mule palm tree

(xButiagrus nabonnandii)

When looking at a Mule Palm, it’s easy to mistake it for the most tropical tree in the world, the Coconut Palm. Mule Palms look like miniature Coconut Palms (minus the coconuts) but without the extreme sensitivity to cold temperatures. Mule Palms can tolerate drops in temperature down to 15℉, or even 10℉ on occasion. This makes them perfect for USDA hardiness zones 7b-11. Mule Palms make any landscape instantly tropical, with their arching, feathery fronds, and easy maintenance, it is one of the best looking palms out there!

Physical Characteristics of the Mule Palm

The Mule Palm gets its name because it is a sterile palm that needs to be pollinated by hand. Mule Palms are a hybrid cross between a Queen Palm and a Pindo Palm: they have some of the cold hardiness of the Pindo Palm and the majestic look of the Queen Palm.

How tall do mule palms get?

The Mule Palm’s fronds are long, around 4-6 feet, and spread in an arching manner from the trunk. Mature Mule Palms grow to a maximum of 20-25 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide canopy in USDA zones 7b-8. The trunk of the Mule will rarely grow larger than 15 feet, the rest of the height is pure fronds. They grow relatively fast in comparison to other cold-hardy palms, at a rate of 2-4 ft per year. Because they get so tall so fast, Mule Palms need to be placed in an area that allows enough space for both vertical and horizontal growth.

How cold-hardy is the mule palm?

Although Mule Palms withstand temperature drops down to 15℉ and brief drops to 10℉, you should take extra caution in anticipation of a cold snap and protect your palm by taking the following steps:

  • Cover the base of the tree with organic mulch in order to insulate the roots.
  • Water heavily prior to a frost. Saturating your palm with water helps it to survive sudden cold drops. 
  • Heat by covering the palm with a sheet of burlap and string holiday lights throughout the entire canopy to help keep it warm.

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Are mule palms easy to care for?

Mule Palms are one of the easiest palms to care for. They are virtually pest free and not prone to diseases. They grow well in full sun, but can also tolerate partial shade. They grow in a variety of well-drained soils including sandy or clay soils. Mules need the typical fertilization once every three months, and occasional trimming of the fronds once they become brown. It is important to wait until the fronds turn completely brown before removing them, as the palm is still getting nutrients from it until the very end.

Mule Palms are drought tolerant; they need very little water to survive once established. When newly planted, it needs to be watered twice weekly for up to two months. Once it is thriving and new fronds are growing healthily, reduce watering to once a week.

Where to plant your Mule Palm

Mule palms are great both in the front and backyard of most properties. No matter where you plant it, it is important to make sure it has enough space to grow.

  • Near water: Mules are great to plant near bodies of water such as pools and spas because they do not shed nearly as much as a tree does. They can be planted virtually next to the pool since their roots are fibrous and will not damage any concrete or plumbing. (See Pool Oasis )
  • Standalone: Mule Palms are also great as a standalone palm, in a far-off corner of the yard, or as a focal point in the front yard. (See Lone Wolf)
  • Tropical Island: Mule Palms make the perfect central palm when creating a tropical island- a group of palms consisting of a central tall palm with other smaller palms around it. (see Tropical Island)
  • Blocking the view: Mules are fantastic at blocking any undesired views to and from your property near the fence line.

Mule Palm Trees for Sale Near Me

The Mule Palm is a fantastic choice if you want a palm tree with a majestic, coconut palm look that grows quickly and can withstand low temperatures. If you are looking for a mule palm tree for sale, look no further than Atlanta Palms! To find out more, get in touch with us at 770.400.9897.