Pygmy Date Palm Care

The Pygmy date palm is mainly grown for decorative purposes, with its large leaves and yellow-hued flowers being the centers of attraction.

Its trunk can get up to 78 inches in height and has beautiful decorative protuberances that grow from the positions once occupied by fronds.

The leaves of this plant form pinnate further-like that are delicate with each having up to 100 beautiful leaflets. If you are keen on growing this stunning plant in your spaces, read through this care guide.

What Is a Pygmy Date Palm?

The Pygmy date palm is an evergreen, small to medium-sized plant native to South-Eastern Asia and it belongs to the Arecaceae family.

The Pygmy Date Palm

It is mainly grown in borders and beds for its ornamental qualities. Apart from its stunning foliage, it also produces edible fruits.

Pygmy Date Palm Care

Proper care should be given to the Pygmy date palm to enhance its growth and foliage vibrancy. This plant is sensitive to over-exposure to certain care requirements which lead to growth problems, ill-looking foliage, and even death.

You should bear in mind that the Pygmy date palm’s leaves are normally 24 to 60 inches long and you would not like to lose them to neglect. Also, it takes up to five years of good care for the plant to be able to bear fruits so, if improperly grown, it takes even longer.

– Water Requirements

The Pygmy date palm is quite a drought tolerant but, it will survive only short dry spells. This plant is very sensitive to overwatering which results in discoloration of the foliage, stunted growth, and premature falling off of the Pygmy date fruit.

Try to keep the soil constantly moist and make sure that it does not remain soggy for a long time. This can be achieved by ensuring that efficient drainage facilities on the soil and pot are put in place to lose excess water in the system.

We recommend you to thoroughly water the Pygmy palm once a week provided it is grown in well-draining soil. It is important to check the moisture level first before watering because the soil can take more than a week to lose much water depending on certain environmental conditions.

Unlike in winter, during hot seasons water loss and uptake by the plant is high due to increased temperatures therefore watering should be more frequent. However, you should dip your finger into the soil and if you find the top two inches dry, watering is needed.

During the growing season, regular watering is required although it must be limited to avoid suffocating the root system. As winter approaches, your palm plant will no longer require the same watering frequency as in summer due to dormancy. During winter, you can water this palm tree once in a space of 15 days but, remember to check the soil’s wetness first.

– Light Requirements

The pygmy date plant can grow well in full sun or partially shaded places. Remember, this plant is tropical or semi-tropical and loves lots of sunshine to enhance its development.

Pygmy Date Palm Light

Position the Pygmy date palm close to the East-facing window for it to get the quality of sunlight it needs. You should rotate the plant to a quarter turn weekly so that all sides get exposure to sunlight to achieve even growth.

Avoid exposing the leaves of the Pygmy date palm to direct sun’s rays, especially during summer when sunlight is plenty. Too much exposure to direct sun scorches the leaves thereby taking away the vibrant green leaf color as well as burning the flowers.

– Soil Requirements

The Pygmy date palm grows well in a wide variety of soils types provided they have adequate organic matter as well as good drainage. When grown in containers, a soil-based potting mix that is porous is suitable for Pygmy date palm’s healthy development.

This type of potting mix is made up of equal parts of soil, organic, and non-organic matter. If you are not intending to buy a new or fresh potting mix from accredited suppliers, you can make your own at home but it should be sterilized to eliminate any weed seeds and diseases it may carry.

You can make the soil mix safe for the Pygmy date palm by pasteurizing it at 250 degrees Fahrenheit in a home oven. The soil should be placed in a shallow pan in batches of one to two pounds and covered with aluminum foil. Place a heat-proof thermometer in the soil before turning on the oven and it should read 180 degrees for 30 minutes for the process to be complete.

Organic matter promotes water retention and improves the drainage qualities of the soil. Additionally, the inclusion of composted organics like leaf mold, manure, and sphagnum peat moss enriches the soil mix with slow-release feeds.

Some inorganic materials like sharp builder’s sand are effective in promoting drainage and root development but are quite heavy when filled in large containers. A good alternative to consider is adding vermiculite to the soil mix as it is lightweight, loosens the soil, and absorbs moisture at the same time.

– Temperature Requirements

Temperatures that are between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 to 23 degrees Celsius) are ideal for the Pygmy date palm’s upkeep. If the temperature falls and remains below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), this plant will start responding negatively.

