Royal palms are the quintessential tall, straight palm tree – the ones you expect to see lining the street in southern Florida or California. While they have some specific care requirements, these trees are impressive specimens that are worth the trouble for the way they stand out. Keep reading to learn more about royal palm care and tips for growing royal palm trees.
What is a Royal Palm Tree?
That depends upon who you ask. Some classify it as the genus Roystonea, but others say it’s just the species Roystonea regia. (Both the genus and species imply royalty, so it’s hard to commit). Royal palm trees are very large, reaching 50 to 80 feet (15-24 m.) in height and 15 to 25 feet (4.5-7.5 m.) in spread.
The leaves are 10 to 15 feet (3-4.5 m.) long and can weigh as much as 50 lbs. (23 kg.) when fresh. The trees are self-cleaning, which means the naturally dying leaves fall from mature trees at a rate of about once per month. This eliminates the need for pruning, but because of their height and the sheer size of the leaves, it can pose a real danger to pedestrians below.
How to Grow a Royal Palm Tree
Royal palm care can be tricky, as the trees are somewhat prone to disease and mineral deficiency, but they are also relatively tough. They are hardy to USDA zone 10a, or about 28 F. (-2 C.). They can tolerate salt spray, though they don’t do well with salty soil. They can withstand strong winds.
The trees grow very quickly, especially if given plenty of fertilizer and water. While moderately drought tolerant, they do best with regular watering and will grow well in damp, swampy areas. When young they can manage with partial shade, but once they reach maturity, they really need full sun – and, of course, royal palms require plenty of room to accommodate their large stature.