How to Cultivate a Date Palm


Date palm trees with edible fruit are called Phoenix dactylifera. This date plan originated in the Middle East, and cultivation of the palm in the United States began in the early 1900s. Most dates in the U.S. come from Southern California and Arizona. The trees can reach 100 feet tall, although most are between 50 and 80 feet. The distinctive trunk is an overlapped, persistent woody leaf base, and bove-ground roots can be seen near the base. Leaves of the date palm are like feathers, some reaching 20 feet long. A female and male are needed to produce edible fruit.

Step 1

Plant in the spring, in a location that has full sun and drains well. Space date palms at least 20 feet apart if you are planting more than one. Do not plant under power lines or near a house or building, as the trees grow very tall.

Step 2

Dig a hole three times the diameter of the rootball and the same depth as it was in its container or as it was in the field. Clean the native soil of grass, weeds and stones. Mix equal parts compost with the native soil.

Step 3

Carefully remove the tree from the container or burlap. Place it in the planting hole. Fill the hole halfway with amended soil. Add water to settle the soil around the roots. Continue to fill the hole until it is level with the surrounding ground. Soak the soil with water. Fill in any areas that may have settled.

Step 4

Water the young tree every other day for the first two weeks after planting. Cut watering to twice weekly for the next month and once weekly thereafter for the first growing season. Irrigation should be given when there has been no rainfall for an entire week or the weather has been especially hot and dry.

Step 5

Apply a palm tree fertilizer when new growth begins and each spring from the second season on. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 6

Prune off dead and dried out fronds in the fall, until they are too high to reach with a ladder. Never use spikes to climb the tree, as they will cause wounds that will allow disease to enter and damage the tree. Have dead fronds trimmed by a professional tree service when the tree is too tall for you to do it yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic compost
  • Palm tree fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • Purdue University: Date
  • University of Nevada Cooperative Extension: The Date Palm of Southern Nevada
  • University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Date - Phoenix dactylifera
Keywords: growing Date palms, planting palm trees, cultivating Phoenix dactylfera

About this Author

Dale DeVries is a retired realtor with 30 years of experience in almost every facet of the business. DeVries started writing in 1990 when she wrote advertising and training manuals for her real estate agents. Since retiring, she has spent the last two years writing well over a thousand articles online for Associated Content, Bright Hub and Demand Studios.