Planting A Bottle Palm – Tips On Caring For A Bottle Palm Tree

Planting A Bottle Palm – Tips On Caring For A Bottle Palm Tree

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Not all of us are lucky enough to grow bottle palms in our landscape, but for those of us who can…what a treat! These plants bear their name due to the trunk’s strong resemblance to a bottle. The trunk is swollen and rounded when young, becoming more elongated as the palm matures. Bottle palm is a true palm that is native to the Mascarene Islands where warm, balmy temperatures and loose, sandy soil form the plant’s habitat. Planting a bottle palm in northern climates is not recommended, as they are not frost hardy. Southern gardeners, however, should know how to grow a bottle palm tree and make use of this unique and stunning tropical plant.

Bottle Palm Tree Info

Plants develop all sorts of amazing adaptations to help them survive. Bottle palm trees have evolved with thickened trunks topped with scaly crowns. The purpose is unclear but might have been a water storage device. Whatever the reason, the trunk makes for a standout silhouette in the garden or even as a potted plant. Caring for a bottle palm tree is a low maintenance chore due to its slow growth and drought tolerance once established.

The bottle palm is a true palm in the family Arecaceae. Its scientific name is Hyophorbe lagenicaulis. The last part of the name is from two Greek words, ‘lagen’ meaning flask and ‘caulis’ meaning stem. The name literally contains an important clue to the plant’s form.

More interesting bottle palm tree info is hidden in the first part of the name, Hyophorbe. Broken down, ‘hyo’ means pig and ‘phorbe’ means fodder – an indication that the tree’s fruit was fed to pigs.

These palms only get 10 feet (3 m.) in height but sport fronds that may grow 12 feet (3.5 m.) in length with 2-foot (61 cm.) long leaflets. The trunk is smooth and grayish white topped with scraggly leaf scars from old, departed fronds.

How to Grow a Bottle Palm Tree

Bottle palm trees require warm temperatures all year and tend to prefer drier soils. They are cultivated in Florida, southern California, Hawaii and other warm climates. Northern gardeners can grow the smaller trees in containers and bring them indoors before any frost threatens.

The site conditions that are optimal to bottle tree palm care are sunny, well-drained soil with plentiful potassium, either in site or added annually as a feed.

When planting a bottle palm, dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the root ball. Add sand or topsoil to increase drainage and install the palm at the same depth it was growing in its pot. Do not hill soil around the stem.

Water well initially to help the plant develop deep roots. Over time, this tree can tolerate drought for short periods of time and it even withstands saline soils in coastal situations.

Bottle Palm Tree Care

One of the key areas of bottle tree palm care is provisions for protection from frost. Tie up the fronds gently and wrap the tree in a blanket or other insulating cover if cold temperatures are predicted. Even a light freeze can cause fronds to brown and die.

Bottle trees are not self-cleaning, but wait until the weather warms up to trim off dead leaves, which can provide further insulation during the winter months.

Fertilize in early spring with a high potassium ratio food. Watch for pests and disease, and combat any signs immediately.

Caring for a bottle palm tree is nearly effortless, provided they are in good soil, bright light and get moderate moisture.

This article was last updated on

Callistemon Species, Bottlebrush Tree, Stiff Bottlebrush


Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Blackhawk-Camino Tassajara, California

Altamonte Springs, Florida

Gainesville, Florida(2 reports)

Indian Lake Estates, Florida

Sarasota, Florida(2 reports)

Baton Rouge, Louisiana(2 reports)

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Columbia, South Carolina(2 reports)

Moncks Corner, South Carolina

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Gardeners' Notes:

On Jul 15, 2020, Mary94949 from Novato, CA wrote:

Their pollen is horrible and many people are allergic to it. I'm glad it is no longer popular due to this flaw. Please plant something else if you have any allergies.

