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How to Care for Pygmy Date Palms

Palm tree image by Elena kolesnikova from

Pygmy date palms are the smallest species of date palm trees and one of the hardiest. This graceful, small, slow-growing tree reaches a maximum height of 10 feet and is popular with home gardeners for its ability to grow and thrive in just about any conditions. The pygmy date palm makes an excellent container plant or shade tree for that small area of your landscape. Once established, the date palm requires only basic care. Pygmy date palms grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9 through 11.

Plant or place your pygmy date palm in a location that receives full sunlight. These are tropical trees native to Southeast Asia and therefore thrive in warm, humid climates, although they will also tolerate partial shade. If growing indoors, place the palm near a window where it will receive bright but indirect light.

Water your palm tree deeply and often. Pygmy date palms thrive in cool, moist soil, but don't let that soil get too waterlogged, or fungal growth may occur and destroy the roots of the tree. Loose, well-draining soil is best. In most climates, save those that are very hot and dry, a twice- or three-times weekly slow, deep watering such as done with a drip hose will be sufficient during the growing season. In the winter, reduce the amount of watering to once or twice a week.

Feed your pygmy tree regularly. These trees are heavily dependent on minerals to thrive. Some soils will not be rich enough in nutrients. Use palm spikes, which are made specifically for palm trees and will slowly release the correct amount of nutrients into the soil. Most palm spikes should be replaced once every month or so.

Protect your pygmy date palm from extended periods of cold. If the temperatures are forecast to dip below 30 degrees F, bring your plant indoors, or place a thick layer of straw mulch (6 inches) around the trunk. Remove the mulch when the danger of frost is past to avoid the development of fungi. You can even place a blanket over the entire tree if it is small enough, or around the lower part of the trunk.

Rinse the leaves occasionally with a moderate stream of water to get rid of dust and insects.

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