The Florida Royal palm tree, Roystonea elata, is the best of the Royal palms (the genus consists of a dozen or so Caribbean species) to grow in the sunshine state as it is one of several native Florida palm trees.
A mature Florida Royal palm can be 40 feet tall. The trunk is a smooth pillar the color of cement. This is topped by a bright green crownshaft from which the feathery fronds emerge.
The head of the Florida Royal palm tree consists of 15-20 fronds 10-13 feet long. These droop gracefully and sway romantically in the breeze.
This stately tree is native to the cypress swamps of south Florida.
It has a close relative from Cuba, Roystonea regia which looks nearly identical to it. Surprisingly, the Cuban Royal is the more cold tolerant of the two.
Use a palm fertilizer in spring, summer and fall. Palms require certain micro nutrients which will be found in a food formulated especially for palm trees.
If the fronds begin to lose their bright green hue, try giving your palm extra water and food. Make sure the fertilizer you are using contains manganese.
Give one pound of fertilizer for every two feet of height.
Of course, the more often you feed it, the faster it will grow.
If you have the tree situated in strong, afternoon sun, this can bleach the fronds a bit. Don't confuse this with a nutrient deficiency.
Image on right taken in Ft. Myers, Florida in early May.
The intensely fragrant, yellowish flowers which precede these fruit clusters may put in an appearance at any time during the growing season. The photo above left was taken in late July at Palma Sola Botanical Park in Bradenton, Florida. This tree belongs to a grove of Royal palm trees which has been growing there for decades.
Some trees were flowering, most were not. Only a few were fruiting.
The fruits are very small (less than half an inch in diameter), round to oval in shape and turn darker as they ripen. The ripe fruit is not attractive to wildlife but is thought to have similar medicinal properties to saw palm berries.
The seeds inside the fruit may be used for propagation.
Florida Royal Palm Tree Seeds - $9.95
Palm Seeds - Freshly Harvested by Season
Tiny, walking past a stand of Royal palms outside Sunken Gardens in St. Pete, Fl.
To give you an idea of the scale of these trees, Tiny is 6' 5" tall.
The Royal palm bug is a red-eyed menace that only feeds on the fronds of the Roystonea elata and Roystonea regia.
The half inch palm tree insect sucks the life out of the fronds causing them to turn yellow or brown. It won't kill the tree but it will mar its appearance.
The best defense against this pest is to keep your palm tree well fed and healthy.
Regular fertilization is especially important if the tree is planted on lean soil.
Roystonea palms are hardy down to about 26 degrees F. as long as the temperature doesn't stay that low for too long.
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