Queen Palm Care & Maintenance

Overview

The queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) grows to 50 feet in height with a light gray straight trunk adorned with rings from previous leaves. The foliage is a deep, dark green and arranged in double rows. Throughout the summer, large creamy inflorescences appear on the tree and resemble feathers. In the fall, the tree produces orange fruit known as dates. Each one measures approximately 1 inch in diameter and is attached to 6-foot-long stems in huge clusters.

Planting Location

The queen palm flourishes in USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11. The tree cannot tolerate a temperature that dips below 20 degrees F. It requires a tropical climate to thrive. The queen palm prefers well-draining, sandy soils. It does well in a soil pH that is slightly acidic, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The tree does not do well in alkaline soil conditions and will begin to suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Potassium, iron and manganese deficiencies are common if the soil is too alkaline.

Fertilizing

Fertilize the queen palm in the early spring and midsummer using a well-balanced palm tree fertilizer. Apply 1 to 3 lbs. of manganese sulfate under the tree if the fronds begin to appear frayed, according to Floridata. The amount applied will depend on the size of the tree. Water thoroughly to soak the substance into the surrounding soil.

Seeds and Seedlings

Each fall the dates of the queen palm fall to the ground and begin to rot. Small queen palms often sprout at the base of the large parent tree. These tiny palm seedlings are easily dug up and transplanted to new locations or containers. The tree is also easy to grow from seed. Seeds germinate in only three to four months once planted.

Watering

The queen palm grows relatively fast when provided with adequate water. The tree is capable of withstanding drought for a very short time, but for optimum growth the tree requires adequate water and enjoys moist soil. Watering deeply two to three times per week is normally sufficient.

Pruning

Prune only dead fronds. Pruning live fronds will often cause the tree to become seriously stunted. Pruning live fronds will often result in injury to the tree's trunk and can cause the tree to decay. Keep grass away from the base of the queen palm's trunk to prevent Ganoderma butt rot which can enter the tree through wounds. There is no cure for the condition

Pests

The leaf skeletonizer (Homaledra sabalella) is a common pest on the queen palm. The insect will consume the leaves of the palm and give them a chewed appearance. Removal of the infected fronds and treating the area with a copper-based fungicide will control the problem. The pest known as the palm scale feeds on the fronds' sap. The insect forms a hard coating over its body which gives the foliage the appearance of having dark bumps. The insect is easily treated with a copper-based fungicide.

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About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.