What is a Christmas Palm?
The Adonidia Merrillii, also known as ‘Christmas Palm Tree’ or ‘Dwarf Royal’, is a small tropical tree that is suitable for home interiors and landscapes. The Christmas palm grows from a single trunk, supported by a crown of pinnate leaves. Typically they reach a height of 15-25 feet depending on their conditions.
At the base of the palm grows white flowers which are replaced in the fall with green fruits. These ripen in December and turn a bright vivid Christmas red - it’s easy to see how the tree got its nickname. With clusters of bright red fruits that adorn these trees in late fall and winter, it gives the plants the appearance of being decorated for the holidays.
Although native to the Philippine Islands, Christmas Palms also thrive in tropical climates, which is why they’re often found in Hawaii and the southern half of Florida. They’re also a popular choice for houseplants, whether situated in a garden landscape or in a main living area.
Caring For A Christmas Palm
Not only do Christmas palms make a luxurious addition, adding a tropical vibe to any home, they are also fairly easy-going when it comes to care. This is why Christmas Palms are so commonly placed indoors in hotels, casinos, and other higher-end establishments due to its ability to adjust to lower light conditions and little maintenance.
A Christmas Palm should be situated somewhere where they have access to bright light/ full sunlight. However, if necessary, they can tolerate light shade.
Not only is this essential for light, but also temperature. Wherever you store your palm, the average room temperature should be approximately 18-24°C year-round. These plants are not cold-hardy and will not do well in cooler temperatures.
When it comes to watering, Christmas Palms should be watered regularly. However, do not allow the soil to become soggy or moist as this can cause root rot. To avoid this, it is also best to use pots with drainage holes. It can also be beneficial to provide moderate humidity by spraying the leaves once a day with a water spray bottle.
Although most indoor plants require a steady diet of liquid- based plant food, palms do not. Because palms are slow- growing (especially indoors), they don’t require as much fertilizer. It is recommended to feed palms with a slow- release fertilizer, preferably every 4-5 months.
One huge benefit of Christmas Palms is that they are self- cleaning, and requires very little to no pruning. Once a leaf dies, it drops off cleanly on its own, saving plenty of time and effort to tend to the rest of your landscape.
Where Should I Put My Christmas Palm?
Christmas Palms look terrific in both outdoor landscapes as well as indoor locations. If placed outdoors, they can grow up to 25 feet if cared for correctly. We recommend placing at least 5-6 feet away from any obstructions to ensure the fronds have room to grow and spread out fully. However, when placed indoors, the Christmas Palm typically they slow their growth rate down as their fronds and palm heart are adapting to their new environment.
Lethal Yellowing Disease
Despite the easy maintenance of Christmas Palms, they are unfortunately susceptible to Lethal Yellowing. Lethal Yellowing is a tropical disease that affects several species of palm, with Christmas Palms being one of the most common. It is thought to behave like a primitive virus and is transmitted by the leafhopper bug Myndus Crudus.
Typically, this virus causes fruits to drop from the tree prematurely and discoloured. Flower tips will become a chocolate brown instead of creamy yellow, greenish circular spots appear on the fruits with then turn yellowish when ripening, and, of course, bronze-yellow coloured fronds in later stages.
Eventually, this disease will kill the palm, and there is no cure for when it does. However, it can be prevented before the plant contracts the disease. Usually, this involves an antibiotic inoculation program, done by drilling a hole into the trunk of the palm, inserting a hollow casing, then injecting it with an antibiotic.
A few fungal diseases are also of concern, but for the most part, caring and maintaining the health of your Christmas Palm trees is a piece of cake, which is why the plant is so popular in warm climates - and a much-loved and appreciated choice for a house plant.