Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Pygmy Date Palm, Robellini Palm
Phoenix roebelenii

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Phoenix (FEE-niks) (Info)
Species: roebelenii (roh-bel-EN-ee-eye) (Info)

Synonym:Phoenix roebelinii

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

19 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Tropicals and Tender Perennials

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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11 positives
11 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive stewdog On Mar 13, 2014, stewdog from Brooksville, FL wrote:

Weeki Wachee, Fl. 3/12/2013

I have been growing this speices of palm for over 40 yrs. It does not like temps below 50*. Here in Weeki Wachee the winters are cold. This year alone we've had three hard freezes. What I do is wrap them in insulated moving blankets. I also use king size bed comforters but that can be expensive. I will apply the wraps during the day (trap warmth) and depending on the length of the cold snap is how long I keep them covered. But I have 7 large groups and they are dark green and healthy and have survied three cold winters.. Our soil is very sandy but with the proper fertilizer and water they can be beautiful.

I also have 4 palms at my home on the Pamlico River in NC. Located in the upper NE section it gets cold but I have never done anything to protect these palms and yet they stay alive. Don't know the species but their palms.

Positive DaveTorquay On Feb 20, 2014, DaveTorquay from Torquay
United Kingdom (Zone 10b) wrote:

Phoenix roebelenii is as tough as old boots down here on the 'English Riviera'. It is fast overcoming the popularity of its bigger cousin Phoenix canariensis, which are already a dominant plant all across Torquay. I have grown Phoenix roebelenii outside for countless years, they grow in ground, in pots and even in hanging baskets (some particularly nice specimens can be seen hanging outside Sadies Fish Bar on Torre Abbey Road). At home in a shady border or in dappled shade, they love the sub-tropical climate here in Torquay, they wont however grow here in full sun, they scorch and shrivel up in our long hot dry summers (summers are particularly Mediterranean like here) so they need ample water from March until November, even in full shade. I had a solitary specimen that was planted out in 1986, bought as a tiny simple leafed seedling from Bill Spinks at the Palm Farm on Humberside (it arrived after just 3 days, in those days the Royal Mail actually delivered items in a prompt and courteous manner!) Potted up it sat in my kitchen window for 3 years before it got too big and was transfered to a 3lt pot. This sat out in a shady spot in the garden for the summer, it remained there all winter as I completely forgot it was there! (well I did have more pressing things on my mind, I was made redundant and had to ration electricity for 2 months, sitting in the dark on alternate days). Spring 1990 came around as I was going round the garden with my spade, clearing up my cats mess and flinging it over the fence (next door don't use their garden, the Jamican lady that lives there is bedridden, well she was then, come to think of she must still be, have not seen her since about, 1990? Funny the house has never been sold since and the same net curtains remain in the filthy windows, the curtains are also filthy and come to think of it during the hot summer of 1990 there was an awful smell permeating through an air brick and lots of flies were in the windows oh well, anyway) after I had just flicked a particularly large cat poo over the fence, to my surprise I discovered the Phoenix roebelenii was not just alive, but it didn't have a mark on it! Well that spurned me on to plant it out. The summer of 1990 was very warm, even for Torquay, the temperature reached at least 35C every day for approximately 42 days, the Phoenix roebelinii loved it (and the lashings of water I gave it every day). Over the years it developed into a tall palm, with a trunk 8ft tall, every year it flowered and fruited and self seeded too (do you need a male and female for it to do that? If so then one of the neighbours must have had a flowering one in their garden too (not the Jamaican lady next door though, she only had 10ft grass and cat poo in her garden) Seedlings began to pop up all over the garden and many times I had to thin them out, especially from my Impatiens border, the only colour I have (besides the Strelitzias and the Bougainvillea growing up the side of the bungalow) I even began to scatter seeds around whenever I popped into town, but the council must have weeded them out thinking they were Phoenix canariensis seedlings, as none ever appeared anywhere. All was well until the dreaded winter of 2010. This was like the film The Day After Tomorrow for Torquay, record low temperatures (records for the town go back as far as 1014) a low of 3C/37F and even reports of a light ground frost on the outskirts of the town! I feared the worst for my Phoenix roebelinii and by the next spring all the unripened fruits from the previous autumn had aborted! Horror of horrors. The poor things didn't stand a chance, so I felt it only right and the decent thing to do, I had to fell my Phoenix roebelenii. As it was quite tall, approximately 13.2ft, I asked my friend Fishy Dave (he keeps guppies and also owns a fishing boat in Brixham, the 'Jolly Dave', hence Fishy Dave, he doesn't smell fishy, well unless he's been fishing and then gone straight out without having a wash, he did that once when I met him for a drink in the Brewers Arms in Chelston) if he could give me a hand as I didn't want felling it to damage my border of Licuala's & Pritchardia's (some were quite rare species almost extinct in Hawaii). Fishy Dave held the guy rope as I hacked away with my axe. After a few strikes it came down, right onto the fence! I had to go round next door to the Jamaican lady, but she never answered the door, infact despite repeatedly knocking over the course of 3 weeks she never answered, so I gave up and bought a new fance panel myself, I suppose it was my fault the other one was damaged anyway. So in round up a perfect palm for Torquay's balmy climate, fully hardy and will self seed profusely when happy.

