Expert Tips for Growing a Beautiful Christmas Tree Palm

If you need a vacation but can't escape to a tropical destination, why not plant a Christmas palm tree? Before you ask: it is a common question, but no, the palm tree of the Christmas tree does not look like a Christmas tree!

Native to the Philippines and Malaysia, this attractive palm tree, also called Manila or royal dwarf palm, actually gets its name from the bright red berries that appear on mature trees, usually in late December.

Although it is a single stem tree, you will often find it planted in groups of 2 or 3 for aesthetic reasons. "With dark green foliage and red berries, it's an impressive tree," says Mica McMillan, Ph.D., professor of palm trees and ornamental horticulture at the University of Florida.

"It is a more compact palm tree so it works in smaller gardens and it is also less of a need and needs fertilizers than many other types of palm trees."

Here's what you need to know about growing a Christmas tree palm.

How do I care for a Christmas tree palm?

Christmas tree palms (Adonidia merrillii, formerly Veitchia merrillii) grow in zones 10B through 11 (find your zone here). Some people are lucky enough to plant them in pots on the patio or treat them as houseplants in cold climates.

"These palms don't resist frost well," says McMillan. "If you live north of the Orlando area and keep it outdoors in the summer, you will need to bring it indoors before the temperatures drop." Place it in a sunny south-facing window or use a crescent light in dark rooms.

Outdoors, choose a location in full sun, which means 6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day. This tree grows 20 to 30 feet tall with a canopy length of around 5 to 8 feet at maturity, so give it plenty of room! When planting, dig a hole 2-3 times the width of the pot, but not deeper. Place your tree in the hole with the root flare, where the base of the tree flares, above the ground.

Pay attention to this feature because planting too deep is a common mistake, says McMillan. Replace the soil, clean thoroughly, making sure there are no pockets of air, and water well. For potted Christmas palms, stick your finger in the dirt and water only when they're dry, as they don't like to get too soggy.

Once established, this palm is moderately drought tolerant and can withstand a little salt on the foliage. If desired, fertilize once a year with palm fertilizer.

These palms are self-cleaning, which means that when a leaf dies, it falls clean and falls to the ground. So you will never have to prune, just tidy under the tree as the foliage falls. These trees generally live 20 to 50 years.

Is Christmas Palm Toxic to Pets?

According to the ASPCA, the Christmas tree palm is not toxic to pets. However, any substance can cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested in large quantities, so keep your pets away from this tree if they like to eat what they can find! You can also cut the flowers before the 1-2 inch long oval pods develop to avoid this concern (or if you just don't want to get messy!).

Check this article with more non-toxic plants for your pets!

Why does my Christmas palm have yellow leaves?

Uh oh. This could be due to a deadly plant disease called lethal yellowing, which causes wilting and discoloration of the foliage. "These palms are very susceptible to this disease, but it only occurs on Christmas tree palms in Florida landscapes," says McMillan.

It is caused by a phytoplasma transmitted by an insect called leafhoppers. Unfortunately, there is no cure once your tree is affected, although it can be prevented with regular injections of an antibiotic into the trunk (which is not something that most homeowners can do).

We hope you enjoy this video about the Christmas palm:

Source: The Palmfather

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