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Mule Palm Experiment

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sevapalms

87E525DF-42CA-4F38-8EEE-68A34A6B1DF8.thumb.jpeg.6fcaeb8906fb48cc09f4d5a2b0870467.jpeg 

5 years ago, before I knew much about palms, I got a mule palm as a 2 leaf seedling. I read that they were hardy to zone 8a, and given I am in that zone, I thought it would be a good choice. I did not realize that many mules do not survive zone 8a winter temperatures, and definitely not record lows in my area.

I decided to plant it anyway last week, and protect it when temperatures reach 18-19 degrees, which happens a couple of times in a typical winter. The soil in my area is extremely poorly draining clay, so I decided to plant it in a mound. About 1/4 of the rootball is below the normal soil level. The reason it is hurricane cut is because of a fungal issue.

Any tips would be appreciated!

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Allen

You can probably get it by for a few years till it gets too big to protect.  They grow fast.  You will need a cage/box around it  in Jan/feb at least.

Edited by Allen

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sevapalms
54 minutes ago, Allen said:

You can probably get it by for a few years till it gets too big to protect.  They grow fast.  You will need a cage/box around it  in Jan/feb at least.

That’s true. This definitely won’t be a long term plant, just something to enjoy for a few years. I’ll likely have a thermocube heated box or cage around it for some or most of January/February due to the repeated threat of extreme cold spells. Thanks for your advice!

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NCpalmqueen

Nice hybrid.  As others have said, it grows so quickly it will be too hard to protect in a few years.   But like you, I like enjoying them while they are living and pretty.    Best of luck with it. 

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sevapalms
13 minutes ago, NCpalmqueen said:

Nice hybrid.  As others have said, it grows so quickly it will be too hard to protect in a few years.   But like you, I like enjoying them while they are living and pretty.    Best of luck with it. 

Thank you! Hopefully the next winters will be relatively mild to extend its lifespan, but you never know.

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SEVA

I would think you could keep this alive as long or longer than my queen.  I didn't even attempt to protect the fronds this past winter, but plan to next winter.  For the trunk, I just wrapped it with burlap and lights with a thermocube.  No cage or box around the trunk on my queen, but they would likely prove beneficial for protecting the fronds.

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sevapalms
52 minutes ago, SEVA said:

I would think you could keep this alive as long or longer than my queen.  I didn't even attempt to protect the fronds this past winter, but plan to next winter.  For the trunk, I just wrapped it with burlap and lights with a thermocube.  No cage or box around the trunk on my queen, but they would likely prove beneficial for protecting the fronds.

I hope I can keep it alive! I really like this palm. I think keeping the fronds helps the plant and makes it look better, so I think a box is a good idea, or at least a careful wrapping job with the fronds tied up. To protect it, I think I’ll use a 20/30 thermocube(or a 35/45 one for long cold spells), heat tape, and a box or blankets and burlap.

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SEVA
7 minutes ago, sevapalms said:

I hope I can keep it alive! I really like this palm. I think keeping the fronds helps the plant and makes it look better, so I think a box is a good idea, or at least a careful wrapping job with the fronds tied up. To protect it, I think I’ll use a 20/30 thermocube(or a 35/45 one for long cold spells), heat tape, and a box or blankets and burlap.

I agree.  Preventing damage to the fronds will certainly result in a healthier and aesthetically pleasing palm.  I tried wrapping the fronds in the past with burlap and lights, but the fronds became moldy and had some burn from direct contact with the lights.  The reason for their extended period being wrapped up the past few winters is due to being away for school, but I will be graduating this summer and should be around more to unwrap during extended periods of warmer temperatures.  I would definitely consider a caged wrapping/ box or something to allow a space of air around the fronds.  I am not set on what I plan to do just yet, but I still have time.  I use a 35/45 thermocube for the queen.

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sevapalms
12 minutes ago, SEVA said:

I agree.  Preventing damage to the fronds will certainly result in a healthier and aesthetically pleasing palm.  I tried wrapping the fronds in the past with burlap and lights, but the fronds became moldy and had some burn from direct contact with the lights.  The reason for their extended period being wrapped up the past few winters is due to being away for school, but I will be graduating this summer and should be around more to unwrap during extended periods of warmer temperatures.  I would definitely consider a caged wrapping/ box or something to allow a space of air around the fronds.  I am not set on what I plan to do just yet, but I still have time.  I use a 35/45 thermocube for the queen.

