When you think of palm trees, it’s vast beaches and tropical environments that come to mind. However, palm trees are not just for beachfront property anymore. They can be planted in many other climates including the desert environment in Phoenix and the surrounding valley. Palm trees take require little water, and the maintenance can be done quickly by a trained professional. These trees are perfect for anyone who wants a piece of paradise in Arizona. Here are five palm species that would work beautifully to create your desert oasis. We’ve included maintenance and safety tips to help you choose.
1. Canary Island Date Palm
Canary Island Palms get their name from the Island they are native to, but they work well in a number of other environments as they are especially cold and heat hardy. They grow to be large palms, between 40-60 feet tall. The palm fronds can get up to 15 ft long and form a dense canopy. This is a great tree to plant near a property line to create shade coverage. In the springtime, this palm produces large stunning orange flowers that eventually result in a fruit. Although this fruit is suitable for eating, we wouldn’t recommend it due to the bitter taste.
Maintenance Tip: This tree needs soil rich in magnesium and potassium. If the soil is lacking these nutrients, the tips of the palm fronds will turn from a royal lush green to a brittle yellow. If you notice this on your palm, give us a call and we will come assess your tree/s and recommend a treatment plan.
Safety Tip: The fruit and flowers produced by this palm are nontoxic to humans and pets, and because of the bitter taste – most pets will leave them alone. However, immature Canary Palms that are not yet grown to a full size can produce palms that hang low enough to the ground that if touched, could cause painful cuts and skin abrasions. Since this species is relatively slow growing, this may be an issue if you have small children. If you currently have a Canary Palm that is too accessible for comfort, please call us at J&M Landscaping, and we will send out a professional to give you a quote for removal and recommend another species that would be more suitable for families with small children and pets.
2. California Fan Palm
The California Fan Palm can grow as tall as 66 feet and is rather long and narrow making it a species that is suitable for smaller landscapes. It contains waxy, fan-shaped leaves that can grow up to 6 feet long. It also produces fronds that are between 11 and 13 feet long. These fronds, which are just divided leaves, grow at the crown of the tree until they die, at which time they gracefully drape downwards to create a “skirt” near the top of the tree. This gives the tree a stunning and showy appearance to the trunk, which is why it is a very common choice among desert homeowners. In addition, this is the only species of palm that is native to the western United States, often found in deserts surrounding areas of water making it the original oasis palm! Because of that, it grows easily and naturally in dry arid climates, this is a very popular palm. This palm produces small black berries that were historically used in many ways by local Native American tribes.
Maintenance Tip: These palms grow very quickly. They can get to be 60ft tall in just 5 years! Because they are so fast growing it is important to have a trained professional to trim and maintain these trees.
Safety Tip: Due to the height of these trees, falling fronds can create a hazard to the surrounding landscapes and structures. The palms also have spikey almost hook-like appendages on the ends of the leaves which can cause a problem to children and pets when they fall, if these palms are not maintained and trimmed. You should never allow a child or pet to play on or near fallen Californian Palm tree fronds. If you are unable to perform regular maintenance on these giants, call us at (480) 238-4028 and we will come out and assess your needs for removal.
3. Mexican Fan Palm
Mexican fan palms are one of the tallest palm tree species and can reach heights of nearly 100 feet. They have long slender trunks that are smooth at the top and covered with rough scale-like bark towards the bottom. This palm variety boasts large bushy crowns on top, with leaves attached to very long stems. In the spring, they produce a beautiful orange or pink flower, which will eventually grow a non-toxic stone fruit. They are known to be cold hardy, resisting even freezing temperatures. Because of how durable and easy to grow these palms are as well as providing the ‘classic palm look’, they fit into a large variety of landscape applications.
Maintenance Tip: These palms are fairly easy to maintain but because of the sheer height, you will want a licensed professional that is able to perform elevated tree trimming safely and quickly. We at J&M Landscaping have trained and experienced professionals and will be happy to give you free estimates to trim and maintain your Mexican Fan Palms.
Safety Tip: The biggest risk of owning this species is that due to the long lean trunks, and quick growing cycle, they are at risk to fall. If you see one of these magnificent palms that are leaning or has a curve in the trunk – it increases the fall risk. Additionally, any exposed roots or roots that are breaking through and concrete or asphalt are also at a higher risk to fall. These trees can do substantial damage to people, pets, and property if they topple. If you see any of these signs please give us a call at J&M Landscaping and we will provide a quote for safe removal.
4. Hybrid Fan Palm
The hybrid palm is a combination of the Washigtonia filifera and the Washingtonia robusta species. This merging creates a beautiful medium sized palm that has a thicker trunk and broad fronds. It is a wonderful choice for direct sun and does not require irrigation. It is very hardy to weather, and because of the thicker trunks, it is also less likely to be a fall hazard. This variety typically grows to be about 15-20 feet tall with a canopy of about 10 feet. Because of the size, they are perfect for creating areas of lush paradise around pools. Hybrid Palms have beautiful reddish colored trunks and produce stunning white non-toxic flowers during springtime.
Maintenance Tip: These palms do not need much water. In fact, overwatering is one of the causes of failure in growing the Hybrid Fan Palms. They need to be planted away from water sources and can benefit from being planted on slightly elevated ground to avoid any ‘settling’ of rainwater near the base. Call us and we will be happy to provide an evaluation of your landscape and let you know the best placement for this magnificent palm!
Safety Tip: One of the only concerns for this easy growing and visually pleasing variety, is a fire hazard. Because it is fast growing but doesn’t often grow higher than nearby buildings or homes, the dead palm fronds can cause a big fire hazard when coming in contact or close proximity to structures. It is important to maintain the Hybrid Fan Palm so that it doesn’t have the ability to become a fire danger. If you are not able to maintain your palm or have a dead one on your property, please call us at (480) 238-4028 and we will immediately send someone out to discuss options and give a quote on safely removing it from your property.
5. Pygmy Date Palm
Pygmy Date Palms are a great dwarf variety for anyone looking for a stunning centerpiece or addition to any landscape and are very well suited for those on the smaller side. This palm can grow in single or multi-trunk varieties and can flourish in shady areas, making them a great filler between other palm trees or in areas shaded by nearby structures. These miniature palms are quick growing and boast elegant crowns full of lush deep green delicate fronds. They produce lovely cream-colored flowers, which in female varieties turn into dates.
Maintenance Tip: Due to the delicate wispy nature of these fronds, this palm doesn’t do well in direct sunlight. They do best when provided with afternoon shade. If exposed to too much sun, these gorgeous fronds can turn dry and yellow. If you think your Pygmy Date Palm is planted in an area of too much sun, you can contact us and we can easily transplant this variety to a more shaded area.
Safety Tip: These palms pose a significant risk to anyone who touches or handles them due to the sharp tips that grow out from the frond base. They can cause cuts and abrasions if not handled with proper had protection and long sleeves. If you have young children or pets that may brush up against these we will evaluate them for removal or transplant.
Do you need help with Palm Tree Care?
Jose has been caring for palm trees and cacti for many years. We offer services from trimming, pruning, skinning, and general care and maintenance. Contact us by filling out our online form or give us a call at (480) 238-4028 to get your free estimate today!