Veitchia merrillii, Adonidia merrillii
Why is it called a "Christmas Palm?"
The Adonidia is called a Christmas Palm because as it matures it blooms with white flowers and then red berries (seeds) around the Christmas season. It is a showy, highly ornamental palm that works well in small landscape areas.
The adonidia is an easy care palm (self-cleaning so the fronds fall off by themselves and don’t need to be trimmed) which makes it a low-maintenance palm. Adonidias look like miniature royal palms because of their green crown shaft, gray trunk and long full fronds. Single trunk specimens work almost anywhere. Christmas Palms will not grow too large or too fast to overwhelm most locations. They make good focal points in small tropical gardens and when taller and more mature they can be an elegant statement palm.
Christmas palms work best in Zone 10, where in a normal winter the adonidia will do very well. To be on the safe side, plant in a location that isn't subject to cold winds or frost.
Adonidias grow slowly. They are moderately salt-tolerant - so if planted near the ocean it usually won't be affected by salt spray.
A recent concern for this palm as been changes in the weather in some of the zones where it is planted. Record cold temperatures lasting for hours over several weeks (like the winter of 2009-2010 in South Florida) took a toll on these palms and many other plants.
Though they perform best in full sun, a Christmas palm can tolerate partial shade. Keep in mind that in too much shade the trunks grow skinny and the fronds thin.
Add top soil or organic peat moss to the hole when planting.
Fertilize with granular palm fertilizer during spring, summer and autumn Use at least one application per season.
Let the fronds drop off naturally as they brown. You can cut it off the browning fronds, but leaving them to fall off on their own benefits the palm because the dying fronds actually send nutrients to new fronds that are forming.
Single trunk adonidias work in tighter areas planted 5 to 6 feet from a house to give the fronds room to grow and to prevent surface scraping damage.
Multi-trunk palms need adequate room to spread out. Adonidia trunks will naturally bow causing the fronds to extend a bit further. Position the trunks so they won't be in the way once they grow.
Adonidias are easy to grow in containers. Large pots or planter boxes are best. Once your palm outgrows a large container it can always be planted in the garden.
Landscaping with Adonidia Palm
• use by an entry (mainly singles)
• as an accent for the corner of the house
• single yard specimen
• central anchor plant for small gardens and island beds
• in tall pool cages (interior 15’ or higher)
• in the center of a circular drive
• as a patio or pool container plant
• as an accent for blank walls or privacy fences
• on each side of an entrance to a long driveway