What Are Cabbage Palms?

Cabbage palms are members of the family Rosaceae (Rose Family). They belong to the genus Rosa. There are over 300 species of these plants worldwide. All of them have a similar appearance, although some look different from each other due to environmental conditions. Some have long stems with leaves while others grow short stems with no leaves at all. Many of them have white or pink flowers. Most of them produce edible fruits, which they eat raw or cooked.

The flower petals are covered with tiny hairs called stamens, which contain a mixture of sugars and alcohols. These compounds give the flowers their color and flavor. When the plant blooms, it releases its scent into the air causing insects to land on it and pollinate it. The flowers of the cabbage palm are usually white or pink, but they may also be yellow, red, purple or even green.

The fruit of the cabbage palm is small and round like a pea pod. It contains seeds that when eaten by birds release enzymes that break down cellulose in the plant’s roots. This allows the roots to absorb water more easily so they don’t rot and become brown and weak. The enzyme also helps prevent rotting of the roots when stored in damp soil.

The cabbage palm tree pictures below display the different types of these plants. They should help you distinguish one type from another.

Best Conditions For Growth

Cabbage palms are easy to take care of, as long as they have good lighting and soil that drains well. They can grow in a variety of soil types and they adapt to most weather conditions. They do not like wet feet for long periods of time so they prefer soil that allows water to drain out of their containers quickly. Heavy soil that is high in clay or organic matter may prevent proper drainage and cause root rot.

These plants prefer full sun, but they will grow (although not as well) in partial shade. They need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. If you notice the edges of the leaves are turning brown, this means that they are getting too much sun. During the winter months, they can survive in a garage or shaded area outside.

As long as they receive enough light, these plants can survive in a wide range of temperatures. They have been known to survive in areas as cold as 10 degrees F. (sub zero). However, they will not grow well in temperatures much below 60 degrees F.


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Cabbage palms like their feet to be wet most of the time. They thrive in wet soil and the excess water is absorbed by their roots. They also need good drainage to prevent root rot. If the container they are in doesn’t have a drainage hole, you will need to water the soil heavily and then let it all drain out. Once this is done, you can maintain a consistently wet foot.

After watering your plant, you’ll need to wait for all the excess water to drain out of the container. If you plant remains wet for a long period of time, the roots will begin to rot and the plant will eventually die. The best way to know if your plant needs water is to pick it up and feel the weight of the container.

If it feels very light, then it needs water. If it feels normal, then it has enough water. If it feels very heavy, this means that the soil is retaining all the water and is not allowing any excess to drain out. If this is the case, you need to drill 1 or more holes in the bottom of the container so that excess water can drain out


Cabbage palms do not require repotting very often. If your plant is growing very slowly, or if the leaves at the top of the plant are dying, then it may be time to repot it. Normally this should only be done every other year.

When you do repot, you will want to make sure that the new container is at least 2 inches wider in diameter. Also, make sure there are no drainage holes in the bottom. These should be added so that excess water can drain out.


Cabbage palms are as widely available as any type of potted plant. They are easy to find at garden centers and even at some grocery stores. They can also be shipped directly to your house from various Internet websites.


A average price for a Cabbage palm is between $10 and $30. For an established plant, you should expect to pay more around $35 to $40. If the plant has spikes you can expect to pay a little more around $50.

A Warning About Pricing

There are some plants that are very common and cheap for a reason. They are inexpensive because they are cheap looking. Cabbage palms are not one of these plants. They may not be as tall or dramatically shaped as some other plants, but when they are healthy, they have a lush green color and beautiful texture. Any reputable nursery should never try to sell you an unhealthy plant and should look the same as the ones you see in this article.

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Potting Soil

Cabbage Palms like most plants grow best in well draining soil. If you buy your plant in a pot, then the nurseryman should have used a good well draining soil. However, if you repot on your own, it’s best to use soil that is not too rich. A good mix for potting plants is one part peat, one part sand and one part loamy soil.


These plants like wet feet, but don’t like their feet wet all the time. This means that the soil should be kept consistently wet, but not waterlogged. If your plant is in a container that won’t drain, you will need to drill holes in the bottom to ensure proper draining.

If the soil becomes too dry, the leaves will begin to drop. If this happens, you can try to keep them a little more moist since this might help save the current leaves. However, it’s best if you catch this problem before it gets to this point. As with most houseplants, these plants should be watered about once a week.


Cabbage palms do well in medium to bright light. They can adapt somewhat to lower light levels, but they will never look as good. They will do okay in a north or east facing window since they will get some brightness during the day. In a south facing window, they’ll get too much sun and will stretch towards the window and sun which may cause them to fall over. If you want to put them in a south facing window, you should construct some sort of window box to give them something to hang onto.


Cabbage palms are not heavy feeders so fertilizer isn’t usually needed. If you do use fertilizer, you should only use it at half strength and only use it when the plant is in active growth, which is once during the spring and once during the summer. If you want, you can use a time release fertilizer, but this isn’t necessary.


You can repot whenever you want, however, it’s not necessary to do so since the plant is small. If you do decide to repot, you should only change the soil every other year at most. Before you do this, be sure to trim off any dead roots that may be present. Since the plant is small, you can place it in a smallish container. A plastic pot works well since they can’t break, however, any other type of container that has a drainage hole in the bottom will work.

If you want to put it in a decorative container without a drainage hole, you will need to use a hanging basket since the roots will need to be kept moist.

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Once you’ve placed your plant in its new home, be sure to not overcrowd it. These plants like to have breathing room. Also, be sure that the container has a drainage hole and that you don’t put the container in a place that is prone to water accumulating.

