Spindle Palm Tree Facts

The spindle palm tree is native to Central America. They are found in the rainforests of Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras. There are over 100 species of spindly palms with some reaching up to 10 feet tall! These trees have been used for centuries as ornamental plants or decorative houseplants. The name “spindle” comes from their shape which resembles a small pinwheel.

They are one of the most common tropical trees in Florida and they grow well here too. They prefer moist soil but will tolerate dryer conditions. They need full sun to produce fruit so make sure your yard gets at least part shade during the growing season. You can plant them in pots if you want but it’s best to just let them naturally spread out and grow into a large tree.

How To Grow A Spindle Palm Tree

Growing spindletrees takes time and patience. They require lots of water and fertilizer every now and then. If you live in a hot climate like Florida, you may not get enough sunshine to support a healthy spindle palm tree. That’s why it’s important to provide shady spots where the tree can thrive. They grow very slowly and can take up to 5 years to flower.

The flowers are white and very small so don’t expect an impressive show. The fruits that follow are even smaller (3-4 inches) and usually have little or no pulp. It’s not really worth it to harvest spindle palm fruit but the animals love them so keep that in mind!

These palms don’t do well indoors. They can survive as a houseplant but only for a few weeks or months at best. They require special soil and very high humidity. If you really want one, you can easily grow it in a large pot and keep it on your back porch where it can absorb some sun and fresh air. The soil should be light and porous with good drainage so it doesn’t get water logged, ever.

Keep the soil lightly moist at all times but don’t drown it! Fertilize twice a year in the spring and fall with slow-release pellets.

If you live in a warmer climate, you may be able to grow yours outdoors. They have some serious height restrictions so make sure you plant it in a wide container that can support its lengthy roots. It should be at least 2 feet deep and wide so the weight doesn’t crush your home’s foundation. Your new spindle palm will be small at first but after a few months of watering and feeding, it should start growing much quicker. Make sure the soil stays moist at all times and provide some shade until it gets big enough.

You can propagate your spindle palm by separating offshoots or seeds. Cut offshoots can be planted right away but they often do not survive for very long.

Sources & references used in this article:

Palm trees of the Amazon and their uses by AR Wallace – 1853 – books.google.com

Spindle whorls: Household specialization at Ceren by M Beaudry-Corbett, S McCafferty… – Ancient Maya Women, 2002 – books.google.com

Small-scale palm oil processing in Africa by K Poku – 2002 – books.google.com

Environmental impact of lethal yellowing disease of coconut palms by R Ramesh, R Maruthadurai, NP Singh – 2013 – ICAR-Central Coastal Agricultural …

Cold damage on palms by JB Fisher – Environmental Conservation, 1975 – cambridge.org

” Maladie des feuilles cassantes” or brittle leaf disease of date palms in Tunisia: Biotic or abiotic disease? by TK Broschat – ENH-92, Series of the Environmental Horticulture …, 2013 – growables.org

Monitoring the performance and decline of heritage trees in urban Hong Kong by MA Triki, A Zouba, O Khoualdia, OB Mahamoud… – Journal of Plant …, 2003 – JSTOR



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