One of the most popular landscape palms of the last few decades would have to be the Queen palm. This is due to their cost, growth rate, cold tolerance and overall tropical appearance.
Unlike some other cold hardy palms, Queen palm cold hardiness factors remain quite consistent across many climates ranges. Whether subtropical, tropical or temperate, these palms are a prime choice in a variety of landscapes.
These palms have blown up in popularity throughout the southern U.S., including much of California, the gulf coast of Texas and south Florida.
There are a few caveats that can make this palm a challenge for some people out there.
Let’s take a look at some fun facts and see if this is a palm you should consider for your landscape.
What Is It?
The Queen palm, known by its botanical name Syagrus Romanzoffiana, is native to areas of South America including Uruguay, Paraguay, northern Argentina and Brazil.
It is naturalized in many tropical areas such as south Florida, Honduras and Queensland, Australia where it is considered an invasive species.
Queen palms are quite fast growing, achieving 2 feet or more of growth per year. They can reach 50 feet or more in height and have a 2-foot wide gray trunk once mature.
It is a pinnate palm containing large, tropical looking dark green feather fronds reaching 12-15 feet in length.
The crown of these palms can get approximately 20-25 feet in width, so planting in close proximity to each other is not recommended.
They are also moderately drought and salt tolerant once established.
The Queen palm is monoecious and will produce cream colored flowers that bloom in the spring and summer months creating a very heavy seed stalk beneath the crown.
Fruit is bright yellow to orange and when ripe can make quite a mess at the bottom of the palm if not maintained.
The fruit and seeds are edible and are a food source for birds, squirrels and other wildlife.
These palms have a classic tropical look to them.
Some people may find the Queen palm somewhat similar in appearance to the common Coconut palm, but with more cold tolerance.
They are also very popular for hybridizing with other genus’ of palms including Jubaea and Butia which are even more cold hardy.
This practice makes Queen palm hybrids even more cold tolerant than the standard Queen.
Where Will It Grow?
Queen palms are ideal for hardiness zones 9 and above, taking temperatures down to 20F and possibly lower.
They will thrive in part to full sun conditions in most areas from tropical to temperate. If you live in dry desert regions, they will prefer more part sun.
Too much excessive heat and sun exposure can burn the fronds affecting their appearance. Regular watering along with fertilizing a few times a year in dry areas will help keep the palm looking its best.
They will grow in a wide range of well draining soil types including sandy loam and clay. Avoid using alkaline soils.
Who Are They For?
Queen palms are a great choice if you are looking for that traditional tropical appearance.
This is one of the best palms to choose if you want something fast growing, inexpensive and easy to find.
They are readily available at big box stores, online retailers and nurseries throughout the southern U.S.
The Queen palm is an ideal specimen for street planting and lining edges of driveways, creating a very welcome appearance for visitors.
If given enough space, these palms are great for growing around the outer edges of your yard and around swimming pools.
This has been a very common and popular practice in many places, especially Southern California.
Unlike some other palms, these trees can provide you with an adequate amount of shade due to its long frond length and large crown size once full grown.
While there are many great qualities of the Queen palm, there are some things to consider before adding these palms to your landscape.
Some of these may or may not be a deal breaker for you, which leads us to the next section of this article…
While the Queen palm includes many upsides, they aren’t particularly a “hands off” palm.
They will usually take a little extra effort and maintenance to look their best.
Regular pruning of dead fronds is a must with this palm.
If left unattended, old fronds will eventually fall to the ground. This can create a risk as they are heavy and could cause damage to anything that may be underneath the palm.
Fruit stalks are large and produce an insane amount of seeds which can be messy once the fruit ripens and falls to the ground.
This can be avoided by simply cutting off the stalks once they start to flower. This prevents the headache of clean up later, although this can be challenging when dealing with a very tall palm.
SOIL & FERTILIZATION
Queen palms can also be subject to nutrient deficiencies in certain climates and soil types, especially alkaline. They prefer well-draining acidic soils for best results.
The most common nutrient deficiency is potassium which is quite common in many palms.
This will cause older fronds to turn yellow and develop black spots, eventually spreading to newer growth if kept untreated.
Fertilizing these palms a few times a year with a slow release palm fertilizer with a 3:1:3 ratio of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. This can also be labeled as 12:4:12.
Pests can also be an issue, but risk can be reduced with regular fertilizing as well as keeping your palm maintained and in good health.
These palms can also be subject to Ganoderma Butt Rot in certain climates.
This disease attacks the base of the trunk, affecting the center tissue and essentially rotting the inside of the palm.
Ganoderma Butt Rot can affect even healthy palms.
To reduce the chances of this disease, keep the trunk undamaged from sharp objects and equipment. These include landscape tools such as weed eaters, lawn mowers and other common utensils.
The Wrap Up
There’s a reason Queen palms are so popular in many landscapes. They are fast growing, adaptable to many climate types, inexpensive to purchase and provide an incredible tropical look.
Here’s a recap of some pros and cons if you are considering acquiring one of these magnificent palms…
- Very tropical in appearance
- Hardy to zone 9 and above, handling temperatures down to 20F
- Adaptable to a wide climate range from tropical to temperate
- Fast growing adding 2 feet of growth or more per year
- Inexpensive and widely available in many areas
- Makes a perfect landscape palm
- Susceptible to nutrient deficiencies
- Not self pruning. Regular pruning is required for best results
- Fruit can create a mess underneath the palm if not maintained
- Considered an invasive species in certain areas