On Jan 19, 2017, yatyas from Boerne, TX wrote:

Had a beautiful Bottlebrush Tree planted in the sunniest location in our yard about 3 months ago (November) by a local nursery. Had a few blooms on it (about 9ft tall, 2 1/2 inches in diameter) when it was planted. Within a couple of weeks it was covered in beautiful blooms. Was warned by the nursery to wrap the tree trunk to protect it from possible cold weather exposure over the winter. Wrapped it in early December before temperatures got below 40 degrees F. While in El Paso visiting family from 24 Dec through Jan 10, tree was exposed to 19 degree weather. Came home and all the leaves are no longer a dark green, but faded and starting to dry and fall off, no blooms at all. I am hoping the couple of days of cold weather exposure has not killed the tree. I should have done more res. read more earch before purchasing this particular variety for the northwest San Antonio, Texas area. It is a beautiful tree and would have been a great addition to the yard. Does anyone know if after having lost its leaves, it still has a chance of coming back?

On Jan 28, 2016, joycrazy from Golden Gate, FL wrote:

We live in South Florida and we just lost our 37 year old bottlebrush tree in a storm. It was far and away one of my favorite trees. Small, but not too small, flowers on and off all year, but almost always has some flowers on it, required almost no maintenance, and was the one tree that always attracted hummingbirds and migrating birds.
I can't plant a replacement soon enough.

On May 10, 2015, opal92nwf from Niceville, FL wrote:

In zone 8b along the Northern Gulf Coast, bottlebrush will do well, but apparently only an upright (non weeping) red variety can tolerate the cold this far north. The one I have in my yard is on the northern side of the house and has tolerated temps in the upper teens with only some leaf burning and drop. During these same winters, some other bottlebrush in the area seemingly of the same variety (non-weeping red) burned and were mostly killed. Interestingly, those that suffered worse weren't really in that much different of a location than mine. The only conclusions I have drawn is that maybe there is variation within this species or they could have been of a less cold hardy variety. Just in case though, I would advise trying to find a somewhat protected location for them in zone 8b.
. read more
In all though, especially when fully mature, they are dependable, and one of the few plants that give a real tropical look this far north. In addition, their drought tolerance is a big plus, especially if you live in sandy soil that dries out quickly.

On Jun 4, 2014, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Although this plant is marketed in the SC midlands as cold hardy to 10f, it's really only cold hardy to the upper teens. The only BB cold hardy to 10f is Woodlanders Red, a bushy BB which will never grow tall.

On Jun 4, 2014, donnacreation from Sumter, SC wrote:

Although this plant is marketed in the SC midlands as cold hardy to 10f, it's really only cold hardy to the upper teens. The only BB cold hardy to 10f is Woodlanders Red, a bushy BB which will never grow tall.

On Jun 4, 2014, donnacreation from Sumter, SC wrote:

Although this plant is marketed in the SC midlands as cold hardy to 10f, it's really only cold hardy to the upper teens. The only BB cold hardy to 10f is Woodlanders Red, a bushy BB which will never grow tall.

On Jun 4, 2014, donnacreation from Sumter, SC wrote:

Although this plant is marketed in the SC midlands as cold hardy to 10f, it's really only cold hardy to the upper teens. The only BB cold hardy to 10f is Woodlanders Red, a bushy BB which will never grow tall.

On Jun 8, 2013, thistledome from near Brisbane,
Australia wrote:

I am lucky enough to live in sub-tropical Australia and have some 200 plus callistemons in my garden. These range in colour from red, pink,green,purple, mauve, white and orange. They do present a world of colour from spring through summer. Callistemons like a lot of water as some grow naturally in streams and along river banks. Apart from some fertiliser in early spring and some trimming to keep shape, they are a hardy plant to have in the garden.

On Feb 1, 2013, djvdfl from DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, FL wrote:

I have about 12 Bottle Brush planted on my property, beginning approx 8 yrs ago. I love this tree, and mine here in the NW part of Florida bloom at least 3 times a year and sometimes 4 times. Mine are about 18' - 20' tall, and about 25' - 30' wide. I contribute its size to "bottom up pruning". This makes a beautiful canopy type of landscaping and doesn't block our views of the property or lake. I never water my trees and they are growing in "tough soil" and on a slight hill side. Once established, my bottle brush (s) require very little care except to prune any low lying branches sprouting out from the bottom. They are pruned up to about 8 - 9 feet. I began pruning when my trees were about eight feet tall and well filled out to begin with. I also planted them in groups of 2 or 3 which gav. read more e me several main "stems" to work from. Put several groups in for a statement as they are beautiful, evergreen, attracts lots of humming birds, butterflies and birds love to nest in their branches.

