Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Zone
Zones vary by species.
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Phoenix

Date palm
Arecaceae (Palmae)
Palms and cycads

These feather palms are mostly large trees, though the following list includes one dwarf. Trunks are patterned with bases of old leaf stalks. Small yellowish flowers appear in large, hanging sprays. On female trees, blossoms are followed by clusters of dates—but only if the tree has been in the ground for at least several years and if a male tree is nearby. 

Dates of P. dactylifera and P. sylvestris are the ones found in produce markets; those of other species don’t have as much edible flesh. Date palms hybridize freely, so buy these trees from a reliable nursery that knows the seed or plant source.

Phoenix canariensis
Phoenix canariensis

Click to Enlarge

Phoenix canariensis

Canary Island native. Hardy to 20°F/–7°C; slow to develop a new head of foliage after damage from hard frosts. Big, heavy-trunked plant to 60 ft. tall, with a great many bright green to deep green, gracefully arching fronds that form a crown to 50 ft. wide. Grows slowly until it forms a trunk, then speeds up a little. Young plants do well in pots for many years, looking something like pineapples. Best planted in parks, along wide streets, or in other large spaces; not for small city lots. Takes seacoast conditions.

Phoenix dactylifera (photo courtesy of Gilles Delacroix/Garden World Images)
Phoenix dactylifera (photo courtesy of Gilles Delacroix/Garden World Images)

Click to Enlarge

Phoenix dactylifera

Leaves are killed at 20°F/–7°C, but plants have survived 4°F/–16°C. Native to the Mideast. Classic palm of desert oases. Slender-trunked tree to 80 ft., with a crown 20–40 ft. wide; gray-green, waxy leaves have stiff, sharp-pointed leaflets. Sends up suckers from the base; natural habit is a clump of several trunks. Bears the dates of commerce; the principal variety is ‘Deglet Noor’. Too large and stiff for most home gardens. Does well at the seaside and in the desert.

Phoenix reclinata

Native to Africa. Grows to 20–30 ft. high and wide. Produces offshoots, forming picturesque clumps with several curving trunks; if you want a single-trunked tree, remove offshoots. Fertilize for fast growth. Good seaside plant. Damaged below 25°F/–4°C.

Phoenix roebelenii
Phoenix roebelenii

Click to Enlarge

Phoenix roebelenii

Native to Laos. This small, single-trunked palm grows slowly to 6–10 ft. tall. Fine-textured, curving leaves form a dense crown 6–8 ft. across. Good in groves or as a potted plant. Full sun or partial shade. Indoors, provide bright indirect light. Foliage browns at around 26°F/–3°C but recovers rapidly in spring.

You Might Also Like...

Crinodendron

Little-known evergreen shrubs or trees from Chile with leathery leaves, somewhat stiff growth habit, a...

Oncidium

These orchids are native from Florida and Mexico through central and South America. Several hundred sp...

Osmanthus x burkwoodii

Slow-growing hybrid to 6–10 ft. tall and 8–12 ft. wide. Densely clothed in glossy bright g...

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More

Advertisement