How to Grow Robellini Palms

These dwarf palm trees make great houseplants and landscape accents alike.

Robellini palms (Phoenix roebelenii) planted in a city park in Turkey.

OlyaSolodenko / Getty Images

Robellini palms are dwarf palm trees that are popular among landscapers and houseplant enthusiasts alike. Their small size makes them versatile and they grow well individually or when planted in clusters. Robellini palms are frequently used as accent plants in landscaping, in containers, and indoors as houseplants. Characterized by graceful fronds that grow between 3 to 5 feet long and a thin trunk, robellini palms are sure to add a tropical flair to any space.

 Botanical Name Phoenix roebelenii
Common Name  Robellini palm, pygmy date palm, miniature date palm 
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size  6-12 ft. tall, 10 ft. wide 
Sun Exposure  Full, partial 
Soil Type  Moist but well-drained 
Soil pH  Acidic, neutral, alkaline 
Bloom Time  Spring 
Flower Color  White 
Hardiness Zones  9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
Native Area  Asia, Africa 
Toxicity   Non-toxic

Robellini Palm Care

These miniature palms require specific conditions in order to thrive, both indoors and outdoors. Generally, robellini palms require warm, humid conditions, regular watering, and consistent sunlight. Healthy trees will produce small white flowers in the spring which will eventually develop into miniature dates that are reddish-purple when ripe. These dates are the seed pods of the robellini palm. 

Light

The amount of light that robellini palms require depends on a few factors; first, whether you will be growing your palm indoors or outdoors. Indoors, robellini palms should be given as much light as possible, ideally at least 6 hours a day of direct sunlight.

Outdoors, the ideal amount of light will depend on the gardener’s location. For example, in climates that experience extreme heat and intense UV, robellini palms benefit from locations that receive some protection from the hot afternoon sun. Conversely, in milder climates, these palms should be planted in a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.

Soil

Robellini palms prefer moist, but well-drained soils. This means the soil should have an adequate amount of organic matter which helps to retain moisture, but also include plenty of inorganic matter (such as perlite) which helps with drainage. Avoid soil that is either extremely acidic or extremely alkaline. Robellini palms require soil that is acidic to slightly alkaline. A pH meter can be used to measure the soil pH level. If the pH of the palm’s soil is off, amend the soil with lime or sulfate to balance the pH.

Water

While robellini palms can tolerate short periods of drought, these palms should be watered regularly so that the soil never dries out completely. Water deeply once the soil has partially dried. Recently-planted robellini palms should be watered daily for the first two weeks to help establish deep roots, after which watering can be reduced to 2-3 times a week, depending on temperature conditions. As a general tip, the best time to water robellini palms is during the morning or evening, and you should avoid watering during the hottest times of day.

Temperature and Humidity

Like most palm trees, the robellini palm requires warm, humid conditions. This dwarf palm is not frost-tolerant and is hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11. If you live in an area that experiences cold winters, it may be best to grow your robellini palm in a container so that it can be moved indoors during the winter months. If you are growing your robellini palm indoors, be sure to keep it away from drafty vents or air conditioners.

Fertilizer

Robellini palm trees benefit from regular fertilization. Mature trees should be fertilized three times a year with a balanced fertilizer designed for palms. Younger trees and seedlings should be fertilized once a month to help encourage strong growth.

Are Robellini Palms Toxic?

Good news, pet parents! Unlike some other palm varieties (we’re looking at you sago palm), the robellini palm is considered non-toxic for cats and dogs if ingested. That being said, they aren’t necessarily considered edible so snacking is not encouraged.

Pruning

Robellini palms can benefit from occasional pruning, however, it is important that the pruning is done correctly so as to not damage the health of the plant. For most gardeners, it is best to contact a landscaper that specializes in palm tree pruning and have the tree professionally pruned. 

Propagating Robellini Palms

Propagating robellini palms is easy as long as the mother plant is producing suckers, or offshoots. Separate the suckers from the base of the mother plant, being sure to keep as many of the roots intact as possible. Place the new plant in a small pot with a moist but well-draining potting mix and place it in a location that receives bright but indirect sunlight. After a couple of months, the new plant can be moved to a location that receives brighter sunlight.

Common Pests & Diseases

Robellini palms are susceptible to a couple of common pests including scale and spider mites. Spider mite infestations can be identified by yellow discoloration and de-pigmentation on the leaves of the plant, as well as webbing between the leaves. Treat spider mite infestations with insecticidal soap until the pests are gone. 

Scale infestations can be identified by the sticky sap substance that they leave behind on the stems and backs of the leaves. Treat scale infestations with rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip to remove scale insects from the plant.