17 Small or Dwarf Palm Trees For Home Gardens

Looking for a palm tree in a small package for your yard or garden space? The good news is, there are plenty of different types of dwarf palm trees to pick from! In this article, we look at the most popular small palms for your garden or home landscape!

small palm trees florida


Looking for a small or dwarf palm tree to add to your yard or garden space this season? While there are many different options, finding the right tree comes down to many factors, including size and the climate it’s best suited for.

Depending on if you live in an arid climate or one that’s more humid, the type of dwarf palm you plant in your yard will differ. Some can handle drought better, and some will prefer to be in a moist, humid environment year-round. So, where do you start?

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite dwarf or small palm trees that can fit in just about any garden space. Each tree on this list is under 25 feet in height, which is considered quite small when compared to others that are upwards of 100 feet tall! Many trees can be purposely kept much shorter than that with some dedicated pruning. Let’s dig in and take a look at our favorite smaller palms and the environments they are best suited for.

Arikury Palm

Syagrus schizophylla
Parrot beak palm is an amazing addition to your tropical garden.
Scientific Name: Syagrus schizophylla
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: Central Brazil
  • Plant Size: 6-13 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 9-12 (USDA)

Arikury palm, also known as the parrot palm or parrot beak palm, is the perfect addition to a small tropical garden. While the parrot palm is a cousin to the queen palm, this distinctive tree stands out with its shorter, narrow trunk and an eruption of large 6-foot fronds.

These miniature palms stay relatively compact, and with the upright growing fronds, they typically won’t take up more than a few feet of space in your garden. In addition, Arikury palms are cold-hardy to 28 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods, although they generally prefer it to be significantly warmer!

This unique palm tree is a slow grower and doesn’t require much maintenance. You won’t have to worry about trimming spent fronds most of the time. Arikury palms need plenty of water – at least twice per week during periods of drought – but don’t like soggy soil. 

Bottle Palm

Hyophorbe lagenicaulis
Bottle palm loves to receive a lot of sunlight and prefers moderate humidity.
Scientific Name: Hyophorbe lagenicaulis
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: Mascarene Islands
  • Plant Size: 10 feet tall with fronds up to 12 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10a-11 (USDA)

The bottle palm is a native of the Mascarene Islands and is considered to be critically endangered. Its unique bottle-like trunk gives us its common name. The bottle palm’s trunk is rounded as a younger tree, though it elongates as it matures.

These unique palm trees only reach 10 feet in height, but their fronds may grow upwards of 12 feet wide with 2-foot-long leaflets.

Bottle palms need protection from frost. During freezing temperatures, gently tie its fronds up and insulate the tree with a blanket or cover. Caring for a bottle palm is relatively easy as long as it gets plenty of sunlight and moderate moisture and is in well-drained soil.


Buccaneer Palm Tree
Buccaneer palms bloom with yellow flowers.
Scientific Name: Pseudophoenix sargentii
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: South Florida, Mexico, Belize, Cuba, and the Bahamas
  • Plant Size: 10-15 ft tall and wide.
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10a-11 (USDA)

Buccaneer palms have a smooth gray trunk with no crown shaft, topped with deep green feathery leaves that can grow upwards of 15 feet long.

They bloom with delicate yellow flowers during the summertime, followed by green fruits that turn red as they ripen. These tiny fruits aren’t edible but add extra character to your garden’s palm trees.

Buccaneers prefer well-drained, alkaline soil. For the best care, use a palm fertilizer with a continuous-release formula a couple of times per year during the growing season.

Image Credit: Nolege via Wikimedia Commons (Image Use Allowed With Attribution)

Cat Palm

Chamaedorea cataractarum
Cat palm has thick leaves and prefers moist soil.
Scientific Name: Chamaedorea cataractarum
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: Southern Mexico and Central America
  • Plant Size: up to 6 feet tall and up to 8 feet in width
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10-11 (USDA)

The cat palm, sometimes called cataract palm or cascade palm, resembles the Areca palm’s bushy leaves. While the Areca palm has yellow leaf stems, the cat palm features bright green stems. Typically, they will only reach 6 feet in height and 8 feet wide.

