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The Phoenix Canariensis, or Canary Island Date Palm, can bring a tropical feel to your UK garden! While it is only winter-hardy in the mildest parts of the UK, it is well-suited to container growing. It has received the RHS Award of Garden Merit, and so is a guaranteed winner for Southern UK gardeners!
As its name makes clear, the Canary Island Palm is native to the Canary Islands, but is now grown all over the temperate regions of the world. It has a large, round crown of dark green leaves, deeply divided and up to 6 metres in length, have very sharp spines at their base. The thick trunk of a Canary Island Date Palm develops an attractive diamond cross-hatched pattern as the tree matures.
Phoenix Canariensis will survive outside year-round in the mildest parts of the UK in the south and south-west, and somewhat farther north in a sheltered location if wrapped with fleece in the winter. It is not reliably winter-hardy below -8° C, and will not tolerate long periods of freezing weather in soggy soil. Where it will thrive, it can grow to a height of 12 metres and spread of 8 metres in 20 to 50 years. The tallest in the UK is in the Isles of Scilly and has reached 16 metres in height. Canary Island Date Palm will stay much smaller if restricted to a container and grown inside a conservatory. Prune off dead leaves as needed, but otherwise it will not need any pruning.
If you are planting your Canary Island Palm outside, choose a sheltered spot with an east or south facing aspect, in partial shade. It will do best in well-drained, loam soil with an acid to neutral ph. If planting in a container, use a loam-based potting soil with plenty of organic matter. Keep it watered but do not let it stand in water. Apply fertilizer to the soil surface in spring.
Planted in the middle of a lawn, your Phoenix Canariensis will quickly become a focal point in your landscape. On a larger property, a grouping of them would be a stunning addition to the landscape. A Canary Island Palm grown in a container would make an exotic and attractive addition to a sheltered roof terrace, large balcony, or patio, with the option of moving it inside to a sunny spot in winter.
Whether planted in the ground or a container, a long-lived Phoenix Canariensis will add a tropical flair to your garden for years to come and is an ideal addition to a sheltered Mediterranean style garden.