When the Canary Island palm trees were introduced to the USA, nobody expected them to be so popular. From the avenues of downtown Los Angeles, California to the sprawling gardens of the Everglades, Florida, the Canary palm tree brings grace and elegance to every corner and entryway. If you have enough space in your garden or lawn to accommodate a tree of its stature, then the Canary island palm is definitely a tree to consider.
But what if you don’t have a big garden, does that mean you can’t grow it? You can still grow this ornamental tree as a houseplant in a pot or a container indoors. Naturally, you’ll need to prune it to keep those long and overarching fronds under control. However, thanks to the Canary palm tree’s slow growth rate, that wouldn’t be a problem. Even if you have little to zero prior experience with indoor palm trees, you won’t have a problem with this one.
The Canary Palm Tree at a Glance
Originally from the Canary Islands, the Canary palm tree (Phoenix canariensis) has USDA hardiness zones between 9 and 11. This limits the geographical locations where it can grow to the southern parts of the country. But don’t let that discourage you if you live in a different hardiness zone. You can still grow the Canary Island palm tree indoors or in a greenhouse where you have more control over the temperature and humidity levels.
Out in the wild, this giant of a tree can grow for up to 60 feet. That’s probably more than you bargained for. The good news is you can keep this tropical tree well within 6 feet or less if you grow it as a houseplant. That said, it’s the width of the tree you should worry about more than the height. Once the Canary palm matures, it starts to grow both in girth in frond length.
But that usually takes years for the tree to reach its full height and start to grow sideways. During that time you get to enjoy the straight and feathery leaflets. They’re usually dark green, although the young ones start as yellow or lime-green. The main fronds grow out of the crown of the tree strong and solid. Then they arch once they reach a certain height. The outer frond tend to grow at a slower speed and when they die, they fall off to create a dark brown trunk.
The fruit of the Canary palm tree is edible although not very palatable. They’re usually yellow when ripe although the taste doesn’t improve and they remain a bit sourish.
Canary Palm Tree Benefits and Uses
With a giant tree that towers over 60 feet and a bushy crown at the very top, it’s hard to think of the Canary palm tree as more than just another tree. Even the dates are of no use to humans or animals. So what possible uses could this tropical tree have? As it turns out, there’s more to the Canary Island palm tree than meets the eye.
- Most people grow the Canary Palm tree whether indoors or outdoors as an ornamental plant. They have evergreen feathery fronds that brighten any spot you keep it in. The crown with the overarching leaves creates a tropical atmosphere. It is also low-maintenance so won’t demand much of your time or attention.
- The young fronds with their appealing colors are used in religious celebrations.
- The fronds are essential in weaving and basket making in certain cultures.
- Plant the tree in your entryway to give your property a unique distinction.
- Birds are attracted to the Canary palm tree and some of them feed on the dates and build nests.
- The yellow dates are another visual attraction especially with the green backdrop of the fronds.
- In its native habitat, the locals in Canary Island squeeze the buds of the tree to make a syrup which is a local delicacy.
- The fronds also serve another purpose to the fishermen in the Mediterranean. They weave them into underwater traps to catch pilot fish.
How to Grow the Canary Palm Tree
When it comes to growing the Canary palm tree you have to consider a few things. First and foremost, space. Do you have enough space in your garden or lawn to grow this tall tree? If yes, then all you have to do is make sure that your USDA hardiness zone is between 9 and 11. Otherwise, you will need to grow it indoors. Either in the house as a houseplant or in a greenhouse. The planting process itself is almost identical for both outdoor and indoor growing. Here’s how to grow the Canary palm tree from seeds.
- You can get the seeds from the dates of the palm tree. Just squeeze the dates to extract the seed. Wash it well and put it aside.
- Select a large pot with plenty of drainage holes at the bottom.
- Fill the pot with a good potting mix. General-purpose potting soil will do fine here.
- Dig a hole in the soil and insert the seed about one inch deep then cover it with soil. Don’t pack the soil.
- You can plant more than one seed in the pot. This pot is used for germination mainly.
- Water the soil to make it moist without overwatering it.
- Place the pot in a plastic bag and keep it in a warm room with the temperature around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep the soil damp and check on the seeds from time to time. Once they germinate, take them out of the plastic bag.
- After about one year, the seedlings will grow leaves. First, there will be one leaf but more will soon grow around it.
- Now the seedlings are strong enough to be transplanted. You can move each one to its own pot or plant them out in the garden.
- Choose a sunny spot in your garden and make sure the soil is well-drained.
- Dig a hole deep enough to take the small rootball of the seedling. Drop it in the hole and fill it with soil. Add mulch and water it.
- It will take about 15 years for the tree to grow about 10 feet. So patience is a virtue.
Canary Palm Tree Care
Time and patience are not the only things that the Canary Island palm tree demands out of you. You’ll also have to keep an eye on the slow-growing palm to make sure everything is going well for it. From the soil and fertilizer to watering, light, and pruning. Just because it grows a few inches every couple of years, doesn’t mean this tropical beauty won’t need maintenance.
The best type of soil for the Canary palm tree is well-drained soil. You can plant it in sandy soil, loamy soil, or even a slightly acidic type. What you don’t want to use is clay. It’s too heavy and would lead to root rot. Remember that this tree takes years to show any signs of progress. So if the root rots, you won’t know until it’s actually dead. Also, check the pH in the soil and make sure it’s not over the charts. Anything between 4.5 to 7.0 is fine. Even alkaline soil will do as long as it’s well-drained.
Light and Temperature
One of the best ways to know how much light and what kind of temperature your new plant needs is to check their original habitat. Canary Island gets flooded with the sun about 9 months a year. This means the spot where you grow your Canary palm tree needs to get about 8 hours of full sun every day. As for the temperature, it thrives in temperatures that don’t dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In some places, this hardy tropical tree can withstand cold temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. But these are not ideal conditions for its growth.
The new seedling needs watering every day. The watering is just light spraying that keeps the soil damp but not wet. After they establish roots, you can water them once a week. You should wait for the top 3 inches to go dry before you irrigate it. Once the tree matures, you won’t have to water it that often. The grown Canary palm tree is highly tolerant to drought and won’t require as frequent irrigation as the growing tree.
Even though they grow at a very small pace, that doesn’t mean that the magnificent Canary palm tree doesn’t need fertilizers. Even a mature palm tree needs a special palm fertilizer to keep its fronds looking bright and green. A palm fertilizer usually has the label 8-2-12 with a special focus on magnesium. The Canary palm tree needs magnesium to fight off diseases. Spread the fertilizer on the soil making sure it doesn’t touch the trunk of the tree. Water the soil immediately after you apply the fertilizer.
You won’t have to go out of your way to keep this exotic beauty looking its best. The Canary palm tree hardly grows out of proportion. However, you still need to check on the growing tree. Remove any dead fronds or rotting leaves and flowers. The best time to prune the tree is in the spring before the growth cycle.