On Jan 9, 2012, bluemoon1948 from Opp, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I live in zone 8a - Alabama. These trees seem to do well here and in Florida which is only about 30 miles south of me. They are beautiful and also useful as their branches make excellent bird perches. I have 5 parrots. I bought a small potted bush today and my question is . can anyone tell me how fast they grow? this is a small bush in a 3 qt container. I have moved to a rental house with zero landscaping and am trying to get some stuff in the ground! Thanks.

On May 8, 2011, beachgardner from Bolivia, NC wrote:

I really was not sure what the plant was. we just moved into this house, so I have inheirited a new yard that had been sadly neglected..I love this plant. some advice as to when and if to prune would be helpful. I cut it back about 4 weeks ago to shape it up, not knowing it was a blooming plant and now it is full of flowers.

On Jan 11, 2011, sunkissed from Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

When we moved into our house in 93' this tree was already a part of the landscape. It is in full sun all day long, it does get irrigation once a week half year due to water restrictions and twice a week in summer. I've never done anything to it, except prune it, loves to send shooters from the base. It is about 15 ft tall by 12 ft wide. It looks great in the spring when new growth and lots of blooms and hummers just love it, along with bees. Unfortunately I can only see it when driving up to my house, so don’t get to enjoy it as much as my neighbors do. It is certainly a very drought tolerant tree. I see some huge thick ones in an abandoned shopping center parking lot where they are in full sun and only rain for water, so these trees do well with neglect. Oh I gave a neutral because except. read more for when it is in bloom it really isn't a very attractive tree.

On Apr 16, 2010, SusanG13 from Pooler, GA wrote:

I bought my BB tree from a local nursury about three years ago. It has done very well and is a beautiful tree. It was about five foot tall and has grown about three feet.

On Dec 6, 2009, TTENTELH from East Elmhurst, NY wrote:

I brought the plant from Greece in my luggage, about 1 foot tall. I planted in my yard in fall, in an area where gets a lot of sun during the day. I live in NYC, Queens area and am worried if I should cover the plant during the winter or leave it as is. I read from others that has no problem in cold winters of about 10F but for how long can last the cold winter, a couple of days or the entire winter. I will appreciate you responses.

On Jun 24, 2009, will335 from San Antonio, TX wrote:

This is a great looking shrub, it has bloomed twice this year. This spring it was covered with red bottlebrushes. Mine has been in the ground for 1 year and spent 1 year in a pot. It is already 6 feet tall and is quite drought tolerant, loves the south Texas heat.

On Apr 14, 2008, Loneta from Morriston, FL wrote:

I have one BB bush and one BB tree,the bush is doing great the tree is trying to die the trunk is in two sections. Both are in full sun and fairly dry soil. They attract Humming birds as well as Butterflies. They are very beautiful plants and normally easy to care for. I am thrilled with the bush.

On Jun 9, 2007, Opoetree from Oak View, CA wrote:

Australian plants seem to do very well in Ventura County, California. We have these bottle brush trees and shrubs, as well as eucalyptus trees of many varieties. Our bottle brush just turned up growing -- probably seeds came floating down through our barranca and the plant just sprouted on its own. Very nice, like the red blooms.

On Jan 2, 2007, ShelleyME from League City, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I had 2 of these growing on either side of the front door at our old house. They had grown as tall as the 2nd story windows. One plant grew in front of the 2nd story window where there was an alcove that had our computer desk. I could look out and see many hummingbirds feeding. Our cats loved to sit and watch the birds while perched on the windowsill.

On Nov 25, 2006, Kylie2x from Millsap, TX wrote:

This has been a wonderful shrub.It has bloomed twice this yr and put on good growth.. I'll be keeping it inside for the winter..

On Oct 26, 2006, dstrick7 from Winterville, GA wrote:

I wasn't too crazy about its looks at first - soft, pale green, fuzzy leaves. but they are now darker, shiny & stiff. Starting to bloom now (1 flower in bloom. 6 others about to). I have 3 other varieties of Callistemon of semi-unknown origins. they have overwintered well, and make great evergreen shrubs.

