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How to Care for Phoenix Palm Trees

The Phoenix palm trees are native to North Africa and other tropical regions. The palms in the Phoenix genus are date palms when they grow in tropical climates, but they rarely produce this sweet fruit when you grow them indoors. Some Phoenix palms, such as the Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), grow very large--to over 60 feet--so the smaller varieties are usually favored for indoor use. The pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) is native to Southeast Asia and, because it grows to only 6 to 12 feet, it is most suitable for use as a houseplant.

Transplant your Phoenix palm tree out of its nursery pot and into a large pot with a drainage hole. Use any standard potting soil. Place your potted Phoenix palm onto a large plant saucer into which you have added small pebbles. If you keep the pebbles moist, this will provide your tree with added humidity while keeping the roots from drowning in water.

Water your palm on a regular basis and do not allow the soil to completely dry before you water it again. You can check soil moisture by poking your finger into the soil; if it comes out moist, that’s the time to water your Phoenix palm. A thorough watering once each week should be sufficient during the winter. Water it twice each week during the summer.

Spray the foliage of your potted Phoenix palm with a fine mist of water on a regular basis. If you mist it once a day, your Phoenix palm will respond well.

Fertilize your Phoenix palm twice a year with an all-purpose fertilizer having an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. Mix a half-strength dose and apply it according to label instructions.

Examine the Phoenix palm’s crown for spider mites at least every two weeks because many palm species are subject to this insect pest. If you see any indication of webbing, spray your potted Phoenix palm with a solution of insecticidal soap. Spray it every day until you see fewer webs forming.


Other species of palms can make good houseplants. See the Jungle Music link under References for recommendations and ideas.


In certain tropical climates, Phoenix palms and other types of palms often suffer from fungal diseases such as leaf spot. Commercially available fungicides are effective against diseases of this type.

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