When someone mentions Florida, images of Blue Ocean, white sand, and beautiful palm trees come to mind. Florida’s warm tropical climate makes it one of the best places in the world for growing palm trees. If you live in tropical climate like Florida the selection of palm trees you can plant in your garden is almost unlimited.
Palms make excellent landscape plants. Whether you want to frame a view or hide from your neighbors by creating a privacy wall, the variety of palms you can grow will astound you. With wide range of colors, sizes, and shapes, palms are a must have for a tropical garden.
With over 2,500 different species it’s not easy to find the best palm for your tropical garden. Here are 10 most popular palm trees in Florida listed by their common name, so it’s easier for you to remember. You should be able to find these palms at your local nursery.
1. Areca Palm
Areca Palm, scientific name Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, is a lush clustering palm that looks a lot like bamboo. It consists of multiple smooth thin trunks topped with graceful arching fronds. It grows at a moderate rate to about 25 ft. tall.
This drought tolerant, heat resistant palm is low maintenance and easy to care for. It likes moist well drained soil and partial shade. It’s ability to tolerate low light levels makes a great indoor plant. If grown indoors, they will get only up to 7ft tall.
If grown outdoors, it does well in rich slightly acidic soil. Areca palm is best used as a privacy wall, hedge plantings, large corner accent plant, cover for a fence, or blank wall, patio or screened lania, or as a container plant by the pool. This palm likes warm weather and can tolerate cold only down to 30F.
2. Queen Palm
Queen Palm, scientific name Syagrus romanzoffiana, is one of the most popular palm trees in Florida and California. Gardeners love this palm because of it’s availability, fast growth, cold tolerance, easy maintenance, and tropical look.
It has a smooth self-cleaning trunk with a full crown of dark green feathery leaves. It is a fast growing palm that can reach 60 ft. in height but usually grows only up to 30 ft. tall.
Because of its fast growth rate, you can get a very inexpensive seedling and in two years have a 6ft. tall palm. To make it grow even faster, give it more water and fertilizer.
Just like most palms, it likes moist well drained soil. It’s a durable very adaptable palm that can tolerate sandy as well as clay soils. While most books say that Queen palm can tolerate low temperatures only down to 25F, it is known to withstand cold into the upper teens F.
In the landscape, Queen palm is best used to line a fence, property line, street or driveway. Because of its dense crown it is perfect for shade around the pool area or as a backdrop for a smaller palms that prefer partial shade.
3. Foxtail Palm
Another popular palm is Foxtail Palm, scientific name Wodyetia bifurcata. This medium height palm has a smooth self-cleaning trunk and a green crown shaft that is topped with the most beautiful crown of feathery fronds that look like a tail of the fox.
This palm is great for small landscapes because it grows at a medium rate up to 25 – 30 ft. tall. It does best in full sun and can easily tolerate hot temperatures of 100F. It also can tolerate cold down to 30F and is even known to survive temperatures well into the mid-tewenties F.
While you can grow Foxtail palms in a container on a patio, they don’t like the shade so it’s not best for growing indoors.
4. Royal Palm
Royal Palm, scientific name Roystonea oleracea, is native to Florida and Sought America. This great looking palm has gray self-cleaning trunk with elongated smooth crown shaft from where the feathery fronds emerge. This fast growing palm can get up to 60 ft. tall but is usually much smaller if grown in the container.
Yard owners love this palm not only for its amazing looks, but also how well it can tolerate cold and hot conditions. Officially it can tolerate cold down to 30F but there are plants in Southern California that have survived cold below 25F.
In landscape this palm is great no matter where you plant it. It can be used to line a street, driveway or property line. Perfect for each side of the entry, as an architectural accent, or as a stand-alone.
5. Coconut Palm
Coconut Palm, scientific name Cocos nucifera, is one of the most popular palm trees in the world. Many cultures depend on its cultivation and use it for food, cosmetics, and lumber. But, is mostly known for its edible fruit ‘coconut’ that it starts producing when it’s about 6 years old.
It has graceful smooth grey slightly curved trunk and feathery arching leaves. It grows at a moderate rate up to 50 ft. tall. Coconut palm is very salt tolerant and grows well in sandy soil which make them perfect plant for beachside areas.
