Young Needle Palm Hardiness

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I planted 5 young needle palms along the west side of my driveway, which faces north. While I understand that an open spot for the Northwest winds to blow is bad for palms, I figured that Rhapidophyllum hystrix is the hardiest palm and it should be able to handle it. The only problem is that my needles are young; they are about a foot tall and only two of them are producing mature fan-shaped leaves. I live on Long Island, NY which is USDA Zone 7a. Although the 2016 winter was rather mild it did get down to 0° F once in February. How hardy are needle palms while they are young and how much should I protect them come next winter?

Needles.jpg

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In a cold climate when any palm is young it's a good idea to protect it and acclimate it to your winters the first few years by either: 

A. keeping them in pots until they're larger and bringing them into the greenhouse, garage, or house during cold snaps or

B. Planting them directly into the ground and protecting them with a cage of leaves, burlap or frost cloth. Planting them directly in the ground will give you a hardier palm if they survive. I think this would be the better option. Make sure you insulate the roots as well with a thick layer of mulch, freezing roots can outright kill a palm on its own. Provide overhead protection from freezing precipitation as well, if moisture gets into the crown and freezes, your palm will be susceptible to crown rot. YouTube has many videos of how to construct a cage to protect plants. 

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I don't have experience with Needle Palms, but I think zone 7 temperatures are enough to damage and even kill them at that size. Any cold hardy palm should be protected for the first 3 or so winters until it's fully established. By that time your palms may be large enough to fend for themselves, although occasional protection during the worst weather wouldn't hurt. And I agree with Brad about keeping moisture out of the crown, it's crucial. Snow is an excellent insulator during cold weather, especially for the roots, I'd just keep it away from the crown to be on the safe side.

Good luck! It's nice seeing someone else trying palms on Long Island.

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Alright I will definitely be protecting both the roots and crowns of these young palms in the ground. Thank you for the advice.  

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Based on what ive seen 0 degrees would easily kill that sized needle palm. 

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Posted (edited)

I still have yet to protect these needles (besides placing mulch) because this winter has been mild so far. I ordered some burlap and fungicide, and they're coming in the mail tomorrow. This is in time for this weekend's cold front. It's supposed to snow tomorrow and reach a nightly low of 18 degrees. On Sunday the nightly low is forecasted to reach 13 degrees. However, after Monday, it's forecasted that the nightly lows for the next week will all be above freezing.

As of now these palms have endured multiple snowfalls and one nightly low of 17 degrees without any sign of damage. I am conflicted about whether or not I should wrap them tomorrow just because it's going to be so mild following the cold snap. Any advice?

Edited by faceyourfaces
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Posted (edited)

You could (if you so choose) use a quick burlap wrap around the palms just for the brief period and your piece of mind. Remove the burlap once the weather moderates.

Cheers, Barrie.

Edited by Las Palmas Norte
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If you can find the large rose cones to put over the top I know that would help as well, at the very least keeping the wind chill temps from doing it's damage.

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Rose cones are great idea....I would

be surprised if the spears are still solid,any pics of then in the ground right now?

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On 1/6/2017, 3:38:31, faceyourfaces said:

I still have yet to protect these needles (besides placing mulch) because this winter has been mild so far. I ordered some burlap and fungicide, and they're coming in the mail tomorrow. This is in time for this weekend's cold front. It's supposed to snow tomorrow and reach a nightly low of 18 degrees. On Sunday the nightly low is forecasted to reach 13 degrees. However, after Monday, it's forecasted that the nightly lows for the next week will all be above freezing.

As of now these palms have endured multiple snowfalls and one nightly low of 17 degrees without any sign of damage. I am conflicted about whether or not I should wrap them tomorrow just because it's going to be so mild following the cold snap. Any advice?

If you haven't protected them already, you can use today's snow to your advantage. I did that with my Trachy last winter.

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Unfortunately I did not buy any rose cones but I will make sure to soon, providing they survive this weekend.

3 hours ago, Jimhardy said:

any pics of then in the ground right now?

After their late November mulching:

I5uF1pX.thumb.jpg.96e44ab93116d2bbc28817

Today:

Nn8DqmB.thumb.jpg.557ea9331e15b1a9291668

It has been snowing all day and it will continue for 6 more hours. Hopefully they make it through.

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15 minutes ago, cm05 said:

you can use today's snow to your advantage. I did that with my Trachy last winter.

Do you mean that you didn't protect your Trachy? Near the southeastern corner of my house I also have a small windmill (about 5 years old) which is heavily mulched, burlapped, and covered by a garbage can. Next to the windmill I have a Sabal minor McCurtain as well (about 7 years old) which is receiving absolutely no protection.

