Zamia pumila

Coontie is a very hardy, slow-growing cycad that works well as a superb, low-maintenance shrub.

coontie in a shaded yard

Sometimes called "Coontie Palm," this is not actually a palm but a palm-like cycad plant.

It's one tough cookie - perfect for dry areas, cold tolerant, not choosy as to light - yet it provides an appealing fine-textured look.

These are ideal plants to surround a mailbox, line a walkway, accent a tropical garden bed, or go almost anywhere you can think of.

The legendary cycads have been around for, well, nearly forever - and this beautiful cycad is one of the smallest. It's not as prickly as some other varieties so it's safe to plant near foot traffic areas.

(For info on cycads in general and other cycad varieties, see Cycad Plants.)

Plant specs

This small "shrub" grows very slowly to 2-1/2 to 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide. It takes full sun to full shade.

Cold hardy anywhere in South Florida, this little cycad plant is drought-tolerant once established.

NOTE: The plant puts out a cone containing seeds that are poisonous to pets and people if ingested.

mature plant

Plant care

These plants take very little care.

No soil amendments are needed when planting, and cutting off a dead leaf stem once in a while is all the trimming you'll need to do.

Fertilizer helps to keep the plant at its best, so fertilize with a high quality granular fertilizer 3 times a year - spring, summer and autumn.

Water regularly but with ample time for the plant to dry out between waterings - or at least give it water during dry spells.

Plant spacing

Because they take forever to grow and don't get very big anyway, place about 2 feet apart when planting in a row (unless you've bought a larger pot size like 7 gallon, then plant 3 feet apart).

Plant 3 feet away from other shrubs. Come out from the house about 2 feet.

Like all cycad plants, it does very well in containers, as long as it's allowed to dry out between waterings.

Landscape uses for coontie

  • surrounding the trunks of palms or trees
  • lining a drive or walkway
  • foundation plant
  • accent plant for a garden bed
  • around a mailbox or light post
  • bordering a patio or porch
  • in a container for pool cage, patio or lanai
  • as a small to mid-size hedge shrub

A.K.A. (also known as): Coontie Palm


COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Place with other drought-tolerant plants such as crown of thorns, clusia guttifera, agave, bougainvillea, Green Island ficus, and orange bird of paradise.

Other shrubs you might like: Xanadu Philodendron, Carissa

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