Short Palm Trees for Landscaping Outdoors

Using short palm trees for landscaping can produce that tropical oasis for your own backyard. We think you probably were thinking of doing that!

Short palm trees can give you that lush, exotic feel without taking up so much space.

Do you have a small garden or backyard where you'd like to plant a palm? Or maybe you only have a patio in a tiny yard without room for plants. Maybe your home just has cozy outdoor seating on a deck, where palms can't be planted.

We'll give you suggestions for small palm trees for landscaping for your particular needs. We'll help bring your own type of outdoor paradise to your home.

Here at Mission: Palm Trees

Palm lovers can get the info needed to ease their searching tasks. While enjoying our articles & having fun, without unneeded shoptalk lingo & tiring research.

Will These Short Palms Bring That Aaaah Feeling?

When choosing which short palms to get into your landscape, there are particulars to consider.  You'll want to be sure the palm you get will do well in your space. Like:

  • The palm's individual growing essentials, so you know the care they need.
  • The full size & width they'll grow to.
  • Their overall appearance for how they'll look. Do you like it??

Yes, you want their beauty, but many short palm trees are low maintenance, making them a practical choice for busy homeowners. Other things you'll want to know:

  • What Climate Zone is yours? Suitable for the species you choose?
  • Is the palm is relatively drought-tolerant when established? Or does it need more watering, as that will affect your utility bill.
  • Will trimming be obliged? Or will minimal pruning to maintain their shape. Or even no trimming needed at all?

Here's a selection with those essential details to help you decide if one is right for you!

Miniature Date Palm - A Popular Choice

This one's a stunner among the short palm trees for landscaping. Also called the Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii). Ideal for smaller backyards (or even in the front). It has graceful, feathery fronds. Sometimes they're potted using three.

  • Growing at a medium clip to reach 10-15ft/3-4.5m.
  • Light preferences are full sun to partial shade.
  • Somewhat adaptable, its prime Growing Zone is 9b-11. In dryer climates, 9a can work, like it does for us in Tucson.

The Cat Palm Might Fit Your Landscape Purrfectly! 

The Cat Palm (Chamaedorea cataractarum) name is referencing cataracts (not an eye problem 😏, it's waterfalls!) in Mexican rainforest riversides, where it grows. Its dark green leaflets grow thickly along the stem (rachis) for added texture.

  • Growing in clusters, it can get 8ft/2.4m wide. Getting to 6ft/1.8m tall.
  • Cat Palms do well with full sun to full shade. The more sun it has, the more water it needs.
  • Best are USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11. Try 9b if you get warm exposure. Even 9a, which could Survive Frost Damage in winter.

They're well-suited for potting with placement on patios or decks.

Parlor Palm - Flexible Placement, In or Out

Also known as the Neanthe Bella Palm (Chamaedorea elegans), it's one of the shortest. Well known an an Indoor Palm Species because it tolerates low light & a climate zone of 10b-11.

  • A clustering form, outdoors it can reach 5ft/1.5m wide. Slowly to 8ft/2.4m tall.
  • Does need soil with humus elements, plus regular good watering.
  • Stunning for its contrasting yellow flowers on branching upright stems.

Bottle Palm - Grows its Own Planting Vase

Hyophorbe lagenicaulis is an eye-catching option for small palm trees for landscaping. As its name suggests, its notable bottle-shaped trunk is reminiscent of its own planting container!

  • When mature, somewhat slowly maxes out at 30ft/12m tall.
  • Zone it in 10b-11, can try warmest 10a, with some shade or total sun.
  • The compact crown of arching feathery pinnate fronds sits right above The Crownshaft.

If choosing the Bottle Palm, it's surely best as the focal point of a small landscape.

Miraguama Palm - Gorgeous Enough to Win a Contest!

Coccothrinax miraguama is spectacular looking from its fronds to the trunk. Dark green fan fronds (palmate) atop, silvery below. Even has four subspecies.

  • Can get to 30ft/9m, but more often maxes out at 20ft/6m.
  • Best climate zone is 10b-11. 10a can be doable in warmer areas.
  • Medium growth rate, with low water needs. Likes the sun.

A Palmy Sort With Looks to Consider

There are some plants called palms, yet they're not actually palms. But they do have a tropical palmy look to them. Slightly more Cold Weather Tolerant than most true palms. Here are two that may be suitable:

Sago Palm - The Good & Not So Good

Cycas revoluta, AKA King Sago Palm, may be a good fit. This most popular ancient cycad's feather-like leaves give it that palm-like appearance.

  • Eventually (in 50-100 years!) reaching about 20ft/7m
  • They prefer intermittent bright sunlight & are drought-tolerant.

Sago Palms are tolerant of salt spray. Therefore a good choice for coastal gardens. One important precaution is Knowing the Toxicity.

Ponytail Palm Sprouts a Yellow Topknot

Beaucarnea recurvata AKA Elephant Foot Palms are usually used as houseplants.

  • But outdoors best in Zones 9-11.
  • Usually reaching 10ft/3.5m tall in a landscape.
  • As a succulent, don't overwater.

Landscaping Ideas for Your Short Palm Tree

When placing small palm trees into your landscape design, look into their appearance for best contrast or cohesiveness. Depending on your decorative preference.

For placement, palms prefer well-draining soil & protection from harsh, cold winds. Still small palm trees have various ways for use in your landscaping.

  • They make outstanding focus points when planted individually or in groups of three.
  • You can line several along walkways. Or provide border definition to your outdoor living spaces.
  • They can become a lush backdrop for your other tropicals. Or become beautiful understory plants below taller palms or regular trees.

View their overall form, the texture of the fronds, and especially their leaf & trunk coloring. You might want to circle the watering berm area with decorative stones.

Palm with berm surrounded by rocks in a fenced yardGravel mulch in berm, with decorative rocks around it.
Just don't have other plants, especially grass up to the trunk!

Basic Essentials to Care for Your Short Palm Trees

It's good to be aware of the Basics of Palm Care, which will help the health of your short palm trees for landscaping in your yard. Awareness of Palm Tree Problems is also an eye-opener! Best to know Essential Nutrients palms need, too.

Mulching is a good idea for weed suppression & water retention. It can also be somewhat decorative, as a contrast to turf. Which shouldn't be too near Your Palm for Fertilizer incompatibility. 

Choose a Short Potted Palm for Patio or Deck

For those with limited garden space, short palm trees are well-suited for growing in containers. Place potted palms in strategic areas of your patio or deck. Like this:

  • Groupings in a corner
  • A focal point in front of seating
  • Or a few lining the edge of this limited outdoor space.

If you bring your Container Pot indoors in winter, choose one that's easily movable.

pottedPalmDeckOn the deck, then bring it inside for winter.

Takeaways for Short Palm Trees for Landscaping

No matter your purpose for using short palm trees for landscaping around your home, they'll still make your backyard retreat a happy personal paradise! Short palm trees are versatile and low-maintenance.

We hope you liked some of these choices for adding these splendid species to your garden or landscape. And will know the habits for good maintenance.


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