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6 minutes ago, faceyourfaces said:

Do you mean that you didn't protect your Trachy? Near the southeastern corner of my house I also have a small windmill (about 5 years old) which is heavily mulched, burlapped, and covered by a garbage can. Next to the windmill I have a Sabal minor McCurtain as well (about 7 years old) which is receiving absolutely no protection.

My Trachy's about the same age as yours. The most I did was cover it with a large plant pot when it rained and during the blizzard we had. But we really got lucky last winter, it would've required real protection during a cold winter.

Does your McCurtain ever receive damage?

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35 minutes ago, cm05 said:

Does your McCurtain ever receive damage?

It's actually new to me this season. According to its previous owner it once completely defoliated at, but also survived, -9 degrees. So I'm not too worried about it getting damaged.

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That will be awesome if they make it through.....

 

One mistake I made with my Needles(because I wanted then to

get bigger and hardier,ironically)was to dump MG fertilizer on them

a lot...I did cut them off well before the cold weather though....

Synthetic ferts weaken a plants overall health and lower the cold resistance dramatically.

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16 hours ago, Jimhardy said:

One mistake I made with my Needles(because I wanted then to

get bigger and hardier,ironically)was to dump MG fertilizer on them

a lot...I did cut them off well before the cold weather though....

Synthetic ferts weaken a plants overall health and lower the cold resistance dramatically.

The "blue pot" needle palms are infamous for having much lower cold resistance due to them being pushed to grow quickly through fertilizer. I foliar fed these needles a couple times last year but their roots haven't been fertilized since they were put in the ground.

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That snow will insulate those palms from the temps if they dip too low. On the flip side, once temps moderate, you want to get the snow off and away to allow warmer air on the palms. Best of luck.

Cheers, Barrie.

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On ‎1‎/‎8‎/‎2017‎ ‎10‎:‎47‎:‎04‎, faceyourfaces said:

The "blue pot" needle palms are infamous for having much lower cold resistance due to them being pushed to grow quickly through fertilizer. I foliar fed these needles a couple times last year but their roots haven't been fertilized since they were put in the ground.

I think you meant hormones instead of fertilizer.

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On 1/8/2017, 10:47:04, faceyourfaces said:

The "blue pot" needle palms are infamous for having much lower cold resistance due to them being pushed to grow quickly through fertilizer. I foliar fed these needles a couple times last year but their roots haven't been fertilized since they were put in the ground.

I bought one of those blue pot needles in the spring from Walmart, and it almost tripled in size this year!! I just experienced 6 degrees temps and 1 inch of ice covered it this past storm. I looked at it today (because it's warming up) and it looks exactly as it did before. *fingers crossed.   I only used slow release fertilizer on it in the summer. 

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17 hours ago, Ponds & Palms said:

I bought one of those blue pot needles in the spring from Walmart, and it almost tripled in size this year!! I just experienced 6 degrees temps and 1 inch of ice covered it this past storm. I looked at it today (because it's warming up) and it looks exactly as it did before. *fingers crossed.   I only used slow release fertilizer on it in the summer. 

That's great to hear. My two blue pot needles I bought off of some eBayer bareroot both died during the fall unfortunately.

On Sunday night here the low was 11 degrees and on Monday night it got down to 10. All of my palms look fine so far and all of the spears are firmly attached to their crowns.

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My blue pot needle is laughing at the snow and cold, it grows at a rapid pace too. My blue pot argentea Chamaerops is flawless because I'm keeping it on the covered porch where he stays dry. I think these palms get a bad rep but in my experience they do perfectly fine. I do think that synthetic fertilizers weaken palms but I have no real proof or evidence to back that up. 

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Here is a volunteer needle growing in Wichita, Kansas...I know for a fact it saw around -3F during the early December "polar vortex." I took this picture a week or two ago....

Image may contain: plant, shoes, outdoor and nature

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20 hours ago, jfrye01@live.com said:

Here is a volunteer needle growing in Wichita, Kansas...I know for a fact it saw around -3F during the early December "polar vortex." I took this picture a week or two ago....

Image may contain: plant, shoes, outdoor and nature

Seeing them actively reproducing and naturalizing in your area is heartwarming!

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I was super excited to find this little thing! It's growing on the east side of a church...according to my friend Raymond Sharon, who grows the palms at this church, this poor thing was trampled by a maintenance crew installing gutters a while back, but it was resilient and came back quite nicely! 

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On 2/6/2017, 1:18:54, jfrye01@live.com said:

Here is a volunteer needle growing in Wichita, Kansas...I know for a fact it saw around -3F during the early December "polar vortex." I took this picture a week or two ago....

Image may contain: plant, shoes, outdoor and nature

Thats Awesome!  Nice looking little fella too!  If it has seen temps like that already I would imagine that it going to be very cold hardy once its mature.   

