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Kailua_Krish

Advice for starting with cold hardy palms

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Kailua_Krish

Hi all,

So in thinking back there were a few things that either people told me or that I had to learn the hard way but that I thought would be helpful to make a thread about to pass on to people just starting out. Maybe if you can say your climate and a few helpful points? I'll start

Inland SE (North Central Florida) 8b/9a climate

1) Never underestimate the power of a large oak canopy, particularly when near concrete or another structure, it can often be 5-10 degrees warmer there and has allowed me to grow (high) 9b palms in a 9a climate

2) Plant larger hardy palms (Sabals, Livistonas, and the cocoid hybrids work well for this) first as a canopy, this is particularly important in areas like the SE where significant frost is always a problem. Keep in mind though that even the densest palm doesn't keep it as warm underneath as a larger tree does so try to keep a balance of plants if possible.

3) Don't ever plant any palm in the genus Phoenix near a walkway thinking "it will grow over and look nice." I did this and now have been trimming back spines for more than 5 years as it takes its sweet time getting larger. away from eye level these are excellent for the frost challenged climate, there are CIDPs in many of the old southern cities that have survived insanely cold events in the past and have lived to tell the tale with only mild trunk damage long term.

I'll try to post more as I think of them! Everyone else contribute what you've learned too.

-Krishna

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Guest mike matthews

Don't forget about cycads

Many Zamia and Cycas species will handle into the low 20s

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Kailua_Krish

Yup :) Lots of other tropical looking plants like cycads are important in the cold hardy garden since we don't have the diversity of smaller palm species to fill in the lower layers!

Just thought of another thing I learned. Small palms are nowhere near as hardy as palms a few sizes up. I lost several small L. decora (3 gallon size) while the 7 gallon size was undamaged by the same freeze!

-Krishna

Edited by krishnaraoji88

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Alicehunter2000

Along the same lines as canopy is southern exposure. I find that the SE side of the house is usually the best area for the most marginal species. Gets light first thing in the morning and is blocked from strong NW winds after a cold front.

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sonoranfans

Along the same lines as canopy is southern exposure. I find that the SE side of the house is usually the best area for the most marginal species. Gets light first thing in the morning and is blocked from strong NW winds after a cold front.

I agree on this SE exposure and the first warm morning sun appears to be important. My zone 9b/10a is considered marginal for plumeria and they fluourish on the east/southeast while they languish under oak canopy to the southwest of my house... Also the oak canopy to limit frosts and trap heat is important, probably good for 1/2 a zone.

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JakeK

Krishna,

Thanks for the advice for palm growers in zone 9a. I think some members and new members may find this helpful.

I'd like to offer up the suggestion for members from the arctic areas like me to post what advice they have with growing palms in zones 6b-8b. Here is what I have learned so far in dealing with cold hardy palms in a cold area.

1) Location: Besides the species itself, location might be one of the variables most strongly correlated with success. For me this means planting against East and South facing walls, preferably against brick walls. This helps shelter the palms from dessicating winds and proximity to a large heat absorbing structure like the wall of a house can raise the ambient temperature a few degrees.

2) Mulch: I use heavy mulch to try and keep as much of the rootball above freezing during the coldest spells. In the spring I remove the additional mulch, keeping it flush with the rest of the landscape to try and prevent rot.

3) Drainage: When I plant a palm in my zone, 6b, I dig a much bigger hole than the rootball and I backfill with porous material. I mix in sand and gravel to the soil. This really helps out in the winter where any moisture in the soil during the coldest spells can freeze near the surface. I lost several needle palms from this, but on the other side of the house where I had Sabal minor and a Trachycarpus fortunei planted in a much better draining soil, they did not die. I can't say for certain the needle palm's death was 100% attributable to too much moisture in the soil and subsequently soil frozen solid several inches deep, but I think it was a primary cause.

4) Moisture in the Crown: Cold temperatures in the single digits or lower + lots of moisture in the crown = almost certain spear pull and in many cases death of the palm. This can happen a lot in the warmer areas of the midwest where temperatures can fall as much as 50 degrees in 24 hours as weather fronts move through during the winter. You can go from 60 degrees, with wind and rain to 10 degrees and snow overnight.

5) Wrapping: With my Trachycarpus fortunei I had success when I built a mini-greenhouse over it out of thick plastic sheeting. I cut a few slits in the plastic for air movement, but the wrapping kept moisture out of the crown and held back dessicating winds. This along with my mulching and a protected location allowed a Trachycarpus to breeze through 5 winters in Ohio even when the temperatures were below zero. The palm got too big to keep protecting so I dug it up and sold it to some people from Tennessee.

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Kailua_Krish

Thanks Jake! That advice is also what I have found to work best when I'm zone pushing palms!

-Krishna

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Shirleypalmpaws

Dunno how true it is, but I've read that landscaping with rocks and boulders are also suppose to aid in heat retention during winter months. Even if it's not really the case, it looks awesome (and hurts, maims, breaks, squishes...still awesome).

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zootropical

Hello,

Does canopy is effective in case of advective frost (cold air from north)? I am actually working to create a canopy with Washingtonia filibusta and some evergreen small tree. But I am no sure that it can protect the scrubs in case of very cold wave (As it happen every 20/30 years here).

My last idea is to create "small hill" 6 or 9 feet tall and cultivate on it (with canopy of course). By this way cold air will drain easy.

Does somebody grown palms under canopy on the top of a hill or tumulus?

Sincerely.

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Kailua_Krish

For me its still somewhat effective but not as good. Planting things really tight has helped somewhat with that kind of frost as it limits desiccation from cold winds. Im not sure Washingtonia provides enough canopy for anything though...

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