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SailorBold

NM Climate and Palms

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SailorBold

I live in central New Mexico on the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. It is quite a challenge to grow palms in this area due to low rainfall, high elevations, and cold winters. Most if not all palm trees planted in NM are located within this region.

The USDA hardiness zones within NM range from 7a to 9a, and mostly within the Chihuahuan desert borders. It is classified as a high desert which differs in comparison to the low-subtropical Sonoran desert found in Arizona and California.

post-8989-0-61778900-1410982909_thumb.jp

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Sandy Loam

But you can grow awesome, cold-hardy cacti instead! Even in Santa Fe, which is pretty far north in New Mexico, I saw some cool cacti that I had never seen before. They all appeared to be in cultivation (as opposed to naturally occurring), but there were lots of thorny cacti that were pretty interesting. Of course, the amazing adobe architecture accentuates the cacti and desert shrub look even more.

Thanks for posting the map. So, if I had kept driving four hours south of Santa Fe, I would have been seeing some serious desert, I suppose. (?)

The high vs. low variable is interesting. When I was in Arizona, I discovered that the further you go east, the higher the elevation becomes and the colder it gets --- and, of course, coastal temperating influences (like the Sea of Cortez) are farther away too, which is another factor. As a result, Tucson experiences colder nights than Phoenix, even though Phoenix is a couple of hours farther north....because Phoenix is further west and is at a lower elevation. Yuma may be directly west of Tucson at almost the exact same latitude, yet, despite this,Yuma is significantly warmer than Tucson after dark....or even by day.

New Mexico doesn't have any temperating effects from large bodies of water either, it being so far inland (unlike other desert states like Texas, Arizona or California).

Can you post some photos of interesting vegetation that you can get away in New Mexico? (without artificial protection)

No rush, but thanks! I am interested in NM. (loved Santa Fe)

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SailorBold

Yes indeed.. Lots of cacti to grow. Locally.. there are many native cacti to grow..ball cactus.. claret cups, escobaria several yucca species etc. (I actually went into the west mesa-volcano area near my house and picked up quite a few for my landscaping) While there are no saguaro types.. the largest tree cactus I think is the opuntia imbricata..tree cholla, which can grow to 20 feet although.. 8 to 15 is more typical... and several species of prickly pear and wildflowers.

Santa Fe is 60 miles north of me..so actually just an hour north of ABQ.. close, beautiful country and yes beautiful architecture! Santa Fe receives 5-6 inches more rain a year than the ABQ area which gets 7 to 9... and is 2000+ feet higher in elevation. Which as you noticed is the key and also the defining characteristics of the Chihuahuan Desert. If you would have took the highway south in your quest to hit true desert.. you would have hit a mesa with grade.. named La Bajada. Significant elevation drop and temperature change within minutes (and a growing zone jump). I added a pic below.

It becomes desert in Albuquerque once you pass La Bajada canyon..at that point you are officially into the warmer valley of central New Mexico which starts the Chihuahuan landscape all the way into southern N.Mex..

Correction from my original post.. I wanted to clarify the USDA hardiness zones vary greatly in NM.. but referring to the desert areas.. they are within that range.

Ill add some more photos when I can. Here is a pic of the Sandia foothills east of Albuquerque.

post-8989-0-45153100-1410995817_thumb.jp

post-8989-0-94892500-1410996097.jpg

Edited by SailorBold
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_Keith

My very first garden was a cacti garden. Grew it in my pull around Radio Flyer wagon. They were collected on trips to New Mexico and Colorado. Little did I know at such a young age, I knew where I wanted to go, but I couldn't get there from here.

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Sandy Loam

Awesome photos. I'd love to see more of New Mexico, its topography, its vegetation, etc. --- and even its non-native vegetation (what you can get away with there).

Cool stuff, man.

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SailorBold

right on keith, thank you Sandly Loam... I suspect if I worked at it- despite the cold weather here... you would be able to do a pretty nice cactus garden. im adding stuff but nothing too spectacular... mostly accent stuff. I used to garden years ago and added trichocereus terscheckii.. its doing pretty well.. nothing enormous.. its about thigh high for 10 years in the ground and no microclimate.

I really dig those barrel cacti..

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Sandy Loam

Trichocereus Terscheckii looks really cool on the web. Apparently, they get huge. It will look awesome when it starts growing multiple arms.

I'm a fan of barrel cacti too -- especially the ones with yellow spines.

I bet you could get away with a giant saguaro cactus in Albuquerque, although I'm just speculating. They allegedly withstand 10 degrees Fahrenheit and small amounts of snow for short periods. If you wanted a big one, I guess you may have to bring it back from Arizona in your car, but it would be an interesting experiment and would turn a lot of heads.

