How to Grow and Care for Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) Indoors


Pygmy Date Palm, Phoenix roebelenii

Botanical name: Phoenix roebelenii
Family: Arecaceae
Common names: Pygmy Date Palm, Dwarf Date Palm

Description

Phoenix roebelenii commonly called Pygmy Date Palm or Dwarf Date Palm is a small-sized palm that is tolerant to drought and shade and is ideal for the limited spaces.

Pygmy Date Palm leaves are 2-4 ft long, pinnate, with around 100 leaflets arranged in a single plane.

The leaflets are about 6-10 in. long and very narrow, slightly drooping and grey-green in color. The fronds develop off a stately central trunk.

Size

Pygmy Date Palm is a slow-growing slender tree growing to a height of 3-5 ft and about the same width.

Flower

Dwarf Date Palm flowers are small, yellowish, produced on a 18 in. inflorescence. The fruit is an edible 1 cm drupe which resembles a small, thin-fleshed date.

Origin

Phoenix roebelenii is native to the dense tropical forests of Africa and Southeastern Asia from Southwestern China, Northern Laos and Northern Vietnam.

The Latin name roebelenii honors the orchid collector Carl Roebelen (1855-1927).

Air Cleaning

According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Phoenix roebelenii was found to be a good indoor air cleaner getting rid of common VOCs like xylene, toulene and formaldehyde from indoor air.

Related Plants

Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) is closely related to Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm).

Where to Buy

Pygmy Date Palms are readily available online at Etsy. Buy Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) online from Etsy.

Pygmy Date Palm, Phoenix roebelenii

Phoenix roebelenii Care Indoors

Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) is an easy-care indoor palm when provided with the right growing conditions. Phoenix roebelenii thrives in bright, indirect light, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, fertile, well drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing period.

Dwarf Date Palm requires repotting every 2-3 years only when it becomes pot-bound. Regular pruning is necessary to keep it neat and tidy as well as minimize pest and disease infestations. Keep reading for more on these conditions and how to provide them..

Light Requirements

Pygmy Date Palm grows best in bright, indirect light but can tolerate some light shade. It can also grow under a grow light where natural light is inadequate.

Turn the pot regularly to ensure that the Dwarf Date Palm receives light on all sides for uniform growth.

Watering

Water Pygmy Date Palm thoroughly until water runs through the drainage hole and allow the top 2-3 inch of soil to dry out between waterings.

Cut down on watering in the cold season as growth is minimal but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Use chlorine-free water for watering your palm; like all palms, Dwarf Date Palm, is sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water.

Do not allow the palm to sit in soggy soil as it may lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the palm.

Temperature

Pygmy Date Palm requires an average warmth with a minimum of 120C inorder to thrive. If the temperature is comfortable for you it is ideal for the Palm.

Protect Dwarf Date Palm from cold draughtsto avoid sudden changes in temperatures as they may negatively affect the growth of the palm.

Humidity

Pygmy Date Palm does not require a humid environment to thrive. Moderate to high humidity is ideal for this Palm.

However, when temperatures are very high, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.

Occasionally clean the leaves with a gentle spray of water from a hose or spray bottle to get rid of dust as well as discourage pest infestations.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Pygmy Date Palm monthly with a balanced, liquid fertilizer during the growing period. Do not feed during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

To avoid fertilizer build up which is indicated by leaf burn and brown spots, regularly flush the soil. Run a stream of water through the soil until water comes out through the drainage hole. Allow the stream of water to run for some time and repeat the process several times.

Repotting

Repot Pygmy Date Palm every 2-3 years at the beginning of the growing season when the palm has become root-bound.

Use a pot 1-2 sizes larger than the current one. Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the palm.

Soil

The best soil for Phoenix roebelenii should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for this Palm. Buy quality Potting Mix for Dwarf Date Palm online from Etsy.

Pruning

Pruning Pygmy Date Palm is easy. Cut away the old brown and dry fronds near the soil surface to maintain the plant neat and tidy as well as minimize pest and disease infestations.

