Christmas Palm Tree

Botanical Name: Veitchia merrillii

Christmas Palm Tree makes a magnificent tropical house plant.

This adorable palm looks like a miniature of the Royal Palm -- the stately giants you see lining boulevards in South Florida and California.

It grows from a single trunk, which supports a crown of arched, pinnate leaves. At the base of the crown, clusters of flowers emerge. In fall, these flowers are replaced with 1 in (2.5 cm) green fruits that ripen to bright red around the end of December. They look like red Christmas lights, giving this stunning tree its common name.

christmas palm tree
Photo credit: Tropic~7

This Southeastern Asia native is surprisingly tolerant of growing in a pot and will thrive indoors as long as it gets plenty of sunshine throughout the year.

You can move this palm outdoors to the patio for the summer, but bring it back inside if the temperature drops near 40°F. This tropical palm doesn't like the cold at all.

Repot in spring only when the palm becomes severely rootbound. Pots should be deep enough to give roots room to grow. Use a heavy pot -- although slow-growing, this palm will eventually get tall and become top-heavy.

Christmas Palm Tree Care

Christmas Palm - Medium Palm Tree

Origin: Philippine Islands

Height: Up to 6 ft (1.8 m) indoors

Light: Bright light with some direct sun.

Water: Water regularly, but don't allow soil to get soggy which can cause root rot. Always use a pot with drainage holes.

Humidity: Moderate humidity. If the relative humidity drops below 50%, use a humidity tray or room humidifier.

Temperature: Average room temperature 60-75°F/16-24°C year-round.

Soil: Use a peat moss-based mix that drains well. Mix 1 part sand to 3 parts African violet mix.

Fertilizer: Most indoor plants like a steady diet of liquid plant food, but not palms. Palms are slow-growing, especially indoors, and don't need much fertilizer. Feed with a slow-release fertilizer, such as Jobe's Indoor Palm Fertilizer food spikes once in spring and again in summer. It contains the micronutrients that palms need to keep them healthy, lush and green.

Propagation: Christmas Palm seeds can take months to germinate, so be patient. Sow seeds in spring or summer, covering them lightly with soil. Keep warm (75-80°F/24-27°C) and moist.

Green Thumb Tip

Palm fronds tend to be dust-catchers.

Give them a shower: move your palm outdoors on a warm day and spray it with tepid water. Allow it to dry outdoors in a semi-shaded spot, protected from wind.

Buying Tip

Christmas Palm was formerly known as Adonidia merrillii and is sometimes still referred to by this name. It's rare and difficult to find outside of Florida, but you can buy Christmas Palm Tree online.