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Repotting a Phoenix roebelenii

Posted by stoddarj 5b CO (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 12, 10 at 14:09

So I picked up a nice healthy-looking little pygmy date palm at lowes the other day, and I am wondering whether to repot it now or to wait until spring. It appears to be pushing itself out of the pot as the crown of the plant is now suspended about 1.5" above the top of the pot with quite a lot of root exposure, as you can see.

Should this little guy be repotted now in the dead of winter in the relatively dry (~20-25% humidity) cool (62-67F) winter indoor environs of my house, or should i wait until spring. I have seen advice suggesting to repot if the plant is outgrowing its current pot and other advice saying that these plans like to be root-bound and to wait until spring.

It appears to be growing at present with several new swords emanating from each of the four stalks, although it probably just got off the truck from florida. Regardless, it probably won't stop growing before spring anyway.

I'll probably move it outside in the spring through fall.

If i repot it, should it go into the next size pot, or into a much larger one? It sure looks root-bound to me, like it cold stand a much larger pot. Any suggestions on potting medium? I was going to use equal parts perlite, peat moss, and regular potting soil. I might also have a part of orchid mix lying around to add as well.

Also, I was considering potting it in a large square pot, and planting some smaller tropical viney-type things in the corners to cascade over the sides of the pot. Any suggestions for plants, or should it not be done at all?

Thanks much for the advice! Happy growing!




Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Repotting a Phoenix roebelenii

Hey there,

Ill share with you my experience with mine. I got one last summer for 10 bucks at a whole foods (organic grocery store) near me. I just could not pass it up since it was so BIG for so little money. Palms I have seen in nurseries, as large as the one I got, with as much trunk as the one I got usually are around 75-100 bucks! Apparently the store got them drastically reduced from the grower because of overstock. Its got 3 plants (trunks), one of which is about 2 feet of clear trunk, the other two are much smaller. Mine also was very root/ pot bound, and I repotted mine a few days after I got it. I would say wait until spring to do it, since these palms really do not mind being pot/rootbound at all. It is going to go through enough stress in the winter with the lower humidity and lower light, so I would not want to put anymore undue stress on it.

Speaking of humidity, I would try to keep the humidity inside up around 50%. These palms really do not like low humidity, and it can really cause problems for them. They do NOT like low humidity / very dry conditions. I also would keep it in as bright of a location as possible. Humidity can be regulated by placing a tray of water under the pot, but make sure the pot is raised ABOVE, and not sitting in the water. Or, you could also just use a humidifier to regulate your indoor humidity like I do.

As far as the size pot, I just got a pot that was 1-2 sized larger. Large enough that it allowed for about 2-3" room at the bottom of the pot, and about 1-2" on all sides of the root ball. I would not give it too large of a pot.

As for the soil / growing medium, I simply used regular old miracle grow potting mix, with about 1/3rd part coarse sand, with a somewhat higher sandy content at the bottom of the pot. You could also use miracle grow palm and citrus potting mix which to me seems largely like the same thing as I made on my own. I use Miracle grow because I have had great success with it. Mine has been in its new pot since August, and is thriving and still pushing up new spears (leaves) like crazy, and has not skipped a beat. I keep min in an east window in my living room, but it is also only 6 feet or so from two large south facing windows, so it gets some morning sun, and some late afternoon sun for now, and in general, very bright light all day, even when its not getting any direct sun.

As far as the roots on top / sticking out of the top of the soil, that is fairly normal. Mine has quite a few of the same roots, and I did not cover them up when I repotted it. I just left it at about the same soil level as it was when I purchased it. I also water it less in the winter and allow it to dry out pretty good between waterings, and I do NOT allow the pot to stand in any water that drains out into the tray. ( That's true for just about all of my plants though.)

One word of caution about placing it outdoors for the summer growing season: When you first place it outside, I would place it in a position that gets MOSTLY SHADE for the first week or so, and gradually expose it to more direct sunlight over a couple weeks. Maybe add a half hour or so of direct sunlight to it each day or so, until its out in full sun for most of the day. They love full sun, but most plants, after being indoors ( and in lesser light conditions) for the winter usually need to be acclimated to full sun again, or you will risk burning its leaves. I know this becuase I have made this mistake a few times, and severely burnt several plants by not slowly acclimating them to direct/ full sun.

Anyway, hope this helps you out. Its a nice little palm for sure, and they only get nicer the older / larger they get. Good luck and keep us posted on how it does!

RE: Repotting a Phoenix roebelenii

I have a nice pygmy in a large pot. It has a trunk of about 4 feet from the ground to the top of the trunk, and I potted it up into a huge pot probably 2 1/2 feet in diameter and a little taller than that (probably around 3 -3 1/2 feet). I recently planted a Tradescantia spathacea aka Moses in a basket in the pot and was surprised at how the plant really didnt take up that much room. The soil was very workable still, and the top leaf of the plant is now a little over 9 feet (including the pot). I would plant yours in a pretty large pot so you can plant other things around it. They grow pretty fast considering the rep. they get for growing so slow.

Some plants I may add to mine, or was thinking of adding are...
Tradescantia zebrina
bromelaids (really a nice Idea to get 3 or 4 to plant around the enire pot).
Begonia (they are great annuals, one that I am looking for in particular is begonia "dragon wing"
Dwarf ixora (Not too easy to find, but they make great flowering groundcovers)(I have no experience with them though)

And you will probably get lots of other nice ideas at your local nursury (such as Ivy geraniums) in the spring or early summer. Yours needs a nice new pot, try your best to cover the exposed roots with soil too.

Good luck!

Fixing post

i was rereading my post, and i wasnt too clear on a certain part, so let me clear it up.

"I recently planted a Tradescantia spathacea aka Moses in a basket in the pot and was surprised at how the plant really didnt take up that much room. The soil was very workable still, and the top leaf of the plant is now a little over 9 feet (including the pot)."


I recently planted a Tradescantia spathacea aka Moses in a basket in the pot and WHILE I WAS PLANTING IT I WAS surprised at how the PYGMY PALM'S ROOTS really didnt take up that much room. The soil was very workable still (BECAUSE THE PYGMY PALMS ROOTS DIDNT TAKE OVER THE POT), and the top leaf of the PALM is now a little over 9 feet (including the pot).

I wasnt sure If it was clear that I was talking about the size of the Pygmy palm, not the size of the Moses In a Basket plant. Good luck with your palm, they are really a great addition for that tropical effect.

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