There’s nothing like an afternoon by the pool–bright sun glinting off the sapphire water, skin bronzing beneath the afternoon light, and, ideally, towering tropical trees flanking the pool.
If you’re looking to jazz up your pool area with a tropical plant, you might just be in the market for palm trees. This list will break down the best small palm trees for planting around a pool–with mention of their hardiness zones, so you can figure out which palm tree is best suited to your area.
California Fan Palm Tree
The California Fan Palm is an incredibly popular small palm. This popularity owes largely to the plant’s tropical beauty, which, considering its hardy trunk and abundant foliage, is pretty much the Platonic ideal of the palm tree.
On top of this, the plant is incredibly durable. Despite its name, the California fan palm does just fine outside of the Golden State. The tree is perfectly suited to hardiness zones 8A through 11, which includes an arcing line stretching from the Virginia coast through Florida, Texas, and Los Angeles, all the way up to Seattle.
Pygmy Date Palm
The pygmy date palm is another iconic palm tree that would make the perfect complement to a pool–under certain conditions. It grows taller than the California fan palm, reaching heights of between six and ten feet (perfect for shade).
This palm is well-suited to hardiness zone 10A, which includes major cities like Sacramento, Phoenix, New Orleans, and Orlando. That said, many growers cultivate the tree in zone 9B, though it might not produce the healthiest palm–especially since the pygmy date palm does not tolerate salt spray.
The final benefit of the pygmy date palm is that, as its name suggests, it grows dates! That means that when conditions are right, you can reach over from your chair and grab a bite of fruit.
If you’re in the market for a palm tree that’s small enough to use as an ornament around your pool, then the bottle palm is the right choice. Most bottle palms reach only five feet in height, though eventually–after many years of growth–they can hit ten feet.
As its name suggests, the bottle palm has the appearance of a bottle of wine, with a thick bottom and a thin trunk that expands into emerald leaves. The tree is best suited to the hardiness zones between 10A and 11, which includes areas of southern Florida, California, and elsewhere.
Another small palm for your poolside environment is the sago palm, which reaches an average height of a measly 3.5 feet–though, after eight years of growth, they can reach ten feet in height. The sago is incredibly easy to grow–it’s one of the easiest palms to grow, and it belongs as much indoors as outdoors.
One of the only requirements for sago palms is that they are not fans of excessive moisture. If you plan on growing them poolside, be sure to position them at a distance from the pool. That said, they are hardy enough to grow in hardiness zones 8 through 10, stretching from the southern Chesapeake Bay across the deep south.
Small Palm Trees for Pool Area: Final Thoughts
Palm trees are a wonderful addition to any pool environment, and they’re so easy to grow that so long as you respect their needs, you’ll have a strapping young palm in no time!