The elegant single-trunk queen palm tree is often used in landscapes throughout tropical and subtropical landscapes like Southern California and South Florida because it offers color throughout the year. Plumes of creamy white flowers are produced in the summer, and trailing clusters of orange fruit appear at the beginning of winter. The tree will reach a mature height that is up to 60 feet depending on the site conditions. It has the standard palm tree shape, featuring graceful arching fronds at the top of the trunk. The feathery, glossy green fronds are pinnately compound, each up to 15 feet long. The fronds may turn yellow or brown as they age and die.
The queen palm is a fast-growing tree once planted in any warm season, growing around two to six feet a year after it's established and depending on its site.
|Botanical Name||Syagrus romanzoffiana|
|Common Name||Queen palm, cocos palm, cocos plumosa, jeriva|
|Mature Size||50-60 feet high|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil pH||Acidic (6.0 to 6.5)|
|Hardiness Zones||9-11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||South America|
Queen Palm Care
Queen palms are suitable for commercial and residential plantings. They live between 70 to 100 years in tropical environments. It isn't uncommon to see them used along streets and sidewalks. Its fruit, called dates, is commonly eaten by birds and mammals. The dates fall in large, heavy clusters and turn into sticky piles of rotting fruit, which may also cause tiny unwanted seedlings to sprout from the abundance of seeds. So consider this when planning yard care.
Some areas consider this tree to be invasive, including Florida. Contact your local extension office or nursery to check on the status in your location.
Plant your queen palm in a location that will receive full sun. Some light shade will not harm the tree.
The best growth occurs in sandy, acidic soils. These palms can have problems with retrieving enough minerals from alkaline soils. The deficiency of various minerals in the soil will present itself in the following ways and indicate the need for soil amendment:
- Potassium deficiency: can cause the tips of the oldest fronds to frizzle
- Magnesium deficiency: can cause the bases of new fronds to frizzle
- Iron deficiency: can cause uniformly new yellow leaves
Queen palms need moderate watering, with more attention when they are young. After the tree is established, water a few times a week in the summer and winter.
Temperature and Humidity
The queen palm loves the hot and humid environment, especially that of South Florida because it is also moderately tolerant of salt spray. The tree may be susceptible to frosts in zone 9, but a well-established tree can temporarily tolerate colder temperatures that dip to 15 degrees.
Use a fertilizer two times a year. Choose one that offers the trace elements, especially if the soil is not sandy. Fertilizers that are specifically made for palm trees are available. Before you fertilize for the first time, it is a good idea to send your soil off to the extension service for testing to assess the current soil makeup.
Queen Palm Varieties
Varieties of the queen palm for zones 10 to 11 include the following:
- Arikury palm, a smaller tree that grows 12 feet high
- Licury palm, with olive green and silvery green spiral leaves, grows 35 feet high
- Overtop palm, with a tall gray trunk, grows 60 feet high
Do not take off too many green fronds at once or the tree will struggle. The fronds tend to stay on the tree after they turn brown and die, so be prepared to prune them to keep pests and diseases at bay. The queen palm is not considered a "self-cleaning" palm that sheds its fronds. It will also approve the appearance of your palm tree.
The tree may be damaged by freezing temperatures. These can be pruned away if the damage is severe.
How to Grow Queen Palm From Seed
You can propagate this tree by collecting and planting the seeds from the fruit.
- When the fruit falls to the ground and is nearly or fully ripe, remove the fruit pulp from the seeds.
- Soak the seeds in water for a few days (you may need to do this first to soften the fruit pulp, then soak again after pulp removal).
- Plant seeds in well-drained, moist potting soil.
- Keep them germinating in a spot that's hot to at least 90 degrees.
- Germination is slow and usually erratic, taking place anywhere from six weeks up to six months.
- When the seedling looks strong, plant it in a sunny location.
Common Pests and Diseases
Possible pests include the palm leaf skeletonizer (a caterpillar/moth), which hides and feeds under a silk mat that needs to be removed from leaves with water from a high-pressure garden hose. Insecticides will not help eliminate this pest. Other pest problems that can affect queen palm include scale and spider mites.
Happily, the queen palm does not succumb to lethal yellowing disease, which affects many other types of palms. But take care of the queen palm tree trunk because it is susceptible to damage, which could spread disease. Potential diseases include:
- Fusarium fungus and wilt
- Ganoderma butt rot
- Oak root rot
- Pink rot