Saw Palmetto Palm | Plant Guide

This plant guide has everything you need to know about the Saw Palmetto Palm and how to use it in your Central Florida landscape. Find all the basics plus expert growing tips right here.

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The Saw Palmetto Palm, scientifically known as Serenoa repens, is exactly the type of palm you need if you want a low maintenance small palm option, live on the coast, or if you’re looking to add low-height texture and Florida charm to your landscaping.

Alternate names for this palm include: Silver Saw Palmetto and Scrub Palm.

This is a palm thrives in a variety of growing conditions. It’s highly salt tolerant and therefore makes a great choice for coastal landscapes.

In addition to that, it’s a small palm, so that makes it a great choice for growing under well-established, taller trees.

You may have heard about Saw Palmetto, but not as a landscape plant. Many use the extract from its berries as a dietary supplement for symptoms related to an enlarged prostate. It is also promoted as a supplement to help treat chronic pelvic pain, migraine, hair loss, and other conditions.

Although sold widely, it remains uncertain if the extract provides its stated health benefits. Still, many people use it as an alternative medicine.

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These palms are native to Southeasten United States and grow in the wild from South Carolina to Texas and all the way south throughout Florida.

If you’re in search of an easy-care small palm native to Florida that also thrives in coastal conditions, the Saw Palmetto is the perfect choice for you.

In this post, let’s explore the Saw Palmetto Palm in detail. We will talk about its characteristics, growing requirements, maintenance, and also it’s uses in landscaping.

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Saw Palmetto (green variety) and Silver Saw Palmetto plants grouped together

Characteristics and Appearance of the Saw Palmetto Palm

Serenoa repens has multiple trunks. They clump together almost like shrubs or even as a thicket.

Their wide stems usually extend across the ground and produce fronds that look like fans. The color of this palm varies widely from green to silver to blue-silver. The color of the palm usually depends on its geographical location. Florida tends to have more of the silver colored Saw Palmettos.

Saw Palmettos grow slowly. They reach a typical height of 5-10 feet, and can spread to width of 4-10 feet.

Saw Palmetto flowers can attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees

Your palm will produce flowers in the spring. The flower stalks measure 3 feet in length, producing small yellow-white, fragrant flowers.

These fragant flowers attract butterflies and bees. In fact, bees attracted to its flowers create saw palmetto honey, known for its smoky and woody flavors.

In late summer and early fall, small yellow berries appear and then turn black when ripe. It’s the extract from these berries that become the active ingredient for dietary supplements to treat symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). A harvesting permit is required before harvesting the berries.

Light Requirements

The Saw Palmetto Palm thrives in full sun. However, it can also adapt to nearly all light conditions.

It’s native to Florida and will therefore do very well in all Central Florida light conditions, including partial shade.

Temperature Requirements

Saw Palmetto Palms grow natively throughout Southeastern US. As such, this palm is very hardy to Central Florida’s climate.

It even grows natively as far north as South Carolina, making it fairly cold hardy. It is cold hardy all the way down to 0°F. Rarely ever does it get that cold in Central Florida, so you can rest assured that your Saw Palmetto will survive the winter.

Water requirements for Saw Palmetto Palm

When you first plant your palm, it will need regular watering. However, once it becomes more mature and established, it can actually withstand drought conditions. So at that point, it will only need sparse watering.

Maintaining Your Saw Palmetto Palm

As a native Florida plant, this palm does not require too much fuss or maintenance.

Soil

To get the best results, ensure your soil drains properly after a heavy rain. Although these Saw Palmettos can tolerate a wide range of Central Florida soil conditions, you’ll get a healthier plant if you provide it with well-draining soil.

If your soil is not well-draining, then choose an area on higher ground to help with draining water around the palm.

There’s no need to amend your soil when you plant your Palmetto. It grows natively throught Florida’s sandy soil conditions and will do just fine in your yard’s soil, as well.

Fertilize

This truly is an easy-care palm and won’t need to be fertilized. It’s native to our area and that means the Central Florida soil conditions provide it with what it needs.

If you so desire, you can keep it in pristine condition by fertilizing it once a year with high quality controlled release palm fertilizer.

Pests and Diseases

Nothing to worry about here! Pests and diseases are not a major concern, especially when Saw Palmettos are planted here in Central Florida.

Pruning

Your Saw Palmetto only needs occassional pruning, if any at all. If absolutely necessary, cut off spent (brown and dried) fronds and old flower/fruit stems every now and then. Just be careful of the saw-like teeth on the stems and be sure to wear gardening gloves and protective eyewear while pruning.

Selecting the Right Location

Saw Palmettos can be difficult to move once established, so it’s important to get your planting location just right.

It has the word “saw” in its name for a reason. This palm grows saw-like teeth along its stems. These teeth can cause injury to people, especially children, passing by it. For example- on an adjacent pathway.

Keep in mind its 4-10 foot spread and plant it in a location that gives it ample room to grow without posing a threat to people. That means planting it away from driveways, sidewalks, pathways, and play areas.

Another noteworthy point is that the Saw Palmetto Palm is not a good option for locations that are vulnerable wildfires.

If you’ve never heard of it before, firewise landscaping is a way to incorporate fire safety into your landscape design. This helps to provide some safety to your home even when a fire comes close.

If you need to practice firewise landscaping your area or you simple want to take extra precaution, this palm is not a good choice.

Snowbirds

Saw Palmetto is a wonderful choice for snowbirds! It’s so low-maintenance and fuss-free. In addition to that, this palm will give your landscape that special touch of Florida charm.

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Landscape Uses for Saw Palmetto Palm

These palms look great:

  • as a backdrop for mixed border plants
  • anchoring a mixed garden bed
  • when used as a mid-height privacy hedge
  • when used as foundation planting to hide ugly features of a building or to cover a fence
  • at the base of tall, established trees or tall varieties of palms
  • and does well at homes by the ocean

Key Takeways for Saw Palmetto Palm (Serenoa repens)

  • Very low maintenance
  • Perfect as a privacy hedge
  • Native Florida palm
  • It’s flowers attract butterflies and bees
  • Tolerates a wide range of growing conditions
  • Salt tolerant, therefore great for coastal landscapes
  • Cold hardy to 0°F
  • Grows in full sun and also tolerates up to partial shade
  • No soil amending needed
  • No need to fertilize
  • Occassional pruning
  • Pests and diseases are not a major concern
  • Not a good option for firewise landscaping
  • Choose a location away from foot traffic because saw-like teeth on the stems can cause injuries
  • Good for snowbirds? Yes!

Other palms you might like: Areca palm, Christmas Palm, Roebelenii Palm, Dwarf Sugar Palm, Bamboo Palm

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