Who doesn’t immediately sink into vacation dreams at the sight of a phoenix palm? With its typical appearance, the date palm is considered to be the incarnation of a desert plant, characterized by magnificent fronds, a huge crown and the trunk covered with scars. For thousands of years it has been popular as an imposing companion for people in and around the house. Thanks to its robust constitution and frugal demands, it thrives in the local gardens or in the tub on the balcony. The Phoenix canariensis can also be found as a representative indoor palm. Find out all the details below about proper care and successful wintering.
Table of Contents
- Plant family: Palm family (Arecaceae)
- Genus: Date Palms (Phoenix)
- Species: Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis)
- Growth height in culture up to 5 meters
- Leaves up to 60 centimeters wide
- Yellow to yellowish-white flowers from February to June
- Thick, straight trunk with diamond-like scars
- Brown berries up to 2.5 inches long
- Winter hardy to – 5 degrees Celsius
- Additional names: Phoenix palm
In the lower area the phoenix palm is reinforced with spines. If these are cut off once, no further thorns will grow back.
Phoenix palm – location
After a period of acclimatization, the phoenix palm thrives excellently in a sunny place. Partially shaded locations are tolerated, admittedly at the expense of vigor.
An acquired date palm that has so far lingered in the slightly diffuse light of a garden center should be placed in the partially shaded place for the first 10 days. Unprepared exposure to UV rays causes burns on the beautiful pinnate leaves, which are difficult to heal.
Soil condition and pail substrate
In mild locations, there is nothing wrong with planting a phoenix palm in the bed. Like most palm species, it prefers a slightly acidic, well drained soil. Given the vigor, there should be enough nutrients in the soil. The location must not be too dry either. A fresh, slightly moist character of the soil is an advantage.
In the bucket you can confidently do without the use of high-priced special substrates for palm trees. A good compost-based potting soil with a few handfuls of sand fully meets the requirements of a date palm. Ideally, you mix the substrate yourself by combining the following ingredients:
- Loamy garden soil
- Expanded clay, perlite or gravel
To add an acidic component, peat, rhododendron soil or leaf compost are ideal. Pure humus or peat soil is unsuitable because it collapses within a short time, compacts and thus loses the required permeability.
The water supply takes place in correlation with the weather and the size of the palm trees. Pour the phoenix palm piercingly so that its root system is soaked up to the tips. Then wait until the substrate surface has dried. In the warm season, the next round may be necessary after 2 to 3 days. Ideally, you use collected rainwater. Alternatively, stale tap water also meets the requirements for the lowest possible lime content. During the cooler months, the date palm can get by with the irrigation water for a week or more. In this regard, a little tact is required. The basic rule is that a Phoenix canariensis can cope much better with short-term drought than with waterlogging.
If there are a few days of vacation to bridge, experienced hobby gardeners use the diving method. For this purpose, the root ball is placed in a container with water. Here he is allowed to soak himself up until no more air bubbles rise. A sufficient supply of water forms in the phoenix palm, which lasts for several days.
If a palm tree has established itself well in the garden after a few years, its tap root extends to the groundwater. Older phoenix palms are therefore only watered during summer dry periods.
A date palm receives additional nutrients during the growing season; however, their survival does not depend on it.
- From April to September fertilize in the bucket every 14 days
- Commercially available liquid fertilizers are suitable for green plants
- Alternatively, give a slow release fertilizer in March and July
- In the bed, the phoenix palm receives compost and horn shavings every 14 days
As with the choice of substrate, you can save the money on expensive specialty palm fertilizers. A Phoenix canariensis needs nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus in the same combination as most other plants.
The phoenix palm has only one point of vegetation from which it develops its magnificent crown. Any pruning is therefore counterproductive. Only withered fronds are cut. In this case, wait until they are completely withered. Until then, the date palm assimilates all nutrient reserves that have formed in the leaf. Always cut off a leaflet at the base. A remnant 3-5 centimeters high remains on the trunk so that a harmonious arrangement of similar scars as possible is formed there.
Overwintering of bucket palms
The exotic phoenix palm can withstand a brief temperature minimum of -5 degrees Celsius. It is therefore not really equipped for a harsh Central European winter. It is therefore advisable to cultivate the date palm in a bucket so that it can overwinter in a protected environment.
- Put in bucket palms in autumn from 10 degrees Celsius
- In the winter quarters it is light, at 8 to 12 degrees Celsius
- Adjust the watering intervals to the lower water requirement
- Do not give fertilizer from October to February
Under no circumstances should you leave the date palm on the balcony for a long time at temperatures around freezing point and then suddenly expose it to warm room temperatures. Even the toughest phoenix palm will not survive this shock. In a frosty environment, the palm roots hardly take up any water. This is not a problem outdoors, as the above-ground parts of the plant require little moisture. If you carry the large bucket into the room, it will take a long time for the root ball to warm up. In contrast, the fronds adapt quickly to higher room temperatures. The result is an escalating need for water that the roots cannot supply. Extreme drought stress arises up to the complete death of the entire plant, which cannot be remedied by watering. So don’t wait too long to clear them up. The night temperatures may move around 0 degrees; During the day, however, it should still be warm enough so that the root ball can store heat.
