Medjool Date Palm – Phoenix Dactylifera
Planting an Edible Date Medjool Date Palm in Florida
All true edible date Medjool date palm trees, are desert plants, originally from the Middle East. They don’t grow naturally in areas that receive lots of rain each year, most of it during the six warmest months, with the water-table at two to six feet. Where they are native, dates get 20 to 40 inches of rain per year, which falls in the Winter, and Summers are hot and dry, with low humidity. In such a climate the environment favors the palms over the disease-causing organisms. In our climate, the environment favors the disease-causing organisms, not desert palms. They do well in California, especially in the deserts, where it rains a lot less than it does in Florida or the South East U.S. It is extremely rare to find dates (the fruit) produced in Florida which are edible. Failure to fruit or ripen fruit is an indication of a plant that is not being adapted to it’s growing area.
All Date Palm Trees grown by Hardy Palm Tree Farm are grown from seed in Florida. Most Medjool Date Palm Trees sold in Florida come from California fruit producers that are selling off the older, less productive cultivars to make room for newer, better fruiting cultivars.
CHOOSE THE BETTER CULTIVARS.
Though no edible date palms are well adapted to South Florida, some can do well in north Florida and the South East US if planted correctly. It is best to choose cultivars reported to be more tolerant of humidity and rain. Julia Morton, in her book Fruits of warm climates , recommends the following:
a.) The cultivars most tolerant of humidity and rain: “Halaway”, “Khadrawy”, and “Kaktoom”.
b.) The cultivar “Medjool” is intermediate in its tolerance of humidity and rain.
c.) Hardy Farms does not sell “Zahdi”, “Deglet Noor” cultivars which are not at all tolerant of humidity and rain, therefore are not good candidates for growing well in Florida.
After choosing the best palms, these recommendations should help you succeed.
INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE.
1. Plant them high. Raise the bed, and be sure that no water stands around the roots or in the bottom of the hole. If there’s water in the planting hole, it’s not a suitable site for a date.
2. Plant them in sand, not muck, not marl. It must drain well.
3. Maintain an area around the tree weed-free and flower-free. Don’t plant anything around them, especially not turf. For sure, nothing that needs to be watered.
4. Water them during a respectable establishment period (a few months), then almost never again.
5. Keep a very close eye on them. At the first sign of trouble get a diagnosis and treat the problem. There are many problems for which there are no treatments available, but treat anything you can treat, and do so promptly.
6. Be very attentive to the nutritional needs of your palm. Florida soils are nutrient-poor and typically have a pH above 8.0. Use a “palm special” fertilizer formulation, and apply 1.5 lbs./100 square feet four times per year, during the warm months. And keep an eye out for deficiency symptoms, especially potassium and the trace elements.
7. If you lose a date palm, it would be best not to put another one in that spot. If you must put another one there, first remove as much soil as you can, and replace it with clean sand.
8. Avoid planting in pairs (one may die and spoil the design).
Min.Temp. 19 F / -7.2 C
USDA Zone 8b
EGF Zone H4
For more information on the purchase of a Medjool Palm Tree, feel free to give us a call at the farm and we’d be happy to help. Don’t forget we do offer delivery and installation services throughout the State of Florida. Hardy Palm Trees is family owned and operated, located in Plant City, Florida.