Palm Trees For Office Indoor Planting Or Outside In The Deep South

By Pat Malcolm

Several types of palm trees can be grown outside or inside, if planted in a container. Palm trees grown in containers are suitable for low light office situations or indoors at homes in Northern States. Gardeners can buy small, reasonably priced palm trees at a nursery to be planted, to grow as bonsai specimens. Gardeners can purchase mature indoor palms from certain Internet nurseries that will be delivered fast by semi-trucks

Pygmy Date Palm, Phoenix roebellenii, originated in Asia and can grow to 10 feet tall, but it is not a fast grower. This very adaptable, exotic plant, is easy to grow, and has become a very important indoor office palm, because of its beautiful, graceful leaves that grow well in low light. This containerized plant is popular at Sea Island, Georgia, and it has been used massively by the US Government as an outdoor containerized plant to separate crowds from the elite. The Pygmy Date Palm is often commonly used at National, televised political events. Most plant designers recommend buying multiple trunked plants from a nursery that are containerized.

The Bamboo Palm, Chamaedorea erumpens, is a perfect indoor palm that can grow 10 feet tall in a container. The Bamboo palm was so named, because its multiple canes grow like bamboo rings, widely spaced, slender and olive green in color. The Bamboo palm is well adapted to plant and grow in tropical gardens, or as an under story shrub that screens out noise and automobile exhaust fumes. The Bamboo palm grows fast and neatly as a silhouette, privacy, landscape plant in warm areas.


The Sago Palm, Cycas revoluta, is a cycad, not a true palm tree. But, it is widely known by the public as a palm tree, and has many characteristics with the landscaped tropical appearance of a palm. The tree is not fast growing, and requires 100 years to develop a trunk 6 feet tall. The trunks on large specimen trees often sprout abundant, small sago shoots that grow out of the trunk at right angles, creating a bazaar sight when planted in the landscape. The Sago palm will survive temperatures of 0 F, and at temps below 20 F will show some foliage burning that will regrow in warm weather. The Sago palm grows well in zones 7 – 10, but some gardeners prefer to containerize the plant to move indoors during the winter or to grow it as a bonsai plant. Many cottage owners at Sea Island, Georgia plant and grow sago palms in the landscape, but some homeowners containerize the sago palms, and place them in pairs at the front doorway entrances.

Lady Palm, Rhapis excelsa, is an ideal office plant, and it can be grown in landscapes, where the temperatures don’t drop below 20 F. The Lady palm tree is a favorite indoor plant at the famous resort Cloister Hotel, at Sea Island, Georgia. Very large, 6 – 7 feet Lady palms can be seen growing in 25 gallon containers in extremely low lighted areas inside the Hotel and are placed at dark corners at several covered outside walkways that receive only small amounts of reflective indirect sunlight. This palm may become your office or home favorite. Lady palm trees grow 10 feet.

Triangle palm, Dypsis decaryi, also is called the Madagascar palm, and it originated on the South African Island of Madagascar. The Triangle palm is one of the most bazaarly formed plants ever grown and offered to buy at a nursery, because of the oddly shaped trunk and red clusters of cells on the underside of the blue-green leaves. The dark brown trunk with contrasting glowing, gray leaf scars are exotic in any office container planting.

The Ponytail palm, Beaucamea recurvata, is also called a Bottle palm tree and Elephant Foot palm, but is really not a true palm. The Ponytail Palm is, however, related closely to the agave family. The base of the plant is swollen, woody-looking, and the trunk tapers as it grows larger. Ponytail palms will survive temperatures down to the low 20’s F, and can be grown outside in many warm climates, but they grow into very interesting office containerized plants in low light situations, and are not fast growing.

Bauer’s Dracaena Palm Tree, Cordyline Baueri, is a beautiful red leaved, slender tree, growing 8-10 feet at maturity with burgundy-red leaves. During the warm summer, a large flower stalk appears with clusters of white flowers. Even though this plant is not a a palm, it is evergreen when planted and grown in temperatures above 20 F. The Bauer Dracaena is a perfect office or indoor containerized plant for Northern States, and will draw entertaining stares from office visitors. Bauer’s Dracaena grows well outside in warm climates, but is not a fast growing tree.

About the Author: Patrick A. Malcolm, owner of TyTy Nursery, has an M.S. degree in Biochemistry and has cultivated palm trees for over three decades.


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