Phoenix canariensis cultivated in the room all year round stay vital and healthy longer if they are allowed a winter break in a bright, cool place. An unheated, light-flooded staircase is ideal. Here, however, you have to watch out for cold drafts. Continuous care in a warm room is of course also possible. The change between moisture and drying is retained.
Winter in the bed
In regions with mild winters, a phoenix palm can be planted in the bed, provided it is adequately protected during the cold season. The younger the plant, the more attention you should pay to this maintenance aspect. Since the strong taproot only penetrates deep into the ground over the years, it is still susceptible to severe ground frost until then.
- Before the first frost, pile up the tree disc 20 centimeters high with leaf soil, straw and brushwood
- Ventilate this insulating layer every few weeks so that the root ball receives oxygen
- Wrap the crown in bubble wrap or put a jute sack over it
- Remove the cover on warmer days to prevent mold from forming
Suitable winter protection can already be created during planting. For this purpose, a square planting hole is shoveled that is 30-40 centimeters wider than the root ball. Line the edges of the pit with rigid foam panels, but not the bottom of the pit. Then install heating cables like those used for frost protection on gutters before planting the phoenix palm. Efficient winter protection is therefore available to you at the push of a button.
Spring is the best time to repot a Phoenix canariensis. At the latest when the roots push their way up through the substrate, this maintenance measure is on the program. When choosing a new bucket, only vessels that offer enough space for the tap root pointing vertically downwards are considered. In addition, there should be an opening in the floor so that irrigation water can drain off.
- Create a drainage made of gravel, perlite or potsherds over the water drain
- A spread out garden fleece prevents the drainage from being blocked by crumbs of earth
- Fill the pot one third with substrate and insert the phoenix palm in the middle
- Pour in the rest of the soil and press down repeatedly so that no air holes form
Finally, pour water at room temperature on the repotted date palm. To be absolutely sure that the root ball is completely moistened, water from below. To do this, put the palm pot in a bowl of water. The capillary action now pulls up the moisture. If the substrate surface gets wet, the process is over.
The dates on a phoenix palm are not poisonous, but hardly edible. Instead, they are excellent for use in propagation by sowing. If your date palm is still too young to deliver fruits and seeds, the specialist dealer will have suitable seeds ready. The fresher the seeds, the more promising the offspring will be.
- Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for 24-48 hours
- Small growing pots fill with perlite or coconut fibers
- Seed soil is less suitable due to the long germination time
- Put one seed in each pot in the substrate and moisten it slightly
- Put a glass lid on or cover it with cling film
- Set up in a partially shaded, warm place and keep constantly moist
The time to germination varies between 12 and 24 months or more. During this time, the seeds should experience the highest possible temperatures, but not above 40 degrees Celsius. A check is carried out once a week to see whether a germ has appeared. Then carefully move the seedling into a larger pot filled with lean growing medium. The planting depth is 1 to 2 centimeters. In the bright, not fully sunny window seat, the temperatures can now be a little cooler. Of course, they should still fluctuate around 20 degrees Celsius during the day. The use of an indoor greenhouse is recommended during the winter. It is only fertilized when the second leaf shows up. When the young phoenix palm has completely rooted the pot, it is repotted in normal substrate for adult plants and cared for accordingly.
The reproduction of a Phoenix canariensis is associated with plenty of patience and a correspondingly high risk of failure. It is therefore advisable to always sow several seeds in order to be able to get over the loss of individual seedlings.
Diseases and pests
In the open air, the phoenix palm is rarely bothered by diseases or pests. Problems often arise during winter when the dry heating air calls out spider mites. You should therefore spray the date palm regularly with lime-free water so that the pests do not even settle. Humidifiers installed nearby are also effective in preventing infestation. Alternatively, place the bucket on a coaster filled with pebbles and water. Water vapor rises permanently, which makes the date palm uninteresting for spider mites.
From time to time, scale insects or mealybugs haunt the phoenix palm. The infestation can be recognized by the typical cotton balls on and under the fronds. The parasites can be wiped off with an alcohol-soaked cloth. Alternatively, you can use the tried and tested soft soap solution. Add 15-20 milliliters of alcohol and soft soap to 1 liter of water. Spray this mixture every 2-3 days until the plague has ended.
If the infestation pressure is high, chemical insecticides are unavoidable. Instead of harmful sprays, the use of systemic chopsticks is advisable. These are pressed into the substrate and have a defensive effect on spider mites and scale insects from the inside.