The Canary Island Date Palm is a large, spectacular feather palm with a large crown of long, arching leaves and a straight, massive trunk that is covered in diamond-shaped, spirally arranged leaf scars. It is a tall palm that usually grows up to 40-60 feet tall in cultivation but can grow up to 90 feet tall in the wild. It is one of the hardiest feather palms and it widely grown in the southern United States from southern South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama to Texas and in the southwestern United States from Arizona to northern California. It is a true date palm and the female plants (it is dioecious so a male and a female plant are required for fruits and seeds to be produced) bear large clusters of orange, edible dates. It is endemic to the Canary Islands, which are a group of small, volcanic islands that are off of the western coast of Africa.
The trunk is thick, columnar, gray-brown and up to 4 feet in diameter. The rounded canopy of gracefully spreading leaves is 20-40' wide. The pinnate fronds are 15-20' long). Each frond has 80-100 rigid, narrow, lanceolate leaflets (to 12-18" long) on each side of the central rachis. The leafless lower portion of each petiole is covered with sharp spines (2-3" long). Creamy white to pale yellow flowers in dense, pendant panicles (to 3-4' long) bloom on male and female plants (dioecious) intermittently throughout the year. The fruit clusters are on long stalks and the stalk and branches are bright orange. The fruits are orange or yellow-orange and about 1 inch long. The fruit clusters are showy and very ornamental features of this plant.
Phoenix canariensis is best grown in fertile, medium moisture, well drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Although this palm will withstand some frost in winter, it is likely to suffer significant frond damage or die when temperatures dip to 20 degrees F. Best with deep and even moisture. Established plants have respectable drought tolerance. This palm performs well in containers where much more compact growth typically occurs. Container plants often thrive in a soil based potting mix in full sun, but with some part shade during the heat of the day. In cool climates, containers may be overwintered indoors in bright but cool (55-65 degree F.) temperatures. If container soils are overwatered, leaflet tips turn yellowish-black. If container soils are underwatered, fronds will sag. Reduce watering of indoor plants in winter but do not allow soils to totally dry out. Container plants tend to remain compact for long periods of time.
Garden Uses. Where winter hardy, this palm may be grown in a variety of locations including along streets, slopes, skylines or parks. Excellent in groves or small groupings. It can be planted on residential lawns as a specimen, but it needs a very large space. Additional residential area options include growth as a container plant on patios or near entrances. Where winter temperatures are too cool, container plants can be overwintered indoors. Hardy in zones 8-12.
- Soak the seed in water for 24-48 hours.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Put the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the seeds.
- Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.