Pygmy Date Palm Temperature

If you decide to grow it outdoors, you should make sure that the plant is kept out of frost’s reach. Although it can endure a mild frost, it must always be kept in dry places to maintain its growth and health.

Bear in mind that any temperatures below freezing level kill the Pygmy date palm. When grown indoors, this plant adapts to optimum room temperature which is good for its upkeep.

In cases of lower outdoor temperatures, you should consider moving your potted plants indoors or to a spot with similar warm temperatures to keep them alive awaiting spring and summer that have favorable outdoor growing conditions.

If you decide to move your Pygmy date palms outdoors during spring or summer, do it gradually to help the plant acclimate to sunny or hotter conditions. This can be done by taking the plant outside for a few hours and moving it back indoors. You should continue doing this for at least one week, increasing the hours of outdoor exposure each day.

– Humidity Requirements

The Pygmy date palm thrives in humidity levels that are around 50 percent. Keep in mind that during dry spells, humidity falls posing danger to the plant’s survival, therefore, you should use moisture-increasing methods to revive and maintain the much-needed humidity levels in the plant’s immediate environment.

However, proper irrigation ensures that sufficient moisture is maintained around the plant. Misting the Pygmy date palm’s foliage is a very useful humidity-increasing method you can also consider.

During dry spells, placing the plant’s pot on a pebble tray is a good alternative to misting. This method ensures that moisture is increased in the environment without any extra water added to the leaves.

When compared to misting, the pebble tray system is advantageous in curbing rot and fungal infections that manifest on the leaves or crevices if they are left wet. You just have to make sure that the roots of your plant do not get in contact with water in the pebble tray system to avoid rot and other overwatering issues.

If you are practicing Pygmy date palm indoor growing, you can move them into bathrooms during dry air periods. The use of humidifiers is another moisture regulating method to consider. A humidifier is excellent and effective in maintaining set humidity levels even during your absence.

– Fertilizing Requirements

Feeding of the Pygmy date palm should be done during the period extending from spring to summer. You should apply a standard houseplant fertilizer that is diluted to half strength to the Phoenix roebelenii once a month. Fertilizing during the growing season encourages foliage growth, flowering, and healthy fruit production.

Please do not apply any fertilizers to this plant during winter as this plant will not be needing any growing supplements due to dormancy.

Fertilizing during this period will result in the burning of the roots which can extend to the foliage of the plant in extreme cases. An over-fertilized Pygmy date palm has a very small chance of bouncing back therefore, you need to be careful on this aspect.

In situations where the soil has a pH of seven or more, your Pygmy date palm will suffer from a lack of magnesium and potassium. In this case, you have to supplement these two therefore, for potassium supplementation, you should add potash or apply a high ‘K’ rated fertilizer to the soil.

Organic compost that is made from food waste is a good alternative. You can also use banana peelings as they are rich in potassium or add wood ash to the soil.

– Pruning 

Pruning the Pygmy date palm correctly improves the health and beauty of the entire plant in the long term. This plant is not self-cleaning and requires pruning periodically to remove all the dead, damaged, and diseased fronds to improve its aesthetic appearance as well as prolong its lifespan the same time.

However, healthy fronds should not be cut off above an imaginary nine and three o’clock horizontal line. If you prune this palm’s healthy fronds excessively, you will be reducing its source of nutrients thereby stunting its growth.

A continuously over-pruned Pygmy date palm, that is at 10 and 11 o’clock angles usually develop weakened narrow, and bottlenecked trunks. Also, the palm’s crown becomes more susceptible to cold and freezing conditions, especially in winter.

When undertaking the pruning process on your palms, you should cut the fronds close to its trunk. The aged fronds on mature palms take away the attractiveness of these plants and removing them will reveal their eye-catching knobby textured trunks.

The Pygmy date palm’s fronds have sharp spikes on the parts close to the trunk so, be careful when handling it. You should consider wearing protective gloves, eyewear, and long sleeves when pruning this palm. We recommend you use only sterilized cutting tools when pruning the Phoenix roebelenii to curb unnecessarily passing bacteria to the plant.


Propagating the Pygmy date palm is quite easy. A mature plant grows suckers along its base during the growing season and these can be used for propagation.

Pygmy Date Palm Propagation

The seed method is also used to propagate the Pygmy date palm although it is not as simple as the offshoot method. We advise you to carry out Pygmy date palm propagation during spring to give the young plants ample time to develop themselves as the growing seasons progress.

