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PalmGuyWC

Rhapidophyllum hystrix

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PalmGuyWC

No one has reported on R. hystrix, but maybe because it's one of the most cold hardy palms on earth. I have several scattered around my garden, and in my climate they require a good bit of shade in the summer. I'd like to put in a plug for Rhapidophyllum because it seems to be a very under utilized palm. It has a reputation of being slow growing, and it is in its early years, but once established, and in the right spot, they speed up. They are even nice looking as a smaller palm and somewhat resemble a large Rhapis.  They are very exotic looking if given the right growing conditions, but they do require a lot of heat in the summer.

I have one that is probably over 40 years old and it's one of the nicest palms in my garden.  It's over head high and has many trunks.  It used to get bleached in the sun in mid summer, but now a CIDP to the south of it has grown up and gives it mid day shade in the summer. This palm is cold hardy to below zero F and -18C, but it must have summer heat to grow. I highly recommend this palm for anyone who can give it some shade and wind protection. I flood mine with a garden hose about every 2 weeks in the warmer months.

Dick

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Mark_NoVA

Although Rhapidophyllum hystrix develops into the most cold-hardy palm here in the wet winter soil of the U.S. Mid-Atlantic, they are surprisingly less tender when young plants--Sabal minor appears to be hardier as a young plant. In U.S. East coast zone 7, they probably will perform better if protected their first few winters, but then should survive well. With care, they probably can survive into zone 6 as well.

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surgeon83

Mark, I read somewhere that they were good to zone 5, but I trust your observations more. I'm curious because I'm trying to find some to plant in my parents' yard in St. Louis, MO. Officially they're 5b, but they haven't had a winter that wasn't 6b or 7a since '89 I think. I was under the impression that even seedlings would look perfect after a hard winter with snow and ice and everything. Is this not what you have found? How do they handle snow and ice overall? Any frond breakage?

Thanks,

Brian

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BobbyinNY

I'll put my 2 cents in here..... These plants are a weed here on Long Island with alot of people growing them - they don't burn at all and look great.... I'm not totally crazy about them because I'm more into trunking palms - They definitely tolerate the cold, but then again - technically we're a zone 7a, but we haven't gone below 10f in the last 2 years so I guess that would make us a 7b.

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Kris

Dear friends :)

Any visuals of that lovely palm ? since a topic with visuals will be very useful for guys like me.who has not seen much of palms before joining this forum... :rolleyes:

thanks & love,

Kris :)

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freakypalmguy

I have a small one here in Temecula that is growing very slowly. I took the liberty of posting a pic of your R. hystrix Dick from the Norcal site. How old is it here and how much has it grown since then?

post-1261-1210779165_thumb.jpg

Edit: I forgot to add, I only got down to 22F, so obviously this palm was unharmed.

Matt

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Kris

Dear Matt :)

thanks for the still.

love,

Kris :)

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Turtile
Mark, I read somewhere that they were good to zone 5, but I trust your observations more. I'm curious because I'm trying to find some to plant in my parents' yard in St. Louis, MO. Officially they're 5b, but they haven't had a winter that wasn't 6b or 7a since '89 I think. I was under the impression that even seedlings would look perfect after a hard winter with snow and ice and everything. Is this not what you have found? How do they handle snow and ice overall? Any frond breakage?

Thanks,

Brian

Only large sized R. hystrix are hardy. It only went down to 14F here and my 3 gal. hystrix(s) main bud are dead. My 7 gallon plant is perfect - no damage at all. Seedlings can only take down to the mid 20's for short periods of time. Sabal minor is much hardier at a small size. The leaves are tough and will resist wind/snow/ice damage once they acclimate to the environment.

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surgeon83
Only large sized R. hystrix are hardy. It only went down to 14F here and my 3 gal. hystrix(s) main bud are dead. My 7 gallon plant is perfect - no damage at all. Seedlings can only take down to the mid 20's for short periods of time. Sabal minor is much hardier at a small size. The leaves are tough and will resist wind/snow/ice damage once they acclimate to the environment.

