The Proper Care of a Canary Palm

by Michelle Wishhart

The Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) is a slow-growing palm that is worth the wait, eventually reaching an impressive mature height of 50 to 60 feet. The palm has a thick, diamond-patterned trunk up to 4 feet wide, topped with a stately crown of green fronds up to 15 feet long. In addition to requiring plenty of space, Canary Island date palm requires proper care to reach its full ornamental potential.

1. Location

A native of the Canary Islands off the coast of northern Africa, Canary Island date palm is a warm weather-loving tree that grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. The tree can tolerate temperatures as low as 28 degrees Fahrenheit, though unattractive and potentially long-lasting frost damage will occur at 20 F, notes University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension. The tree requires full, bright sun.

2. Soil

The Canary Island date palm is quite adaptable and will grow in most soil types as long as soil is well-draining. Container plants do best in a sandy, sharply draining potting soil. Though an adult tree is moderately drought tolerant, a young palm must be watered regularly to encourage a healthy appearance and to speed growth. The Canary Island date palm has a moderate to high tolerance of salty coastal conditions.

3. Fertilizer

Older fronds often become yellow due to a deficiency of vital micronutrients, such as magnesium or potassium, in the soil. "The Gainesville Sun " advises correcting this by applying 1 pound per 100 square feet of an 8-2-12+4Mg fertilizer that also contains micronutrients. If grass is growing under the tree, this may be another cause of frond yellowing, as high-nitrogen lawn fertilizers can disrupt the delicate nutrient balance.

4. Pruning

A Canary Island date palm's fronds should never be removed for aesthetic reasons, cautions University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Only remove dead or dying fronds or fronds that cause a potential safety hazard or visibility issue. Removing healthy green fronds depletes the tree of vital energy reserves. Consider hiring a professional to trim the tree because the palm fronds have dangerously sharp spikes. Remove fruits and flowers, which take energy away from the production of leaves and can stain sidewalks and structures.