The Phoenix Reclinata also known as a Senegal Date Palm is one of the most beautiful and expensive palm trees. If your Phoenix Reclinata palms are the correct species for your temperature zone, then once established they will need very little maintenance. Their multiple trunks and full crowns add beauty and elegance to any landscape. To grow beautiful, healthy phoenix reclinata palms you need to follow a few basic steps. Water, prune and fertilize.
Phoenix Reclina Palms love water and grow faster when they are sufficiently irrigated. However, like most palms they are also very drought tolerant and can survive a dry season fairly easily. Watering your Senegal Date Palms is especially important right after planting. This is when the tree is at its weakest and will need constant water and nourishment to establish themselves. Newly planted Phoenix Reclinatas trees should be watered once a day. The amount of water needed varies by the size of the tree but a guideline is to use 10 gallons per watering for a plant that came in a 10 gallon container, 25 gallons for a plant that came in or would fit in a 25 gallon container and so on. After about a week you can switch to every other day then 3 times a week after for the third week and following weeks. Once the tree is completely established watering 2-3 times per week is sufficient. The soil around the tree should always be moist and never bone dry. To accomodate the watering process you can build a bowl out of soil around the tree and fill it up with water. That way you know you have watered enough and you also save water since all the water stays close to the tree. Also, using a trickle waterer or a bubbler will simplify the process and keep the water close to the tree. When it is raining you can eliminate watering for a while.
Keeping your Senegal Date Palms pruned and trimmed will add to the beauty of the tree. Knowing when and when not to trim is important. Palm tree fronds that are dead or broken and hang down below the perpendicular should be pruned. Fronds that are partially yellow or brownish and not broken should be left on the tree. The reason for this is that the tree pulls nutrients from the dying fronds. When they hang down that is a good indication that they have served their purpose and are ready to trim. Fruit can be pruned with no problems. The Senegal Date Palm (phoenix reclinata) need to be pruned frequently because the new growth at the base of the tree tends to want to take over and turn your beautiful tree into a bush. On the Phoenix Reclinata you will want to trim new trunks that are trying to establish and compete with your existing trunks. Keep everything down low pruned and let the longer trunks grow. Prune the major trunks using the same guidelines as for the other palms. Only prune from those what you have to. As a general rule, you should only take off as many fronds as were produced by the tree during the year. In other words, if the tree produces three new fronds during a year and you prune six, you will weaken the tree. Basically, if you only cut dead fronds and keep the number of fronds at a constant level you should be fine. Over pruning will make your tree more susceptible to drought, disease and cold temperatures.
This section will deal with fertilizing Phoenix Reclinata Palms. (also known as Senegal Date Palms) The issue of fertilizing palms can be simple if you use a straight forward approach. Simply fertilize three times a year with a 3 month slow release fertilizer designed for palms. After applying the fertilizer simply water it in. Here are some guidelines for fertilizer amounts to use with Phoenix Reclinata palms. (These guidelines and are not to replace the fertilizer manufacturers instructions - follow the instructions on the bag and by all means do not over fertilize your trees) For the initial fertilization blend in fertilizer at the time of planting to enrich the soil removed from the hole. Mix at a rate of two ounces of palm fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter. (for multi trunk trees like the Senegal Date Palm or Robelini add the diameter of the trunks together) After planting and watering in the tree you can add one additional ounce of slow release palm fertilizer per three inches of trunk on the ground. This will give the tree a good start.
After the tree is established you will use a different ratio for fertilizing. We recommend palm fertilizer that uses slow release pellets that contain 12 to 13 percent nitrogen, 3 to 4 percent potassium, 12 to 13 percent phosphorus plus trace elements. Use 8 ounces of the fertilizer per inch of trunk. Spread the palm fertilizer around the base of tree. If you want you can till the fertilizer in or just punch some holes in the ground around the tree.
Winterizing your Phoenix Reclinata Palms is only necessary in colder climates where frost and freezing are a danger. If the core temperature of a trunk drops below the trees cold hardy temperature for an extended period of time then the tree will suffer tissue damage or die. The Senegal Date Palms tend to die back if damaged but often come back in the spring. Buying cold hardy trees is one of the keys to growing palms in the colder latitudes. We have created a list of cold hardy trees and a zone chart at this link. Try to plant only trees that have a minimum temperature tolerance that is close to your winter low temperature. Keeping the temperature above the trees minimum temperature level will prevent this. To keep a small palm warm you can simply place a box over it or cover it with straw. This is normally sufficient. If you want to add some artificial warmth to the inside of the box you can integrate some christmas lights. Be careful to use smaller bulbs to avoid a fire hazard. Having a tree catch on fire is just as hazardous to the tree as the cold weather. To keep a large tree warm, most people wrap the tree in burlap, bubble wrap or another material that will hold in warmth but not soak up water. After wrapping the tree you can take lights and wrap the tree up the trunk up to the major fronds. This will help keep the core temperature of the trunk from freezing. Some people go so far as to bury pipes in the ground to keep the soil warm as well. The colder your winter climate the more you will have to do to protect your trees. As mentioned before, it is not a good idea to heavily prune a tree right before the cold season. Healty full trees have a better chance of surviving the cold.
Here are a few do's and dont's.
- Phoenix Reclinata Palms do not require anything special that other palms do not require. Simply follow the instructions on the bag. Don't just cut open a bag and start pouring. You paid way to much for your tree to kill it the first season. Over fertilizing can kill young newly established trees.
- Also only put fertilizer on moist soil and after applying make sure to water it in.
- You should consider buying a slow release fertilizer. It will cost a little more but will give more even results and is easier on the tree. Plus it will be less work on you since it continues to work long after it is put down. Also, use a fertilizer with supplemental magnesium and calcium.
- Spread the fertilizer evenly all the way around the trunk of the tree and work it into the soil.
- Don't pour fertilizer directly on the crowns or trunks of your phoenix reclinatas. Distribute it around the tree in the soil only. Also, don't just make a big pile.
- Don't fertilize bone dry soil.
- Don't over fertilize. Better to use too little than too much.
We have written a series of articles on the "CARE & MAINTENANCE" of the different types of palm trees. The first article below is a general care guide for all palms and the subsequent articles are species specific. They are listed alphabetically :
General Care for all Palm Trees - Basic upkeep guide for all Palm Trees.
Caring for your "Phoenix Reclinata" Palm Trees - General care tips on keeping your Phoenix Reclinata (Senagal Date Palm) healthy.
Caring for your Sabal / Sable Palm Trees - General care tips on keeping your Sabal/Sable Palm Tree healthy.
Caring for your Silver Queen Palm Trees - General care tips on keeping your Silver Queen Palm Tree healthy.
The articles below list the "SPECIFICATIONS" for various popular palm trees. The information includes maximum height, diameter, growth rate, cold hardiness, crown diameter, growth zone and cost. They are listed alphabetically below :
The Phoenix Reclinata (Senegal Date Palm) - General information and specs on the Phoenix Reclinata.
The Sabal Palm Tree (Cabbage Palm) - General information and specs on the Sabal Palm.
The Silver Queen Palm Tree - General information and specs on the Silver Queen Palm.