Growing a potted palm tree is a nice way to add a touch of the tropics to your yard or garden. Many dwarf, miniature, and small palm trees grow well in a container garden, and living in a semi-tropical or tropical environment allows you to grow them all year-round outside. In temperate growing zones, you can move your potted palm tree outside in the summer and bring it indoors to overwinter.
Growing potted palm trees is a straightforward process, and the best trees for a patio, container garden, or entryway would be ones that are low maintenance, drought-tolerant, and have a slow growth rate. All you need for your potted palm tree to grow well is a large pot with loamy, well-draining soil.
We’re going to break down 20 beautiful potted palm trees with quick descriptions and pictures of each in this article. This way, you’ll know exactly which ones will work well in your space.
1. Adonidia (Veitchia merrillii)
Better known as Christmas palms, this potted palm tree is on the smaller side when it comes to potted trees. This is a nice ornamental addition to your front lawn that will catch the eye of anyone who sees it. They tend to grow best in zones 10 and up and in places where temperatures don’t get below 32°F. They tend to grow much more slowly than their cousins, and they top out at 15 feet high. The good news is that, like many of the potted palm trees on our list, Adonidia is a very low-maintenance choice that is happy to grow while being largely left alone.
2. Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
You can identify this potted palm tree by the arching green fronds and the very smooth green stems. This is a clumping palm tree that will grow very well inside in a clay pot surrounded by bright flowers. In a pot, it can reach up to 21 feet high, but the pot size will directly impact how large this specimen gets at full maturity.
You may hear this potted palm tree called the yellow palm, golden cane palm, and the butterfly palm. Since it has a shrub-like habit, it’s a bushy plant that works well as a privacy tree, shade tree, or as a living privacy screen. Grow it in partial shade to full sun for the best results, and make sure you give it a lot of water. Potted areca palm does well outside in zones 10 and 11.
3. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
Bamboo Palm are subtropical potted palm trees that have tubular-shaped but slender canes just like a bamboo plant. The upright stems it produces feature very dense clusters of fronds in dark green, and it tops out at seven feet tall. When you put it in a pot to grow, it’ll keep a very compact appearance.
You may hear this palm tree referred to as the parlor plant or the reed plant. When you grow it in the ground, the spreading nature of the bamboo plant means that many people prefer to use it as a hedge plant throughout Florida. It’s a very attractive accent or specimen plant in your subtropical garden, and it works well as a leafy container palm.
4. Bismark Palm (Bismarckia nobilis)
All of the plants on our list can fit very well in larger pots. However, when it comes to this particular potted palm tree, you want to do your initial shop for a pot with significant growth in mind. This is the tallest of potted palms you can get, and they will top out at 60 feet tall when you care for them properly. This palm has a spread that goes up to 16 feet long.
Bismarck potted palm trees grow best in zones 10 to 11. Unlike many of their close cousins, they are slightly more sensitive to lower temperatures. So, any exposure to freezing can really stunt their growth. Like most palm trees, they prefer to be in a location with full sun, and they thrive with a well-draining soil. Just be prepared when you introduce this palm tree to your front lawn for it to be the main attraction once it starts to grow.
5. Cat Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
This is a multi-stemmed plant that is a great choice as a landscape feature in your yard. It’s a small clumping potted palm tree, and you can identify it by the feathery, dark green fronds that cascade down. It grows up to three feet from the ground, and they’re trunkless palm bushes that form a dense foliage clump. It can get roughly 6.5-feet tall outside in a container.
The best place to put this plant is in a space that gets dappled shade. The potting mix should drain well but be kept moist. It requires frequent watering sessions in full sun to keep the long leaflets and fronds healthy and dark green. It grows best in zones 9 to 11.
6. Chestnut Dioon (Dioon edule)
This potted palm tree tends to grow slower than the other ones. They are also one of the shortest potted palm trees you can get, and they cap out at eight feet. However, it works well to add exotic appeal to your space. Also, this plant produces seeds, and the seeds will vary in size and shape based on the tree’s gender. Generally speaking, these plants make an excellent starter palm if you’re looking to expand your experience a bit. They tolerate drought and salt well, and they can withstand the harshest summer sun without any damage.
7. Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona chinensis)
Also called the fountain palm, this potted palm tree is one of the best starter palms you can get for any gardener who is looking to add flair to their front walkway. If you live in an area that has inconsistent rain patterns or harder soil, this will work well. This plant is renowned for the durability factor, and it can stand up to cold and drought without any damage.
Once this plant is mature, it can get 40 feet tall and have a 12-foot spread. These palms grow best when they’re in an area with full sun and slightly acidic soil. They also do best when you grow them in zones 9 and 10. However, when it comes to growing them in containers, you’ll be able to keep the container small for the first few years you have it. However, as it grows, you have to be ready to transplant it to compensate for the large root growth.
8. European Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis)
This is a shrub-like, dwarf potted palm tree. It’s a sun-loving and heat-loving palm that has several trunks with a very shaggy look. It has silvery-green, fine-textured, fan-shaped fronds that get up to five feet long. It’s a slow-growing species that only gains a few inches each year. One benefit of growing this potted palm tree is that it’s extremely cold-hardy when grown outside. It makes it suitable to have in temperate climate zones, and it has an excellent wind, heat, and drought tolerance.
9. Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis)
This is an ornamental tropical plant that grows in thick clumps that have several stems with a slender build with masses of feathery foliage. These identifying features include the leaves that have a jagged fishtail shape. It produces very large greenish-yellow leaves that can easily top 10 feet long. This potted palm tree has several uses when you’re in a tropical landscape. They work well for use as a privacy screen by a pool, specimen plant, or as a backdrop for tropical plantings. They also make great accent pieces in the corner of your hoses in zones 9b through 11.
10. Jelly Palm (Butia capitata)
Generally speaking, jelly palm trees are much stouter than they grow tall, but they make a nice addition besides your walkways. The palms tend to have a downward weeping habit, and this can help to make a dramatic statement while giving your lawn some much needed shade. It’s a very hardy potted palm plant that can easily withstand heat, salt, and drought without any damage.
It’s not a good idea to try and grow this palm plant in colder environments, but you can see it mature and do well as long as the temperatures don’t dip below 14°F. As a mature tree, this palm tops out at 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide. They do best when you plant them in well-draining soil in an area that gets full sunlight for six to eight hours a day. You’ll want to ensure that whatever pot you pick out for this plant will compensate for the naturally strout growth habit and the extensive root growth.
11. Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana)
This is a very attractive potted palm tree due to the elegant, upright growth habit. Also, this is a single-stemmed plant that is well-known for the dark green feathery pinnate leaves that grow up to seven feet long. This decorative palm tree can reach heights of 40 feet in a garden, a container will restrict how large it grows nicely.
You can put the Kentia palm on your deck or patio in a shady spot. The elegant, dark green crown on this palm introduces a tropical accent to your space. It’s also cold-hardy, and it can survive well in containers in zones 9b to 11, and it can even survive short freezing spells without any damage.
12. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
Very similar to the bamboo palm we touched on earlier, this plant is characterized by fan-shaped, glossy green leaves that grow on bamboo-like canes. This is a very easy to grow potted palm tree with a clumping growth habit that can reach up to 13 feet high. However, the slow growth rate means that it can take years to reach this height.
The Lady Palm likes to grow outside in zones 9 to 11. It produces sturdy wood canes with leafy, large foliage that adds a tropical accent to your yard. It grows very well in gardens that face north, and it tolerates full sun to partial shade without any issues. You can use it as a foundation plant, accent plant, or as a privacy plant to enclose your patio or deck.
13. Lipstick Palm (Cyrtostachys renda)
If you’re trying to add pops of color to your garden, this potted palm tree will do just the trick. It stands out when you compare it to other varieties due to the thin build and the bright red coloring on the trunk. However, this potted palm plant is much more temperamental than others that do well in containers. To see this plant take root and thrive in your yard, you’ll need to live above zone 10. You’ll also want to ensure that this tree is never exposed to temperatures at or below 40°F or it’ll stunt the growth.
Lipstick palm trees can get stunningly tall when you care for them correctly, and they can reach up to 50 feet tall in the best growing conditions. However, it’s very common for this plant to stop growing around 30 feet, and this makes them a nice statement piece for your garden.
14. Majestic Palm (Ravenea rivularis)
Majestic palms are big outdoor potted plants that people use for privacy in semi-tropical or tropical environments. Also known as the majesty palm, the appearance of this tree can enhance your landscape’s aesthetics. When you grow it as a potted palm tree, it produces arching, long fronds that get between six and eight feet long.
Unlike others on the list, this one is relatively easy to care for as it’s tolerant of moist, damp conditions. Since this plant is widespread, it’s a good idea to use it as a specimen plant in a humid, warm landscape. It does best in zones 9 to 12, but it won’t do well planted in coastal regions.
15. Mexican Blue Palm (Brahea armata)
If you’re worried about how the summer heat can impact the health of your potted palm tree, you should try this option. This one is as heat-resistant as any palm comes, and it produces stunning silver fronds that will fan out over your yard during those scoring summer days. They grow best in zones 9 to 11, and they prefer to be in sandy and loamy soils. However, they can do well in potting soil that drains well too.
These palms are one of the taller potted palm trees you can get, and they get to roughly 40 feet when you care for them well. However, Mexican Blue Palms are rare. If you want one, you should be prepared to pay top dollar for it.
16. Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
Parlor palms are slow-growing, small palm trees that have several slender green trunks, small reddish-orange or yellow flowers, and pinnate green leaves. When you grow it as a potted palm plant outside, they can clear 6.5 feet tall, and the arching fronds it produces stretch up to five feet tall and eight inches long.
As with most entries on the list, this palm does best in zones 10 to 12. It’s an attractive container plant that will help shade your deck or patio, or it looks lovely outside around the pool. Put it in deep shade or dappled sunlight for the best results.
17. Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
The unique look of this potted palm tree makes it a very attractive addition to your garden. The ponytail palm tree is a very pretty evergreen option to grow in containers outside because it has a bulbous trunk that is easy to identify with curling, bright green, grassy leaves. In some instances, you’ll get several thick stems that grow from a swollen base, and this gives it a unique look.
They can get up to six feet tall at full maturity, and they require full sun for six to eight hours a day to thrive. They grow in zones 8 to 12, and you may hear it referred to as the elephant’s foot palm or the bottle palm. Both names refer to the swollen part of the trunk right around ground level. This is where the tree stores moisture, and this makes it very resistant to drought. Grow it to create a fun focal point in your semi-tropical garden.
18. Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
When you grow the pygmy date as a potted palm tree, it’s a small specimen. It’s a very popular ornamental tree with a slender habit and feathery fronds that grow between three and four feet long. The arching, drooping stems give way to a very attractive crown of green, spiky foliage.
This is a fruit-bearing plant that grows to be 6.5 feet high, and several landscape uses for this plant include shade palm, in xeriscaping, as a specimen container plant, or as an entranceway accent piece. This graceful, small potted palm plant thrives in zones 10 and 11, and it likes partial shade.
19. Sentry Palm (Howea belmoreana)
Sentry palms are ornamental plants that have a ringed, slender stem with a rounded crown and huge arching fronds. When you compare it to the kentia palm, a close relative, this one has a more upright growth habit than a drooping one. It gets up to 33 feet tall when planted in the ground, and it’ll grow shorter and slower in a container. You can grow it outside in zones 9b to 11.
20. Silver Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)
The final potted palm tree on the list is one that you find growing in Florida and similar climates, and it has a better chance of thriving in slightly cooler areas than other specimens. This hardy palm tree will last beautifully through some of the colder months of the year, and they add a spiky look to your garden. Also, they tend to grow wider than they do tall. So, the heights rarely exceed eight feet while they can spread upwards of 20 feet.
Not only will this potted palm tree resist the cold beautifully, but it’s also salt and deer tolerant. It’s not technically drought-tolerant, but they don’t need a lot of water to do well. As long as you get a wider pot, you can cultivate this potted palm tree in zones 7 to 10.
Potted Palm Trees – Soil Requirements
There are dozens of different potting mixes available on the current market, but there is no perfect solution for each potted palm tree. Each gardener uses what is available and what seems to work for them. So, don’t be surprised if the soil mixes vary wildly from gardener to gardener and both mixes work very well. One of the most simple mixes you can use is half perlite or coarse sand and half peat moss. This mix works wonderfully for young seedlings, but it’s not fantastic in the long run. You’ll want to use some topsoil with coarse sand mixed in as the plant grows.
You can also get a well-draining potting soil with organic matter mixed in. Generally speaking, any soil mix for succulents or cacti will do well for palm trees. No matter which mix you pick out, it should offer great support and drainage. The heavier the mix is, the slower the drainage will be. Find sand and topsoil will slow the drainage while peat moss, coarse sand, and perlite increase it.
When you repot your potted palm tree, you should make sure your new pot comes with plenty of drainage holes to let the water escape. Also, it’s a good idea to add a few stones to the bottom of your container to improve drainage. Keep the old soil around the plant’s root when you repot it to avoid shock.
Potted Palm Trees – Sunlight Requirements
Different potted palm trees come with different light requirements. Some require full sun while others like parietal shade, and others like full shade and don’t do well in sun. As the humidity levels drop, most of the tolerate less direct sunlight too. A palm tree that can tolerate full sun in a tropical location may need protection in an arid environment like a desert. But, palms that adore hot and dry conditions will have trouble adapting to a tropical growing zone.
Before you buy any plants, try to envision which potted palm tree you want and where you want to put it. See if the area gets shade or is full sun as this will determine the type of tree you should pick. Most young palm trees, regardless of their light preferences, need to have protection from the sun until they mature. Also, if you buy a palm that has a shaded growing area, it’s not used to full sun and you should acclimate it. To avoid sunburn, expose it to higher light levels over six to eight weeks.
Potted Palm Trees – Watering Requirements
Outdoor potted palm trees can get some water from rain, but they usually require you to water them. The roots can’t get water or nutrition from the garden soil, and potted specimens dry out much quicker. Water it until the water starts coming out of the drainage holes and allow the pot to drain for half of an hour before you dump the excess out of the saucer. Repeat this process when the soil feels dry.
You want to stick your finger into the first inch of soil to check if it’s moist, or you can go out and buy a moisture meter. The meter will give you far more accurate results. If the soil feels cool and moist, wait to water again. Don’t wait until the soil on the bottom of the pot dries out, and consider using a watering wand that you attach to your hose to control the dispersion.
It’s a good idea to water your potted palm plants early in the morning or later in the evening before the sun gets too hot. They require more watering sessions during the spring and summer as they grow or when conditions are hot and dry. When the temperatures cool down, back off on watering them. They also like occasional misting during the dry season.
These 20 potted palm trees can stand out and make a welcome statement in your yard or garden. You can now go through the list and decide which one is going to work best for your wants and needs to get a tropical touch or a focal point in your yard.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.