Whoa, glad I asked before dumping a bunch of money on one. That's a bit disappointing. Sounds like I should have dug up some Sabal minor seedlings to take home before selling my house :rolleyes:

Bobby, how about some pictures of how these are used in the landscape in LI, NY. I don' t see very many around, or maybe I just never knew what I was looking at.

Thanks,

Brian

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metalfan

Turtile,

I beg to differ.

I have several mature (15-20 year) Needle Palms in my yard here in 8B-9A. They set seed all the time and small Needle Palms sprout up everywhere. I have many many small Needles that have survives the past 5 years at temps of 20-22F every winter. So its not only mature ones that are hardy.

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mjff
Mark, I read somewhere that they were good to zone 5, but I trust your observations more. I'm curious because I'm trying to find some to plant in my parents' yard in St. Louis, MO. Officially they're 5b, but they haven't had a winter that wasn't 6b or 7a since '89 I think. I was under the impression that even seedlings would look perfect after a hard winter with snow and ice and everything. Is this not what you have found? How do they handle snow and ice overall? Any frond breakage?

Thanks,

Brian

Only large sized R. hystrix are hardy. It only went down to 14F here and my 3 gal. hystrix(s) main bud are dead. My 7 gallon plant is perfect - no damage at all. Seedlings can only take down to the mid 20's for short periods of time. Sabal minor is much hardier at a small size. The leaves are tough and will resist wind/snow/ice damage once they acclimate to the environment.

I had some 3 gallons outside this winter and the spears pulled on their main trunk. I brought them indoors for the rest of the winter, then put them back outside, and am happy to report that they are growing new spears from their main trunks. I suspect they are quite a bit hardier in the ground than in containers. We shall see this winter as they will be going in the ground soon.

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Matt N- Dallas

I am from Kansas City, Mo z6 and grew needle palms and sabal minor there for years. I did find needles to be much more tender when small and young. I lost a one gallon plant to a 8* low with a blanket over it. I had a 7 gal plant that was unfazed with only a blanket covering. This plant also survived -5* with about 30% burn and a large towel covering. Sabal minor turned out to be more hardy for me in z6. I planted the NE TX and McCurtain Co varieties and they have prospered and produce seeds yearly even though I no longer live there and they receive no care. I dug the larger needle and brought it with me when I moved to TX. I found the duration of cold in the Midwest to be more damaging than the ultimate lows. I lost plants and had more damage as a result of a cold wave where the temps hovered between 10*- 20* for a week than from quick dips below zero. I would say that sabal minor would be perfectly hardy in St Louis, Mo. St. Louis is warmer than KC in winter and I would say St. Louis is closer to zone 7 from some of the long term plants growing there. A large needle (at least 7 gal or larger) would probably be OK. From a lot of experimentation in the Midwest I found needle palms and s. minor to to be able to survive where Southern Magnolia can survive.

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BobbyinNY
Only large sized R. hystrix are hardy. It only went down to 14F here and my 3 gal. hystrix(s) main bud are dead. My 7 gallon plant is perfect - no damage at all. Seedlings can only take down to the mid 20's for short periods of time. Sabal minor is much hardier at a small size. The leaves are tough and will resist wind/snow/ice damage once they acclimate to the environment.

Whoa, glad I asked before dumping a bunch of money on one. That's a bit disappointing. Sounds like I should have dug up some Sabal minor seedlings to take home before selling my house :rolleyes:

Bobby, how about some pictures of how these are used in the landscape in LI, NY. I don' t see very many around, or maybe I just never knew what I was looking at.

Thanks,

Brian

Ok, Brian.... I will look for some.

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Turtile
Turtile,

I beg to differ.

I have several mature (15-20 year) Needle Palms in my yard here in 8B-9A. They set seed all the time and small Needle Palms sprout up everywhere. I have many many small Needles that have survives the past 5 years at temps of 20-22F every winter. So its not only mature ones that are hardy.