As for palms, I'm sure you've tried the usual ultra-cold-hardy suspects and have narrowed it down to he most drought-tolerant ones (i.e. definitely washingtonia filifera; maybe a butia capitata, but not sabal palmetto or a trachycarpus fortunei). You could also try phoenix theophrastii, which is alleged to tolerate 13 degrees F. There are also phoenix sylvestris and phoenix dactylifera way up in Tallahassee which seem to tolerate 13 degrees from time to time with no problems or damage at all. Those are all pretty drought-tolerant palms for the desert.

I am attaching a photo of what I believe to be my most cold-hardy palm. It is an unlabelled palm, so I have no idea what is really is. It was sold to me as phoenix reclinata, but it clearly is not. It has some reclinata in it because it suckers like crazy (I keep clipping off the suckers at the bottom to make it a single trunk tree). Yet, I think it's a hybrid of phoenix reclinata with phoenix sylvestris and quite possibly some phoenix theophrastii as well. I swear, I would not be surprised if this palm took 10 degrees F. It is absolutely bulletproof. I am including a picture of the tree as a whole as well as a close-up of the fronds so that you can see how bulletproof they are. They are so powderly silver and rock-hard, not to mention spikey as hell. It would be very hard to kill this tree. It was 2 feet tall in 2011 and now it is 10 feet tall. Its hybrid vigor is like steroids. I don't fertilize it or anything. Unkillable.

In any case, you may want to buy one of these hybrids because it would be worth trying in Albuquerque with no cold protection at all. The only problem is my young kids walking near it and getting stabbed, but you have barrel cacti so this probably won't bother you.

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Sandy Loam

Sorry, now for the photos.

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Sandy Loam

The attachments didn't work again. Trying again now.

post-6724-0-38719400-1411099128_thumb.jp

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Sandy Loam

And now for the other photo too (same tree)

post-6724-0-92260000-1411099192_thumb.jp

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Sandy Loam

...and to get some color with a desert flair, you might be able to get away with some phormium hybrids in your climate (?) There are reports that they will take down to 10 degrees F without wilting. They love dry conditions, hate humidity and generally like a cool climate overall. They do very well in California and look awesome there (so obviously they can take quite a bit if dry heat too). In Florida, they croak. I sometimes read a forum from France, and a lot of people use them there in places where temperatures may get as cold as yours.

....just another thought about what might work in your unique climate...

And of course some of the South American mountain palms might be worth a try too --- jubaea (Chilean Wine Palm), hybrids with partial Chilean Wine Palm, mule palm (not really a mountain palm but some take down to 10 degrees; massive variation though), and a Santa Catarina Queen palm has a reputation for taking crazy cold temperatures, but 10 degrees might be pushing it -- not sure.

What is your typical coldest night each year? Below 10F?

Happy gardening -- it's a tough climate, but creativity will make it work.

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SailorBold

The Argentine saguaro is very cool.. and way hardier than saguaro at least from what I have seen. There are or were saguaro in Albuquerque..one around 12-14 feet tall and a few shorter.. I'm not sure if they are still around after the freeze we had a few years ago. They survive typical winters here for a number of years and I would think they would grow just fine if they were protected during those 20-30 year cold events. I have a thing for S. American cacti.. as I think the climate here in NM is very similar to deserts in Chile. If I had a choice between Saguaro or Tricho.. I would choose the Tricho. I want to try an Argentine toothpick and see how they do. Tricho hybrids will do fine here.. flowerwise... and Im planning on adding Argentine giant to my collection.

I love golden barrels.. As far as barrel cacti I currently have fire barrel and a covelle. These including fish hook do quite well.. there are large specimens in my neighborhood. Golden barrel will survive.. and there is a cluster that survived the SW freeze locally.. so I would say they are a go. I haven't added those quite yet still working on polishing slate. Some golden barrels perished in El Paso during that event.

Date palms will grow in TorC- where those 'famous' filifera are from 140 miles south... I think they fruit down there but the trees are not large height-wise. I assume they defoliate every winter but I don't know much about them. These are worth a shot here... including canariensis.

I suspect water is the big challenge... the poor alkaline soil... then nutrients.. and then cold. You need to be diligent with watering regimen and fertilizing during establishment. Late summer monsoon rainfall will not cut it with the soil type...established or not. This is the main reason I am trying to add rainwater collection systems with my drip.

Phormium is listed in our area.. and also Cordylene of all plants..but with the water issue and the main focus of low water use.... seldom seen in landscapes.

Cold every year.. 10F is the 'local' temp lingo.... with minimums into 8b every several years. Only a handful of nights are below 20; there are true microclimates due to elevation changes.

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SailorBold

Chilean Wine Palm.... Definitely springtime next year.

