An icon of vacation and peaceful rest, the palm tree is a popular garden tree that only gardeners in the warmest climates are lucky enough to cultivate. It would be difficult to find a Florida gardener who didn't have some affection for these majestic trees, which are common sights throughout the state. There are a number of hardy, beautiful palm tree varieties that can be grown in Florida, and many of them thrive in southern Florida in particular.
The state tree of Florida, cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) is widely cultivated throughout southern Florida, as well as northwestern Florida. Native to the southeastern United States, cabbage palm is a tall-growing, single-trunk specimen that can grow up to 70 feet in ideal conditions. The plant boasts a small crown with leaves that can grow up to 12 feet long. Cabbage palm boasts attractive stalks of waxy white flowers. The salt and drought-tolerant palm can grow in most soil types, preferring to grow in full sunlight (although some shade is tolerable).
Florida Royal Palm
A native of the swamps of southern Florida, Florida royal palm (Roystonea elata) is a familiar sight along boulevards in the southern part of the state. The plant boasts a long, whitish gray trunk topped with a crown of thick, bright-green leaves. The tree is fairly easy to grow in southern Florida, as it is not picky about soil. Florida royal palm does require a bright, sunny location. If fertilized and watered often, the Florida royal palm is a very quick grower.
A native of Southeast Asia, fishtail palm (Caryota mitis) is a heat loving plant that thrives in warm, southern Florida weather. The tree boasts a thin trunk topped with a crown of bright-green "fish tail" shaped leaves. Fishtail palm is commonly used as a houseplant because of its low sun requirements. The tree often can tolerate full shade, although it will do well in full sun, too. Fishtail palm should be planted in well-drained soils. The red fruits of the fishtail palm are toxic when ingested, and touching the fruits should be avoided, as they may cause skin irritation.