needle plam tree

Rhapidophyllum hystrix

The Needle Palm is the sole member of the genus Rhapidophyllum. This palm is native to the Southern United States, specifically Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida. The low-maintenance problem-free qualities make it a great choice for novice or lazy gardeners. Read on to learn more about these easy to care for palm trees and where you can find a Needle Palm for sale.

Physical Characteristics

The Needle Palm has green and silver fan-shaped fronds atop multiple short, stubby, fibrous-wrapped trunks. It grows in a clumping manner between 4-6' tall and wide in USDA zone 7-8, meaning it produces multiple stems or trunks from the base rather than a single trunk, making it look like a bush. Its name describes how it looks- the fronds are literally thin, long, and needle-like. It is also called a porcupine palm, for reasons you can probably guess.

The Needle Palm has a clumping habit, slowly reaching a mature height and width of up to 6ft in USDA zones 7-8, and may grow larger in warmer areas. The large, 30-inch long, fan-shaped fronds are glossy dark green on top and silvery on the undersides. Adding to their beauty, the fronds are split into 20-inch long, sharply pointed segments. The short, stubby trunks are wrapped in brown fiber, which helps protect them from the cold. They produce small yellow flowers in the spring and summer, followed by an inedible black fruit.

Are needle palms easy to maintain?

If you’re looking for a Needle Palm for sale, you may be wondering if they have a difficult upkeep process. The good news is that Needle Palms are very easy to maintain. They are drought-tolerant and thrive in both sun and shade. If your location is hot or dry, especially during the summer, the palm will appreciate a location where it receives some shade during the hottest part of the afternoon. As a bonus, they can handle occasionally wet soils.

Needle Palms grow naturally as understory plants in wet woodland areas. They tolerate occasional wetness in their soil but thrive in well-drained soils that are rich in organic nutrients. Although drought-tolerant once established, newly planted palms do require water several times weekly for the first couple of months while they establish themselves. 

Needle Palms hold their green fronds longer than the vast majority of palms. This means that you rarely have to prune them. Conveniently, they are also pest and disease resistant. You don't even need to worry about rodents or animals making their home inside the palm.

Needle Palms need to be fertilized in early spring and summer. You can buy a general-purpose blend specific for palms, or have the palm experts at Atlanta Palms do it for you! 

needle palm tree

Where should I plant my needle palm?

Because Needle Palms can handle occasionally wet soils, they are a great option for planting near pools and water features. They look good both in the front and backyard, as well as an understory palm for bigger trees and palms. Needle Palms look great as eye-catching specimens or as ground cover. They also perform well in containers. They are a strong seaside option because they tolerate salt and wind well. They are commonly used in xeriscapes, as they are highly drought tolerant.

Is the needle palm cold-hardy?

Cold-hardy to 10° with short drops to 0°F,  the Needle Palm is one of the most cold-hardy palms out there. The fibrous trunks provide an extra layer of protection to the palms in winter, and it has been occasionally recorded to survive temperatures even lower than 0°F! The Needle palm is considered the most cold hardy palm in the world! 

Find The Perfect Needle Palm at Atlanta Palms

The Needle Palm is the perfect plant if you are looking for a shrub-like palm tree that won’t get too tall, and it’s the most cold-hardy out of all the bush-like palms under 6ft tall. This is a palm tree that will look great throughout the year. The fact that it grows so slowly can work to your advantage with landscape designs that will not get out of control with uneven growths. To learn more about the Needle Palm or to buy palm trees near you, visit Atlanta Palms today!