Sabal minor is a low growing fan palm native to Florida, North Carolina, and Texas. Its common names include dwarf palmetto and blue-stem palm. One of the distinguishing features of this palm is its underground trunk.
The deeply cut fronds can spread to 5 feet long and wide. The leaf stems are longer than the leaves and smooth. The smooth petiole will help you tell this palm apart from its lookalike the Serenoa repens which has a toothed petiole.
During the warm months, the dwarf palmetto will bloom on stiff stalks that stand well above the leaves. The tiny, white flowers are followed by 1/2 inch black berries that will cause the flower stalks to bow under their weight.
Blue-stem prefers moist soil but will take drought conditions for short periods once established. Shady locations suit this palm best.
Try planting it under oak trees in a bed with other shade lovers like bromeliads , impatiens, and cast iron plants . The glaucous foliage will make a dramatic backdrop for the jewel tones of the impatiens.
*It is winter hardy in zones 7-10. It may be killed to the ground at the top of its range but, because the trunk remains underground, will come back in the spring.
Propagation, as with most palms, is from seed. The seeds germinate easily and plants begin to produce seed at about 6 years old.
Space plants 8 feet apart in shady beds and be patient. Sabal minor is a slow grower.
*A note about winter hardiness: Growers have been collecting seed from plants that survive record cold. The resulting seedlings seem to inherit the hardiness of the parents. Some aficionados claim to be growing this palm successfully into zone 6 using seed or plants of hardier strains.
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Thrinax radiata is one of the better palms to use in Florida landscapes. It matures to a height of 15-25 feet which is in scale with our concrete block homes.