Royal Palm Tree Care: Growing Tips for Roystonea Regia

Roystonea regia (Royal Palm Tree) is a palm species native to southern Florida, the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico. It’s a common sight in those regions, as it can reach heights of 80’ feet and taller.

Roystonea regia, which is pronounced [roy-STOH-nee-uh] [REE-jee-uh], is commonly called the Cuban royal palm, Florida royal palm, or simply royal palm.

Royal Palm tree growing in the landscape
Royal Palm (Roystonea regia) makes an attractive addition to the landscape in south Florida

The royal palm is part of the Arecaceae family of botanical shrubs and trees. It’s a large palm found in parks and lining streets throughout its native habitats.

Royal Palm Tree Care

Size and Growth

The royal palm tree is a large palm, reaching 60′ feet tall or higher. The tallest recorded species measured 100’ feet tall. 

The trunk is thick with a grey-white color. It’s also very smooth and doesn’t contain the rough thorns or teeth found on some palms.

The trunk may eventually reach about 24” inches thick.

The top of the tree is crowned with a canopy of 15 leaves. Each leaf measures up to 13’ feet long. The palm fronds are lined with 10″ inch pinnate.

Flowering and Fragrance

The royal palm trees produce inflorescences with creamy white or creamy yellow flowers. Indoor plants don’t flower.

The inflorescences appear in the middle of the summer and measure about three to four inches thick and 10” inches long. 

After the flowering season, the plant produces spheroid fruit. The fruit is green when it first appears and slowly turns purplish-black as it matures.

Light and Temperature

Ensure that the royal palm receives full sun. Avoid placing it behind a large structure that may block part of the afternoon sunlight.

As with other palms, royal palm trees grows best in regions with warm temperatures. It’s cold hardy in USDA hardiness zone 10, which includes Florida and parts of California.

If temperatures drop below 28° degrees Fahrenheit, it may not survive long.

Watering and Feeding

Water young Roystonea regia plants deeply each week. When the plant is about three months old, it should only require water every two to three weeks.

During hot or dry spells, the plant may need additional water.

Use a fertilizer formulated for palms. These fertilizers have a nutrient ratio of 8-2-12-4 Mg.

Apply fertilizer to the soil to encourage fuller growth and good color during the first year of planting.

Soil and Transplanting

Royal palm trees grow in almost any soil, but require good drainage. It can also tolerate sandy soil and salt, allowing it to grow near beaches.

If the soil is too clay-like, amend it with sand and organic matter to improve drainage and water retention.

Homeowners find established Roystonea regia plants difficult to transplant. Potted plants may be transplanted in the spring before the growing season starts.

When transplanting potted plants, replace the soil.

Grooming Royal Palms

Cuban royal palms do not need grooming. It’s a self-cleaning plant. 

When the leaves wither, they fall from the tree and new leaves take their place. Established royal palms tend to lose about one leaf per month. 

Removing dying leaves early may help protect the surrounding property. Each leaf may weigh up to 50 pounds and fall from a height of 50’ feet or more, depending on the age of the tree.

How To Propagate Royal Palm Tree

Propagate royal palm Roystonea using seeds. Fresh seeds taken from the plant provide the best results.

Wait for the fruit on the plant to ripen and turn brown. Remove the fruit capsule and allow it to completely dry before opening it to extract the seeds.

The seeds of royal palm Roystonea regia measure about a ¼-inch in diameter. 

Soak the seeds for five days and remove the outer flesh. 

Start with a 10″ inch pot filled with peat moss and perlite. The pot should have drainage holes.

Make a ¼-inch deep hole and drop one of the seeds inside. Cover the hole and water the soil.

Place the pot in a shaded area with a temperature of about 85° degrees Fahrenheit. When the seedlings emerge and develop two leaves, transplant to a large pot or a permanent outdoor spot.

Dig a hole roughly the same size as its current container. Carefully remove the young plant. The root ball should cover most of the container.

Place the palm in the hole and lightly compress the soil. Water until the soil is thoroughly saturated.

Cuban Royal Palm Tree Pests or Diseases

Roystonea regia is a relatively pest and disease-free plant, but may suffer from fungal diseases such as Ganoderma butt rot. Rot is lethal. If a cross-section of the trunk becomes fully rotted, the plant will likely die shortly afterward. 

Remove dying plants, as a falling royal palm Roystonea regina can cause significant property damage.

Nutrient deficiencies may cause discoloration of the leaves. If the leaves start to wilt, it may suffer from manganese and/or potassium deficiency. Treat deficiencies with the appropriate fertilizer.

Suggested Royal Palm Tree Uses

Royal palms are often used to line streets and boundaries. Consider growing a row of royal palms to mark the edge of a property. 

Keep in mind that outdoor plants may reach over 60’ feet tall and produce a trunk with a two-foot diameter.

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