Date palms, know botanically as Phoenix dactylifera, are a species of flowering and fruiting palm tree of which many cultivars produce edible fruit in the form of the popular fresh or dried date. Date palms are commonly grown as ornamental specimen trees or in en masse plantings along roadways, driveways, medians, around pools and in home gardens. Date palms require some maintenance to keep them healthy and tidy and, according to Purdue University, when healthy they can live and produce fruit for a century or more.
Grow your date palm in a temperate or warm climate with ambient temperatures between 54 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit, with 54 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit being ideal. Provide temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal flower and fruit development.
Provide a growing soil that is not heavy in clay and that water can easily percolate through. Date palms accept a wide range of soils but keep the pH between 5.0 and 8.0 to maintain a healthy tree and avoid problems. Amend nutritionally poor planting soil with aged livestock manure and compost or top-dress established plantings each year in the spring with the same.
Water your date palm deeply to maintain evenly moist but not wet soil when feeling 2 to 4 inches down in the soil. Depending on your climate and soil content this will likely equate to 9 acre feet of water applied every year. When flowering and fruiting is of less concern or not desired the trees can survive on less water at roughly 8 acre feet of water.
Fertilize your date palm tree at least once and up to three times throughout the growing season each year in keeping with the product label dosing and application directions. Use a complete palm fertilizer, often called special palm food and labeled to contain trace or micro-nutrients. Apply the granules around the base of the tree from a foot or more out from the trunk out to a foot past the canopy and then water in well until the soil is drenched to a depth of at least a foot down.
Prune away dead fronds that are drooping with a pole saw, cutting the stem of the frond just an inch or so out from the trunk in the spring after flowering or after fruiting in the fall. Be sure to cut through the frond stem but not into the trunk wood or healthy green frond tissue.