Positive OK580 On Nov 11, 2013, OK580 from Ada, OK wrote:

Not sure if this is typical of Pygmy Dates, but I left mine in a 5 gallon pot outside for a few nights around 30* here in Southern Oklahoma last winter, only to find 0 cold damage. After seeing this, I decided to test it a little, and see if it could handle our winters. It did beautifully, even trying to grow some in dec and jan (weeks in the 60s and 70s aren't uncommon here), until we got a cold front which dropped the temp in the 15* range left it with heavy leaf burn, but it came right back by spring and put on a couple inches of trunk this summer! Definitely not cold hardy here, but a very tough little tropical! Highly recommend it!

Neutral carolstropicals On Dec 10, 2012, carolstropicals from Bellaire, TX wrote:

Great Palm !! I always split up the 3 palms that are sold. One in an area is enough.
I had 2 established Phoenix palms freeze in Houston at 26 degrees never to come back.
I also had a nice size Phoenix in the back yard. When the gardener installed a watering system in the garden, he set the nozzles and spray hit the Phoenix whenever I watered. All at once the leaves began dying. At this point I found out that these palms are susceptible to some type of fungus. It wasn't helpful to spray with fungicide. I ended up losing this 20 year old palm to this problem. Best keep the watering nozzles well away from this palm. It was so sad.

Positive dogdays On May 19, 2011, dogdays from Sebring, FL wrote:

So far my experience is positive! I have 2 that I grew from seed I got from a neighbor's trees. Planted them in sand/potting soil mix and made sure to not let them dry out. They came up easily. That was about 3 years ago. They are about a foot tall now. One is still in a pot, other I planted out last fall. Took no precautions for freeze at all. Despite my front yard being fully open, it's sloped downhill towards a lake and I think that made the difference.

Positive Wombat1969 On Mar 28, 2011, Wombat1969 from Brussels
Belgium wrote:

I have a seven foot Roebilinii that I keep in a large pot planted in the ground in my city garden here in Brussels.

Though Belgium is classified as Zone 8, my garden has high walls and is facing south, creating a mico zone, pushing the actual zone to 9 at least.

This past winter, I left it in the ground as usual, wrapping the fronds and trunk, putting down a layer of leaves, and covering the whole plant in plastic.

We had a mild winter, with the coldest night going down to 28 F.

The tree has survived intact, and nary a bit of browning of the leaf tips. can indeed push the limit with this tree (and many other palms) if precautions are undertaken and the weather is closely watched! I imagine I would have been reluctant to leave it outside if the temperature had dropped below 20, but here in Belgium, we have plenty of warning of a cold spell approaching.



Neutral sunkissed On Jan 28, 2011, sunkissed from Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a beautiful landscape palm, but I wish now I never planted it. For the last two winters all the fronds turned brown from temperatures dipping to the upper twenties. It came back last year, but got it again this year. Mine is right up by the house which I know helps it stay warm, so it keeps some green on it and rebounds quickly. I've seen some under the canopy of large trees do well in the cold snaps, but some out in the open never did come back after last winter, or they did and just looked half dead.
If you live where the temperatures are going below thirty it will freeze and if it does rebound it takes almost until the very end of the summer to really look full and good again. All the covering did no good either, they are hard to cover really well with the sharp thorns on them.
Some friends of ours have one inside their pool enclosure and it did fine, I think if they are in or under some kind of protection like trees or screen enclosures, or very close to a house they will be fine, or suffer minor damage.

Positive JonthanJ On Sep 21, 2010, JonthanJ from Logansport, IN wrote:

I have grown several of these since I first got one growing in a tin can when an aunt returned from Florida c. 1960. Spider mites can be a serious problem, but what I want to add to this discussion is that my current one proved to be astonishingly enduring. Stored in the somewhat heated garage in the Fall of 2009, it languished pretty seriously. Growth stopped and all the visible leaves died. When I set it out for the summer with other houseplants anyway, the 3' trunk looked pretty dead. By mid summer, growth had resumed. Green leaf bases pushed out past the brown fuzz at the top of the stalk and then a growth bud popped out. The fronds are not yet full sized, but development is pretty aggressive. I would not have thought this possible in a plant that likes regular watering so much, but there you are.

