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2018 Freeze - South Carolina

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Now that it's July I wanted to report in on losses and survivors in the January 2018 freeze.  I had 5-6 consecutive nights below 20F, with absolute lows of 14F and 13F.  Highs in the low-mid 30's.  All plants fully exposed, no canopy unless noted.  Ground froze to at least 2-3" in many areas of the yard.  Most of the results are somewhat expected, I did not protect anything as the severity of the freeze caught me off guard (it was forecast for low-mid 20's here). 

Palms in the ground:

Butia odorata (mature) Silver form, 50% defoliated.  (5-7 gal) - Smaller silver Butia 50-100% defoliated but survived without aid.  Many seedlings were killed.

Butia sp. (5 gal) - green form.  100% defoliated and spear rot, barely survived.

Butia x Syagrus (approx. 5 gal) - killed.

Chamerops humilis (3 gal) - blue and green forms.  All killed (3 separate palms), but a single sucker on one palm survived.  Spear damage to mature palms in town.

Livistona decora (5 gal) - killed

Livistona chinensis (3 gal) - 100% burn but survived without aid.

Phoenix dactylifera - Not mine, but I noted that a ~15 gal palm in town survived with 100% defoliation (under canopy).

Rhapidophyllum hystrix (3 gal) - no damage

Sabal minor (3 gal) - no damage

Sabal Causarium (3 gal) - 2 palms survived with burn on old leaves only

Trachycarpus fortunei (3-15 gal) - Total of 5 palms from 3-7 gallon had spear pull, one died from rot.  15 gallon palms had minor burn.

Trachycarpus "waggie" (2 gal) - killed

Washingtonia "filibusta" (3 gal) - killed

Cycads in the ground:

Cycas revoluta (12" trunk) - growth point was killed (top 3-4" of trunk turned to mush).  The lower trunk is alive, but has not formed leaves yet in 2018. 

Cycas panzihuaensis (2" to 5" caudex) - all plants in the ground survived with 50-75% defoliation, and flushed without issue in spring.

Dioon edule (2-5" caudex) - of 5 plants in the ground, the two largest (4-5") survived.  Smaller plants died. 

Zamia floridana - killed (caudex was buried 2-3" deep)

Other plants of interest:

Quercus insignis - survived, but killed back to old growth.  This oak defoliates under light frost, but leaves shielded from frost remain evergreen into the high teens - low 20's.

Eucalyptus gunnii - two plants, both killed to the ground, only one came back

E. cinerea - minor damage

Citrus "Calamandarin" - killed to the ground

European olive (unknown variety) killed back to the main trunk - 1" diameter. 




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Great update here.


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Steve, thanks for the update. Are you up in the Greenville area?





Edited by RJ

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Location would help, wouldn't it?  I'm in Aiken SC and probably a warm 8A.

Couple more random thoughts:

- C. panzihuaensis continues to impress.  I was weeding over the weekend and found another one next to some bushes - it got tossed on the ground last fall, as the taproot rotted and it failed to flush for the entire year.  This was a small plant (1.5-2" caudex) that I did not expect to survive such a loss.  However sometime this spring it flushed a normal leaf and was starting to put roots down.  I'm hoping that we will start to see hybrids of this species that perform equally well.

- On the other end of the spectrum, Chamaerops is the biggest disappointment.  I don't think these are worth it except in protected spots.  For being the most available "hardy" palm in Home Depot, there are relatively few survivors around town.  They don't seem to grow out of spear rot issues like the windmills do.






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