The pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) is valued for its tiny stature, hardy nature and tropical appearance. The tree normally grows just 8 to 10 feet high, which makes it ideal in a small yard or as a container tree. The top of the tree is adorned with dark green pinnate leaves that reach approximately 4 feet long. Cream-colored blossoms appear, followed by tiny black dates on female plants. The tree thrives in tropical and subtropical environments and requires specific types of care.
Pygmy date palms are planted in full sun to partial shade for best growth results. The tree can be grown in a house but must be placed in front of a window for maximum sun exposure. Pygmy date palms are commonly planted in container groupings or groupings that are close together outside for a multi-stemmed appearance. The trunks will curve out to accommodate each other, giving the grouping a graceful appearance.
The pygmy date palm prefers to be planted in well-drained, moist soil. Peat moss is an ideal humus mixture to add to the garden soil around the palm at the time of planting. Mulch, such as peat moss, can also be used to help the soil's water retention from the heat of summer. The pygmy date palm needs constant watering. Soil should be moist, but not waterlogged. The tree can withstand limited drought conditions, but insufficient watering will curtail growth.
Pygmy date palms enjoy having a palm water-soluble fertilizer with the ratio of 18-6-12 added to the soil at the time of planting. The added fertilizer helps the pygmy date palm establish its root system and reduces transplant shock. Palm trees are heavy feeders and require fertilizer applications of a palm fertilizer six times per year to thrive They will also benefit from an additional dressing of 3 to 4 percent magnesium and manganese during fertilizing.
As the palm ages and grows, the lower leaves will become discolored and frayed. Trimming the lower fronds back to the base of the palm trunk gives the tree a manicured appearance. The trees can be transplanted if the entire root ball is lifted. Palms grown in a container will only need to be repotted every three years. The pygmy date palm does best when it is slightly root-bound.
Pygmy date palms should not be planted near children's play areas or too close to walkways because of their sharp edges and spines that can easily cut through skin and clothing.
The pygmy date palm is extremely hardy and can withstand temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The tree is also very pest-resistant. Spraying the leaves weekly with water will prevent pests from taking up residence on the leaves.