Syagrus romanzoffiana (common name Queen Palms) and Butiagrus nabonnandii (common name Mule Palms) are two types of palm trees native to tropical and subtropical regions of South America. Palms are related to lilies and grasses and can live for over 50 years. These elegant trees make an excellent addition to any garden and have many benefits when it comes to their health, beauty, and overall environmental impact.
However, there are challenges that come with growing these trees in our Arizona desert climate. I’ll share some information on the strengths of each type of palm tree as well as what you should look out for when planting them in your Phoenix landscaping.
Queen palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana) are more common in back yard landscaping for their tropical look and have been planted in our desert climate for years. Because of their popularity, you see them planted everywhere throughout the valley. These trees are absolutely beautiful when they are healthy, and get to be 25-40 feet tall. They do not create much mess and usually give a very cool tropical look to a typical desert landscape. We often see these planted near swimming pools and around turf areas.
However, if you own multiple queen palms you will find out that they require lots of care from fertilization, close attention to watering schedule and they are prone to the fungus in their crowns. Below are links to some great blogs that go into more specifics with this tree and how to address the issues if you currently have queen palms already and do not want to replace them.
The Mule palms (Butiagrus nabonnandii) are a hybrid version of both a Queen palm and a Pindo palm, which are much more hardy for our extreme summer and winters in our Arizona desert climate. They grow to be about 20-30 feet tall and are more drought tolerant than Queen palms. Because mule palms are a hybrid, they are much harder to find and usually run 2-3 times the cost at the nurseries.
You can pick them up at Moon Valley nursery and we have some wholesale suppliers if you wish to have us install them for you. See these great blogs – learn more about Mule Palm specifics and be sure to check out the Moon Valley Nursery Blog for even more info.
To summarize, we highly recommend installing the Mule palm over the Queen palm if you are starting from scratch. The challenges in growing and maintaining Queen palms are getting more difficult with the extreme weather we have been experiencing here in Phoenix. As of the writing of this blog we have had record heat with record “lack of rain” which adds to the list of challenges trying to keep a tropical tree healthy in the Phoenix area.
If you have any landscaping questions, please contact AMS Landscaping at (602) 944-0421.
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