Positive sune On Aug 8, 2009, sune from Kissimmee, FL wrote:

We have a three trunker (if that is the correct terminology) in our yard here in Central Florida. It has been in the ground for 6 years and is a lovely addition to our landscaping. Could someone please tell me what the white "cherry tomatoe" size clusters that appear are? Are they seeds? Can they be used to propogate more Robellini's? Thanks.

Neutral ArchAngeL01 On Mar 16, 2009, ArchAngeL01 from Myrtle Beach, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

this palm will not survive here, ive seen many planted and they all fry:( but i keep mine on screened porch w/overhang and it does wonderfull out their ,keep it moist and allow brite lite for best results:)

Neutral agentdonny007 On Nov 11, 2008, agentdonny007 from Las Vegas, NV (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant will grow in the Las Vegas area, however it's not as adaptable to our drier, hotter, low humidity climate. It doesn't seem to like our alkaline soil well and can suffer from deficiencies. Plants I have seen in the ground tend to have browning leaf edges. Best culture for Las Vegas would be in a container grown with some afternoon shade. My neighbor's yard is a great example of this. He has a pygmy date palm that looks good in a container near his driveway, and another one planted in the ground ten feet away that is showing significant distress and die back. Personally I have killed two of these plants unfortunately:( Alternate plants for Las Vegas to consider: Sago Palm, Mediterranean Fan Palm, and Pindo Palm. Canary Island Palm and True Date Palms are beautiful but will require much more space!

Neutral damienma On May 31, 2008, damienma from Cape Coral, FL wrote:

Grows well even though we're going through a drought right now. It was in my yard when I bought the house and it is a little too close to the driveway. I am very allergic to the spikes and I will swell up in a localized area when I get poked by the spikes. No matter how much protective clothing I wear when handling this plant, I always seemed to get spiked. I wouldn't put it near a walkway or where children might play.

Neutral paulforbes On Apr 23, 2008, paulforbes from Fresno, CA wrote:

leaves burn at around 30F, but survives. Mine are around 2' tall and were planted from 5 gal. 2 years ago. Very slow growing here.

Positive nick89 On May 20, 2007, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Pygmy Date Palm grows in Tallahassee, but very slowly and gets not as large as farther south. Here it survives winters best when it grows under the protection of tall evergreen trees, such as camphortrees or pines.

Neutral jturner67 On May 17, 2007, jturner67 from Harold, FL wrote:

I have had a triple for just over 2 years that is about 3 1/2 feet tall. I live in Northwest Florida(Gulf Breeze/Navarre) and that means zone 8b. I love the look of this palm.

Pro's: aggresive root system(mine made it through the worst part of Hurricane Dennis with no damage), likes acidic soil, loves full sun.

Con's: cold hardy to 25F(I wrapped the trunks with burlap, as instructed, but it was not enough. The temp dropped to 24F for 4 hours and most of the fronds got frost damaged. I was lucky that the trees survived. Some of my neighbors weren't so fortunate. Next time, I will wrap the fronds and cover them and the trunks. I just was able to prune the dead fronds since there are enough new fronds now.

Recommendations: If you live in a place that frequently drops below 30F, you will not like this palm. I wrap it about 4 times a winter. If temperature is not an issue, this is a great palm!
Beware the thorns close to the trunk!

Neutral davelodi On Mar 15, 2007, davelodi from Stockton, CA wrote:

I had two planted in ground and did quite well in Northern California (zone 9a-b) But this winter we had a hard freeze, down to low twenties/ high teens. They died. Dug them up today and returned to Lowe's and got two more. I like them and I hope we don't have a freeze like this one for another 10-15 years(or until I move to Hawaii). LOL

Neutral prsup59 On Jul 17, 2005, prsup59 from Bullhead City, AZ wrote:

I love this palm. It is having quite a struggle staying green here in Az. This is a particularly hot period for us. The average temp. for the last 3weeks has been 114. Some days it is up to 125. I have been watering it and it seems to be okay but the leaves are turning yellow on the fringes. I hope it survives its first summer!