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Sandy Loam

Yeah, the Chilean Wine Palm might be a good bet for NM.. Hey, they are growing them in British Columbia (Canada), so why not New Mexico! There are also Jubaea hybrids crossed with the Chilean Wine Palm that apparently take the same degree of cold as the Chilean Wine Palm. Some people talk about the Jubutia, which may be a cross with the Chilean Wine Palm and Butia Capitata or Butia Yatay.... not sure because these are not my fave palms, but worth a try in a colder climate.

Wow. Cordyline are listed as possible in your region?! I thought that Cordyline Australis were the most cold-hardy cordyline, but to my recollection, they will only take 15 degrees. They do like dry conditions and poor soil (based on my experience -- I have to elevate mine in granular material), but I was under the impression that they wouldn't tolerate below 15 degrees F. I could be wrong. Perhaps the green type are more cold-hardy than the colored type.

Hold on -- I take it back. I seem to recall that there is a Brazilian cordyline called Cordyline Dracaenoides which may be the most cold-hardy of all. The problem is finding them. I have seen seed sold for this plant, but have never seen the plant itself for sale except in Europe.

Phoenix Canariensis?! That is another surprise. There seems to be variation in those trees. There are some that are gigantic and many decades old up north in Tallahassee where they have survived 13 degrees and lower without any defoliation or anything. Yet during our great freeze event a few years ago, I saw 17 degrees defoliate and kill one in Gainesville. Bottom line -- I can't pin down a minimum temperature for Canariensis, but why not try it. I'd suggest picking one out that looks hardier than the others at the nursery. Some indie nurseries in Florida (not Home Depot or Lowes) get their stuff from a variety of sources and accidental hybridization is rampant, I'm told. I would look for a Canariensis that is less green (more silver-tinged) and doesn't have the traditional flat leaves. The ones with spines going in all different directions are a sign of hybridization, possibly with sylvestris or theophrastii = extra hardiness, in my limited experience at least.

Those are some cool cacti, man. I wish I could grow those here (too much humidity).

As for phormiums, they really seem to love a dry climate and hate humidity --- and will take tons of cold. I am not sure that you would need a lot of supplemental water because they thrive on dryness. Mine croaked even though it was elevated. It was all rotted at the root area from too much rain, despite its elevation on granular materials. It wanted to be planted on straight rock and perlite! A poster from Arizona may disagree with me -- perhaps someone who has really put phormiums to the test in the desert would know best.

I love the rain collection system idea. We should all have that, even here. Brilliant.

Washingtonia Filifera -- I don't know how cold they will tolerate without defoliating. But the small size you mention could be due to age also. They are supposed to be very slow-growing. I don't know how old those big filifera are that you see around downtown Phoenix. ....or the ones in natural habitats by various desert springs in southern California. Those are the biggest I have ever seen. Monsters. However, they may have been there for two hundred years or longer. Filifera is supposed to take a load of crazy cold without complaint.

There is also Washingtonia Filibusta, which is supposed to be faster growing than Filifera, but it may or may not have the same cold-hardiness as the Filifera. Filibusta definitely likes dry soil too. I know someone in Orlando who had one and it died after a big rain.

Funny -- for you guys in NM, I guess a drop in elevation means a warmer microclimate. For us in northern Florida, we call that a "cold sink". The goal here is to be at the highest elevation possible in winter, unlike NM. Everything is pretty close to sea level here anyway.

Gotta run -- this post is getting scarily long. Keep up the creative landscaping in such a challenging climate! Cool stuff.

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Sandy Loam

I'll stop now, but I have one last suggestion for your climate: Yucca Aloifolia, aka. Spanish Bayonette.

It loves pure sand with phenomenal drainage. In fact, it grows wild on sand dunes in Florida and I understand that they are in habitat all the way up to North Carolina. Basically, it's a yucca, so it enjoys dry soil or extremely good drainage.

When they get big, they look almost like a multi-trunking Yucca Elephantipes. I don't think Elephantipes would survive your cold dips, but Yucca Aloifolia would. The official low for Aloifolia is 10 F, if I recall correctly, but there are reports of it tolerating much colder. The problem is that it the leaves are very sharp and it's slow-growing, so you would need to buy a whopper and bring it back in your truck from somewhere that it grows as a native or is commonly found (Texas?)

In any case, they look cool and would probably not experience any damage or defoliation in the central NM high desert. If you find a big multi-trunking one, you can even make it look more like Yucca Elephantipes by removing some of the leaves at the bottom of the trunk so that the top part of each trunk is leafy, but not the bottom.

...just another suggestion for that harsh climate...

Yucca rigida (sharp!) and yucca rostrata "sapphire skies" also look awesome and will take crazy cold, NM style.

I'm not an expert on agaves, but there are some very hardy ones that would probably work in your climate.

