Is Ornamental Palm Horticulture by Timothy K. Broschat a good resource for 8b, upper Gulf Coast (Alabama)? I see both authors are based in Dade County, so I wonder if the focus is on tropical palms. If not this book, is there one that you'd recommend?
I've already learned a great deal by perusing and asking questions here, but I'm old fashioned about wanting an authoritative volume for my shelf!
Texas, being a big state, has a wide range of climates. You have arid towards the west, subtropical towards the east, colder temps north, and warmer temps south. For a long time I’ve been questioning Köppen’s classification for Brownsville / Eastern Cameron county. At NOAA’s averages for this area, we fall into a subtropical climate. Now, what troubles me is the plain, visible differences in the vegetation of Brownsville/surrounding areas to that of areas outside of the lower RGV. For those that have visited/ are natives to this area, it’s clear that Brownsville is visibly a lot more tropical that most areas of the Valley outside of the Lower Valley. Once you leave north of Harlingen TX, the landscape becomes a lot more barren and sad, dry. However, in areas like Bayview, Los Fresnos, and Brownsville (mainly mid and east), boom, green. Granted, since we don’t live on mars, of course it’s going to be green, but this area has an abundance of vegetation in comparison to the rest of the Valley and South Texas. Brownsville has a notable ability to sustain tropical palms fruits such as mangos, papayas, guavas, etc, and, like mentioned in several forum posts, coconuts. Now, while Brownsville isn’t a garden of Eden for tropical plants since it does get cold, the fact that they're sustained well here goes to show that the deep southern Valley exhibits tropical characteristics. While NOAA’s temperature averages begs to differ, Brownsville natives know well that this area is starkly different in comparison to other places that fall under the humid subtropical climate category. The Valley has a climate that is different in so many ways when placed next to that of major subtropical cities like Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Atlanta, Raleigh, & Little Rock. Brownsville visibly belongs to a curious climate. While there’s no getting around the fact that Brownsville doesn’t have a true tropical climate due to cold snaps, I personally think that this region of the lower Rio Grande Valley merits to be considered as on the threshold of a tropical savannah climate.
1) As mentioned, the presence of tropical plants in this areas shows that the infrequent, while sometimes strong, cold snaps aren’t enough to rob this area of its tropical look, or at least the presence of tropical plants 2) NOAA’s averages for the Brownsville area include outlier temperatures that don’t provide a reliable testament to our climate. Yes, severe freezes have and do happen in this area, but our climate - our prevailing conditions - is anything but close to the period of time in which the horrendous freezes of the 80s lasted. 3) While southern Texas is almost entirely not shielded by blue northerns, but perhaps a slightly similar phenomena that occurs with the state of Florida occurs with the Brownsville area. As many of us know, Florida is a peninsula. Surrounded by warm water. This is a wonderful advantage with wonderful results in protection against the bitter cold that dips down into the southern US. The warming effect of the ocean allows for areas of south Florida to enjoy an absolutely beautiful tropical climate. Now, looking at the other side of the Gulf of Mexico you’ll see the Southern Texas Coast. When one looks at the map, you can see that the immediate coast of the Rio Grande Valley slightly bends out towards the gulf and just slightly retards the “C” curve that the entire western Gulf of Mexico has. Could this be why Brownsville is the site where near tropical characteristics spike and continue to gradually increase as one goes down the coast into Mexico? Could the Gulf’s warming effect and the Valley’s coastal bend be the reason why Brownsville and Matamoros enjoy a visibly warmer climate and are slightly “blanketed” temperature-wise during cold snaps?
Since all this has all been a personal opinion and a curious observation, I may be wrong and my suggestion that brownsville be given a *default* tropical classification instead of subtropical may be erroneous. What do y’all think?
I was watching a video of a family that went to Palmetto State Park, Texas, and at the start of the video it shows them driving down the road at the park, and at the time 0:30 you can see a large Sabal palm off to the left side. I am really bad with Texas palms. Do you think it is a Sabal mexicana? Video link https://youtu.be/W4arW3KJUic
Snow in San Antonio (at least on the Northwest side) tonight! Probably no big deal to a lot of you, but major deal here. This does not happen often in this part of Texas. A couple of pictures of light dusting on some of my palms.
My first post here. I was going to respond to an old thread, but didn't want to hijack. First, I'm in Brownsville, 26 N. latitude, same as Ft. Lauderdale. 2016 averaged 76.5 F. in Brownsville, and 79.5 in McAllen, TX. Winter 2016-2017 averaged about 73 F, 10-11 F. above normal. Worse than a freeze, sometimes during the winter, we get over-running cloudiness and drizzle with temps upper-30's lower 40's for 7-10 days. That will kill a young coconut palm faster than a light radiational freeze.
Having just said all that, there are some large coconut palms in Brownsville, Pt Isabel, and South Padre Island that have survived some pretty rough winters. I'm sure the ones in Brownsville are Mexican Tall - impossible for me to legally obtain the seed nuts, even though they are for sale in the markets in Matamoros, just on the other side of the Rio Grande. Several of the fruiting coconuts on South Padre Island are green Malayans - I knew the owner (now deceased). The Mexican Tall is definitely hardier than the green Malayans - he lost a few during a two week wet and cold spell during the winter of 2014-2015 (it never froze, just dripped cold rain).
So, with difficulty, I had 20 seed nuts shipped in from Ft. Lauderdale (had a rough time finder sources who would ship). They are all now sprouted, ranging from 5" to 24". Three of the smaller ones look like they may not make it. I have them in 3 gallon very well drained containers, and do not water often, until I know the roots are well established. My goal is to wait until mid-February and plant 2 or 3 of the best ones around the house, then be prepared to do some major cold weather protection during the winter of 2017-18. Any suggestions and tips for horticulture will be greatly appreciated.
FWIW, I've noticed searching this forum that the Somoan Dwarf seems to be a hardier and more LY resistant plant and may be better suited for South Texas. I have absolutely no idea of how to get one from Florida to here, unless I drive over there (expensive)!
Thanks for listening to me.
Gene, Brownsville, Texas