Cut off only old brown and dry fronds. Any frond with green continues to provide food (nutrients) to the palm.

Where Dwarf Date Palm seeds are required for propagation, allow the fruits to mature and drop then cut away the spent flower stalk.

Where the seeds are not required, cut away the flower stalk immediately to prevent the plant from wasting energy on developing the flowers and seeds.

Propagation

Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) propagation is done exclusively from seeds. Seed germination can take up to 3 months and requires keeping the soil moist through out the period.

How to propagate Pygmy Date Palm from seeds

Seed germination is difficult and may take up to 3-4 months. It also requires that the soil be kept moist through out the period.

Fill the rooting container with loose, free-draining potting mix and slightly moisten the soil.

Sow the seeds in the moist soil and cover the seeds slightly with soil. Do not bury them too deep to hasten germination.

Cover the set up with polythene cover to create a greenhouse effect and place in a shaded, warm place at about 300C. Warmth and humidity are important for germination.

Keep the soil moist through out the period until germination of the seeds has taken place. Germination may take upto 3-4 weeks.

Lower the temperature slightly after germination and maintain the soil moist until the new Dwarf Date Palms are well established after which you can begin routine care.

Pygmy Date Palm, Phoenix roebelenii

Phoenix roebelenii Problems Indoors

Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) problems indoors are brought about by cultural faults in watering, feeding, humidity and temperature among others. These problems include brown leaf tips, yellow leaves, brown leaves, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more details on these problems, their remedies and solutions.

Brown leaf tips

Pygmy Date Palm brown leaf tips are caused by four possible reasons. Trim off the brown tips with sterilized scissors.

One reason for Dwarf Date Palm brown leaf tips is dry air (low humidity). To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.

The second reason for Phoenix roebelenii brown leaf tips is underwatering. Water the palm liberally and keep the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing season.

Reduce watering during the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

The third reason for Pygmy Date Palm brown leaf tips is cold draughts. Protect the palm from draughts to maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 120C.

The fourth reason for Pygmy Date Palm brown leaf tips is is damage by touching. Place the palm away from the line of traffic.

Yellowing leaves

Pygmy Date Palm yellowing leaves are due to two possible reasons. One possible reason for yellowing leaves is watering issues; either underwatering or overwatering.

Water Phoenix roebelenii liberally and keep the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing season.

Water less during the cold season but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

The second reason for yellowing leaves in Dwarf Date Palm is overfeeding. Feed the palm with a balanced, liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

Brown leaf spots

Pygmy Date Palm brown leaf spots are due to two possible causes. Remove the affected leaves and discard.

One cause of brown leaf spots in Phoenix roebelenii is overwatering. Water the palm liberally and keep the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing season.

Cut down on watering during the cold season but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to avoid getting soggy soil.

The second causes of Pygmy Date Palm brown leaf spots is sudden decrease of temperature due to cold draughts. Protect the palm from draughts to maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 120C.

Brown leaves

The lower leaves of Pygmy Date Palm may turn brown and droop due to age; remove by cutting and not pulling.

If the browning of the leaves is general and accompanied by rotting, the reason is root-rot disease due to soggy soil. Read on how to treat root-rot in houseplants.

Ensure that the soil is free-draining and that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

Also, reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Pests

Phoenix roebelenii is rarely attacked by pests. However, pests like mealy bugs, spider mites and scales may attack the weak plants.

Regularly check underneath the leaves for these pests. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for these pests. Check out this guide on how to identify and treat pests in houseplants.

Is Pygmy Date Palm toxic?

The foliage of Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) is non-toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA.

However, Dwarf Date Palm bears sharp spines at the base of the frond which are extremely sharp and toxic. They often snap off once they penetrate the skin and may cause pain and swelling in the affected part of the body.

Always wear leather gloves, eye protection and thick clothing when handling this palm.

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