How to Grow and Care for your Pygmy Date Palm

What is a Pygmy Date Palm?

Pygmy Date Palms are a beautiful addition to your home, bringing beautiful green leaves and tropical vibes to your interior spaces. While their name implies that they start out small, with proper care they can easily grow to heights of six to twelve feet! As you can imagine, that means they can make wonderful outdoor options in the zones that they are hardy to, which are USDA Zones 10-11. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make them indoor plants, though! With proper trimming, they can fit into any space.

 

While they may not always flower unless in the right conditions, the flowers of these plants are beautiful, small yellow clumped flowers. You will most often see these plants as landscaping in areas like Florida, where they adorn many outdoor spots. Originally, Pygmy Date Palms were native to southeastern Asia, making them perfect for these warmer climates.

 

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Toxicity Level

Pygmy Date Palms are non-toxic to pets, cats, and dogs. With that being said, you will want to make sure that they aren’t scratching or biting at it, as it has sharp spines on the fronds that can hurt their mouths or paws. For the more curious pets, it may be best to keep this out of reach to prevent any scratches! 

Care Level

If you are looking for a beginner to intermediate plant, the Pygmy Date Palm is perfect! These plants do best when you put them in medium to bright light. Then, once they are settled into the right place, they just require a little attention to keep happy! Make sure the top of the soil has dried before watering again and keep it humid with some occasional spritzes of water or a nearby humidifier to keep it happy!

Great for People:

  • Who love a variety of textures in their plant collection
  • Who want to add some tropical vibes to their home
  • Who like to spoil their plants occasionally
  • Who nurture their plants like their children 
  • Who don’t mind spritzing their plants 

Great for Spaces Like:

  • Homes with lots of bright, indirect light
  • A room with higher ceilings
  • Shelving or mantles with plenty of light
  • Areas that need some added fun
  • Higher humidity areas or climates

How to Care for a Pygmy Date Palm

Light preference

Your Pygmy Date Palm is going to be happiest under medium to bright, indirect sunlight. They aren’t too picky, making them great for those looking for something tropical and exciting that still thrives under medium levels of light. Make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight so that their fronds don’t get burnt!

Water/Humidity

When watering your Pygmy Date Palm, make sure that the soil dries out between waterings. It does like being on the moist side, but that doesn’t mean moist constantly! We recommend checking the top inch or two of soil with your finger or a wooden skewer to judge when it is time to give your plant another drink! Ensure that you water thoroughly, watching to make sure that the pot drains all the way before putting them back on their tray or saucer. If you check back later and notice the saucer has filled back up with water, make sure to empty it out by pouring it or using a towel to prevent rotting. Pygmy Date Palms also like a bit of humidity, so place a humidifier near it or spritz it occasionally!

Ideal Temps

These tropical plants aren’t huge fans of the cold. While Pygmy Date Palms can handle temperatures up to 85°F, they start struggling at just under 60°F. Make sure to keep them away from places where there may be cold drafts, such as by windows that get chilled or below an AC vent.

Plant Food/Fertilizer

You should fertilize your Pygmy Date Palm seasonally, using a slow-release fertilizer specially formulated for rose plants. While this may seem strange, palms like the magnesium often found in these mixes as they prevent yellow spots on their fronds! Apply once every spring, summer, and fall, letting them rest in the winter. If you want to use a liquid fertilizer, make sure to use it at half strength monthly throughout their growing seasons. 

Repotting Frequency

It is always an exciting time when you get a new plant, but don’t get too hasty about moving them into a new pot! You want your plants to get used to their new home for 6-12 months if possible as they acclimate. Of course, don’t delay if you see their roots starting to rise to the surface of the soil! Pygmy Date PAlms prefer to be potted about every two years or as needed. Remember to try to repot in the winter using a 2” bigger pot, and don’t forget to use a well-draining indoor potting mix with perlite or pumice to encourage drainage. Follow our guide when repotting for more advice!

 

Propagation

Pygmy Date Palms propagate through their cuttings. Around the base of the plant, release the soil around the sucker you want to clip off with a garden fork. Uncover and remove the sucker and its associated roots, being careful not to disturb the main plant as much as possible. Use a sterile, sharp knife or scissors, cut the sucker without cutting the roots, then replace the soil around the main plant. Remove about half of the stem and leaves to reduce the long, leafy shoots, then plant into a well-draining potting mix.

Cleaning

Use sterilized pruners to remove dead, damaged, or disease-ridden fronds from your plant whenever you notice them. Make sure to wear gloves as not to get stabbed by the spines, and feel free to remove them from the leaflet’s base on the fronds. To clean dirt and debris from the leaves, place the palm in a shower or tub, then use a watering can filled with filtered water to shower the leaves and plant!


 

Common Issues of the Pygmy Date Palm

Pygmy Date Palms are pretty resistant to most diseases but may be afflicted with something called “Ganoderma Butt Rot.” This disease is a fungal infection that originates from the soil and will cause the bottom of your plant’s trunk to begin to rot. If this happens, the best thing you can do is isolate the plant and attempt to harvest unaffected bits from it, as it could infect your other plants. They can also develop Pestalotiopsis, a fungus that can cause bud rotting. Keep an eye out for small dark or yellow spots on their leaves, which is the first sign of this problem.

 

Unfortunately, most plants are also susceptible to pests. To catch them before they become an infestation, always examine your plants as you water them, from the soil to under their leaves! Some of the most common pests include spider mitesscale, or mealybugs. Isolate affected plants immediately until you have resolved the infestation.


 

Complimentary Plants with your Pygmy Date Palm:

Cat Palms are another type of palm that would look beautiful paired with your Pygmy Date Palm! These plants also require similar lighting needs but do prefer a bit more water and humidity. If you are looking for a challenge to add to your collection, this is a perfect option. It is even pet safe for those who are cautious pet parents!

 

Both the Aralia Ming Stump and the Aralia Fabian Stump are great partners with your Pygmy Date Palm! These plants have very similar requirements, being happiest with medium light, dryness between waterings, and moderate humidity. Put all of these plants together for a unique, textured green space!

 

For more information on caring for your new indoor plant, check out our comprehensive care guide here.

 

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