On Jul 17, 2006, mariavonw from San Francisco, CA wrote:

quite common to see in San Francisco. very beautiful

On Dec 6, 2005, wallaby1 from Lincoln,
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

Bought as a small starter plant 6+ years ago, it has been in it's present postion for 5 years and has quickly grown to a quite large, weeping shrub. It is in a fairly shaded but sheltered location, and gets little sun but does very well. Soil is acidic and sandy. The last two years it has had many flowers, and attracts many bumblebees, with a white hairy body and black stripes, a type I have not seen before.

It has withstood prolonged frost and to -9C with no damage, this species has smaller narrow leaves and is hardier than the larger leaved types. zone 8a UK

On Jun 9, 2002, AustinBarbie from Harker Heights, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

My Callistemon is growing rapidly and is beautiful. To 5 meters (15 feet), it has light green foliage and bronze new growth. Red flowers in spring. Hardy, will adapt to most soils.
Good points: flowers, hardy, long-lived, good in damp soils
Downside: dislikes extreme heat and extreme cold.
Please note that this is an Australian native, and as such will probably not do at all well in areas that freeze.
This large bottlebrush is widely cultivated. Plants produce bright red flower spikes which are very rich in nectar and attract many birds. Plants grow in a variety of soils, but can be frost tender, especially when young. Weeping Bottlebrush grows 5 to 7 m tall.

On Nov 19, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

A native to Australia this is a small, upright tree or large shrub. It grows easily in tropical and semi-tropical climates. Once established this plant is drought tolerant.
The leaves are narrow, lance shaped, and leathery. Bright red, plump, bottle-brush shaped flowers are composed mostly of stamens and bloom off and on throughout hot weather.
The Bottlebrush tree likes well drained soil, preferably sandy loam, but is quite adaptable. Avoid heavy, damp ground. If grown in the northern part of range, expect winter kills. Protect with mulch around roots and the plant usually comes back.

Bottle Palm Tree Care: Learn How To Grow A Bottle Palm Tree - garden

Bottle Palm In The Landscape

Bottle palms are tropical palms known for their small stature.

At Palm City Nursery and Landscaping we grow a variety of popular landscaping palm trees for both landscaping professionals and “Do-It-Yourself” homeowners.

All of our palm trees are grown on Pine Island in Southwest Florida. Once they are grown beautifully to an ideal height for digging and delivery, we bring them to our nursery in Cape Coral.

Bottle palms are slow growing, and have only a few fronds which are long and graceful.

The swollen trunk of this palm is purely a function of the Bottle palms natural growth. It has nothing to do with water storage. That is pure gossip.

The average height of most Bottle palms is 5’-7’ OA .

Since they grow slowly it will take time for them to reach their maximum height of 10’ OA. Other small slow growing palms you might be interested in are Spindle Palms and Adonidia Palms.

It’s easy to appreciate the unique shape and delightful canopy Bottle Palms and other small palms provide.

Bottle palms do best in growing zones 10B-11. If temperatures do fall below freezing some cold damage may occur.

It‘s rare that temperatures dip into the 30’s in Southwest Florida but if they do, here are some tips for planting locations within a home or commercial property’s landscape.

Planting Recommendations

  • Keep them close to the building to protect from cooler temperatures and harsh winds.
  • Planting in groups with 4’-6’ of space between palms
  • Keep in a container on a lanai
  • Specimen within a tropical garden
  • Line a walkway

They are moderately drought tolerant.

Bottle palms are accustomed to the dry winters in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte and will do well if they are irrigated regularly throughout the winter months.

If you would like to know more about Bottle palms you can visit our nursery, or give us a call Monday thru Saturday.

Call 239-336-9484 today!

Our team can consult with you regarding all of your landscaping needs.

How to Help Freeze Damaged Palms and Protect Palms from Freezes

With careful prep before and lots of patience after, some palm trees can survive a wicked-cold winter.

A cold freeze looks like it damaged my palm (areca, sabal, pindo, pygmy date, and coconut). What happened?

A visit from Jack Frost will have palm trees switch from leafy green to rusty brown before your eyes. Why is that?

Well, unlike hardwood trees that sprout new growth from multiple spots, palm trees only grow new leaves from one spot—the heart. The palm heart sits right in the center of the tree’s canopy, and if it’s hit with harsh cold, the damage trickles down to all the future palm leaves growing from it.