If you haven’t already done so, you can now fertilize when the plant is in active growth, which is once during the spring and once during the summer.


While these plants can get top heavy with lots of foliage, you don’t need to prune them. If you do decide to prune them, you should only trim off dead or dying branches since this plant tends towards legginess without some pruning.

You can cut the plant back in the spring and trim it back during the summer. This is normally only necessary if you want to force it into a shorter, more manageable shape since it tends towards a more shrub like appearance than a tree like appearance.

If you do need to prune, hedge and string trimmers work well for smaller plants and chainsaws work well for larger ones. Ladders should be used anytime that you need to prune higher than arms reach. This may be necessary for some of the taller specimens since they can grow quite tall.

The Cabbage Palm is a fairly easy plant to grow. It’s not as fast growing as some other plants, but it does grow slowly and steadily and tends towards a more woody shrub like appearance rather than a full on tree like appearance. They are also very attractive plants with their glossy green leaves and curving stems.

Overall, the Cabbage Palm is an excellent plant for pools, as a windbreak, as a privacy screen or just as a general accent and it’s very easy to maintain.

The Cabbage Palm is a slow growing, woody, shrub like plant that is native to southern United States. The plant gets its name from the fact that it looks somewhat like a head of cabbage and has curved stems that give it a definite palm tree like appearance. The trunk is gray and the curly, blue-green leaves range from three to six feet long and half that in width and have a petiole which attaches them to the stem. The leaves are soft and fuzzy. The fruit of the plant is a brown, oval shaped seed pod that has a curved tail and looks somewhat like an onion.

The Cabbage Palm can reach heights of twelve to fifteen for these plants in their native habitat and can reach up to thirty feet when planted in a more northern climate. It likes fresh water and full sun, but will tolerate light shade. The plant has curving stems and looks good in a grouping, especially when contrasted with other plants. The Cabbage Palm is very drought tolerant once established, but it prefers moist soil and actually does best when its roots are kept wet. It’s native to zones nine through eleven, but can be grown as far north as New Jersey and parts of Oregon if planted in a protected area.

The Cabbage Palm needs to be protected from strong wind and cold air. It has a natural tendency to curve towards the sun, which can be taken advantage of when used as a single plant or grouped. The leaves are said to be edible and the stems are used to make fabric, rope and nets. The Cabbage Palm overall is a very useful plant that is both ornamental and practical.

You should look for a specimen that has curving stems and plant it in a protected area with full sun. The Cabbage Palm will tolerate some light shade, but it needs the sun to thrive. You should plant it in moist, well drained soil and make sure the roots are always wet. This plant can grown fairly quickly under the right conditions and can get quite large, so you will need to prune it from time to time.

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Trimming and pruning should be done in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. You can also prune it to control its overall size and shape. Trim off any dead or diseased branches as well. It’s a good idea to apply a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plant to keep the root system healthy.

You shouldn’t fertilize this plant since it has a very strong root system and doesn’t need extra nutrients. It can, however, benefit from a layer of compost applied around the base every couple of years. It does best in damp soil, but is very drought tolerant once it’s established.

Fertilizer won’t hurt this plant, but it doesn’t need it and should only use an organic option such as compost. You can trim it as you would a hedge and it also makes for a very nice shaped tree if that is your intention. This makes a very nice container plant or patio tree.

These plants are very popular and you should have no trouble finding one at most nurseries or garden centers. You can also buy this plant online.

The Cabbage Palm is great for exposed areas that need some softness and color. If you have the patience you can even grow this in a container and bring it inside when the weather turns cold.

The Cabbage Palm is also known as the ‘Machete Palm’.

The Cabbage Palm is a hardy plant that can tolerate drought and cold, but will die if exposed to prolonged freezing temperatures.

The Cabbage Palm can reach up to fifteen feet in height, but is easily kept small with pruning.

Its natural shape is that of a bulging trunk with a slightly curved top.

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The Cabbage Palm has ‘compound’ leaves, which means that it has several small leaflets attached to a single stem that appear to be one leaf.

The Cabbage Palm sends out off shoots or ‘pups’, which can be easily transplanted when they reach a manageable size.

The Cabbage Palm can get several trunks if allowed, each producing their own set of pups.

The Cabbage Palm can develop into a thicket of trunks if not trimmed or pruned properly.

The Cabbage Palm is a very common plant and is easy to find. In fact it’s so common, that it is considered an invasive species in many areas. Fortunately it has not proven to be a serious problem in most gardens.

The Cabbage Palm is a very easy, adaptable plant that can do well in most conditions as long as it is provided with plenty of sun.

This plant grows best in wet, marshy areas of the southern United States.

It can tolerate both sun and shade, but needs to be in a location that is protected from strong winds.

It can grow in fairly poor soil as long as it is well drained.

It can reach heights of up to 15 feet, but is easily kept at a more manageable size by pruning.

The Cabbage Palm produces seed pods which contain several seeds surrounded by a moist pulp. The seeds are edible and can be used for cooking much like a squash.

What Are Cabbage Palms: Information On Cabbage Palm Care from our website

The cabbage palm is not related to the coconut or the palm family as its name might indicate.

Sources & references used in this article:

Wild turkey food habits in Florida by SD Schemnitz РThe Journal of Wildlife Management, 1956 РJSTOR

Sabal palmetto: Investigating the ecological importance of Florida’s state tree by DA Fox – 2015 – search.proquest.com

Activity patterns and roosting of the eastern blossom-bat (Syconycteris australis) by RL Drury, F Geiser РAustralian Mammalogy, 2014 РCSIRO

Native plants for coastal restoration: what, when, and how for Florida. by MJ Williams – 2007 – tamug-ir.tdl.org



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