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Pygmy Palm vs Mediterranean Palm in Phoenix

Pygmy Palm vs Mediterranean Palm in Phoenix

It’s no secret that Phoenix has the highest number of palm trees per capita than any other major city in the US. When you move here, you’ll notice palms in front yards, along the streets, and lining the golf courses. It’s a flashy little plant that loves warm, dry weather and thrives in multiple climates from Southern California to South Florida. The Phoenix area is a great spot for palm trees, but you may be wondering if there are any differences between Pygmy palm trees (Phoenix roebelenii) Vs Mediterranean palms (Chamaerops humilis)? They are two of the most common types of palms found in our Arizona desert climate. Let’s dive into some of the pros and cons when choosing between them.

Pygmy Date palm trees (Phoenix roebelenii) is a beautify multi-trunk mini-palm that is native to Southeast Asia and does really well in more tropical climates.  However they are very popular here in Arizona.  We see these palms in backyards, sometimes around swimming pools and in entryway areas that have room to grow.  They are a slow growing palm that gets to be about 6-8 feet in height with a canopy of about 3-5 feet. They have a dense canopy with green leaf fronds that are about 3-4 feet in length.  Although we love these smaller palm trees, because they are not native to our climate we see challenges with extreme heat in our summers and extreme cold of our winters. They do require heavier water in the summer months.  They do better when they have partial sun in the morning and when organic matter is added to the soil.  Because of this, we try to steer clients away from this variety and try to recommend the Mediterranean palm.

Great short Pygmy palm blog;


Pygmy palm care guide;


Mediterranean palms (Chamaerops humilis) are very cool looking multi-trunk mini-palm that get slightly taller than the Pygmy Date Palm.  They are native to the western Mediterranean region which is closer to our desert climate which is why they do so well here in Phoenix.  If you are having trouble with your Pygmy palms growing in full sun areas at your property, these Mediterranean palms are a great replacement for them.  They are a slow growing palm that gets to be about 5-15 feet in height with a canopy of about 5-20 feet. The trunks get longer on this variety of mini-palm which may put it in the medium palm category with a mini-look.  These palms are the most frost tolerant of all palm varieties and can handle our drought like climate conditions as well.

Here are 2 great Mediterranean palm blogs;



To summarize, we highly recommend installing the Mediterranean palm over the Pygmy palm if you are starting from scratch.  The challenges in growing and maintaining Pygmy 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 here in Phoenix.

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