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Needle Palm Tree for Sale - Buying & Growing Guide

  • Needle Palm Tree
  • Needle Palm Tree up close
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Rhapidophyllum hystrix
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Have you ever wished to add a palm tree to your yard but worried that it might get a bit too big for its growing space? If you have, then the needle palm tree, or Rhapidophyllum hystrix, is a plant that you should try. This species has the distinct tropical appearance that palms offer but remains relatively small at less than 10 feet. This plant also shows impressive bark and foliage, both of which have a spiky texture. 

  • Sharp green palm leaves give a classic tropical look.
  • Moderate size and shrub-like form make this plant easy to manage.
  • Minimal care requirements and resistance to most animal browsing.

Plant Care

Sunlight

p-care-1

The needle palm tree grows best in full sun but survives in partial shade as well.

Watering

p-care-2

Water this tree about once per week — more during droughts or just after planting.

Fertilizing

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Use a balanced fertilizer or one specified for palm plants about once or twice per year.

Planting and Care

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by John Haryasz | Horticulture Writer and Landscape Designer – last update on April 27, 2022

Planting instructions

Needle palm trees are not finicky at all about their growing location. They can survive where there is full or partial sunlight and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. As long as the soil has good drainage, your needle palm should adapt well. After finding a location, dig a wide planting hole and loosen the roots of your plant to encourage them to spread. Perform your planting in the spring or summer months for the best results.

Watering and nutrients

Young needle palm trees that have just been planted should receive water multiple times per week for the first few months or more. Once this tree has become established, you can give it water about once per week. Provide water in a slow trickle until the entire soil area is wet, and increase your watering rate when the weather is exceptionally hot and dry. Fertilization should occur about once or twice per year. When applying, use a mix that is specifically formulated for palm trees or one that has a balance of the three main micronutrients.

Pollination

Pollination for a needle palm usually takes place during the spring and summer. This species is known to carry male and female flowers on different plants rather than being self-pollinating. As such, if pollination is your goal, then you will need to purchase both a male and female plant. When pollination occurs, the plant produces a tiny drupe fruit that is no more than a few centimeters long. However, producing fruits from needle palm is a rare goal that few pursue. Instead, the needle palm adds value to the landscape via its ornamental foliage.

Pruning

Perform your pruning in the spring with a set of loppers that are both sharp and sterile. Ensuring both of those traits allows you to make clean cuts while minimizing the spread of disease. Find parts of the plant that show damage or are turning a yellow color. Remove entire fronds by cutting each stem near where it meets the trunk. While pruning, try to avoid taking off foliage that appears healthy and green and, if you do, keep the removal to a minimum.

Pests, diseases, and animals

Needle palm trees boast an incredible resistance to most diseases and pests, which is part of the reason that so many people love to plant them. On a rare occasion, this plant may have issues with mealybugs or other small insects, but these pests won’t be an issue in most cases. Most problems related to this palm tree come from adverse growing conditions or poor care. For example, too much sun, water, or fertilizer could cause this plant to decline in some scenarios.

Achieving maximum results

Gardeners who grow the needle palm need to be wary of its texture. As the name suggests, this plant is quite sharp, which is part of the reason it is so resistant to browsing. Both the bark and the foliage are pointed enough to damage your skin, so be careful while planting or otherwise handling this plant. You should also take advantage of this palm’s moderate size by incorporating it into border plantings or allowing it to be a focal point in your garden spaces.

FAQs

How fast does a needle palm tree grow?

Needle palm trees are somewhat slow-growing compared to other species and happen to be quite small as well. Over several decades of continued growth, this plant will rarely reach more than 8 feet tall. During each growing season, this palm tree produces just one or a few palm fronds. At times, it can take several years before this palm takes on a full and bushy appearance.

Can needle palm trees tolerate the cold?

Part of the reason that so few people grow palm trees in their yards is that these plants are stereotypically intolerant of cold. However, the needle palm tree is a bit different. Compared to most palms, the needle palm tree is a quite cold-hardy plant and can survive in temperatures that occasionally fall below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Since this plant is so adaptable to cold, those in more northern regions can enjoy growing it in their gardens.

Does the needle palm tree have deep roots?

Most needle palm trees do not develop deep roots, which only adds to this plant's versatility. Like many palms, the roots of a needle palm tree rarely go deeper than a few feet into the ground. This non-pervasive root system offers a few advantages. Mainly, needle palm trees will not compete aggressively with other plants searching for soil space. They can also be relatively easy to transplant based on the minimal size of this root system.

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Customer Reviews

Anonymous
Verified Buyer May 13, 2020 at 2:49am
ratingApple tree

Overall was great! Alberto was amazing! How do I take care of my fruit trees in home location?

  • deer-resistant
    Deer Resistant
Mature height
3-9 ft
Mature width
6-8 ft
Sunlight requirement
Full Sun
Growth rate
Slow
Botanical name
Rhapidophyllum hystrix
Shipping exclusions
AZ
Grows Well In Zones
7-10
map
Growing Zones: 7-10 i Growing zones help determine if a particular plant is likely to grow well in a location. It identifies the average annual minimum winter temperatures across the U.S. provided as a map by the USDA.
(hardy down to -10°F)

Needle Palm Tree

Rhapidophyllum hystrix
  • Ships in 1-2 days
  • 1-Year Warranty Eligible
  • Pots or accessories are not included unless specified in the product options.
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