I'm finally done blabbing -- good luck!

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SailorBold

Sandy Loam- How much rain do you get a year?

I have stumbled across 2 cordylenes in my travels here.. One was in a planter in a gas station underneath the canopy.. and another in someones yard. they are gone now Im pretty sure from our freezes.. but they were sizable. They have some impressive roots from what I understand... evern difficult to remove.

Im working more on the palms stuff as I am getting back into the hobby.. I love it. Sometimes you have to do the wrong things.. to understand the right.

Aloifolia Yuccas grow here just fine.. they are around. no go on elephantipes only as a growback. And my yard I have added Yucca gloriosa.. growing pretty well so far- and blooming from a small plant. They are cool when they get large and provide an elephantipes type of trunk/look.

Im working on the agave stuff- several choices there- however I don't just want to grow one- I want to mass plant for textures and forms.. for color of sumpthin..

Feel free to ramble on-

How cool is this? I pulled this pic off of the internet..

post-8989-0-89255200-1411188889_thumb.jp

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SailorBold

Oops- let me respell that- Cordyline.

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Sabal Steve

We have a high desert here in California too, up by Victorville, maybe 130 miles or so to the NE of San Diego. I love it up there, but it's too hot, and a little remote. It gets well over 100F there in the summers.

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Sandy Loam

Cool pic. Really nice. It looks like my yucca elephantipes. Is that what it is? Is it Yucca Gloriosa instead? Apparently Yucca Gloriosa is also called "Spanish Dagger," so now I'm confused about which one is the Florida-native one with the hard, spikey leaves.

So, based on that gas station near you, maybe Cordlyine Australis or Cordlyine Dracaenoides are worth a shot in your area, after all. Even if you can get 5 years of growth before an exceptional freeze, it would be totally worth it. The colored cordyline australis (most common here and in California is "red star") turns into a gorgeous multi-trunking small tree. They look supercool. Some of mine are fast and some are slow. One of mine is now as tall as my head after only 2 years in the ground.

Another way of cheating on cold-hardiness --- I plant the tender stuff in close clumps so that the bunched-together plants create their own microclimate. I also plant those tender things under overhead canopy anyway, but the tight jungle effect seems to give me a few extra degrees of viability, believe it or not. It's only a good idea for reasonably shade-tolerant stuff (good for palms but not for cacti), but it has worked for me so far. Anything tender that I plant out in the open is totally screwed --- even if it's just 15 feet away from the dense "jungle" area of my yard.

Rainfall here? I honestly don't know, but it hasn't stopped raining like mad here for the past two years. The western US (esp, CA) has gotten so dry and the east is becoming so wet. A few years ago we had two years of drought, so there is no rhyme or reason to it.

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Sandy Loam

Hey Sabal Steve --

You sound like a guy who would know sabal palms. Are there any that can tolerate desert dryness? Sabals tend to be extremely cold-hardy, but I don't know any off-hand that would work in a rocky high-desert plateau like central NM. Do you? I have seen sabals in California, but they may have been receiving irrigation.

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Sabal Steve

Hey Sabal Steve --

You sound like a guy who would know sabal palms. Are there any that can tolerate desert dryness? Sabals tend to be extremely cold-hardy, but I don't know any off-hand that would work in a rocky high-desert plateau like central NM. Do you? I have seen sabals in California, but they may have been receiving irrigation.

I'm not sure, but I suspect most would survive, but not the ones from the Yucutan, and the ones from Caribbean may be marginal. I'm definitely no expert, but I think that they would do fine if irrigated. I'm still trying to determine the drought tolerance of Sabals vs. the establishment period.

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SailorBold

Steve..I need to choose one. That's all I have space for.. aside from my 'fill in' Sabal tamal... I almost hate that.. however after countless searches I am discovering here and there...still haven't narrowed it down though. I wish I had more water- but whatever I put in will surely be irrigated and have enough heat.

Sandy Loam- I think both are native there.. the pic I posted was tagged as 'Spanish dagger'.. Yuh I don't know if I will actually add on to the garden after some of the things I read about their roots. Maybe one in a pot on my patio with overhead protection from our snows. ill check out the 'draconoides'.

I almost want to try a heliconia. No experience there.

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Sabal Steve

Steve..I need to choose one. That's all I have space for.. aside from my 'fill in' Sabal tamal... I almost hate that.. however after countless searches I am discovering here and there...still haven't narrowed it down though. I wish I had more water- but whatever I put in will surely be irrigated and have enough heat.

Sandy Loam- I think both are native there.. the pic I posted was tagged as 'Spanish dagger'.. Yuh I don't know if I will actually add on to the garden after some of the things I read about their roots. Maybe one in a pot on my patio with overhead protection from our snows. ill check out the 'draconoides'.