Further north, the duration of freeze is much longer. We constantly freeze and have days where the temperature doesn't go above freezing. Your temperature recovers much faster with more daylight.

If we only went down to 20F, needle seedlings would still die.

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Mark_NoVA

Sorry for the delayed response! Here's a quote from 'Hardy Palms for the Southeast':

"...large, established specimens in good sites will easily take short spells of -5F, while new growth is damaged at -10F. Fifteen below is usually fatal, although some plants have been known to recover from this temperature."

Snow will definitely weigh down the fronds--I clear the snow off; probably not too many fronds break off though, as the big established one at the National Arboretum in Washington DC looks pretty good after winter. Not sure about ice, but that seems worse than snow.

Mark, I read somewhere that they were good to zone 5, but I trust your observations more. I'm curious because I'm trying to find some to plant in my parents' yard in St. Louis, MO. Officially they're 5b, but they haven't had a winter that wasn't 6b or 7a since '89 I think. I was under the impression that even seedlings would look perfect after a hard winter with snow and ice and everything. Is this not what you have found? How do they handle snow and ice overall? Any frond breakage?

Metalfan, we're talking hardiness a full 2 or more zones colder than your area, zones 6-7. There are a lot of people in this region of the country that have had younger plants die, and some felt kind of angry and misled about the cold hardiness! It's important to note from the above quote the "large, established specimens" part, so that people realize they may need to protect their Needle Palm the first 2-3 winters in the ground, or spend the $$ on a larger specimen.

Turtile,

I beg to differ.

I have several mature (15-20 year) Needle Palms in my yard here in 8B-9A. They set seed all the time and small Needle Palms sprout up everywhere. I have many many small Needles that have survives the past 5 years at temps of 20-22F every winter. So its not only mature ones that are hardy.

Nice info Matt! One other thing I'll add. This happened to me, and then several others said the same thing happened. The larger central trunk died one winter, but all the pups survived. (Unprotected 7-10g, 2nd winter in ground.)

I am from Kansas City, Mo z6 and grew needle palms and sabal minor there for years. I did find needles to be much more tender when small and young. I lost a one gallon plant to a 8* low with a blanket over it. I had a 7 gal plant that was unfazed with only a blanket covering. This plant also survived -5* with about 30% burn and a large towel covering. Sabal minor turned out to be more hardy for me in z6. I planted the NE TX and McCurtain Co varieties and they have prospered and produce seeds yearly even though I no longer live there and they receive no care. I dug the larger needle and brought it with me when I moved to TX. I found the duration of cold in the Midwest to be more damaging than the ultimate lows. I lost plants and had more damage as a result of a cold wave where the temps hovered between 10*- 20* for a week than from quick dips below zero. I would say that sabal minor would be perfectly hardy in St Louis, Mo. St. Louis is warmer than KC in winter and I would say St. Louis is closer to zone 7 from some of the long term plants growing there. A large needle (at least 7 gal or larger) would probably be OK. From a lot of experimentation in the Midwest I found needle palms and s. minor to to be able to survive where Southern Magnolia can survive.

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Guest Keith in Zone 9

Here are 2 photos of a smallish Needle Palm planted in Smithton Illinois (a southeastern suburb of St Louis MO). It was planted in March 2007 from a 5 or 7 gallon pot (I can't remember). In April 2007 it was subjected to some unseasonal cold that damaged even native plants (though not the Needle Palm). Winter 2007/2008 was statistically mild, but my family said it felt like an awful winter (because it was so wet and cold for so long). I don't think the temp fell below zero in Smithton. In fact, it might not even have fallen below 5F. My parents planted the palm (a gift from FL), but they never protected it. It's on an Eastern exposure and I'd estimate it gets 3-6 hours of sun per day. The rest of the day it's shaded by trees to the East or the house to the West. I was very pleased to see that it has no visible damage, though it's not as dark green as I'd like it to be.

