Pygmy Date Palm — Growing and Care Guide

Last Updated on September 28, 2021 by Grow with Bovees

Phoenix roebelenii, also commonly referred to as miniature date palm, dwarf date palm, or pygmy date palm is a species of date palms native to northern Laos, Southeast Asia, and northern Vietnam.

This subtropical spreading palm as the name suggests is short in height, and grows to roughly 5 feet to 6 feet indoors.

Characteristics of Phoenix Roebelenii

If you’re looking for an attractive addition to your indoor space, or thinking of growing a palm tree indoors, a pygmy date palm is a great option.

Pygmy date palm tree is an easy to care for plant that typically grows straight up, has soft leaves, and branches that curve towards the top to provide a beautiful open crown.

However, you need to be careful, as Phoenix roebelenii grows sharp spines along the bottom, so you may want to consider keeping it on a higher shelf or area to keep it out of reach of kids and pets.

Pygmy date palm tree plants are deer-resistant, and do attract scale bugs and aphids, but don’t generally attract other pests.

You can place pygmy date palms in several areas of your home including in a pool planter, by the entryways, or by the patio or pool.

How Tall Does A Pygmy Date Palm Tree Grow?

Pygmy date palms grow slowly to 6 to 12 feet, produce three-foot-long leaves and jet black dates that ripen to a deep red.

Dwarf date palm trees spread to 6–12 feet, and can be grown in containers.

Can Pygmy Date Palm Plants Take Full Sun?

Phoenix roebelenii trees require bright, indirect sunlight all year round, so you can place them in an east or west-facing window.

If you’re going to plant pygmy outdoors, place them in a location where they receive partial shade.

In addition, you can move the pygmy palm trees outside in the summer, but keep them in a sheltered location to protect them from wind, and extreme hot and cold temperatures.

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Is Pygmy Date Plant Poisonous?

Pygmy date palm tree plants aren’t poisonous, but a chemical irritant may also be present in the thorns.

However, in ideal settings, they can produce edible dates that turn dark as they ripen in the summer.

Even though it does grow dates, pygmy date palm trees aren’t really grown for their fruit, because pygmy date fruit can take up to five years to appear.

Are Pygmy Date Plants Messy?

Pygmy date palms can be messy depending on where you place them.

For example, if you plant pygmy landscape palms by the pool, you risk the plant’s leaves and spines falling into the water.

So, if you don’t want to perform leaf removal often, but still want to plant pygmy date plants by the pool, make sure you do so at a distance of 5 feet away from the water.

Pygmy Plant Care

Pygmy date palms aren’t fussy plants in terms of care, and thrive in humid environments.

Depending on where you live, you need to maintain the appropriate moisture levels for healthy growth.

There are certain items you can use to get rid of excess moisture in the air such as a dehumidifier, and a humidifier to add moisture to the air when it’s too dry.

If moisture levels aren’t maintained, the tip of the leaves of your pygmy plant may start to turn brown, and wither.

Phoenix roebelenii plants love the sun, so place them in areas where they are exposed to plenty of indirect sunlight.

This species of date palm tree grows as fast as a regular tree, so it’s a good idea to replant the palm tree in a bigger container every few years.

With regard to replanting, it’s recommended that you change the pygmy plant pot in the spring, and replenish the first few layers of soil once the plant matures.

You will no longer have to change the pots after they’ve reached maturity.

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With a pygmy date palm tree, you have to choose the container wisely, because the plant is heavy at the top, and features a thick trunk.

Some good choices for pygmy date plant containers include ones made of glass or ceramic. If you’re planting pygmy date trees outdoors, note that once established, the plant can’t be moved, so plant in a permanent shaded, yet well-lit area.

Watering Pygmy Date Plants

As mentioned earlier, pygmy date palms aren’t fussy when it comes to care, and this includes watering.

The only thing you have to ensure is that the soil stays moist at all times during the warmer months, and slightly dry in the colder months.

When choosing potting compost for your pygmy date plant, buy a well-draining potting mix that doesn’t retain water to prevent root rot.

In terms of pygmy date palm watering schedule, watering once a week should suffice to ensure the date palm gets the right amount of moisture.

Further, refrain from overwatering your pygmy date palm plant, as doing so may cause root rot. To ensure that you are providing the right amount of water for your date palm plant, insert your fingers about two inches into the soil, and if the soil is dry, it’s time to water the date palm phoenix roebelenii plant.

If you don’t want to eyeball it or do the finger test, you can use a soil moisture meter to accurately monitor the potting soil condition.

How to Propagate Pygmy Date Palm?

Just like pygmy plant care, propagating your date palm is easier than most other houseplants. Keep an eye out for the suckers that grow along the base of the date palm tree as it matures.

Prune these suckers in the spring, while keeping the roots of the cuts intact. Pot these suckers in a container with fresh, well-draining potting soil.

You can also propagate pygmy date plants from seeds, but the growth rate is much longer than sucker propagation.

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Next, maintain a temperature between 65° F and 85° F for both new saplings and mature pygmy date palm plants.

In the colder months, maintain a temperature above 55° or else the pygmy date palm plant may not survive.

You can use any regular potting mix along with horticulture sand.

What Fertilizer to Use for Pygmy Date Palm Plants?

Pygmy date palms prefer an 8-2-12 analysis palm fertilizer, where the last two digits represent the additional potassium needed to prevent yellowing fronds and tip necrosis.

You only need to fertilize pygmy date palms three times per year, but stop feeding fertilizer before the winter’s cold temperatures hit.

Applying fertilizer to your pygmy date palm plants is generally more effective when the temperatures are above 70° F.

After applying the fertilizer, apply roughly 1/2 inch of water to activate the fertilizer, and to make it more available to the pygmy date plant’s roots.

Apart from fertilizer, you may have to apply certain supplements to your pygmy date plants, especially if the date palm plants have been exposed to long periods of rain.

Wilting and discoloration are the first signs of nutrient deficiency, and the main culprit for this is usually a lack of manganese.

After applying manganese sulfate, it may take up to three months to see some improvement, so don’t give up on your pygmy date palm just yet!

Final Thoughts

Pygmy date plants can add a tropical flair to your indoor and outdoor garden. They feature a slower growth rate, and are resistant to most diseases and pests.

A well-maintained pygmy date palm plant will grow tall, vibrant, and very healthy. It is also a good practice to rinse the leaf bases with warm water occasionally to get rid of accumulated dirt and debris, and to refresh the plant.

Do not use tap water to rinse the leaf bases as it contains chemicals that can be poisonous to the phoenix roebelenii plant.