Cat palms were a sign of high social status during the Victorian era when presented in your home. Many owners would proudly display their trees in the windows for passersby to recognize that a wealthy person lived there.

They love plant food, so err on the side of too much food rather than too little. To keep your cat palm healthy, keep the soil moist and avoid letting it completely dry out.

Christmas Palm

Adonidia merrillii
Although this Christmas palm is quite drought tolerant, the root ball should not dry out completely.
Scientific Name: Adonidia merrillii
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: Philipines and Malaysia
  • Plant Size: Up to 25 feet and a spread of up to 8 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun preferred but can tolerate partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 10b-11 (USDA)

The Christmas palm, also known as the Manila palm, bears clusters of showy red berries during fall and winter, hence its common name.

Christmas palms are a little larger than others on our list, with heights of up to 25 feet and an 8-foot spread. Many gardeners will plant the Christmas palm in groups of two or four because grouping allows their trunk to grow in a soft curve.

Although Christmas palms will grow in partial shade, they prefer full sun. These self-cleaning palms will drop their spent leaves independently, reducing the need to prune. Despite their low maintenance, they are the most susceptible to lethal yellowing, which is thought to mimic a primitive virus.

Dwarf Sugar Palm

Arenga engleri
Dwarf sugar palm grows in slightly acidic (pH 5 to 6) soil rich in organic matter, with good drainage.
Scientific Name: Arenga engleri
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: Across parts of Asia
  • Plant Size: up to 10 feet tall with a spread up to 16 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9a-11 (USDA)

Dwarf sugar palms, also known as Formosa palms, are slow-growing trees that can grow up to 10 feet tall but usually stop at around 8 feet. These palms are cold-tolerant, making them suitable for northern climates in their hardiness zones.

It features deep green leaves with slender and smooth-ringed trunks. Its yellowish-green leaves will grow up to 8 feet, with a total spread of 16 feet. The dwarf sugar palm produces colorful and sweet-smelling flowers, followed by inedible fruits.

Dwarf sugar palms thrive in moist soil and like regular fertilization. It requires plenty of water and doesn’t like the ground to dry out. Once established, this hardy palm can tolerate temperatures up to 25F for short periods.

Dwarf Palmetto

Sabal minor
The dwarf palmetto is a stemless palm with one growing point, forming an underground trunk.
Scientific Name: Sabal minor
  • Plant Type: Evergreen palm tree or shrub
  • Geographic Origin: Southeast United States
  • Plant Size: 5-10 feet tall with leaves up to 4 feet wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 7-11 (USDA)

If you live in Florida, you’d be hard-pressed to never come across a dwarf palmetto. This short, shrubby tree only reaches 5-10 feet tall and is typically stemless with leaves from an underground stock. Its fan-shaped leaf blades are longer than the stalks and can grow 3-4 feet wide.

Dwarf palmettos prefer to live in a damp, shady area with plenty of water while they grow. Once established, Sabal minor plants become more drought-tolerant, though the leaf tips may brown some. They are also winter hardy, so all Floridians can enjoy these stunning accent plants.

European Fan Palm

Chamaerops humilis
European fan palm is a Mediterranean palm with several trunks, which can appear as a shrub or a tree.
Scientific Name: Chamaerops humilis
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: Mediterranean
  • Plant Size: 6-15 feet tall and 6-20 feet wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 9-11 (USDA)

The European fan palm, sometimes called the Mediterranean dwarf palm, is a cold-hardy palm that can tolerate temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods. Some European fan palms grow to be shrubbier with several trunks or into trees with one trunk.

It features bluish-green or silvery-green fronds that fan out with tiny leaflets. The European fan palm produces clusters of vibrant yellow flowers in the spring, followed by small fruits.