For the record, Magnolia grandiflora grows reasonably well in this area, as do Crape Myrtles (though Crape Myrtles often freeze to the ground). I lived in the St Louis area for about 25 years, and I didn't experience many zone 5 events (below -10F). Certainly they do occur on occasion, but most winters the coldest night will be between 0F and -10F. Last winter was a bit of an anomaly (like those Zone 5 winters).

post-671-1213140962_thumb.jpg

post-671-1213141534_thumb.jpg

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JakeK

Keith,

That's a great looking needle palm considering the climate and the fact that it is never protected. I have one planted at my parent's house here in Cincinnati in the most protected area of their yard. It's sitting in a little cubby about 4'x4' between the garage and the house surrounded by brick on three sides with a Southern exposure. It has not fallen below 0*F for the past two years in Cincinnati, but the 07' winter was the coldest winter in recorded history here where February had an average high of 17*F and an average low of 6*F (conversely January 07' was the warmest January in recorded history for Cincinnati, so we had the warmest and coldest months repectively in the same winter). With all that said, the poor needle palm looks like crap, with only two suckers still surviving.

Just for some perspective, Southern Magnolias are used as street trees here and crape myrtles thrive, kudzu grows like crazy and Albizzia julibrissin is a weed. I also have two Cedrus deodara that are doing fantastic despite the winter of 07' that managed to kill my neighbors roses and azaleas.

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alex_7b

They need to be planted early in the summer or they'll suffer spear pull. I recommed covering the palm with a trash barrell on cold nights in z6b or colder.

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osideterry

The attached image is one of my brother's palms growing in Kansas City, MO (Zone 6a).

Temps: His low this winter was -3F but he had 13 days in single digits which is when all the damage happens.

Protection: Palms were buried in mulch. On coldest events heavy plastic was thrown over them. No lights or external heating.

post-662-1237240290_thumb.jpg

Edited by osideterry

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tjwalters

In my experience (MD z7a) needles can exhibit some variability between individuals when it comes to hardiness. Even on a well-established palm it seems tender young leaves can be damaged by extreme dampness and cold if not buried deep within the bud. This might explain some of the spear pulls witnessed by some here. That said, I've had small needles come through tough winters with flying colors, while observing damaged leaves on larger needles. My largest needle (pictured below) has seen temps of -8.4°F when smaller, and routinely sees temps below 10°F most winters, with occasional stretches of multiple days where temperatures do not climb above freezing. I also have many smaller needles that see the same temperatures with no problems. The only needles I have lost have been to voles or transplanting (I didn't "mud them in").

Largest Needle (note yardstick for scale):

Rhystrix20081026-01.jpg

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_Keith
I have a small one here in Temecula that is growing very slowly.

Matt

I have a couple of them. They are oh so painfully slow for me.

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tjwalters
I have a small one here in Temecula that is growing very slowly.

Matt

I have a couple of them. They are oh so painfully slow for me.

Once they get a little size to them they can really pick up speed if they're getting enough heat, water and fertilizer (at least here in MD). Compare the above picture (post #20) of my largest, taken in 2008, with these earlier photos of the same palm.

2006:

Rhystrix2006120301.jpg

2000:

Rhystrix13.jpg

1998:

Rhystrix09.jpg

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kristof p

the main stem of my R. hystrix is dead after this winter with a low of -8.5°C but night frost for two weeks in a row and combined with barely positive daytime temperatures...it was dry! not as hardy as said in a climate without much summerheat...

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John Case

Dick,

I know its a pain (in mutliple ways), but do you have any seed? I'll even dig in and get it for you.....wearing my welding gloves, of course....

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fishmanejr

I've had a seedling planted on my property for three years now. I'm in Western NY, USDA zone 6a. My plant has seen -2F with nothing but snow cover for protection. It came through with about 50% leaf burn. This winter I've covered it with a styrofoam shelter to cut down on wind damage. No spear pull yet!

