How to Grow Queen Palms in Containers

by Eulalia Palomo

The queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) stays compact when grown in a container or planter, creating a tropical feel for your indoor and outdoor living spaces. This elegant palm has a smooth, pale trunk, glossy green fronds and bright orange berries that hang in rich clusters from the base of the leaves. Grow queen palms in containers outdoors during the summer or year-round within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9b through 11.

1 Plant a new queen palm in a container 1 to 2 inches larger than the nursery pot. You can use a ceramic, plastic, wood or metal container as long as it has one or more holes in the bottom for drainage. Use a shallow saucer or tray under the container to catch excess water and protect surfaces. Use a quality potting soil designed to drain well.

2 Water queen palms when the top quarter-inch of soil dries out. Use enough water to thoroughly soak the potting soil. Look for water seeping out of the drainage holes, indicating that the water has penetrated all the way through the pot. Allow the water to drain through, then lift the container and empty the tray or saucer under the pot to prevent water from standing around at the root base.

3 Fertilize every four months using a slow-release all-purpose plant food. Use 4 tablespoons for each 24 inches of pot diameter when growing queen palms indoors. If your container tree is outdoors, use 8 tablespoons for each 24 inches of pot diameter. Sprinkle the fertilizer onto the soil, then water the container thoroughly.

4 Clip off dead fronds from the outside of the canopy where they attach to the trunk using a pair of sharp clippers or garden scissors. Wait until the whole frond turns brown and brittle. As queen palms grow, the outer leaves die and eventually shed off. Avoid trimming or clipping fronds from the interior of the canopy.

5 Repot a queen palm when it outgrows the current pot. Check the root growth by turning the container on its side and slipping the palm out of the pot. If the roots are twisted around the outside of the root ball, repot into a container 1 to 2 inches larger than the current pot. If you want to keep a queen palm tree small, prune the roots instead of repotting, cutting off the roots that wind around the outside of the root ball. Repot into the same container and add fresh potting soil.

6 Look for scale infestations and treat them with ready-mixed horticultural oil, sprayed directly on the infested area, in late winter or in summer. Scale, a common pest on both houseplants and outdoor plants, causes wilting and yellowing. Scale appears as round or oblong, raised welts on the plant. Use a narrow-range horticultural oil.

7 Keep an eye out for palm leaf skeletonizer, a brown moth, that infests queen palm trees. Look for brown skeletinization under the leaves. Wash off palm leaf skeletonizer with a strong get of water as soon as you notice an infestation.

Items you will need

  • General purpose slow-release fertilizer
  • Clippers or garden scissors
  • Narrow-range horticultural oil

Tips

  • Indoors, keep queen palms in a brightly lit room or a porch area. This palm likes lots of sun.
  • Clean indoor container-grown queen palms by spraying the leaves with fresh water or wiping them down with a damp cloth. Outdoors, give the leaves a quick spritz with the hose to clean dust and dirt from the canopy.

Warning

  • Never prune the canopy of a queen palm to reduce the height or spread of the tree. Once cut, palm fronds never recover and removing excess fronds can damage the whole plant. You can clip off dead leaves from the outside of the canopy.

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