Welcome to our guide to potted palm trees for your patio, sharing the best types for shaded and sunny patio designs.
Any patio, no matter the décor, can benefit from a few potted palm trees. There are, of course, those potted trees readily available at your local home and garden store, but there is generally a huge lack of variety, healthy plants, and size options.
While adding one of these big box store palms might lend a tropical hand to your design, the true aesthetic of choosing the best variety for your patio will add just the right finishing touch.
Best Patio Palm Trees
A few basic palm tree options always come to mind when we envision a patio complete with lush foliage and shade, but these options aren’t always the best for what your patio has to offer.
If you all need a basic variety with minimum care requirements, look at the following species options.
This species is slow-growing in some zones but is well-known for its long, branching stems that bear beautifully symmetrical leaves.
Wide leaves offer the appearance of an island getaway without the hard work of stemming and excessive pruning.
The majesty variety thrives in somewhat humid environments and can grow to as much as 80 feet in height.
This type is also called a Ravenea Rivularis or Majestic.
Bushy and vibrant, these bright green palms are perfect for privacy or as a cornerstone to your patio design. Generally, an Areca can grow rather quickly in warmer climates, so a large pot and lots of water are preferable to keep the Areca happy.
This type is called a Dypsis lutescens, Golden Cane, Yellow, and Butterfly palm.
Chinese Fan Palm
With its gorgeous downward-facing fronds, these palms are a must for any frequent patio-goer. Tolerant to most soil types and light accommodations, the Chinese Fan is an easy-care species that can withstand drought and winds.
The Chinese fan is the Livistona Chinensis and Fountain palm.
Although most palms are happy in full sun to partial shade, there are a few that thrive in a well-shaded environment.
Generally, shade-friendly varieties require semi-frequent fertilization, but fertilizer products today make it easy with all-purpose fertilizers.
Below are some of the best tropical plant options for a notoriously shady or enclosed patio design.
Elegant, feathery leaves spread out from tightly packed stems for a truly tropical appeal. This species remains relatively small and bushy, which caters to a low patio ceiling. Use a nutrient-rich soil for deep green, lush foliage.
This variety is also known as a Chamaedorea seifrizii, Green Lady or Reed palms.
Also known as Rhapis Palms, this species requires very little light to thrive and features a swath of uniquely textured branches, each with a spray a leaves. Perfect for well-shaded and enclosed patios, this tree has a stunning deep green feature.
Laden with the classic fan pattern everyone adores, the Needle Palm is a shade-loving, pygmy species unlikely to outgrow the boundaries of your patio. While most varieties require large planters, the Needle variety will need extra room for its wide root system.
This tree has a scientific name, Rhapidophyllum Hystrix.
Sun-Loving Palm Tree Species
In warm, sunny climates, palms often grow to towering heights, whether in a pot or on the ground. Despite this common factor of tree growth, several species thrive in containers even in optimal growing climates. Peek at these perfect species for containers in hot, sunny climates.
Pygmy Date Palm
Without further ado, this species is by far one of the best palms to grow in containers. Kept trimmed and watered, this species will happily thrive in a sunny location on your patio. Featuring flashy, long branches with the classic fan pattern of leaves, a Pygmy Date is perfect for full sun.
European Fan Palm
Tolerant to full sun and colder winters, this species is considered one of the only true hardy palms to date. Care is as simple as removing dead fronds and trimming back brown tips while watering moderately in cooler temperatures and thoroughly in warmer climates.
Most famous for its clusters of radiant red fruit, the Manilla Palm is one of the most easy-to-care-for types for patios and landscapes.
Mostly, this species is self-cleaning and will drop its own spent leaves as they become dry and obsolete—plant in slightly sandy soil for healthier roots.
The scientific name for this variety is the Adonidia Merrillii, also known as Christmas palms.
How to Care for Patio Palms
Many rumors about the fussiness of palms have circulated throughout the gardening community over the years, but these, like most outdoor plants, are rather easy to care for.
Most of these potted trees for your patio require roughly the same care parameters, but be sure to research your specific species to care for your patio variety accurately.
Potted palm trees all require the same necessities: water, fertilizer, and sunlight in varying degrees. Read on to discover some useful tips on how to keep a potted tree happy.
Maintain the foliage
To keep the tree healthy and maintain its beautiful aesthetic appearance, trim away spent leaves or branches by cutting them off at the base, about a centimeter away from the stem of the plant, using only sharp, clean shears.
Once a leaf shows signs of spotting, it may be a sign that the tree no longer requires the leaf and will soon discard it.
Choose the right soil
Soil is an important part of any gardening, especially in container gardening. Most palm species will enjoy a nutrient-rich soil with sand components to help mimic their natural environment.
You can add one small bag of sand additive to one large bag of nutrient-rich soil. Pre-mixed soils are sometimes available in warmer regions from nurseries and box stores.
Keep up on watering
It’s easy for palms to bounce back from overwatering, but underwatering is a force that can permanently damage it.
Try to water as soon as the soil in the pot appears dry, but to be sure, you can check the moisture in the soil with a meter or by simply digging two inches into the soil to check for any sign of dampness. If moisture is still 2 inches below the surface, the tree can wait another day.
Use an all-purpose fertilizer
Not all palms are picky about nutrition, but for optimal growth and beautiful displays, use an all-purpose fertilizer at half-strength and as frequently as once per month. Be sure to fertilize only after watering not to burn the roots with excess nutrients.
Pick the right container
For most patio purposes, medium-sized potting containers are ideal. However, for plants as large as these, a very sturdy root system is required, which also means they need adequate footroom in a planter. Choose a planter no less than twice the size of the nursery pot that the plant came in.
Pairing lush palms with colorful blooms makes for a perfect patio aesthetic, but proper maintenance and care make them most attractive.
A well-groomed tree can turn a boring patio into a tropical paradise escape, especially in large containers. Consider how you would like your patio to look and how much care you intend to put into your trees before deciding which species is best for you.
What are the favorite potted palm trees for your patio? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. For more related information, visit our page on desert landscaping ideas here.