The Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) is a fantastic palm tree, suitable for growing in large pots on patios or as part of a tropical planting scheme in the garden. Hardy down to -6°C, it's ideal for adding an exotic touch to British and other temperate gardens.
Canary Island date palm bears a rounded crown of feathery, pinnate leaves up to 5m long, and a pineapple-like trunk, which is formed over many years from stumps of fallen leaves. Grown in pots, it can reach a height and spread of 1.5m, but if grown in a sheltered spot in open ground it could grow to 5m, with a spread of 3m.
How to grow Canary island date palm
Grow Phoenix canariensis in a large pot on a sunny patio or in a sheltered, sunny border as part of a tropical planting scheme. Feed with a dilute fertiliser once every three months during the growing season, and remove brown fronds as and when you need to. Bring it undercover for winter or wrap the fronds around the crown to protect it from the harshest winter weather.
How to care for Canary Island date palm
New growth forms from the centre of the plant in summer. When the outer leaves turn brown, remove them from the base, using secateurs or loppers. Only prune leaves facing downwards, removal of any upward-facing leaves may result in checked growth of the tree. Take care when handling the fronds as they have spines.
Water regularly during the summer months and fertilise one every three months, from March to September, with a dilute organic fertiliser.
Top-dress pot-grown palms with fresh compost annually, unless repotting into a slightly larger container.
In colder regions in autumn, tie the fronds together in a bundle at the top of the tree, to protect its crown from winter frosts.
How to propagate Canary Island date palm
While unlikely in the British climate, shoots may develop from the base of the trunk. These can be carefully detached along with roots that have formed, to propagate new plants. Transplant each shoot into a small pot of peat-free potting compost, and place it in a bright spot out of direct sunshine. Water just enough to keep the compost moist. New growth at the top will indicate a successful propagation – transplant into slightly larger pots when the roots have outgrown the pot. The best time to do this is in spring.
Growing Canary Island date palm – problem solving
Phoenix canariensis has no serious pest and disease issues. However, if growing in a conservatory or greenhouse, keep an eye out for webbing on the leaves, which could be caused by red spider mites, and check the leaves for signs of mealybugs, aphids and thrips.
Advice on buying Canary Island date palm
- Make sure you can provide your palm with optimum growing conditions. While hardy down to -6ºC, it's does best in a sunny, sheltered spot away from drying winds
- Always buy from a reputable supplier and check for signs of damage before planting