Christmas Palm Tree

Botanical Name: Veitchia merrillii 

Christmas Palm tree is magnificent, adding a luxurious, vacay vibe to any brightly lit room.

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 creamy white 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 root-bound. 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.

Keep it clean. 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.

Check for bugs. Dry indoor air sometimes attracts spider mites, especially during the winter months. You'll likely notice their fine webbing between fronds before you see these tiny pests. Scale insects are also attracted to palms; they are typically found on the undersides of frond leaflets. Treat any infestation immediately.

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.

Often sold as a single-stem palm, but sometimes 2 or 3 are grown together for a fuller look.

Christmas Palm Tree Care

Origin: Philippine Islands

Height: Up to 10-15 ft (3-5 m)  when grown in a pot

Light: Bright light to full 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. If the relative humidity drops below 50%, use a cool-mist room humidifier

Temperature: Average room temperature 65-75°F/18-24°C year-round; Christmas palm tree is not cold-hardy and will not tolerate frost.

Soil: Mix 3 parts peat moss-based mix to 1 part sand for faster drainage

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.


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