– Offshoot Propagation

You should gently cut off the suckers keeping their roots intact at the same time. This plant’s textured trunk adds to its beauty so, cutting off the offshoots which become bushy for propagation will be of great benefit. Clean off the soil from the offshoots’ roots and plant them in new pots with fresh soil. The young plants require the same care conditions as the mature ones.

Once new growth starts showing, the plant’s root system will have been established. Prepare a much larger pot and repot the young palm plant to its new home.

– Seed Propagation

First, harvest the Phoenix roebelenii’s fruits and extract the seeds for propagation. These seeds can be stored in a dry place over winter reserving them for sowing during the growing season.

It is also possible to plant the seeds immediately after extracting them but, you should soak them in water 48 hours before sowing. They should be sown in four-inch pots containing a 50/50 composition of perlite and potting compost.

The seeds should be covered with a one-inch thick layer of soil which must be kept warm and moist. The Pygmy date palm seedlings will start sprouting after about 30 days although it takes nearly three months for signs of life to be seen.

The seedlings should be big enough to be handled after three weeks from appearance. At this point, they should be transferred to six-inch pots containing a new 50/50 mixture of perlite and compost.

Keep the young plant in its new pot until the onset of the next growing season. In early spring, move the plant to the desired permanent place and give it the normal Pygmy palm care needs.


Pygmy date palms trees are quite problem-free despite being vulnerable to insect and mite infestation. These infestations can be easily dealt with through the provision of fresh air and wiping the leaves with a clean cloth as part of your plant maintenance routine.

Pygmy Date Palm Problems

You should consider removing any infected leaves, flowers, or fruits and properly dispose of them.

– Ganoderma Butt Rot

Pygmy date palms are not much vulnerable to diseases but they are prone to ganoderma butt rot attack if not well taken care of. Ganoderma butt rot is a fungal disease that is soil-borne affecting the bottom of the palm plant. In its early stages, you may notice the plant’s fronds wilting. The tree will start growing slowly, discolor, and look sickly.

Once you notice a mushroom-like growth known as a ‘conk’ growing on the trunk, a ganoderma attack is underway. This fungus can rapidly spread by water or air through spores that the conk releases.

Ganoderma cannot be treated by using fungicides or chemicals and there is no cure nor treatment for this disease. To stop any further spread and damage caused by the ganoderma, you should get rid of the entire plant including its roots once you notice a conk appearing on the trunk.

Remove the soil on which the infected plant was grown and never reuse it to avoid recurrences. If you do not remove an infected plant from your space early, it will eventually fail and fall endangering people and property nearby.

– Pestalotiopsis Leaf Spot

Prolonged exposure to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) makes the Pygmy date palm susceptible to pestalotiopsis leaf spot disease.

Once you notice some small necrotic spots on the leaves, you should get ready to deal with pestalotiopsis disease. If not treated early, the spots will eventually develop into dark lesions that have black dots. In the long run, this fungus also causes fruit rot.

You should avoid overhead watering as it increases the chances of fungus manifestation. Stressed plants are more vulnerable to pestalotiopsis infestation therefore, you should keep your plants well looked after to avoid such problems. If the infestation is in its early stages, it can be wiped out by using fungicides.

Large infestations will need you to remove the affected parts and dispose of them properly. Please note that pruning that is done because of disease infestation distorts the appearance of your plant unnecessarily so, including regular inspection in your routine Pygmy date palm maintenance is vital in early detection problems.

– Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny, oval-shaped pests that are about 1/50 inch in size and they thrive in warm and dry environments. They live by feeding on indoor-grown ornamental plants as well as outdoor trees and fruits.

Spider mites hibernate on the leaf undersides and thrive by feeding on the plant’s chlorophyll. They live in colonies, and once they infect your plants, thoroughly check the entire palm plant as there may be more of them in different areas.

Female spider mites begin laying eggs when they are only five days old. Their eggs hatch in about 72 hours adding to the currently available spider mite population. Keep in mind that spider mites’ life span stretches up to three or four weeks and they will be feeding on your plant’s tissues. Their population grows fast making it important to wipe them out earlier.

You can introduce predictors like lacewings, minute pirate bugs, and ladybugs to wipe out spider mites. Predatory insects can be acquired from garden stores and are suitable for outdoor pest control.

You can also consider using Neem oil and essential oils like coriander, spearmint, rosemary, and chamomile. To use these remedies effectively, you should get a spray bottle filled with water and add a few drops of the essential oils and apply it to the infected parts.