Positive bobchang On Jun 23, 2005, bobchang from Huntington Beach, CA wrote:

This palm can easily be container-grown successfully indoors. Give it plenty of light (such as placement close to a south facing window or near/underneath a skylight) and it should thrive - the more light it receives, the faster it'll grow, and the taller and wider it'll get. Under optimal lighting, its growth rate can be quite spectacular; at lower levels of light growth becomes modest. It's root system is neither deep nor spread out - so you'll have the benefit of using a smaller pot. Light fertilization during the warm months should be sufficient to keep it happy. A healthy, young P. roebelenii does tend to get wide (especially if you buy 'em already planted in groups), so here's a tip: buy it as a single plant (directly from a nursery/grower) and grow it as such. Its thin, green, feathery leaves, small-ish mature size, and easy-care nature all combine to make it a winner inside your home or office.

Positive Scarlete On Aug 4, 2004, Scarlete from Tampa, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I really love this palm. It's gorgeous in my Tampa front yard. Doesn't seem to require *too* much pruning, which is nice because the thorns will get ya! The thorns are sharp and abundant.

It survives in a fairly shaded area. (I have two oaks in the front yard) I feed it about twice a year with a '9-4-9' 6 month fertilizer. I prune with leaves are turning more yellow than green. (it seems the practice in my neighborhood that pruning should be harsh, but they look so barren that way!)

Mine is about 5 feet tall, and I'm not sure how much bigger it will get considering the shade, but I'm happy with it's size.

The flowers are creamy white and if you mess with them you'll have much pollen on you and the surrounding plant.

I've not seen a seed yet, but this is my first year here and I'm just now really paying attention.

Neutral BrownZone8 On Jul 11, 2003, BrownZone8 from Statesboro, GA wrote:

I bought a couple of these nice looking palms this year and planted them in my yard, which is on the zone 8a-8b border. So far I have not heard of anyone having sucess with this one this far north, but the guy in Central Florida I bought them from said he had seen them survive a mild frost, so I'm optimistic. I'll most likely try to wrap them when it gets cold.

Positive palmbob On Jul 7, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is one of the most commonly grown palms in malls and public plantings in Southern California. It is hardy, despite its origins in tropical Asia, and is one of the more 'user friendly' Phoenix palms, having soft, feathery leaves. However, it still has some sharp, 1-2" spines at the base of each leaf, so careful when pruning. It is actually, for a palm, one of the faster growing palms in Southern California. Though it is the pigmy of the Phoenix, it can grow up to 15' tall (may take 20-30 years to get that tall, though). It is usually not a clumper, but sold in clumps, making it look that way.

Neutral ADKSpirit On Aug 31, 2002, ADKSpirit from Lake Placid, NY (Zone 4a) wrote:

This is a small, very slow growning palm. When I bought mine about 4 years ago it was about 15 inches tall. Now it's about 24-25 inches tall. Tolerates most watering conditions, but if it doesn't get enough the fronds will start to turn yellow. A little epsom salt will help feed it during the growing season. Makes a nice container-grown palm, but beware, it has long, sharp thorns along the fronds. Be careful when working around it and wear gloves when trimming off the dead fronds.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Orange Beach, Alabama
Bullhead City, Arizona
Goodyear, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (3 reports)
Queen Creek, Arizona
Surprise, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Alameda, California
Chula Vista, California
Clayton, California
Encino, California
Fairfield, California
Fontana, California
Foothill Farms, California
Fresno, California
Granite Bay, California
Hayward, California
Huntington Beach, California
Lake Elsinore, California
Martinez, California
Merced, California
Oceanside, California
Perris, California
Rancho Cucamonga, California
Rancho Mirage, California
Reseda, California
Rialto, California
Roseville, California
San Anselmo, California
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
San Leandro, California
San Pedro, California
Santa Barbara, California (2 reports)
Santee, California
Simi Valley, California
Temecula, California
Torrance, California
Upland, California
Ventura, California
Wildomar, California
Woodland Hills, California
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Bokeelia, Florida
Bradenton, Florida (2 reports)
Bradenton Beach, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida (2 reports)
Daytona Beach, Florida
Debary, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (3 reports)
Fort Mc Coy, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida (2 reports)
Lake Worth, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
Navarre, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
North Port, Florida
Orange Park, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Ruskin, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Stuart, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Tavares, Florida
Valrico, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida (3 reports)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Weston, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Winterville, Georgia
Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii
Plainfield, Indiana
Marrero, Louisiana
Metairie, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana (2 reports)
Zachary, Louisiana
Las Vegas, Nevada (2 reports)
Beaufort, South Carolina (2 reports)
Bluffton, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Swansea, South Carolina
Alvin, Texas
Austin, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Edinburg, Texas
Frisco, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Houston, Texas
La Vernia, Texas
Liberty Hill, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
Port Isabel, Texas
Port O Connor, Texas
San Marcos, Texas
Schertz, Texas

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