These slow-growing plants can tolerate a partially shaded area but prefer to be in full sun. It can get leggy if it doesn’t get at least four hours of direct sunlight most of the time. Before it is established, it requires evenly watered soil but is moderately drought tolerant once it matures.

Florida Thatch Palm

Thrinax radiata
Florida thatch palm is a small tropical, very pretty palm, with glossy dark green round fan leaves.
Scientific Name: Thrinax radiata
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: Caribbean islands, Central America, Southern Florida
  • Plant Size: 15 to 20 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10b-11 (USDA)

The Florida thatch palm is a skinny palm that grows very slowly, usually only growing half a foot each year. Though it may reach 30 feet, it’s uncommon, and its average growth is 15-20 feet tall.

This Florida native has a slender gray trunk with dark green fan-shaped leaves that may reach up to 3 feet long. White flowers will grow during the spring, followed by green fruit that fades to white as it ripens.

Florida thatch palms require lots of humidity and can tolerate salt and drought. It thrives in sandy, well-drained soil that is kept evenly moist. To keep this palm healthy, give it a high-quality palm fertilizer twice a year during the growing season.

Jelly Palm

Butia capitata
Jelly palm is characterized by slow growth, but with proper care can reach quite large sizes.
Scientific Name: Butia capitata
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: South America, most commonly Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay
  • Plant Size: 12 to 15 feet tall; fronds may grow up to 10 feet.
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9-11 (USDA)

Jelly palms, or Pindo palms, are small palm trees with bluish-gray fronds. Its leaf stems are up to four feet long and have a tapered edge.

This palm produces bright yellowish-orange fruit in the fall or winter seasons. Its fruit is edible with a sweet and tart flavor. Many Pindo palm owners will eat it right off the tree, though you can use it for jellies or jams.

The jelly palm can grow in full sun or partial shade and is tolerant of most soils, so long as it’s well-draining. Because falling fruit can be messy, plant jelly palms at least 10 feet from any paved surfaces.

Lady Palm

Rhapis excelsa
The lady palm is photophilous, but can tolerate lower light conditions for a while.
Scientific Name: Rhapis excelsa
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: China
  • Plant Size: 6–15 ft. tall and wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 9-11 (USDA)

Lady palm trees are small plants typically growing in dense groups of slender leaf stems. Its fan-shaped fronds are glossy and bright green, with 5-8 lance-shaped segments.

Although the lady palm can happily grow outdoors, it is commonly used as a houseplant because of its tolerance to low-light conditions. It still will require regular full-sun exposure, but can survive even if its light access is limited for a while.

Plant lady palms during the spring and give them water when the soil feels dry. Though it can reach up to 15 feet at maturity, it will grow less than a foot tall each year.

Madagascar Palm

Pachypodium lamerei
The Madagascar palm tree can do well in the open ground or pots in the garden, decorating the territory with its exotic appearance.
Scientific Name: Pachypodium lamerei
  • Plant Type: Deciduous succulent (not related to genuine palms)
  • Geographic Origin: Southern Madagascar
  • Plant Size: Up to 15 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9-11 (USDA)

Madagascar palms aren’t palms but are actually deciduous succulents. They grow on a wide gray trunk featuring bluish-green foliage and thorny stems.

In spring or summer, the Madagascar palm blooms clusters of white, yellow, red, or pink flowers. These four-inch flowers are unscented and usually only bloom when grown in their native environment.

These unique palm-like trees need plenty of bright light and good watering when the soil is dry. As winter approaches, you only need to water enough to keep the soil from drying out.

Parlor Palm

Chamaedorea elegans
Parlor palm does not tolerate excess water in its soil and requires excellent drainage.
Scientific Name: Chamaedorea elegans
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: Rainforests of southern Mexico and Guatemala
  • Plant Size: 6-16 feet tall and 2-3 feet in spread
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Plant Zone: 10-12 (USDA)

Parlor palms are incredibly popular as indoor palm trees because they need little light. They feature deep green foliage in eye-catching clumps. Although some have a single stalk, most have many, causing them to resemble tropical shrubs.