– Scales

Scales cause white spots on the leaves of the Pygmy date palm plant. They can be easily identified by their tiny, flat, and white bodies and they live by sucking out nutrients from the plant’s leaves. Once the nutrients get sucked out, the plant starts dying slowly. If not treated earlier, the Pygmy date palm’s leaves turn brown and collapse.

You can also notice ants on the Pygmy date palm’s foliage because they are attracted by some sticky substances that are excreted by scales. However, ants do not affect your plant in any way, but they are just signs of a scale infestation.

Spraying pyrethrin-based insecticides, insecticidal soaps, and horticultural oils is effective in scale elimination. Please, you should always read the instructions on the product’s container before applying it to your beloved plants.

– Mealybugs

Mealybugs are tiny, oval insects that are about 1/10 to ¼ inch long. These warm-weather insects secrete powdery waxy substances that act as their protective coating. If you notice some white cottony substances on the plants, a mealybug infestation is underway. These bugs suck out the sap from the plants leading to yellowing and dropping of the Pygmy date palm’s leaves.

Mealybugs cause the Phoenix roebelenii’s flower buds and fruits to fall off prematurely. If detected early, mealybugs can be eliminated easily whereas large populations are quite hard to deal with.

In large infestations, mealybugs excrete a lot of honeydew that encourages sooty mold fungus development. You can simply dislodge light mealybug populations from your plant using running water.

You can also dip a clean soft cloth or cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and apply it to the infested areas killing mealybugs instantly. The solution should not consist of more than 70 percent isopropyl alcohol to avoid burning the leaves.

Mealybugs can also be wiped out by spraying insecticidal soaps on the plant. Introducing natural predators like parasitoid wasps, lace bugs, and beetles is effective in dealing with mealybugs but this method can only be used on outdoor grown plants.

– Rachis Blight

The Rachis blight is commonly known as the petiole blight. Just like several other fungal infections, it causes discolored lesions or streaks on mature fronds’ petioles.

We recommend that you practice the best sanitation method possible around your plants to prevent the manifestation of the rachis blight. Continuously wet leaf surfaces encourage the manifestation of this fungi therefore, you should avoid overhead watering and ensure sufficient airflow is available.

Rachis blight is rare in healthy plants that are well taken care of. However, once you come across a rachis blight infection, you can use chemical fungicides to eliminate it.

Frequently Asked Questions

– Why Are My Pygmy Date Palm’s Leaves Turning Yellow?

Iron deficiency is one of the main reasons that cause the yellowing of leaves. If your palm tree is planted directly to the ground, replanting it a little deeper will help the roots to have a wide coverage to search for iron. Adding iron supplements to the soil can also solve this problem. The latter method can also be useful when used on Pygmy date palm potted plants.

– Should I Cut off Pygmy Date Brown Palm Leaves?

It is somehow heartbreaking to lose your precious palm tree leaves but, when they turn brown, you should cut them off. Old leaves turn brown and, you need to remove them to keep the plant stunning. However, new leaves will grow and restore the plant’s beauty.

– Is the Pygmy Date Palm Poisonous or Toxic?

Pygmy date palms are toxic to neither humans nor animals. If grown in ideal conditions, the edible pygmy date palm fruits called dates are produced. This plant also benefits the grower by purifying the air as they excel in removing formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, xylene, and benzene from the air. In this case, you do not have to be afraid to grow Pygmy date palms in the vicinity of kids and pets.


As shown in this article, neglected Pygmy date palms are more vulnerable to diseases and pests which leads to their collapse.

Let us go through some of the major points that we have covered in this plant care guide.

  • Pygmy date palms are not too selective about the soil type they are grown on so long it has enough organic matter and drainage qualities.
  • You should apply a standard houseplant fertilizer that is diluted to half strength to the Phoenix roebelenii once a month during the growing season.
  • Pygmy date palms are not self-cleaning and they require pruning periodically to remove all the dead, damaged, and diseased fronds thereby improving their aesthetic appearance.
  • You can propagate Pygmy date palms through the offshoot and seed methods. However, the offshoot method is much easier and faster.
  • Be on the lookout for mealybugs, scales, spider mites, and diseases like the ganoderma butt rot that can kill your plant if not dealt with in time.

The Pygmy date palm gives you an exclusive experience in your places due to the large leaves, flowers, and fruits that they come with. Get yours and enjoy the adventure!

5/5 - (18 votes)
Evergreen Seeds