How To Grow Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii)

Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii)
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Flickr.

The Christmas Palm Tree, scientific name Veitchia merrillii or Adonidia merrillii, is one of the most popular palms in Florida. It has a lot of similar characteristics with Royal Palm Tree and sometimes is even called dwarf royal palm.

Christmas Palms Trees are much smaller and are easier to manage in comparison to the Royal Palm Trees. Christmas Palm Tree is great for indoors.

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Quick Facts:

Scientific name:Veitchia merrillii or Adonidia merrillii
Common names:Christmas Palm, Manila Palm, Kerpis Palm, Adonidia Palm, Dwarf Royal Palm, Veitchia Palm.
Origin:Native to the small islands of the Philippines located north of Malaysia and Indonesia.
Growth Rate:Moderate to Fast. Up to 15 – 25 ft tall and 10 ft wide.
Cold Tolerance:USDA Zones 10b (35 to 40 F) to 11 (above 40 F)
Light Req:Full sun to partial shade.
Water Req:Moderate.
Soil Req:Widely adaptable
Fruit:Yes. Red, glossy. Not edible.
Propagation:By seed, germinating in 1- 2 months.

Christmas Palm Identifying Characteristics

The Christmas Palm has smooth slender grey trunk that is slightly swollen at the base and ringed with old leaf scars. The Christmas Palm may be used alone or may also be planted in groups of two or three.

Bright green crownshaft supports a crown of 10-12 pinnate, or feather-shaped, fronds. Short crownshaft is about 3ft long. Leaves are glossy, strongly arched, grow to a length of 5 feet with sharp-edged leaflets that are up to 2 feet long by 2 inches wide.

Christmas Palm Flowers and Fruits

Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii) fruits
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Flickr.
Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii) fruits
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Flickr.

During summer months the Christmas Palm produces light green flower buds that turn into creamy blossom. Unisexual flowers are held by 2ft long branched stalks that emerge from the area where the crownshaft attaches to the trunk.

In December flowers are followed by green oval fruits that turn bright red as they ripe. Berrie-like fruits are 1 inch long and 1/5 inch wide. They hang in clusters looking like Christmas ornament, therefore palm’s common name is Christmas Palm.

How To Care For Christmas Palm

In the wild Veitchia merrillii is known to grow up to 25ft tall but in cultivation it usually doesn’t get taller than 15ft and 5-10 ft wide.

Christmas Palm is not considered cold hardy and will not tolerate frost well. It can tolerate cold temperatures only down to 35F for a short period of time. It is great for growing in USDA Zones 10b (35 to 40 F) to 11 (above 40 F).

It likes full sun but can also grow in broken shade. The Christmas Palm is moderately salt tolerant prefers moist well drained soil. To avoid root rot don’t let it sit in water. It can tolerate drought for a short time when mature enough.

It does not require much maintenance. The only thing you need to do is to remove old dead leaves to keep it looking neat. To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during growing season.

While it usually doesn’t have any problems, it’s highly susceptible to leathal yellowing also called “veitchia decline”.

Propagated by seed. It will take around 1-2 months to germinate.

Christmas Palm Pictures

Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii).
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Flickr.
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii).
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Flickr.
Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii)
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Flickr.
Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii)
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Flickr.
Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii) trunk
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii)
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii)
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Flickr.
Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii)
Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii). Photo by Flickr.

More information can be found on EDIS and Floridata sites.

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10 thoughts on “How To Grow Christmas Palm Tree (Veitchia merrillii)”

  1. I have a Christmas Tree Palm in a container by my pool. It has grown root bound in the pot and I can’t find a pot bigger than the 22″ it’s in. I live in Weeki Wachee Fl and was wondering about planting it in the yard. I hear I’m on the north edge of the growing zone

  2. question: I live in FL. I have a beautiful triple Christmas palm in my lanai. It is growing too high. What can I do to limit the growth because the leaves touch the upper screen of the lanai? My gardener told me that I should get rid of it and replace it. I would appreciate if you can help me.

    Thank-you

  3. Can you do a little article about how to grow them in a group of 2 or 3 ? Thanks a lot;
    Alex

  4. Thank you for your site. Live in mid Florida and have christmas palms in back yard on N/S line in full sun. They are doing very well.

  5. I have three Christmas palms and watered them as directed to get established, since last day of December every other day for a month to two nuts and twice a week. Has had fringe and spots for long time with browning. On many leaves. Fed it with a 10-10-10 all purpose fertilizer two weeks ago and I don’t see any change. Is this normal? Especially tips brown?

  6. I have 7 little christmas palms poking out of their shells … the seeds are all from a triple trunk tree …
    My question do you somehow graft them together to get triples and doubles ..?
    or will they become triples as they progress ..?

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