I almost want to try a heliconia. No experience there.

Personally, I would go with Mexicana or Riverside, but I think that Palmetto, Uresana, and Bermudana could be viable options. Maybe try a few, leave them for a few years, and then yank out the runts - that way you could see what works best. They grow slow enough that you wouldn't have to worry about them taking the garden over in the mean time.

Sabal "birmingham" is awesome, but from the sounds of it is extremely slow. This is a good reference for cold damage -

http://www.garysnursery.com/SabalBirmingham.html

Edited by Sabal Steve

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Sabal Steve

Have you thought about P. dactylifiera? It's supposed be the toughest phoenix, and has reports of surviving near 0F temps. Extremely drought tolerant. Loves sun.

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Sandy Loam

SabalSteve, isn't Sabal Riverside only cold-tolerant down to about 12 F? If so, it wouldn't work in SailorBold's NM high desert which can get down to 10 F.

The phoenix dactylifera suggestion is more of a desert tree than any sabal, and may not require any irrigation in SailorBold's climate. I have seen those tress take insane cold temps without the slightest damage.

Also, the cold-hardy sabals are known to be extremely slow, so everyone here just buys a big one. It's a must. I don't mean Sabal Riverside or Sabal Domingensis, but they wouldn't work in the HM high desert climate anyway.

Also, several Trachycarpus species could definitely take the NM high desert cold, but I just don't know how they would do in the desert. Supplemental irrigation would be unavoidable, I guess.

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Sabal Steve

The Sabals that I listed would potentially survive, but it can't be said with any certainty. I think that those would be worth trying though. S. domingensis wouldn't likely survive. S. casuarium is the hardier large Sabal, but even that would be unlikely in my opinion.

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SailorBold

Ok dumb question.. is xtensis syn. with Mexicana?

I will start gaining some info on P. dactylifera.. here are some pics of La Paloma Hot Springs in Truth or Consequences, NM 140 miles south of me. The SW freeze hit this area hard as well...I think they were -5F (-21C). Abq was -5F to -8F or so.. Im not sure anyone has ever really tried.. or at least put effort into it. I don't like dealing with the burnt fronds every year..filifera will recover greatly.. including the hybrids.. (Im going to do a silica experiment to see if this makes palms more 'frost' resistant (my soil is DEFICIENT of everything).

I found 2 pics.. You need to look a little but its putting on trunk. The other thing is- it looks to be near an actual hot spring. So it survived -5F.

post-8989-0-15153700-1411274387.jpg

post-8989-0-02268300-1411274398_thumb.jp

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Sabal Steve

Wow, that's colder than I thought (sub zero temps). Have you planted S. minor yet? Large P. dactyliferia is widely used for commercial purposes, and is probably available in the Vegas area in large sizes. It's probably the toughest of all the palms mentioned thus far, with possibly the exception of S. minor. S. minor isn't as drought tolerant though. I imagine the dacty would reach your aquifer.

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SailorBold

Its not normal weather for sure...but duration helps including dry air. I would attempt a larger size.. hmm..

That's wishful thinking on the aquifer.. it over 500 feet down where I am (Im ~3 miles from the river.. and 300 feet up...).

Hey Im leaning toward mexicana....

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Sabal Steve

To answer your question from earlier regarding Sabal texensis -

Yes, that's one of the theories that I've heard. You would be hard pressed to find a genus that is more difficult to understand.

From what I've gathered, Sabal texensis = (less hardy) Sabal mexicana

Perhaps Sabal "brazoria" is what you need. I don't know much about this, but I would imagine that there are some floating around out there.

I have a hard time completely believing these testimonials, but it sure makes you wonder... People are reporting growing these in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio... (although it doesn't say if they are in the ground, and it's important to note the increased humidity in the midwest)

"This rare palm from Brazoria County, Texas, has been indentified by DNA in 2011 as an ancient hybrid between Sabal palmetto (above ground trunk) and Sabal minor (below ground trunk). Sabal 'Brazoria' is the hardiest of the trunked sabal palms, and should reach 20' tall with maturity. We have reports from Arkansas that these have sailed through a -15F winter. The giant, green, fan-shaped leaves are typical sabal foliage, but the growth rate in our trials has been twice that of Sabal minor. Our offerings are two to three-year-old seedlings. Because of the confusion with the name, Sabal x texensis, which is an old name for the less hardy Sabal mexicana, a new name of Sabal x brazoriensis was published for this plant in 2011."

