Date Palm Tree

This tall tree adds tropical flair to the landscape.

Date Palm Care Must-Knows

Slow-growing date palm grows best in rich, well-drained soil in full sun (although light shade is tolerated). Deep, even moisture is best for this plant. If well-established, date palm trees will tolerate drought. But they're likely to suffer significant frond damage or even die if temperatures fall beneath 20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if conditions are just right, and they get a little help from brooks, streams, or birds, some date palms can naturalize to the point of being invasive.

Date palms are best transplanted in spring or fall. Take care when transporting your specimen as the wood is very soft. Make sure the crown of the palm is supported during the process to prevent leaves from snapping off. Like when planting any other tree, dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball. Fill in around the tree with the loose soil you excavated, so the roots are barely covered. Press soil around the roots with your hands or feet, then water well. Feed a date palm with a top-dressing of manure in early spring, or use a palm-tree fertilizer high in potassium.

Date palm trees can be destroyed by infestations of palmetto weevils, which are drawn to these plants when leaves are removed by pruning or during transplanting. The weevils lay their eggs in older leaves, and the resulting larvae eventually kill the tree by burrowing deep inside it. Treat damaged leaves with an insecticide before the weevils have a chance to get established.

All About the Fruit

Fruit production requires both a male and female plant to grow near each other. It may also require hand-pollination (rather than depending upon the wind) because fruiting is a fickle process. A female tree will produce fruit in eight years: about 20 pounds of dates during the first crop if planted from seed. The edible fruits are typically oblong, 1 to 3 inches long, and grouped in red or orange masses when mature.

More Varieties of Date Palm Tree

Date Palm Tree Overview

Description Date palm, which is grown by home gardeners primarily for its decorative fronds (not its fruit), is cultivated as a landscape tree in Zones 9 to 11 in the United States. Growing this tree in Zone 8 requires a sheltered location to prevent it from being damaged by freezing weather. Some date palm species, such as Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensi), can reach lofty heights of 50 feet or more. An interested gardener needs plenty of vertical and horizontal space to accommodate a tall tree with an enormous root system that spreads out beneath the tree to anchor it and gather water.
Genus Name Phoenix spp.
Common Name Date Palm Tree
Plant Type Tree
Light Sun
Height 20 to 20 feet
Width 20 to 40 feet
Zones 10, 11, 9
Propagation Seed
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant

Pygmy Date Palm

Pygmy date palm
Ed Gohlich

Phoenix roebelinii is the smallest date palm, growing 12-15 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide. Its slender, silvery leaves grow 5 feet long. The stem is armed with long spines, so it's unsuitable to grow along walkways. It needs more moisture than other date palms and tolerates shade. Its compact size makes it well-suited for containers, on patios or indoors. Zones 10-11

Date Palm

Date palm
Paul Craft

Phoenix dactylifera produces the edible dates most commonly available in markets. Date palm is naturally a clumping tree, but its suckers are usually removed to create a single trunk. It works well to frame a multistory home or as a street tree. Date palm grows 50-60 feet tall and 20-25 feet wide. Zones 9-11

Canary Island Date Palm

Canary Island date palm
Paul Craft

Phoenix canariensis has a brown trunk that can reach 2-3 feet across. The tree's crown bears 15-foot-long silvery leaves massed in a sphere, giving the tree a lollipop look. It's an excellent street tree. It grows 50-70 feet tall and 25-30 feet wide. Zones 9-11

Silver Date Palm

Silver date palm
Paul Craft

Phoenix sylvestris bears 10-foot-long silvery-blue to bluish-green leaves. They often appear to glow with a metallic sheen. The tree grows 55 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Use silver date as a street tree or to frame a home. It tolerates high rainfall conditions better than other date palms. Zones 9-11

Senegal Date Palm

Senegal date palm
Paul Craft

Phoenix reclinata is a multitrunk palm with long, feathery green leaves and spines on leaf stems. It grows 40-50 feet tall and 25-40 feet wide. Senegal date palm is a slow grower that likes regular watering but tolerates dry periods. Zones 10-11

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