It’s not very cold tolerant plant and can withstand cold only down to 35F. Freezing temperatures can cause serious damage to this palm. It does best in full sun and well drained soil.
In landscape it’s used best as an accent near an entry, for lining driveway or a fence, as backdrop for smaller plants, or as a single yard specimen.
6. Cabbage Palm
Cabbage Palm, scientific name Sabal palmetto, is loved by gardeners because of its durability and cold tolerance. This large robust palm has a large single trunk with dense canopy of fan-shaped leaves.
It grows up to 50ft tall but may occasionally get to 70ft. Since there is no crown shaft, leaves emerge directly from the trunk which ends up covered with old leaf bases with a criss-cross pattern. With age, the bases fall off revealing a smooth brown trunk.
This palm is not only cold tolerant, but is also salt and drought tolerant. It can survive cold temperatures down to 10F! It likes full sun or light shade. It easily adapts to different types of soil and can but prefers moist well drained soil.
In the landscape, it is best used to line driveways, freeways, fences, and streets. You can use it in a group or as a single specimen. Also, because of its salt tolerance this is perfect palm to be frown on the beach.
7. Mexican Fan Palm
Mexican Fan Palm, scientific name Washingtonia robusta, has became very popular because of its striking appearance and durability. This fast growing palm can get up to 100 ft. tall but is usually around 60 ft.
While young, this stunning palm has attractive massive trunk covered with red-brown old leaf bases and a thick canopy of fan-shaped fronds. As it gets older, old brown leaves form a very long so called ‘hula skirt’ which has to be trimmed off. The old leaf bases fall off revealing a smooth trunk.
Mexican Fan Palm is one of the cold hardiest palms tolerating cold down to 10F. It easily adapts to wide range of soils but prefers moderate rich well drained soil. It likes full sun but can tolerate partial shade.
In landscape, it works best in large open areas or when planted at equal intervals along the street. You can also use it in groups against high buildings.
8. Canary Island Date Palm
Canary Date Palm, scientific name Phoenix canariensis, is one of the most popular palms used in commercial settings. It’s not very good palm for residences because of it’s massive size. A dense crown of deep green feathery leaves is supported by a large brown trunk covered with diamond pattern old leaf bases.
When young it grows at a slow rate which increases with age. It can get up to 40 ft tall although is known to reach over 60 ft. Canary Date Palm is cold hardy and can tolerate low temperatures down to 15F. It likes full sun and well drained soil.
In landscape, it is very imposing so best used in parks, on campuses, along boulevards, highways, or as a focal point in cityscapes. I wouldn’t use it in the yard unless you have mansion with plenty of room. Be careful planting it near the walkways since it has sharp teeth on the stems.
9. Christmas Palm
Christmas Palm, scientific name Veitchia merrillii or Adonidia merrillii, is one of the most popular palms in Florida because of its beautiful appearance and easy maintenance. It has a grey slender trunk covered with leaf scar rings and feathery arching fronds that emerge from a green crown shaft.
Because of its bright red fruits that look like Christmas ornaments it got it’s common name Christmas palm.
This small palm grows to about 12 – 20 ft tall but is much smaller if grown indoors. It likes full sun and moist but well drained soil. It can tolerate some salt and drought for a short period of time.
This palm is not considered to be cold hardy because it does not tolerate frost. It can withstand cold temperatures only down to 35F.
Because of its compact size, this palm is great for small scale planting. It looks best in a group settings of two or three. You can use by the entrance to the house or at the pool for some needed shade.
10. Fishtail Palm
Fishtail Palm, scientific name Caryota mitis, is a dense clustering palm that is perfect for creating a privacy wall. Gradeners like it because of its easy maintenance and afordable price.
It has slender stems that are topped with feathery fronds. Green leaflets have an unusual shape of a fish’s tail fin hence its name Fishtail palm. It grows at a moderate rate up to 15 ft. tall.
It likes full sun and moist but well drained soil. It can tolerate cold down to 35F but are also known to survive some light frost.
Since it can tolerate heavy shade, you can grow it indoors as a container plant. Outdoors, it works best as a shrub border, to line a fence, backdrop for other tropical plants, privacy screen or as an accent in the corner of the house.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I always love to hear from you.
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