- Here's another quote -

"Surprisingly hardy even when young, i bought it and transplanted twice and then was hit by +20F in early spring with no damage. this plant was bought as a 2 year old plant.

update:
it has already weathered +7 F no protection ***with no damage***!!!!!!
slight discoloration after +1 F

After this winter, it lost two lower leaves, and the surviving leaves have about 50% damage. its still an exeptionally hardy palm, and should gain more cold tolerence as it gets bigger. I'm hoping this is a good growing season for the palm.
March '09
another success! about half green after -14F this one is a real trooper:)"



Read more: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/162971/#b

Edited by Sabal Steve

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Sandy Loam

Wow. -5F to -8F is a game-changer. Even if that happens only once every 15 years, you still don't want your big palm to die in that weather.

Let's look at what would realistically survive -5F to -8F:

  • SABAL PALMETTO - and I don't know about SABAL TEXANA. Texana is listed as a 10F minimum palm (not cold hardy enough), and I believe it's native to the southern tips of Texas and adjacent parts of Mexico. Sabal Palmetto is native to areas around Houston and probably further inland too, although I'm not sure how far. On the east coast, Sabal Palmetto is native way into the Carolinas, so it's a more northern palm. Period. I have seen them growing in crazy cold up in North Carolina in winter, and none of them had any frond damage at all. Those fronds are made of iron. Plus, if you're only going to buy one tree and it has to be ultra-cold hardy, then you have to buy a big one because cold-hardy palms grow too slowly and you want to enjoy it before you're 80. As a result, you have to look at what's available in large sizes in your closest palm-shopping area (i.e. probably El Paso?) Here, large sabal palmettos with 8 feet of trunk are in every landscaper's truck by the hundreds. They show up in every strip mall parking lot, and every new development. I don't know about El Paso, but I'd be willing to bet that it isn't hard to find large Sabal Palmettos with 6 feet of trunk farther east in places like Austin or San Antonio (and obviously Houston) -- from landscape tree vendors (not HD). If I were you, I'd want to shell out $200.00 and get myself a big one that will weather the superfreezes. Soil is another issue, but I think you could make it work if you were able to dig a huge hole and fill it with good quality soil around the rootball, and follow it up with irrigation in summer -- sporadically in winter. Sabal Palmettos do grow on rock in patches south of Miami, but there is enough rain to keep them going. Finally, I'm willing to bet that there is some confusion in Texas about Sabal Palmetto vs. Sabal Texana, and some vendors might be selling Sabal Palmetto with a label marked "Sabal Texana". I am just speculating, but don't be surprised if there is a bit of mix-up going on.
  • WASHINGTONIA FILIFERA -- is supposed to be a 12F min. palm, so I would skip it. Even if it survives, I hate the look of defoliated palms that take a year to start shooting our fronds again.*
  • PHOENIX DACTYLIFERA - Skip it. I take back what I said about Dactylifera because I didn't know that we were talking about -5F or -8F, even though those are extremely rare temps in Albuquerque. Dactylifera is supposed to be a min. 12F palm, based on what I see online.
  • RHAPIDOPHYLLUM HYSTIX ("Needle Palm") - I conjecture that this palm would survive in Albuquerque even with the 15 year superfreezes, but it would require irrigation and soil amendments. It is supposed to be the most cold-hardy palm on the planet. However, I really don't like this palm. A mature Sabal Palmetto looks much better.
  • TRACHYCARPUS FORTUNEI or TRACHYCARPUS WAGNERIANUS - again, just my speculation, but I suspect that these would survive your rare superfreezes. I've seen Fortunei listed as tolerating down to 0F and Wagnerianus as tolerating down to -5F, but I prefer the soft, drooping look of the Fortunei fronds. Wagnerianus looks a lot tougher, so may be better for your climate. The problem is availability. Fortunei is more easier to find with palm vendors, at least around North Florida. Wagnerius is more of a rarity, as I understand it, and the other cold-hardy Trachycarpus species -- while hardy -- are going to be hard to find. While Fortunei looks cool, I do think its fronds would defoliate in a rare -5F, but you could possibly see it come back to life again afterwards. Also, for space concerns, note that Fortunei has a pretty skinny trunk, so won't take up a lot of space.
  • SERENOA REPENS - not are at all (not rare around here, at least), but you have to wait 100 or 200 years before these palms start to look good. I have attached two photos below of mature, multi-trunking Serenoa Repens taken at the Tampa Zoo (no, that's not my family in the photos). Also, they take up too much space in a yard, so forget about it. Yes, they look cool once they are extremely old, but they are way too slow growing to enjoy in person's lifetime. I don't like the way they look when they still have that shrubby look. Nobody seems to know exactly how cold these palms will tolerate, but it is at least 10F and there seem to be many reports of it tolerating much colder. It is native way up into the Carolinas in the east. They seem to suffer no frond damage, no matter what. Steel.
  • CHAMAEROPS HUMILIS - another extremely cold-hardy palm, but I just don't like the way they look. In any case, like many of the others, it would require a soil amendment and supplemental irrigation.
  • SABAL MINOR -- SabalSteve mentioned these because they are the most cold-hardy Sabal (to my knowledge), but I really don't like the way they look and they are very slow-growing.
  • JUBAEA CHILENSIS - is only listed as a min. 10F palm, so could be killed by your rare, every-fifteen-year superfreeze events. Perhaps it tolerates colder, but -5F to -8F is a lot colder. Also, finding a big one in your area could be difficult. They are not a common palm in North America. Because of rarity, they could be expensive too.
  • BUTIA spp. -- including BUTIA CAPITATA (the most common) and others. These are definitely easy to find, or should be easy to find in either Arizona or Texas not too far from you. But I still don't know if they would survive your 15-year freeze events. They might or they might not. They are listed as min. 10F, but are often noted as having experienced below 10F. They are bulletproof, so I wouldn't be surprised if they gave you some surprises. On the other hand, they are so slow-growing that you would have to buy a big one and struggle with getting it back to Albuquerque in your car or truck. Of course, you might also have to amend the soil and add some irrigation too. I have also seen these palms way up in North Carolina under conditions of extreme cold in winter.

