Common Names: miniature date palm, pygmy date palm
Family: Arecacea/Palmae (palm Family)
Palm Tolerant of Shade and Low Light Conditions Can be Grown in
Containers Grows Well Indoors. Has evergreen foliage Has Unusual or
This delightful little palm is a favorite landscape item in areas
where it is hardy. It is just as likely to be encountered as a
popular indoor container plant often used in shopping mallscapes and
other commercial plantings. Pygmy date palm grow slowly reaching
heights of 8-10 ft (2.4-3.1 m). The stem is covered with old leaf
bases and is topped with a dense head of bright green pinnate leaves
that grow to about 4 ft (1.2 m) in length. Delicate leaflets,
arranged neatly along the upper length of the gently arched leaf
stem lend the plant a very graceful aspect. Lower leaflets are
modified into sharp pointed 2-3 in (5-8 cm) spines.
Cream colored flowers are held on short, 1 ft (0.3 m)
inflorescences and are followed by small black dates on the female
plants (male flowers are borne on a separate plant). Although this
palm is single stemmed most nurseries offer it in containers planted
with 3 to 5 specimens. When grouped like this, the stems tend to
curve gracefully away from the center of the clump creating an
especially attractive arrangement.
Phoenix roebelenii is native to the tropical forests of Southeast
Asia, in particular Thailand and Burma (called Myanmar by that
country's dictatorship). This popular little palm is grown around
the world indoors and out.
Very adaptable to most soils (use light, fast draining soils in
containers). Fertilize 3 times a year.
Light: Bright sun to partial shade.
Moisture: Needs adequate moisture for best look. Has some drought
tolerance when mature.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 9-11 May be cold damaged at temperatures below
Propagation: By seeds (they take about 3 months to germinate)
Pygmy date palm excels in containers of all kinds. Also looks great
by patios and entry ways. Use clumps of these palms as specimens and
to serve as focal point in a mass planting of annuals. Also nice
combined with evergreen shrubs in a mixed hedge. This rugged little
palm looks great indoors - just give it a bright spot and keep it
out of drafts (and away from where someone could brush against the
spines - see Warning).
Small stature, delicate lacy appearance and easy care make this an
exceptional palm that everyone can enjoy whether in the landscape or
indoor containers. Pygmy date palm is inexpensive and available from
mail order, nurseries and plant shops everywhere.
The pygmy date is related to the edible date (Phoenix dactylifera)
which, as you might guess from its common name, it closely resembles
Many palms are armed with dangerous spines and other sharp edges.
But we are most likely to come in painful contact with those of
smaller stature like the pygmy date palm. This palm has sharp
needle-like spines arranged near the base of the leaf stem. These
can easily penetrate skin, tissue - sometimes even protective
clothing. This often results in painful infections and possibly
other, more dire complications. Keep this plant away from children's
play areas and walkways. Use caution and sturdy protective clothing
when gardening near this and similar palms.