Saw Palmetto Plant Care: How To Grow Silver Saw Palmetto Plants

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By Karen Boness, Owner of Wild Willow Landscape Design, ISA Certified Arborist, Certified Permaculture Designer

Silver saw palmetto palms (Serenoa repens) are native to Florida and southeastern U.S. These palms are unusually cold hardy and can be grown is USDA regions 7-11. They are a common understory plant often found in sprawling clusters in south Florida’s pine flat woods and oak woodlands. Read on to learn more about growing these plants.

Growing Saw Palmetto Trees

Although the slow-growing silver saw palmetto palms can spread 20’ wide, the typical size is 6’ x 8.’ They have stiff, 3’- to 6’-long, silvery green fan shaped leaves. The stems and trunks often grow horizontally along the ground. Silver saw palmetto palms produce fragrant, yellowy-white flowers in the spring followed by berry-like fruit, which ripen into a blue-black color.

They can take shade put prefer sun. Silver saw palmetto palms tolerate salty conditions and withstand deer. They require moderate amounts of water but can withstand drought once they are established.

There are many interesting silver saw palmetto tree facts. The “saw” in the name refers to the saw-like teeth on the petioles (leaf stems). The fruit is an important food source for mammals and birds. An extract of the berries is popular in Western herbal medicine where it used to treat prostate and urinary tract problems. The flowers are highly attractive to bees and a great source for good quality honey.

Growing saw palmetto trees is easy. They are adapted to Florida’s sandy soils and don’t require any soil amendments unless grown out of their normal range in clay soils.

Little maintenance is needed. Fertilize them biannually with a palm fertilizer if they under perform. Remove old brown leaves and stems as needed. Cut the dead leaves off at their base. As you can see, saw palmetto plant care is minimal.

Other considerations in how to grow silver saw palmetto plants are really about all your varied landscaping options. You can plant them indoors (with enough light) or outdoors. You can install them in pots for a dramatic look. You can plant them close together to form a hedge or screen. They look fabulous at the base of tall palm trees or as an understory plant. Silver saw palmetto palms also create a lovely backdrop for smaller plants with contrasting dark green or red foliage.

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