Skip to main content

How to take care of a spindle palm tree

With lush, arching fronds and a curiously shaped trunk, the spindle palm tree makes the perfect addition to your home if you love that tropical houseplant vibe. Caring for it isn’t too hard, but you want to be prepared with a few tricks up your sleeve when you bring it to your yard or inside your house. If you’ve always wanted to nurture the spindle palm plant, but weren’t sure about its care requirements, here’s the lowdown on helping it flourish!

Forest of spindle palm plant
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What to know about the spindle palm

The spindle palm is endemic to the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean. Though this hardy palm is critically endangered in its original home, it grows well from seed and has been cultivated and sold to houseplant enthusiasts worldwide.

Scientifically known as hyophorbe verschaffelti, this plant’s common name, spindle palm, comes from the fact that its main trunk tapers like a spindle of thread. At the top of the plant are arching fronds with pinnate leaves that can grow up to 10 feet tall on larger varieties. The trunk can grow up to 25 feet tall outside, but it’s usually a quarter of that size as an indoor or container plant. Occasionally, an outdoor spindle palm will produce creamy white flowers, also called inflorescences, that can grow up to 2.5 feet long and bear small red fruits.

How to maintain the spindle palm

The spindle palm thrives in sandy soil and full sun in tropical environments. As it’s a hardy plant in Zone 10 and down to 9b, most places don’t necessarily have the conditions for this plant come winter, but you can keep it inside your home in a potted container or greenhouse if you don’t live in these regions.

As a houseplant, it needs well-draining soil, bright light, and annual feedings. Here are a few special notes to keep in mind:

  • Watering your spindle palm: The spindle palm is drought tolerant, so you don’t need to water it very often if you keep it inside your home—stick to a bi-monthly to monthly watering schedule when the soil is about half dried out. Make sure that you thoroughly water it whenever you do water it.
  • Keeping your spindle palm warm: The spindle palm is relatively cold hardy, but you don’t want to keep it in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. You may want to consider bringing your spindle palm inside if you live in an area where temperatures go below freezing in the winter.

How to troubleshoot spindle palm issues

  • Orange flecks on the leaflets: Although you only need to fertilize these palms two to three times a year during the growing season, you’ll want to make sure that you’re fertilizing them properly with a feed high in potassium. With a potassium deficiency, the leaves can start to turn orange. You should seek out a fertilizer specifically for palm trees, if possible.
  • Stretching trunk: If the trunk starts to look a little thin, it may be stretching for more light. If you’re keeping the spindle palm as a houseplant, you want to, at the very least, give it plenty of bright indirect light.
  • Pests on the foliage: The spindle palm may be vulnerable to mealybugs and scale. If you notice these pests on your palm, spray them with water and apply alcohol or neem oil to the impacted leaves.
  • Leaf burn: While the leaves will grow faster with bright light, you can have too much of a good thing. Move your plant to a shadier area or give it extra protection from the sun to manage leaf burn.

Spindle palm

How to prune a spindle palm

There’s no mystery to properly pruning a spindle palm! It’s rather straightforward, and you won’t even have to do this very often since this plant grows slowly. Trim old fronds that have turned brown—you can leave the leaf base on the crown.

How to propagate a spindle palm

You can usually propagate spindle palms by growing them from seed. While germinating a spindle palm is easy, it’s by no means fast and can take up to four to six months. Before you sow the seeds in soil, consider a 48-hour soak in warm water to scarify them (that is, to weaken the seed coating to encourage germination).

For effortless beach vibes that don’t require extraordinary effort, the spindle palm tree makes for an easygoing addition inside the home. Other than the occasional pruning, you won’t have too much trouble with this plant. With a good helping of bright light, sandy soil, deep watering, and potassium fertilizer in the spring, you’ll have a happy palm to flaunt in your own small slice of paradise.

Editors' Recommendations

Stacey Nguyen
Stacey's work has appeared on sites such as POPSUGAR, HelloGiggles, Buzzfeed, The Balance, TripSavvy, and more. When she's…
Jade plant care: A complete grower’s guide
Keep your jade plant happy and healthy with these tips
A small jade plant in a pot with other succulents

If you love the way trees look but don’t have the space or time to care for them, then why not opt for a jade plant instead? This lovely plant is shaped just like a miniature tree, but in actuality, it's a succulent. Jade plant care is simple, and these cute plants make marvelous house or office plants.

Under the right conditions, they can even bloom, growing many small white or pale pink flowers. If you want to try growing jade plants in your home, then this is the care guide for you. From planting to propagating, we’ll walk you through all the jade plant care steps you need to know to keep your plant healthy.
Planting your jade

Read more
How long does it take for a cactus to grow? Here’s what we know
Cacti can be slow but steady growers
A collection of potted cacti

When it comes to durable houseplants for people who want something green in their home but don’t have time to devote to a lot of care, cacti are a great option! Sure, they appear aloof and unapproachable (and should be kept out of reach from children and plant-loving pets), but they add quite a beautiful touch to your space. There are so many varieties of unique colors, shapes, and sizes, which often leaves people wondering: How long does it take for a cactus to grow?
How fast do cacti grow (and why)?

How fast a cactus grows depends on the variety you’re working with, but there are a couple of key factors across the board. In general, you’ll find that most varieties only grow between one and three centimeters per year. Knowing the kind of cactus you have can help you tailor your environment for optimal care, but there are two things you can’t change: the fact that they’ve adapted for survival and the fact they don’t have leaves.

Read more
Elephant ear plant care guide: What you need to know
How to grow the gorgeous elephant ear plant
Elephant ear plant leaves

Foliage plants are often used as a backdrop or filler, but there are some species that truly deserve to be the star of the show. While most showy foliage plants are colorful, some rely on size and shape to make an impression. Elephant ears are one such plant. These large, gorgeous plants will capture you and your guests’ attention, whether you grow a small indoor variety or let one of the larger plants take up space in your yard. To help you get started growing these beautiful plants, here is our elephant ear plant care guide.

Planting elephant ear plants
Elephant ear plants grow best in rich, well-draining soil. Amending the soil with compost before you begin can help improve poor soil if you aren’t sure that the soil in your garden is rich enough. Choose a planting site in full or partial sun. Elephant ears need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day, so avoid planting them too close to larger plants or structures that could cast shadows over them. Additionally, choose a space that is at least a few feet away from other plants. Elephant ears can grow quite large, so it’s important not to crowd them.

Read more