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Walt

Cocos nucifera

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Walt

The coconut palm in the below photos was the first one I discovered when I moved to Highlands County, Florida, in 1997 (and inland county situated equal distance from the Atlantic Ocean to its east and and Gulf of Mexico to its west). I've been tracking its growth ever since then. The palm is located approximately 10 miles NE of the small town of Lake Placid, Florida (I live 2 miles east of town).

But on the morning of January 5, 2001, I experienced the coldest freeze (radiational) in the 11 years living here.

That morning my low temperature bottomed out at 22 degrees F (-5.5 C) with heavy frost in the open yard. Archbold Biological Station, 9 miles to my south, recorded a record tying low of 13 (-10.45 C) degrees! ABS is a very cold spot, for reasons unknown to me. Conversely, Lake Placid proper (at 150 feet elevation up on the Lake Wales Ridge) only dropped to around 30 degrees F (-1.1 C), due to being in the warmer air stratification layer (inversion layer).

A few weeks subsequent to the freeze I drove around looking at freeze damage. The coconut palm below was pretty much freeze dried, as the photo attests, although I don't know exactly what low temperature and amount of frost it saw. However, the palm made a complete recovery and has grown many more feet of trunk. But one thing I now notice is that the palm is suffering from what appears to be power line decline.

Coconut palm after the January 5, 2001 radiational freeze:

1094208142042496162S600x600Q85.jpg

Coconut palm October 2002, showing full recovery:

2528706510042496162S600x600Q85.jpg

Coconut palm October 21, 2008 showing what appears to be suffering from power line decline:

2454807450042496162S600x600Q85.jpg

Coconut palm October 21, 2008 (alternate view):

2501822750042496162S600x600Q85.jpg

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enigma99

Wait so this mature palm survived 22 with frost and Los Angeles can't even grow them?? What is the difference? Being mature?

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PalmatierMeg

Probably maturity has something to do with it. Also, winters in FL tend to be very dry whereas winters in CA can be chilly, rainy and/or cloudy. Cold nights in FL coincide with clear skies and, at least further down the peninsula where I live, when winter rain does fall, temperatures rise. Even after cold nights, temps rebound when the sun rises and cold spells last only a day or so. What gets to tropical palms like coconuts are days of cold temps & chilly rain. They cannot take that grind over the long haul. The combination of cold/rain is a killer to them. They want heat with their rain, along with abundant sun. In CA when it's hot, it's usually dry and sunny; in FL humid, wet (lots of sun interspersed with thunderstorms, occasional tropical "disturbances") summers and dry, cooler winters are the rule.

At least that's my understanding.

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Walt
Wait so this mature palm survived 22 with frost and Los Angeles can't even grow them?? What is the difference? Being mature?

No, no, no. That coconut palm surely didn't see 22 degrees. Probably more like 28-29 degrees.

In my county, which is hilly and also has 77 lakes over 10 acres in size, the largest 43 square miles, temperatures (low) are all over the place.

The January 5, 2001 freeze was radiational (no wind). As such, air stratifies, with the coldest air in the lowest areas, with the warmer air in the higher areas (on the hills). Also, close around the lakes are warmer due to the thermal influence of the water. Lake water here, even in January, averages in the upper 60s (F).

I live in a lower area, hence my temperatures are lower on windless nights. When it's a windy cold, then temperatures are more uniform across the county, regardless if you are on high ground or lakeside.

The reason coconut palms don't grow(with few excetions) in southern Cal. is due to cool and wet winter time temperatures, not because of ultimate low temperatures. Coconut palms like warm soil.

We can grow coconut palms here in the upper end of zone 9b (they get frost burn on occassion) because our January average temperature are 74 degrees high and 49 degrees low. Soil temperatures stay above 60 degrees most of the time.

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Walt
Probably maturity has something to do with it. Also, winters in FL tend to be very dry whereas winters in CA can be chilly, rainy and/or cloudy. Cold nights in FL coincide with clear skies and, at least further down the peninsula where I live, when winter rain does fall, temperatures rise. Even after cold nights, temps rebound when the sun rises and cold spells last only a day or so. What gets to tropical palms like coconuts are days of cold temps & chilly rain. They cannot take that grind over the long haul. The combination of cold/rain is a killer to them. They want heat with their rain, along with abundant sun. In CA when it's hot, it's usually dry and sunny; in FL humid, wet (lots of sun interspersed with thunderstorms, occasional tropical "disturbances") summers and dry, cooler winters are the rule.

At least that's my understanding.

You summed it up fairly well. Cape Coral, being south enough and in proxity to the Gulf rarily has a problem with cold. It would take a one in 25 year freeze probably to burn some of the tender palms there. December 24-25 of 1989 was the last windy cold freeze that caused some palm damage in Cape Coral.

Farther north and inland where I live, only around the lakes and on high ground will you find mature coconut palms. All were killed in the Dec. 1989 freeze, plus most of he royal palms (that are a little more cold hardy). But there are still many old (planted in the 1950s) royal palms that survived the 1989 freeze. But these palms are on the S.E. sides of large lakes. Even then, some palms got trunk damage.

The USDA says my area is zone 9B. I say, based on research and empirical observation, that it is 8b to 10b, depending on location. We have some bad cold pockets in outlying areas, but around the lakes it's solid zone 10. Some winters low temperatures don't drop below 40 degrees close in lakeside.

Most of the palms below are in lakefront communities:

http://outdoors.webshots.com/slideshow/568...X3tkpaycJoZwk1r

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epicure3
Probably maturity has something to do with it. Also, winters in FL tend to be very dry whereas winters in CA can be chilly, rainy and/or cloudy. Cold nights in FL coincide with clear skies and, at least further down the peninsula where I live, when winter rain does fall, temperatures rise. Even after cold nights, temps rebound when the sun rises and cold spells last only a day or so. What gets to tropical palms like coconuts are days of cold temps & chilly rain. They cannot take that grind over the long haul. The combination of cold/rain is a killer to them. They want heat with their rain, along with abundant sun. In CA when it's hot, it's usually dry and sunny; in FL humid, wet (lots of sun interspersed with thunderstorms, occasional tropical "disturbances") summers and dry, cooler winters are the rule.

At least that's my understanding.

That exactly sums it up....in a lot less words than I could think of.

Doesn't apply to all tropical palms though. We can still grow veitchias, royals, hyophorbes and a host of others. No coconuts though, that's for sure.

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Guest LeftCoastAngler

...could have managed to hit our aquafir system which runs at a constant temp... ?

I'm in Brandon, FL trying to grow four cocos right now. They're yearlings, but managed through the 33F night we had Mon & Tues. No noticable damage. And their in containers. I just got 'em this summer... ...so far so good!

~LCA.

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kinzyjr

Here in Lakeland, I have a Malayan Dwarf.  I do protect it, and it has been in the ground about 4 years now.

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GottmitAlex
21 hours ago, kinzyjr said:

Here in Lakeland, I have a Malayan Dwarf.  I do protect it, and it has been in the ground about 4 years now.

Would you happen to have pictures of your Malayan dwarf?

Thank you

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