These easy-to-care-for palms can grow well in just about any soil type, including sandy, loamy, or clay, but not salty soil. They like even moisture but would rather be too dry than have too much water.

Pygmy Date Palm

Phoenix roebelenii
With low air humidity, the tips of the pygmy date palm leaves may dry out.
Scientific Name: Phoenix roebelenii
  • Plant Type: Palm
  • Geographic Origin: Southeastern Asia
  • Plant Size: Up to 22 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9b-10a (USDA)

The pygmy date palm features a gray trunk with a purplish hue and dark green fronds that form a crown. It produces small yellowish flowers in the spring, followed by sweet, edible date-like fruits, hence its common name.

This small to medium-sized plant is an extremely slow grower, only adding 3-4 inches in height each year. Pygmy date palms thrive in tropical and subtropical climates, although they can tolerate temperatures as low as 26 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods.

Established pygmy date palms are pest-resistant, can tolerate most soil types, and have moderate drought tolerance. Additionally, you won’t need to prune a lot for it to develop a strong structure.

Sago Palm

Cycas revoluta
Sago palm can grow in partial shade. However, insufficient lighting leads to slower growth.
Scientific Name: Cycas revoluta
  • Plant Type: Cycad
  • Geographic Origin: Asia
  • Plant Size: 3-10 feet tall and wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 9-10 (USDA)

Like the Madagascar palm, the Sago palm isn’t an actual palm tree. It is a part of the Cycad family, typically low-growing, and does not flower or fruit.

Reaching only 3-10 feet tall, they resemble a sizeable palm-like bush atop a short trunk that doesn’t branch out. Though its maximum height is 10 feet, it can take upwards of 50 years to reach that point, often stopping at 2-3 feet after several years.

It is important to note that all parts of the Sago palm, including its nuts and seeds, are toxic to pets and humans, so be careful when choosing a place in your garden.

Saw Palmetto

Serenoa repens
It is important to place the saw palmetto outside in full sun as it develops poorly in the shade.
Scientific Name: Serenoa repens
  • Plant Type: Shrubby palm tree
  • Geographic Origin: North America; Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina
  • Plant Size: Up to 10 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 8-10 (USDA)

Saw palmettos are some of the most common palm trees in the US and can be found in many southern states in the wild. They can grow in diverse habitats from sea dunes to swampy wetlands. It has long, pointed leaves and can produce small blackberries.

Some use the saw palmetto for its potential health benefits for various conditions, including male and female reproductive disorders.

Because the saw palmetto can grow in many regions, it is one of the easiest to care for. During periods of drought, give it plenty of water.

Yellow Butterfly Palm

Dypsis lutescens
Yellow butterfly palm has golden trunks and narrow leaves similar to bamboo leaves.
Scientific Name: Dypsis lutescens
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Madagascar
  • Plant Size: 20–35 ft. tall, 10-20 ft. wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10-11 (USDA)

The yellow butterfly palm is a near-threatened distinctive palm with a bamboo appearance. They feature smooth, golden-hued trunks with narrow and full fronds, similar to bamboo leaves.

Yellow butterfly palm is used as a privacy barrier in many tropical areas. They have a slow-to-moderate growth rate but grow best if planted in the spring.

They prefer filtered sunlight but will also grow in full sun. Yellow butterfly palms need rich, slightly acidic, and well-draining soil, like evenly moist soil.

Final Thoughts

Though the palms listed on this list may be small in stature, they can make a big statement. Palms have a very distinctive look that will make your garden stand out. Each of these palms is perfect for smaller garden areas, and many can be purposely kept short if they are regularly pruned. With a little TLC, there’s a dwarf palm on this list that will give your garden the tropical feel you are looking for!

A concrete soil bed nestling areca palm trees, adding a touch of tropical elegance to the garden. Interspersed among the taller areca palms, short and charming plants complete the scene.


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