This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

June 7, 2017

Why you should, and shouldn't, plant a palm tree

I like trees. I've always felt that way. I feel better around foliage, I like gardens, I like plants. I've been accused of "living by photosynthesis" and in my younger days in college my fascination with plants made people wonder if I wanted to smoke them? And that leads me into why you should, or shouldn't, plant a particular type of tree. It will depend on your motivation.

Speaking for myself, I just love looking at tropical foliage. I grew up in Minnesota, and anything that showed a palm tree made me think of paradise. I wanted to grow up and live somewhere like that. I live in the Phoenix area now, and yes, you can grow palm trees there. The same with Los Angeles, or the South of France, or Tahiti. So I want live where I can always see palm trees.

But palm trees shouldn't be confused with shade trees. I live in a VERY warm climate, and shade trees are wonderful. If you plant palm trees where you should have a shade tree, you have made a mistake. So start there - shade first, palm trees second.

I have a small suburban lot, and the only palm trees I have are miniature ones. Unless your property is very large, full-sized palm trees are a mistake, and you will just be looking at telephone poles in a couple of years.

The palm trees I have here in the Tropical Paradise are dwarf date palms (Phoenix roebellini). You can get them at any nursery, at any Home Depot, they're common. The ones in the photo at the top of this post have been there for about twenty years, and they're just getting taller than the wall, which is six feet. They're big miniatures, like jumbo shrimp. They're more expensive than the full-sized palms (which would have been telephone poles years ago) so when you compare prices keep that in mind. You don't want a full-sized palm - they'll all look the same in the little pots, so read the tag!

When I walk out into my yard the first thing my eye goes to is a palm tree. The foliage sways gently in the breeze, and makes me think of exotic places where I dreamed of living someday. And that's where I live, in a tropical paradise.
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