How to Plant and Care For Date Palms

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Dates may not be the first choice for most gardeners when it comes to growing fruit. Traditional orchard trees such as olives or stone fruits attract everyone’s attention. But for those in the right climate, growing dates is a great option.

Trees are long lived, produce heavy crops, and have relatively few pests and diseases that bother them.

Let’s not forget those wonderful dates. They are sweet, store well, and can be used in both savory dishes and desserts. If you are considering growing dates, you have come to the right place.

What are dates?

Palm tree (phoenix dactylifera) are considered to be one of the earliest cultivated plants in human history, and they have been a part of human life for centuries. Homes inhabited in the Middle East 6,000 years ago were made of palm wood, and fronds were used to cover the roof.

By the way, there are many trees that bear fruit like dates. P.dactylifera Grows fruit that has enough flesh to eat and is delicious. You can always grow one of the other date palm species but consider them strictly ornamental.

To grow dates, you need a warm climate: Sorry, Alaska and North Dakoton. You can find dates growing in places like Southern California, Arizona, and Southern Nevada. More recently, gardeners in Louisiana and Texas are growing dates.

Best date palm varieties for home garden

With over 3,000 varieties around the world, it pays to see what’s available and what grows well in your area. Some are more cold tolerant than others, while some require specific soil. Others require moisture, and some cannot tolerate it. Contact your local nursery to see what does best in your particular climate.

zahadi

It is one of the oldest varieties and is very popular. Dates are chewy and stored for a long time. It is a large tree with a solid trunk that grows rapidly. It does not thrive in high humidity, so dry climates are best.

Halvi

‘Halavi’ bears medium sized fruits which taste like honey. It will tolerate areas with high humidity.

Medjool

Many home gardeners like it because it is reliable and produces fruit much earlier than many other varieties. Within five years, you should see about 22 pounds of fruit, which builds up to 175 pounds per year.

crispy

If you live in a desert environment, this variety is for you. ‘Khastavi’ is resistant to moisture, and although the fruits are quite small, they are dense, sweet and syrupy.

Barhi

It is a prolific producer of fruit and can produce up to 20 bunches of fruit per year. It is a medium sized tree and is known for its amber colored dates.

how to plant date palm

Arid or semi-arid regions are best. Zones 10 and 11 are perfect for dates, but some can grow in zone 9. The temperature should never drop below 20ºF. Pollination requires 95ºF during the day and long, warm nights.

Plant in full sun with protection from wind for the first year or so. Date palms have shallow roots and can blow away in windy environments.

The pH of the soil should be between 8 and 11. Well drained, sandy soil is best. It should be aerated and able to hold moisture but water away.

Some dates have both male and female flowers and are self-pollinated. Others require both male and female specimens, so always check when you get a tree.

planting saplings

Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball of the tree you are planting. Refill the hole with soil, so that the hole is half-filled with loose soil. Place the tree in the hole so that it is level with the surrounding soil. Fill in the hole with the remaining soil and gently press down—water well.

Planting a Palm Offset

The problem with planting from seed is that you don’t know what you’ll get. It could be male, or it could be female. You’re better off planting a sapling like the one above or from an offset, also called a pup.

This is where a palm produces growth from the trunk. Cut it off carefully and make sure to get some leaves and roots. Paint some copper fungicide on the tree where you cut the offset to prevent disease.

Apply root hormone to the offset and add it to the seed-growing mix. Keep it moist and transplant once roots and more top growth develop.

plant dates from seed

Although planting by seed isn’t very reliable, it can be a fun experiment and is great for kids.

Buy some Medjool dates from a store or nursery and remove the seeds. Wash them with lukewarm water and make sure all the remnants of the fruit pulp are removed.

Soak the seeds in water for 48 hours, change the water after 24 hours. This is an important step because you want the seeds to be soft enough to germinate.

Fold the seeds in a damp paper towel, making sure they do not touch each other. Seal it in a plastic bag and put it away for eight weeks. The temperature should be at least 70ºF to 75ºF.

Check the seeds and towels every two weeks to make sure they aren’t forming mold but are still moist. Replace the paper towel with a new one every time you check it or if you see any mold forming.

Within eight weeks, you expect the sprouted seeds to appear with a brand new sprout. Simply plant the cactus in a pot filled with soil mix. Plant 1/2 inch deep, water well and see if you grow a tree.

date palm care

Dates require a good amount of fertilizer. Make sure you dig up well-rotted compost when you first plant your tree.

As the tree matures, fertilize with compost or a commercial fertilizer targeted at fruit trees.

Although dates can withstand water shortages as they mature, they need plenty of water when they are young. Deep water regularly twice a month. Try not to let the soil dry out, especially when the dates are developing.

Dry soil will affect the number and quality of dates produced.

Prune close to the trunk as soon as the fronds begin to die. Do this at least twice a year. Remove dead and dying leaves, but do not remove too many healthy fronds as this will affect the quality of the date palm.

Companion Planting for Dates

If you want to plant food around your palm trees, try:

Common problems and solutions for growing dates

Dates do not have as many pests and diseases as some other fruits, but they are not completely immune. Keep an eye on the following and be ready to take action. It is much easier to get rid of the problem if you address it in advance.

white scale

These are small juice suckers that eat leaves as well as fruits. Although not terminal to the tree, they affect the overall health and quality of the fruit.

Coat whatever scale you find in horticultural oil. It strangles them by clogging their breathing holes.

You know if you have white scales because the leaves will be covered with a sticky substance and small bumps will appear on the stems and stems.

date palm spider mite

These spider mites eat dates and ruin the quality of your produce. These mites are so common that if you have premature fruit drop, it’s possible that the date mite is to blame.

Every year in early spring, dust the tree with a sulfur-containing product. Obviously, when the tree grows out of your reach, you may need to use an extender or ladder to get the job done.

When mites are present, spray all branches with a vigorous blast of water to remove the mites from the tree. You can also spray neem oil or insecticidal soap to control the trees. Alternate treatments so that the mites don’t develop resistance to one or the other.

black scorch disease

As the name suggests, if she has this disease, your palm will look as if it has caught fire and has turned black from the flames. The trunk and buds may rot, and will drop before the buds are properly set.

Proper hygiene is the best way to prevent this disease. Wash your tools between uses and be careful not to cut or damage the tree while working around it. When you do pruning, apply a copper-based fungicide to the pruning wounds.

beaud’s disease

It is a fungal disease that spreads rapidly once it has established itself. The leaves on the tree will lighten or turn white. Any exposed roots turn red. This affects both the quality and number of fruits you get.

If your tree does get Bayard disease, it is best to remove and burn it to prevent the disease from spreading. there is no cure.

harvest dates

Dates begin to fruit between five and six years for most varieties. It may take a long time to wait, but you’ll be providing 70 years of dates for your family, if not more.

Harvesting depends on the variety you see the date palm growing. Immature dates are green and smooth. As they mature, they darken and begin to wrinkle. Birds may begin to snack on the fruit, so cover them with netting or remove them and allow them to mature from the tree.

For harvesting, you will harvest the fruit and remove batches of them. You may need to use a ladder for higher fruits. Wrap a netting net around a strand of dates that are a nice, deep purple color. Cut a strand from the stem and keep it on the ground. Repeat until all ripe dates are harvested.

Store on a tray covered with baking paper. Dates will be stored like this for a couple of weeks. Keep them in a cool dark place and enjoy your harvest.

To dry dates, place them in a food dehydrator at 150°F for 24 hours. Turn them on every few hours.

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