Roebelenii Palm | Plant Guide

This plant guide has everything you need to know about the Roebelenii Palm (Pygmy Date Palm). Find all the basics and expert growing tips right here.

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The Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii), or simply Roebelenii, holds the status of most popular palms found in Florida landscapes.

Alternate names for the Phoenix roebelenii palm include: Pygmy Date Palm, Dwarf Date Palm, Miniature Date Palm, Robelin Palm, and Robellini Palm.

When a person thinks of Florida, they almost always think palm trees. That is why palm trees are a staple in Central Florida landscapes, and would be the obvious choice for yours!

But if your landscape area is smaller in size, look to the Roebelenii to give you the tropical flare you desire.

With its elegant, feathery fronds that flow in the breeze and its small size of 8-10 feet, its no wonder the Roebelenii remains a versatile and frequently used landscape focal point.

The pygmy date palm originiated in Southeast Asia. That makes this palm a great option for Central Florida’s warm climate in USDA Hardiness Zone 9b. Used abundantly in Central Florida landscapes, these palms do very well with minimal care.

In this post, let’s explore the Roebelenii (Pygmy Date Palm) in detail. We will talk about its characteristics, growing requirements, maintenance, and also it’s uses in landscaping.

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Characteristics and Appearance of the Roebelenii Palm

This palm has pinnate or feather-shaped leaves with spines at the base of the leaves. It also has peg-like leaf bases on the trunk. These characteristics give this palm a distinctive tropical aesthetic to Central Florida landscapes.

It grows to an average height of 8-10 feet, and can reach a maximum height of 12 feet. Although short and slow-growing, they do get fairly wide with a spread of 6-8 feet.

Be mindful of these size parameters when using them in landscaping. They shouldn’t be planted too close to the home or building.

Robellini palms have a slow growth rate. Their slow growth makes them perfect for small landscapes since they maintain their small size for quite some time.

Peg-like leaf bases give the Roebelenii’s trunk its signature texture.

They are single-stemmed palms, but landscapers usually plant them in clusters of 2, 3, or even 4. Closely planting them together gives the look of a multi-stemmed palm. This gives a fullness to the look of these palms, especially since their trunks are crooked and curved.

In addition to the trunks growing crooked or curved, they also grow to a diameter of 3-6 inches. They are also covered with peg-like leaf bases. These leaf bases give the Roebelenii’s trunk its signature “bumpy” or “spiky” texture.

More established pygmy date palms have aerial roots at the base.

The female pygmy date palm produces a reddish-brown to purple colored fruit that is edible. It resembles a date, hence its name.

Established Roebelenii palms have aerial roots at the base.

Light Requirements

The Roebelenii Palm grows well in partial shade to full sun.

Partial shade means direct sunlight only part of the day (2-6 hours). In fact, Robelinis that grow inland do best with partial shade.

Full sun means 6 or more hours of direct sunlight each day. Robelinis that grow close to the coast do best in full sun because they are exposed to more humidity.

The great thing about Roebelenii palms is that you can grow them indoors in a large pot or container. If you do grow your palm inside by a window, give your plant lots of bright, indirect light. Furthermore, give it a quarter turn every week. This ensures all leaves get an equal amount of sunlight.

Temperature Requirements

The Pygmy Date Palm originated in Southeast Asia and therefore grows best in tropical, warm climates with lots of humidity.

This palm tolerates temperatures down to 25°F. Central Florida rarely experiences temperatures this low. So that makes this palm perfect for your landscape.

You may find information out there stating these palms grow best in USDA Hardiness Zones 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b. But I assure you they grow throughout Central Florida landscapes located in Zone 9b.

Water requirements for Roebelenii Palm

Pygmy Date Palms can tolerate a bit of drought. And they also do not like “wet feet”. So it’s important to find the right balance. With that said, water your Roebelenii palm 2-3 times per week to keep it looking lush.

They cannot tolerate salt spray, thus making them a poor choice for coastal landscapes.

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Maintaining Your Roebelenii Palm

Soil

These palms do best in well-draining soil. You can help with water drainage by planting your palm on higher ground.

As your palm matures, aerial roots appear at the base of the trunk. This assists with proper drainage and also benefits the health of the palm.

When first planting your Robellini, add top soil or organic peat moss to amend the soil.

Fertilize

Provide adequate nutrition to your Roebelenii by fertilizing it with a quality palm fertilizer. Fertilize 3 times per year in the spring, summer, and fall.

Pruning

Your Robellini does not have a self-cleaning trunk. You may need to, occassionally, pull off lower dead fronds. You’ll know a frond is dead if it is completely brown and dry. Don’t pull off yellowing fronds as they provide nutrients to the rest of the palm.

Remember to wear gloves and protective eyewear while pruning this palm. Its sharp spines can severely injure your skin or eyes.

Spines at base of Roebelenii palm leaves. Wear protective eyewear and gloves while pruning.

Plant Spacing

Plant your Pygmy Date Palm as close as 3 feet to your home or building. If you can give it more space, however, that would be better.

Keep in mind the spread of the fronds can reach a diameter of 8 feet, so 4-5 feet from a structure is best. But if you need to plant it 3 feet from a structure, that should suffice since this palm grows slowly.

Most of the time these are planted as multi-trunk specimens. Therefore, position them to frame any architectural elements or other landscaping plants, and give them enough room to grow into their space.

Landscape Uses for Roebelenii Palm

These palms look great:

  • in small gardens
  • in clusters as a focal point in any size garden
  • as an indoor potted plant in a beautiful, large container
  • planted containers and placed next to a pool or patio
  • inside a pool enclosure planter that can accommodate its maximum 12-feet height
  • lined up on a median or strip of garden
  • at the center of a circular driveway

    Key Takeways from this Roebelenii Palm Plant Guide:

    • Popular choice as a focal point with a tropical look, especially when planted in clusters
    • Small palm that grows slowly
    • Cold hardy to 25°F
    • Grows in partial shade to full sun
    • Requires well-draining soil and can tolerate a bit of drought
    • Fertilize regularly 3 times per year during spring, summer, and fall with controlled-release granular palm fertilizer
    • Can grow in containers or large pots
    • Has sharp spines, so wear gloves and protective eyewear while pruning

    Other palms you might like: Areca Palm, Christmas Palm, Dwarf Sugar Palm, Lady Palm

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