Good luck! My overall recommendation is to buy a Sabal Palmetto with 6 feet of trunk in the spring and let its roots become established before the fall, with plenty of soil amending an supplemental irrigation. Try to find one that doesn't have its leaf bases removed (a common practice in the landscaping industry, but I don't like the way it looks, personally).

I am no expert on palms, but this is what I would do if I was facing extreme freeze events every so often. The Sabal Palmetto won't love the desert, but it will love the summer heat and sun and you can artificially fix the soil problem (unless your rocky soil is simply too hard to dig out). It may be your best bet for something that actually looks cool. Sabal Palmetto can look pretty decent, especially if shade-grown to produce those long, outstretched petioles with the big drooping effect.

Happy landscaping!

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post-6724-0-20830600-1411313784_thumb.jp

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Sandy Loam

Of course, there are the other sabals that SabalSteve mentioned, but what are your chances of finding those in any size other than juvenile by mail order? Probably none. That's a major reason why I'm suggesting Sabal Palmetto now, although others may disagree with me about its appropriateness for your climate.

good luck

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SailorBold

Very interesting.. food for thought... Sabal Palmetto is not a bad palm.. and likely a doable option... as you mentioned their availability. Im not sure if I would be able to find hybrid Phoenix. Drying winds would be of concern....just wind generally speaking. It can be quite windy here. Do Sabal leaves shred easily? I would suspect an eastern exposure may suit it better. hmmmmm

The greatest playground ever.. Palm theory. lol

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Sandy Loam

Sabal Palmetto leaves are made of iron, so I would not worry about shredding in the wind. They take plenty of wind in Florida. Indestructible, they are.

....but I'm still waiting for someone to come on this forum and disagree about my Sabal Palmetto recommendation for your high desert climate. The region just seems off, but availability, hardiness, and just plain purchasable size is a major consideration. Hey-- maybe I'm wrong and it's hard to find big 8 foot tall sabals anywhere near you, but here in Florida they are a dime a dozen.

Good luck, man. Challenging climate, so I'd love to hear how it turns out.

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SailorBold

That's part of the fun of the hobby.... reading up on everything. SabalSteve pulled some information from reviews.. so there is information all over the place. I am now more interested in the true date palm.. and Sabal species... just from reading this thread. its awesome and helpful really.

I have seen when looking at palms for sale online.. you will find Sabal by the foot(Im assuming out of Texas... I am not super serious yet so I have no idea on shipping etc. for the total cost. But trusting your nursery men is another problem. I am not against starting from a smaller size.. I most likely will as Steve was suggesting... due to the fact if I did order a larger size..I'd most likely receive a trunk that has been hurricane cut at both ends... which cannot be healthy. I don't know we will see. I will be around to give updates..

As for good luck- hell I don't know... In the past I have planted palms not overly thinking nutrient stuff.. just plop em in the ground and add water.. some miracle grow from time to time.. and let time pass. Take the occasional picture.. Not thinking about what type of nutrients may help a palm thrive- even in an adverse climate as mine. Don't get me wrong I am not trying to reinvent the wheel by any means.. just give whatever choiced palm the best condition it will need for it to survive- not that when I gardened in the past.. it was a failure.. because I have successes even with past neglect.

Here is an analysis of the spring water near the P. dactylifera in TorC. Interesting?

Moapa hot springs.... in Nevada is where filifera grow wild I think.

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Edited by SailorBold

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Sandy Loam

Hey SailorBold --

When you say TorC, I assume that you're referring to TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, New Mexico where the hot springs are located.

