How to Plant and Grow Date Palm Tree

This tall tree adds tropical flair to the landscape.

Date palm, grown by home gardeners primarily for its decorative fronds, is cultivated as a landscape tree in its hardy Zones 9 to 11 in the United States. Some date palm species, such as Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensi), can reach lofty heights of 50 feet or more. A landscape 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.

Be aware 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 Palm Tree Overview

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

Where to Plant Date Palm

Date palm grows best in full sun (although light shade is tolerated). It's primarily found in the United States in Florida, California and Hawaii.

How and When to Plant Date Palm

Date palms are best transplanted in spring or fall. Take care when transporting your specimen, as the wood is very soft. Also, 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.

Date Palm Care Tips

Once planted, date palms will be very easy to care for.


For date palm, the more sunlight the better. It needs at least six to eight hours a day for optimal growth and health.

Soil and Water

Date palm grows best in rich, well-drained soil with deep, even moisture. If well-established, date palm trees will tolerate drought. When growing fruit plants, more water is needed. Potted palms will need to be watered more frequently than outdoor plants since the soil they have to draw nutrients from is limited to what's in the container.

Temperature and Humidity

Date palms won't pollinate until the temperature reaches 95ºF. They thrive in dry heat and sun. They're likely to suffer significant frond damage or even die if temperatures fall beneath 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperatures get cold, wrap your plant in burlap or bring container plants indoors.


Feed a date palm with a top dressing of manure in early spring, or use a palm tree fertilizer high in potassium. For the amount to use, follow product label directions. Wait two to four weeks before fertilizing newly planted date palms.


Remove dead, damaged, or diseased leaves from the tree as needed. Suckers that are growing at the base of the tree should be removed as well, since they draw energy for growth away from the tree's main trunk. If your tree is fruit-bearing, keep it pruned so the ripening fruit can grow without being crowded by newer bunches.

Potting and Repotting Date Palm

A date palm should be able to stay in its container for 2-4 years. Confining their roots is the best way for date palms to be potted. If repotting is needed, only do it in spring or early summer if possible. To avoid damage, date palms should be carefully handled when repotting since their root systems tend to be fragile. Use an unglazed container slightly larger than the root ball, and make sure it has drainage holes. Use potting soil for palm trees for planting.

Pests and Problems

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.

Use caution with weed-control products, especially on new palm trees. Some palm species are sensitive to herbicides and can suffer damage if the herbicide comes in contact with green stems, foliage, or exposed roots. This may result in brown leaf spots, browning foliage, deformed new growth, and death. It's a good idea to hand-pull weeds until the palm is more stable and grown.

How to Propagate Date Palm

Propagate date palms from the suckers growing on an existing tree. Carefully remove the sucker from the tree, keeping its roots intact. Plant it in soil, either in a spot in your yard or in a container. Protect the new planting from bright sunlight until it shows shoots. Keep it moist but not soggy while it grows.

To grow date palms from seeds, use seeds from ripe dates. After soaking for 24 hours, germinate the seeds for approximately a month. When you see small sprouts, the seeds are ready for planting.

Types of Date Palm Tree

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 for growing along walkways. 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

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you get date palm to produce 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 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.

  • How long does it take a date palm to grow to maturity?

    Patience is required when growing date palm trees. It can take around eight years for a tree to reach maturity.

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