How to Plant a Date Palm

Overview

There are numerous varieties of date palms, but only Phoenix dactylifera bears edible fruit. The tree grows up to 120 feet tall and has feathery fronds up to 20 feet long. Dates are dark brown, yellowish-brown or reddish when ripe and have a sweet flavor. The Canary date palm (Phoenix canariensis) bears ornamental fruit and only grows 40 to 60 feet tall. It is a common landscape and street tree in zones 9 to 11. Date palms will grow in any type of well-drained soil. They prefer full sun and will not grow in shade. They tolerate temperatures down to 20 degrees when they are not actively growing, blooming or bearing fruit.

Step 1

Buy a date palm from a trustworthy nursery. Choose a tree that does not have any cankers, lesions or injured areas on the trunk, and that does not have any diseased foliage. Set the tree in a sunny location and keep it well-watered until you are ready to plant it.

Step 2

Use a hoe and a rake to remove the grass and weeds from an area three times as wide as the top of the container the date palm is in. Use a shovel to dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the container.

Step 3

Tip the container on its side and gently pull the tree out. Find the root initiation zone, the area where the roots grow from the tree trunk. Push some of the soil into the bottom of the hole with your hand or foot, until the root initiation zone is about 1 inch below the surface of the soil.

Step 4

Hold the tree upright and back fill around the root ball of the tree. Be sure to cover the root initiation zone with soil. Use the remaining soil to build a berm around the tree about 6 inches away from the trunk.

Step 5

Sprinkle a high-nitrogen fertilizer over the area of the root ball and in a circle 6 to 12 inches from the edge of the root ball. Apply according to the manufacturer's instructions. Water the tree thoroughly.

Step 6

Strap four short pieces of 2x4 boards to the trunk of the tree with canvas or cloth material. The boards should be 3 to 6 feet high, depending on the current height of the tree. Place a 2x4 board on the ground at a 45-degree angle from one of the short pieces of board on the tree. Screw the top of the angled board to the board on the tree. Repeat this process with the other three boards, keeping the tree up straight.

Step 7

Untie the leaves to prevent infestations of insects or diseases. Use lopping shears or a pruning saw to remove dead or damaged fronds.

Things You'll Need

  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • High-nitrogen fertilizer
  • Water
  • 4 short pieces 2x4 board
  • 4 longer pieces 2x4 board
  • Canvas or cloth material for strapping
  • Lopping shears or pruning saw

References

  • University of Florida: Transplanting Palms
  • University of California: Dates
  • Purdue University: Date

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida: Planting a Container-Grown Palm
  • University of Arizona: Phoenix dactylifera
  • Department of Agriculture: Phoenix canariensis
Keywords: plant date palm, plant palm tree, date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, Phoenix canariensis

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.