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Two leaf germinated Needle seedlings in 4x6" pots froze solid at 16 degrees and look perfect even after constant 80 degree days.  Most 1G Agave Victoria Reginae right next to them died, trithrinax campestris in 3G-7G died, 1G sabal riverside burned but are alive, 50% of the 7G butia died too. 7G sabal Mexicana were perfect, 1G windmills and CIDP are 100% dead.

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22 hours ago, TexasColdHardyPalms said:

Two leaf germinated Needle seedlings in 4x6" pots froze solid at 16 degrees and look perfect even after constant 80 degree days.  Most 1G Agave Victoria Reginae right next to them died, trithrinax campestris in 3G-7G died, 1G sabal riverside burned but are alive, 50% of the 7G butia died too. 7G sabal Mexicana were perfect, 1G windmills and CIDP are 100% dead.

So this is a perfect time for my question.  I recently purchased a young-ish needle plam online from a reputable seller that others have had good sucess with.  It was grown in southern zone 9 in LaBelle FL, under 30% shade cloth.  Purported to have seen freezing before.  This thing arrived like lightning within 3 days of purchase and it was packed in the pot shown, extremely well. NO damage to it what so ever it was so perfectly packed.

 I'm not sure how old it is but it is developing a small trunk and has 3 suckers which are not big.  My questions are:  This is likely to be a pot palm for quite some time.  How cold hardy are these in pots?  From what you just posted they seem to be very cold hardy even in pots.  My only worry about these is freezing the roots, but from your post above it seems they handle this fine.   Of course i never intend to leave it outdoors when I know temps are heading down into the mid teens.   So how cold hardy are they when in containers above ground?  

My other question is about the suckers. I am a fan of single trunk palms.  Are these ok to prune the suckers off?  I have read things that say yes they can be removed without issue. Is that true?     Lastly any guess on how old this is?   Im guessing 3-5 years myself. Anyone have a better / more educated guess?  The photos is what the shipper sent me. Since then the leaves have fully split and it now produces fully split adult leaves. Pic below. 

 

Thanks!  

$_12.jpg 

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You can cut off the shoots for sure....maybe

better when it is mild and dry though.

 

I think the roots freezing is ok but not

as a constant theme,more of the exception than the rule.

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13 hours ago, Jimhardy said:

You can cut off the shoots for sure....maybe

better when it is mild and dry though.

 

I think the roots freezing is ok but not

as a constant theme,more of the exception than the rule.

Thanks Jim.   Yeah, the pruning would be a summer activity when its outdoors.  I figured it would be OK as that lines up with what I have read about them.  

It would def not bee freezing constantly.   I wouldn't let that happen, but being in Virginia that doesn't happen that much either unless you are far west at high elevations.  Those high peak alpine climates where its more like zone 4-5 is where it stays freezing for extended periods on end.  Near DC not as much as thats a zone 7B or even cold 8A in the city.  Its even less freezing where I will likely be living for a couple years or so in Va Beach.   Needles are are not terribly uncommon in the ground in Washington DC. THere are quite a few large and very old specimens in the city.  The ground here does freeze to a decent depth some winters, but winters like this one I doubt its ever gotten to near an inch frozen.   Mainly I just am seeing if I can feel comfortable leaving it outside down to about 15 or so over nights, and those kind of nights are not that common here, nor are long duration freezes. (IE 2 or more consecutive 24 hour periods of below 32F.)  Those are an exception, not a rule. 

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18 hours ago, DCA_Palm_Fan said:

So this is a perfect time for my question.  I recently purchased a young-ish needle plam online from a reputable seller that others have had good sucess with.  It was grown in southern zone 9 in LaBelle FL, under 30% shade cloth.  Purported to have seen freezing before.  This thing arrived like lightning within 3 days of purchase and it was packed in the pot shown, extremely well. NO damage to it what so ever it was so perfectly packed.

 I'm not sure how old it is but it is developing a small trunk and has 3 suckers which are not big.  My questions are:  This is likely to be a pot palm for quite some time.  How cold hardy are these in pots?  From what you just posted they seem to be very cold hardy even in pots.  My only worry about these is freezing the roots, but from your post above it seems they handle this fine.   Of course i never intend to leave it outdoors when I know temps are heading down into the mid teens.   So how cold hardy are they when in containers above ground?  

My other question is about the suckers. I am a fan of single trunk palms.  Are these ok to prune the suckers off?  I have read things that say yes they can be removed without issue. Is that true?     Lastly any guess on how old this is?   Im guessing 3-5 years myself. Anyone have a better / more educated guess?  The photos is what the shipper sent me. Since then the leaves have fully split and it now produces fully split adult leaves. Pic below. 

