Growing a Phoenix Palm in a Container-Growing this Exotic Beauty

Phoenix palm are great are specimen plants in containers
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In this article, we will discuss how to grow Phoenix palms (Phoenix canariensis) in containers. In gardening, we often look to the unusual to fulfil our tastes for the exotic. We want feature plants that not only looks stunning but is an eye-catching feature to which we are instantly drawn too.

Phoenix palm are great are specimen plants in containers
Phoenix palm are great are specimen plants in containers

Phoenix canariensis, often known as the Canary Date Palm, is a graceful palm with long spreading green, architectural leaves. The leaves are stiffly upright and emerge from a short, columnar trunk. It is a native of the Canary Islands to where it takes both its Latin and common name.

As you can imagine, it will eventually turn into a large tree but whilst young it can be grown in a pot for a few years. If you restrict it to a container, it will grow up to 1.5m in height, but if you grow it in a greenhouse border it can grow up to 5m high, a big difference.

If you grow it in a container in a sheltered garden location, it can take minus 5 degrees Celsius. In severe winter, plants can be lost unless you bring them into a warm, conservatory or if you live in milder coastal areas, you can protect them by wrapping the plant with thick horticultural fleece. The plant should be situated near a house wall, where more heat and protection can be offered to the plant.


First, you need to choose a container that is slightly bigger than the original container the plant comes in.  Make sure the selected container has plenty of drainage holes (already supplied or if not, you will need to drill numerous holes at the bottom of the container) and fill it with a layer of 5cm of gravel. On top of this add a mix of 70% by volume of multipurpose compost with 30% by volume of horticultural grit.

Phoenix canariensis
Phoenix canariensis

Dig a hole and place the plant in, making sure that it is at the level it came in its original container. Backfill with the growing media and fill any gaps with additional growing media mix. Water it in and continue to do so until the plant has established. Place it in a location that is sheltered and gets plenty of sun. As said earlier, you will need to protect it from frost pockets and cold winds.

As stated earlier, Canary palms can take temperature as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius but they will not do well, In truth, any temperature below 10 degree Celsius can cause it harm, so it is recommended that in early autumn as the nighttime temperatures start to go down, you bring your palm into a warm conservatory. They will not do well wrapped in horticultural fleece in an unheated greenhouse. It is either a conservatory or your home- not outside.

You should leave the plant inside until the nighttime temperature reaches great than 10 degrees Celsius, probably in late May.


The most common disease that the palm can suffer from is various fungal diseases.

Phoenix canariensis in container
Phoenix canariensis in container

Fusarium oxysporum is a root fungus caused by root damage when you are transplanting or the soil is too heavy or you have irrigated too much.

Phytophthora palmivora destroys the roots and occurs in very high humidity’s at high temperatures or if it is in a heavy growing media.

Graphiola phoenicis a fungus that attacks all palm trees. It is a parasitic micro-organ fungus that can lead to the eventual death of the plant.

Once a tree has exhibited any of these diseases there is little that can be done and you will need to throw the plant away and start with a fresh specimen. Try to get your plant from suppliers that have a good reputation and you will get stock less likely to develop diseases.


Red spider mites will attack tender leaves, slowing their development. They multiple mainly in dry air in spring and summer. Use a suitable systemic insecticide to deal with them, making sure that they can deal with mites. The problem is that the intruders are hardly visible and you can only treat them once the damage has been done.

Woolly aphids are various insects that affect the aerial parts of the trunk or leaves and the pest are very clearly visible. It is best to treat this pest with suitable products that can deal with woolly aphids.

Thrips will also suck on the leaves and must be treated as soon as they are observed if you do not want to spoil the appearance of the plant. Use a product that can be used to treat thrips.

If possible, it is advised to spray using a systemic insecticide that will treat all three frets if possible. Less prays means that the tree will not be under too much stress. It makes it also easier to manage as you do not need to remember to use three, different sprays. This can get very confusing.


In this article, we have discussed how to grow Phoenix palms in containers. They are such elegant exotic plants that look great as part of the summer display but they are tender and will need to be protected from the cold frosts and winds. They tend to be easy to look after only need watering when required and repotting when it becomes root-bound.

A plant that should grace every garden in summer but you rarely find them in the UK.

If you have any questions or comments that you have on growing phoenix in containers, please do so in the comment box below.

Happy Phoenix palm growing.


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