The bottle palm is named for its unique bottle-shaped trunk. Though it can be cold-sensitive, the bottle palm’s small size makes it an outstanding accent palm for tropical garden beds or sheltered entry areas. The bottle palm’s fronds are few but long and graceful. The area above the trunk and the leaf stems have an attractive reddish color that fades as the palm matures.
Bottle palms are most often seen as a single specimen but they are also available as novel, eye-catching multi-trunk specimens, usually with 2 or 3 trunks. Though it can be moderately drought-tolerant once it is established, the bottle palm does need regular irrigation during dry spells. It is a myth that the swollen trunk of this mini palm tree is for water storage.
Bottle Palms are slow growing palms that could end up about 10 feet at maturity...but maturity takes many, many years. Most specimens in the landscape average only 5 to 7 feet tall.
Cold is a threat to Bottle Palms. Growing in Zone 10B - especially in warmer coastal areas - is fine for normal winter temperatures. In Zone 10A plant in a sheltered location and be prepared to protect the palm from cold.
Bottle Palms are drought-tolerant and like full to part sun locations. They can be used in partial shade as well, but if there's too much shade the crownshaft will grow elongated and lean toward the light - turning unique into just plain ugly.
Bottle Palms are highly salt-tolerant, making them ideal for coastal plantings.
Plant in an area where the soil drains well, like a beach environment. This palm does not like an overly wet area. Add top soil to the hole when you plant.
Bottle Palms aren't self-cleaning but because they have a slow growth rate you will rarely have to trim off an old frond.
Freezing temperatures can kill a Bottle Palm. For cold protection, tie up the fronds and wrap the entire head of the palm with frost cloth or a thick blanket. If the cold weather damages any fronds, resist the urge to to trim them until winter is over. Damaged fronds will usually bear the brunt of future cold weather, protecting the rest of the palm.
Bottle Palms should be fertilized with a slow-release granular three times a year - once a season in spring, summer and autumn. Bottles are fairly drought-tolerant once established, though a regular watering will help them look their best.
The limited number of fronds keep Bottle Palms from competing with one another, so they palms can be planted in groups or in a line as close as 4 to 6 feet apart.
If planting adjacent to a house, come out from the outside wall at least 6 feet to prevent the fronds from touching the wall.
Multi-trunk bottles should be positioned well away from any structure, since their swollen bases keep the trunks fanned out fairly far apart when they grow.
Bottle Palms make excellent container palms since they grow slowly.
Landscaping with Bottle Palms
• use as a specimen tree for small to large garden beds
• in the center of a circular drive
• lining a drive or walk
• at an entry - as long as there's enough space for fronds to spread out
• in a pool cage planter
• as a container plant for a sunny patio