Sylvester Palm

Phoenix sylvestris

The classy sylvester palm is very hardy and low-maintenance - and just the right size for most home landscapes.

sylvester palm in a home landscape

Looking like a more compact, silvery version of the Canary Island date palm, the sylvester is a good choice for homeowners who like the looks of the Canary but don't have the room.

One of our prettiest cold hardy palms, it produces an edible fruit (said to be sweet) and the sap from flower stalks is used to make an alcoholic drink in the palm's native India (hence the common name "Toddy Palm").

Plant specs

Sylvester palms are slow growers to an ultimate height of 40 feet.

They stay low to the ground while young, eventually growing an attractive trunk with diamond-shaped leaf-base scars. You can have this "diamond cut" done by a pro to get the best results.

diamond-cut trunk detail

This palm is very cold hardy - taking Zone 9 temperatures in stride. It's also drought-tolerant as well as moderately-salt-tolerant.

The silvery blue-green fronds are a nice contrast to other, more typical greenery.

Plant care

Add top soil or peat humus to the hole when planting. Fertilize 3 times a year - in spring summer and autumn - with a quality palm fertilizer containing micronutrients.

palm near the beach

Although these palms are drought-tolerant once they're established, water during dry spells if you don't have irrigation.

Trim browned fronds as needed - which won't be often since the palm grows slowly.

Plant spacing

Give this palm a good amount of room to spread out. Plant about 5 feet from the house.

young palm growing low to the ground

The bushy fronds have stiff, pointy leaves with spines along the stems, so keep a safe distance from drives and least 5 feet.

If you're planting several in a row, place them 4 to 5 feet or more apart.

These palms are too wide and spiky for containers.

Landscape uses for sylvester palm

  • centerpiece for a wide garden bed
  • stand-alone specimen
  • accent near the corner of the house
  • lining a property line or fence
  • on each side of the entrance to a gate or drive (with enough clearance)
  • center plant for a circular drive

A.K.A. (also known as): Toddy Palm, Sugar Date Palm, India Date Palm


COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Low growers that like it on the drier side, such as Indian hawthorne, Drift rose, crown of thorns, jasmine minima (Asiatic jasmine), dwarf bougainvllea, and carissa.

Other palms you might like: Canary Island Date Palm, Triangle Palm

  1. Home
  2. Large Palms
  3. Sylvester Palm

Take a break!

cover Lazy Gardener's Guide

The ultimate guide to low-maintenance plants
and landscaping!

An ebook by
Chase Landre

author of

Learn more!

Get a greener thumb!

Want to learn more about South Florida planting, watering, fertilizing and dealing with weeds and pests?

See our Gardening How-To section for answers!

Get instant curb appeal!

cover Landscape in a Hurry

An ebook by
Chase Landre

author of

Learn how to get instant curb appeal with fast growing plants and landscaping techniques!

Learn more...