The Sabal Minor (Dwarf Palmetto) Full Care Guide

The Dwarf Palmetto, otherwise known as the Sabal Minor or Bush Palmetto, Scrub Palmetto, Swamp Palmetto, Bluestem Palmetto, is a well-known palm plant native to the Southeast, and the Southwest of the United States.

Best known for its average maintenance and slow growth, this palm will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green-colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, this is exactly what we’ll cover in this Dwarf Palmetto Care Guide. So let’s dive in.

The fundamental caring guidelines for every Dwarf Palmetto can be summed up into the following:

  • Water: The Dwarf Palmetto needs evenly spread moist soil – try to avoid letting the soil dry out.
  • Light: Keep your Sabal Minor in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Dwarf Palmetto in moist soil with well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, loam, and clay.

And as with many other plants, these are the only three care factors you need to remember to make sure your Dwarf Palmetto is, for the most part, healthy and well to survive.

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Dwarf Palmetto belongs to the Arecaceae family, the genus Sabal and the species Minor, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Sabal Minor.

As with other Sabal’s, the Dwarf Palmetto is an evergreen plant, which means it will be present year round in your garden.

Growing Region

The Dwarf Palmetto is a plant native to South Oklahoma, Southeastern U.S.A. and Mexico. This is why the Sabal Minor is used to growing in specific regions such as the states in Southeast, and the Southwest of the United States.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Dwarf Palmetto is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.

With this in mind, the Sabal Minor will be most used to the heat zones in the 10 – 12 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a and the ideal climate zone is between 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Dwarf Palmetto is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.


But, how big does the Dwarf Palmetto actually get? What should you expect in terms of size? Let’s dive right in…

The Sabal Minor can grow up to 4′ – 6′ (120cm – 180cm) in 4′ – 6′ (120cm – 180cm) and 4′ – 6′ (120cm – 180cm) in 4′ – 6′ (120cm – 180cm). 

These dimensions make the Dwarf Palmetto a relatively large palm compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful compact shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 72″ – 84″ (180cm – 210cm) free so the Dwarf Palmetto can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Dwarf Palmetto is a fairly complicated plant to take care of. This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat irregular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Sabal Minor needs evenly spread moist soil – try to avoid letting the soil dry out.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Dwarf Palmetto in soil with from moisture retentive, to moist-but well draining and even well draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has frequent standing water, moist, occasionally dry, and occasionally wet properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

However, in our experience, the best solution to knowing the right amount of water for your Dwarf Palmetto is with the ‘thumb’ technique. Basically, you insert your finger into the soil, and based if you feel the soil moist or dry, you determine if it needs any water, which is the most appropriate way to go about watering your leafy friend.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Dwarf Palmetto prefers to have soil with frequent standing water, moist, occasionally dry, and occasionally wet properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, loam, and clay.

This is why most experts agree that the Dwarf Palmetto requires soil with high organic matter, which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Placement

In terms of light & exposure, the Dwarf Palmetto requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this palm will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Sabal Minor in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being an evergreen plant, the Dwarf Palmetto will be present year round in your garden.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


You can expect your Dwarf Palmetto to flower around the summer months from July to September (summer).

The Dwarf Palmetto produces some beautiful white, or blue and white flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the Dwarf Palmetto have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with an alternate organization in its leaves. You can expect the leaves from your Sabal Minor to be around (> 6 inches) in size.

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Dwarf Palmetto is well known for its tolerance to salt, drought and animals like deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Sabal Minor will be fine.


How should you then organize your garden to include your new Dwarf Palmetto? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Most Sabal Minor owners agree that this palm will look great in most Mediterranean, contemporary and tropical gardens of all types

Other owners consider that they compliment well most gardens of Mediterranean garden styles. 

In particular, the Dwarf Palmetto’s best location within your garden is in beds and borders, and in patio and containers, others use it for landscaping in a coastal exposure, or a specimen.


And we’ve come to an end. Fortunately, that’s everything you need to know about your Dwarf Palmetto to keep it safe and sound in your garden or home. Enjoy planting!

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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