant hardiness zones 10b through 11a), also known as the dwarf date palm, falls under the genus Phoenix. Although the pygmy date palm is native to Asia, specifically Laos and Vietnam, it can be found worldwide. The pygmy date palm loves to grow in humid areas, so you'll typically find them growing in tropical and temperate regions.
Pygmy Date Palm Characteristics
According to Jungle Music Palms & Cycads, over 50 years ago, many thought the pygmy date palm couldn't grow over 6 feet tall. Now, it's known that old and mature pygmy date palms can grow between 6 and 10 feet tall in five to seven years, with the germination of seeds taking three to six months. Some specimens can grow over 10 feet tall. Although pygmy date palms are often sold in the United States with multiple plants grown together in one container, it grows as one trunk in its natural habitat.
The trunks are thin and measure 3 to 6 inches in diameter in the palm's natural habitat, and the trunk has thick fibers right below the crown of leaves. As the pygmy date palm ages and the leaf base debris is removed, the trunk has a knobby-looking appearance. The pygmy date palm can have either a straight trunk or a slightly curved trunk when grown in its natural habitat. The trunk can grow somewhat curved if it is planted at an angle.
When you look at the pygmy date palm, its leaves are about 3 to 5 feet long, and the leaflet color is glossy-green, silver-green or darker green. The crown is rounded with around 30 to 50 leaves, and the leaf stems, also known as petioles, have sharp spines that can grow as long as 3 inches. Pygmy date palms are dioecious palms, which means that male and female reproductive organs are not found on the same plant. Any pygmy date palm can be male or female.
Growing a Pygmy Date Palm
If you live in a tropical and temperate region, pygmy date palms are relatively easy to grow. For individuals who live in a coastal area with adequate humidity, make sure that your pygmy date palm is growing in full sun. You don't want to grow pygmy date palms in the shade because they won't grow to their fullest potential. Pygmy date palms that grow in the shade in a coastal area end up looking lanky, and they tend to die in full shade.
If you live inland in a more desert climate, make sure your pygmy date palm is growing in filtered light or partial sun. When you plant a pygmy date palm, make sure it is planted in rich soil that drains well. You can grow a pygmy date palm in clay, but make sure that you don't overwater it.
A healthy watering scheduling for a pygmy date palm is three times a week. Although these trees can tolerate drought, they thrive when they are on a regular watering schedule.