Plus, if a palm is planted outside of its growing zone, it’ll be extra vulnerable to cold damage. For example, pygmy date palms are meant for planting zones 9-11, areas that get almost no frost. That means they wouldn’t do so well in Allison’s neck of the woods in Northern Florida. The same goes for areca and coconut palms—frost can be fatal for these quintessential tropical trees.

But even if palm trees are tolerant to the cold (like pindo and sabal palms, which can bear 15- and 20-degree temperatures) a hard freeze can still spell trouble.
“No matter the type, always err on the side of caution with your palm trees,” says Jess Running from Davey’s Menlo Park, California office. “It’s really important to protect all palm trees whenever harsh winter weather is expected.”

How can I tell if my cold damaged palm trees are alive?

By far, the best way to determine the health of your tree is to get an arborist’s opinion. In the meantime, here are a few things to consider:

  • Your tree needs time. “It’s really hard to predict the future of a freeze damaged palm. Most palms won’t show any new growth for months after the damage was done, so patience is the best gift you can give your recovering tree,” Running says.
  • Green is good. Even if leaves are mostly brown, any sign of green could mean the tree has a chance at survival.
  • Let nature take its course. Let your palm tree handle the healing process on its own. You may remove fronds that are completely brown to improve aesthetics.

How can I protect palm trees from freezes in the future?

Palms have a much better chance at surviving a winter freeze with these preventative steps:

  • Always plant palms that are suitable for your area. Find out what your planting zone is here!
  • Carefully cover short palm trees with a blanket or sheet before an expected freeze. For taller palms, contact an arborist to wrap the fronds together to protect the heart. Remove the sheet and unwrap the fronds after the threat of freeze.
  • Before a freeze, water your palm tree deeply, and seal in the moisture with mulch.
  • Keep your tree on a regular fertilization schedule. The nutrients in fertilizer may help support cold tolerance by improving tree vigor.

Call in an arborist for help with your damaged palm tree.

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Few palm trees have the appeal to catch the attention of passerby like the Hyophorbe lagenicaulis does. It is easy to see why, as with its standout bottle-shaped silhouette, bottle palms add immediate interest to any garden.

The bottle palm trees are very sought after by landscapers, designers and homeowners alike because they are very versatile and work well in different applications:

  • Use them as single specimen centerpieces
  • They work well in garden beds with other small plants
  • Can be used in pots or containers on the porch or deck
  • Look great as sidewalk plantings
  • Perfect in built-in pool planters
  • Centered in round driveway islands
  • Commonly used around the pool cage, patio or lanai
  • As accent to add tropical flair to any corner of the landscape

At JMC Nursery in Pine Island we have the ​Bottle Palm Tree For Sale. At just a short drive from Cape Coral, you will find that our nursery has a wide variety of small, ready to take home bottle palms in containers, or mature Bottle palms for sale. We also deliver and install!

If a Bottle palm tree in a place where it gets good soil, bright light and moderate moisture, it is easy to care for. The Hyophorbe lagenicaulis is native to the Mascarene Islands, where they enjoy of warm weather and sandy soils, just like they do in South Florida landscapes.

Bottle palms are very tropical plants, therefore they need protection from frost. If cold temperatures are predicted, tying up the fronds and wrapping them to keep them insulated can help prevent cold damage.

Come spring, an application of slow-release fertilizer with a high potassium and magnesium ratio will ensure the bottle palms tree grows healthy & strong.

Come See The Bottle Palms For Yourself

Call us to see if we currently have the Bottle palm tree in stock, or visit our Garden Center in Pine Island to see for your self. If you can’t take it home with you, we also deliver and install in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples and all of Southwest Florida!

Palm propagation is typically done by seeds. But this process can be time-consuming and often not effective, so many home gardeners choose not to attempt it. You also can propagate sago palms by division. When grown under ideal conditions, sago palms might send up clusters of new plants around their base. These baby plants can be removed from the parent plant by cutting them at the trunk with a sharp knife or scissors, leaving as many roots attached as possible. Then, place them in the shade for a few days to let the cut heal over before potting them in the same type of soil you used for the parent plant.

Because they grow so slowly, sago palms only need repotting about every three years. However, every spring, it's a good idea to gently remove the plant from its pot and replace the loose soil with fresh soil to ensure continued healthy growth.

Watch the video: Care of Foxtail Palm. How to grow Foxtail Palm