In the two photos that you posted, the palm in the photo beside the door marked "baths" is a Phoenix Sylvestris, not a Phoenix Dactylifera. It isn't a very silver one, but I think it's sylvestris.

In the photo beside it, it is hard to tell what kind of palm it is. I am looking it on my phone, so perhaps that is the reason I can't make out the image. Yet judging just by the 2 or 3 fronds that I can barely see, I would guess that it is a phoenix dactylifera. I am referring to the tree set far behind the La Paloma sign.

Just FYI.

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Sandy Loam

.

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Sandy Loam

Hey SailorBold --

Motivated by the blurry photo, I found more photos of the palms at La Paloma hot springs 140 miles south of you. They are attached now to the post directly above this one.

I'm still convinced that the one beside the "baths" doorway is a phoenix sylvestris, but I can't tell what the other two palms are because the one obscures the view of the other. They must be either phoenix sylvestris or phoenix dactylifera. Perhaps a palm ID expert on PalmTalk will chime in to give their identification guess.

I don't see either of these palms surviving the crazy cold blast that you mentioned in your post a while back. Is La Paloma Hot Spring much warmer than Albuquerque? If they are similar, I guess it's worth a try. However, phoenix dactylifera have a reputation for growing slowly. Phoenix sylvestris have a reputation for having a moderate growth rate. As a result, here in Florida it is cheap to buy a Sylvester Palm, but not cheap to buy a True Date Palm (dacylifera). Sylvester is also much more common at nurseries, perhaps for this reason. I would be willing to bet that Phoenix Sylvestris are a dime a dozen in Phoenix, Arizona, and they might even be available right in Albuquerque -- who knows.

I bought a waist-height 15 gallon Sylvester Palm (maybe 20 gallon) for $25.00. It's fast enough that you can wait 15 years for it to turn into the palm beside the "baths" doorway in the photo. You can even "pineapple" the trunk eventually.

Again, I suspect that La Paloma Hot Springs is warmer than Albuquerque -- and that phoenix sylvestris may not survive long term there ---but for $25.00 it's worth a try, right?

I am still waiting for someone to tell me that I am crazy with my sabal palmetto suggestion for a high desert in the mountains. They are probably right.

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SailorBold

Funny you mention that,, I went to a local nursery today (non big box store) for some fert. and there were Phoenix sylvestris. About 8 five gallon palms.. for $29.99. The tag said 15F. They were very blue..

I might get one.. still chewing on it. Im assuming they might grow faster than dactylifera as you mention.. so that could be the added benefit for recovery from winter damage which will surely occur but is there a chance dactylifera leaves are tougher?. As you can see from your other photos.. those palms definitely damage from winter weather.

I have one spot. that's it.. the other is for a Sabal- so it is expensive real estate..for such a large palm.

'TorC' is a few degrees warmer than Abq... and 1000' lower in elevation. It depends on the weather systems also. this was a blast that they call it. The valley is sort of a drain for cold.... but warmer overall than surrounding area.. intermediate I guess from what Floridians determine as frost pockets due to elevation? Its not too much of a difference really.. less snow.. a little more rainfall. For the comparison.. during that freeze.. there were similar temperatures in Abq..there are elevations here so- different temps like Florida. Santa Fe.. just 60 miles away was -18F to -24F.

Edited by SailorBold
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Sandy Loam

Hey SailorBold -- I'm not sure how big those 5 gallon palms actually were (the ones you saw today), but for $29 it may be worth the experiment. The price may be high for just a 5 gallons size, but you're not in a place where every nursery is overflowing with excess/unwanted palms, like in Florida. It's kind of a no-brainer for that price, just as long as you don't mind waiting 15 years for the palm to look....uh, like a palm tree. I'm in my early 40s now and I refuse to be 55 by the time my landscaping looks mature. Life is too short.

But if the fronds looked really hard/tough and silvery, it could be worth a try. On those random extra-cold nights every few years, you may have to wrap it with a blanket over top of a string of 1980s Christmas lights (the ones that get hot).

Gotta say -- the physical surroundings around La Paloma hot springs look amazing. You can see the desert mountains all around, but they're very different looking from Arizona desert mountains or California desert mountains. Really nice.

Anyway, I posted a question "CAN YOU ID THESE TWO PALMS" under the Cold-Hard Palms category and attached the photo of the two palms at La Paloma hot springs that I couldn't identify. So far, there are multiple "views" but nobody has attempted to ID the palm yet. I'm really curious to know what the experts say. I'm leaning toward guessing Phoenix Sylvestris the more I look at them. By tomorrow, somebody should have replied with a positive identification.

PS - Don't buy the Sabal Palmetto until someone more knowledgeable than me responds with advice. I keep second-guessing myself about that recommendation, even though those palms are made of iron. It's the mountain desert thing that has me saying, "what was I thinking?"

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