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Dave-Vero

Sorry to hear of Kristof's palm. Rhapidophyllum is native to moist sites with summer shade (deciduous forest). The low-elevation southeastern US is persistently hot during the summer, persistent afternoon temperatures over 32 being normal (roughly American Horticultural Society heat zone 9. If they thrive on Long Island, that's down to heat zone 4, equivalent to San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, and any number of places that get really cold in the winter.

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Austinpalm

10-gallon sized plant under canopy exhibited no damage from an ultimate low of 16F with several night-time lows in the upper 20's and low 30's.

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Takil-Explorer

I know some nice big needle palms here in the Netherlands. But thats in the more continental southeast of the country. They like it warm and good moisture in summer.

Alexander

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Juni Perez

Here's a shot of my needle palm today, Feb 17th, 2011. This is its first winter. No protection except for FreezPruf (I was told it wasn't necessary, but still sprayed it). Lowest temp at -5°F a couple of times last month with a few nights a little higher towards 0.

It's still a littly skimpy looking, but I don't see damage other than slight tip burns. Planted spring of 2010.

post-3338-089243300 1297984012_thumb.jpg

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Erik

Thanks! We need this data.

We got to -22 F (-30 C) a week ago. I mulched and covered needle palms, and they got a lot of snow. The soil did not freeze. I'm seeing leaf damage but too soon to know about spear pull. --Erik

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Henoh

Thanks, Juni Perez and Erik. Please keep us informed

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Erik

Henoh,

right now I am optimistic.

I got a spear pull on my least-healthy needle palm yesterday. I sprayed some fungicide in the cavity and covered it before the rain of the morning. The larger one has very tattered looking leaves but the spear has not pulled yet. I figure it will survive but has a "recovery year" in store. The medium one was lucky to be completely buried in snow and it looks super--just a little tip burn.

I was at the Tulsa Zoo Monday. They have just one needle palm. The Tulsa Zoo was not as cold as me ("only" -12 F) and more snow for insulation. Their little needle palm (planted 2009) looks superb--no damage at all, and better than their many Sabal minor.

So, in short, the needle palm is simply fantastic at surviving unimaginably cold weather. Plus very hot weather (I had many days over 40 C in August), dry soils, standing water, goat browsing, etc.

--Erik

Edited by Erik

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TexasColdHardyPalms

Needle planted two years ago from a 5G at my sister in laws place in Morganfield, KY on the south side of the house.  Took -3F this year and looks great. 

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mdsonofthesouth

Smaller palms spear pulled after 4F some minor leaf damage, larger specimen from @TexasColdHardyPalms is completely unfazed. Smaller ones are strap leaf and all palms are in the coldest and most exposed spots in the garden.

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Kcmopalm

Soo much inspiration from this thread! I'm in Kansas City zone 6a..it's definitely hot enough this summer. They're growing happily on a hill near a stream where it gets great drainage, but stays consistently moist. This winter Im planning to tie up the fronds and wrap them with burlap, then insulating with leaves before covering them with a plastic trash can. I have 5 3 gallon palms, so I'm fully invested in their survival! Can't wait to update in a year ✌️

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Kcmopalm

Soo much inspiration from this thread! I'm in Kansas City zone 6a..it's definitely hot enough this summer. They're growing happily on a hill near a stream where it gets great drainage, but stays consistently moist. This winter Im planning to tie up the fronds and wrap them with burlap, then insulating with leaves before covering them with a plastic trash can. I have 5 3 gallon palms, so I'm fully invested in their survival! Can't wait to update in a year ✌️

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ky_palm064

5 needles are great!

I babied my first palm here in zone 6b ( a 15 gall. bare root needle) like you are doing for the first 3 winters. After those winters, I sometimes piled snow,  or used a plastic tarp covering (staked away from the leaves) on the coldest days. Planted in 2003, it has seen below -10f a couple of times (no active heating).

Good luck!

needle.thumb.JPG.13c88ed5d83d881d7c5bd9d999ff5a48.JPG

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