 

If you move to a 5-10G pot I wouldn't be worried to have the palm see drops to 10F as long as it warmed back up.  The little needles I had outside to test completely, 100% froze solid at 16F, with over 30 hours straight below freezing.  Based on my tests I will grow 100% of my 1G and larger needles, sabal minor, riverside, Mexicana and N. Ritcheana outside in pots from now on. I cannot grow windmills outside until they are 10G or larger as they spear pull and die below 20F.  I really don't understand how windmills gain so much cold hardiness with just a little extra trunk girth...???

As far as pruning, yes you can cut all of those suckers off.  Just use a shark blade and seal the wound.   That needle is most likely 5 years old from seed.  It takes two years just to get a small liner going.

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25 minutes ago, TexasColdHardyPalms said:

If you move to a 5-10G pot I wouldn't be worried to have the palm see drops to 10F as long as it warmed back up.  The little needles I had outside to test completely, 100% froze solid at 16F, with over 30 hours straight below freezing.  Based on my tests I will grow 100% of my 1G and larger needles, sabal minor, riverside, Mexicana and N. Ritcheana outside in pots from now on. I cannot grow windmills outside until they are 10G or larger as they spear pull and die below 20F.  I really don't understand how windmills gain so much cold hardiness with just a little extra trunk girth...???

As far as pruning, yes you can cut all of those suckers off.  Just use a shark blade and seal the wound.   That needle is most likely 5 years old from seed.  It takes two years just to get a small liner going.

Thank you!  Yeah I will be repotting it likely to a 5G size this spring.  I was planning on around 15F threshold for bringing it indoors. But well see.  I dont want to shock it too often to go from that temp to 70 in doors. Fortunately we don't see  that kind of cold terribly often.    

With regards to pruning the suckers off, what do you recommend sealing them with? 

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I smear pure daconil on the wounds. You can find it at home depot.

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I was at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (60 degrees today!) and for the first time noticed they have a very large needle palm. It appears to be a little over six feet tall; trunk looked maybe a foot tall. There was some very minor burning on a couple fronds, but overall it was very green and healthy. We've had a relatively mild winter so far this year. I think the coldest it's gotten in the city is 13 degrees. 

58aa44ffccd13_Needle-BBG.thumb.JPG.953e7

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12 hours ago, PaddyM said:

I was at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (60 degrees today!) and for the first time noticed they have a very large needle palm. It appears to be a little over six feet tall; trunk looked maybe a foot tall. There was some very minor burning on a couple fronds, but overall it was very green and healthy. We've had a relatively mild winter so far this year. I think the coldest it's gotten in the city is 13 degrees. 

58aa44ffccd13_Needle-BBG.thumb.JPG.953e7

Nice, and it looks out in the open too, so no extra heating from being planted near a building.

I'd like to stop by there one day.

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I cut the pups & root them all the time. I have never sealed or did anything to the truck & they don't miss a beat. Needle is one palm that can take all the water you give it without issue. They grow in the swamps here, sometines in standing water for months at a time.

I was just in Home Depot & all their 5 gal cold hardy palms are still $22...

 

 

20170222_125639.jpg

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@Laaz, Wow, they're charging an arm and a leg for a palm that was around $10 a few years ago!  That being said, I'd probably still pick a few up.

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On 2/22/2017, 3:55:09, Laaz said:

I cut the pups & root them all the time. I have never sealed or did anything to the truck & they don't miss a beat. Needle is one palm that can take all the water you give it without issue. They grow in the swamps here, sometines in standing water for months at a time.

I was just in Home Depot & all their 5 gal cold hardy palms are still $22...

 

 

20170222_125639.jpg

Oh man...I wish I could still find palms at Home Depot around here...it's been several years...I'm sure it has to do with their return policy :( 

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I wish I could find needles for that price around here. All we seem to have a trachycarpus, chamerops, livingstonia chinese, and plenty of majestys/sagos. Nothing to really complain about, but I really did want to grow a bunch of needle palms in my yard, as well as I wanted to skirt a pine grove I was considering planting on my property with them. 

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On 2/22/2017, 4:55:09, Laaz said:

I cut the pups & root them all the time. I have never sealed or did anything to the truck & they don't miss a beat. Needle is one palm that can take all the water you give it without issue. They grow in the swamps here, sometines in standing water for months at a time.

I was just in Home Depot & all their 5 gal cold hardy palms are still $22...

 

 

20170222_125639.jpg

They sell absolutely MASSIVE ones here. About 2 feet of trunk, suckers everywhere, for $50 too.

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On 3/28/2017, 4:39:38, PalmTreeDude said:

They sell absolutely MASSIVE ones here. About 2 feet of trunk, suckers everywhere, for $50 too.

I have yet to see one of those up here in the DC area. Id love to find one that I could clean up into a single trunk specimen.  You are near richmond va? 

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