Congratulations on graduating soon. It’s good you’ll be able to take care of the palm and will be able to let it air out during warm periods in the winter. I don’t know what thermocube to use yet or how what method I will use for protection, but as you said, there is time before winter.

Edited by sevapalms
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Allen

My potted one I bring in under 25F to be safe.  I don't know how they do with ice though.   Mature ones are supposed to take down to 14F but I don't know when they lose fronds so I'm not sure a 20/30 thermocube will do it because temps could sit at 20F ish without it turning on.  Thermocubes have a few degree variance.   I think mine had some cold damage to fronds (Small spots) even in the 25F range.

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sevapalms
10 minutes ago, Allen said:

My potted one I bring in under 25F to be safe.  I don't know how they do with ice though.   Mature ones are supposed to take down to 14F but I don't know when they lose fronds so I'm not sure a 20/30 thermocube will do it because temps could sit at 20F ish without it turning on.  Thermocubes have a few degree variance.   I think mine had some cold damage to fronds (Small spots) even in the 25F range.

I think I’ll cover it with an umbrella somehow in cases of freezing rain, sleet, or rain before a freeze to protect the spear. I think that the 20/30 one may be too cold for a mule too. I think the 35/45 may be a better choice. I’ll have to experiment with different temperatures to see the effect on my plant. I think ~20 sounds about the limit before moderate damage besides spots begins to set in, but I’ll have to see whether my plant is more or less susceptible to cold damage than that.    

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Jhonny
On 5/21/2019 at 5:21 PM, sevapalms said:

I think I’ll cover it with an umbrella somehow in cases of freezing rain, sleet, or rain before a freeze to protect the spear. I think that the 20/30 one may be too cold for a mule too. I think the 35/45 may be a better choice. I’ll have to experiment with different temperatures to see the effect on my plant. I think ~20 sounds about the limit before moderate damage besides spots begins to set in, but I’ll have to see whether my plant is more or less susceptible to cold damage than that.    

How has it been holding up?

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Collectorpalms

Here is my experience After 14.5 degrees and 3 winters ago, and now a heavy snow event followed by re-freezing into ice.

I have lost 1 medium mule due to frozen tissue at the base. There was a gigantic hole on the base, now after the snow ice event it is officially going to be pulled out. All broken fronds. 
I also have an older mule that has some frozen trunk rot at the base ( the north side). I have one broken frond. 
 

i have various other hybrids I’ll have to see how they do after this winter. So far a low of 26 during this event, but the 5.5 inches snow/ice here has stayed for 3 days in shaded areas. I think this is 50 year event.

I think they may have over-sold mule as a fool-proof 8b palm. I think they are marginal 8b in the very warm areas, and may be killed by 8a winters.
I think a mature mule in the southern USA 8b can handle most winters, smaller mules you might lose. Obviously duration of freeze and siting make a huge difference. 
 

Here is a mule, it is gluten for Heavy wet snow. It has around 6ft of trunk. 

770ADEBA-7064-4025-A26D-872AD0C7A93F.png

Edited by Collectorpalms
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Chester B
4 hours ago, Collectorpalms said:

I think they may have over-sold mule as a fool-proof 8b palm. I think they are marginal 8b in the very warm areas

I know people that share this sentiment.  The one nursery by me that has them puts them in the greenhouse over winter, his thoughts are that they aren't hardy to our PNW 8B winters.  I have two, both pretty small and one was planted out last spring.  So far this winter has been exceptionally mild, according to the records we've had one night down to 29F, although on my own instruments I've seen 29F 2 or 3 nights, so not exactly challenging weather. Time will tell I suppose.

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Allen

I've got a 10 footer here in 7a that so far has been easy to protect.  Only had to do it twice so far and I think I went overboard even then.  I just protect at 20 or below.  it's had snow and cold so we'll see how it turns out.  The fronds are easy to tie on these at least so far.  I hope to get a few years out of it.

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Collectorpalms
1 hour ago, Allen said:

I've got a 10 footer here in 7a that so far has been easy to protect.  Only had to do it twice so far and I think I went overboard even then.  I just protect at 20 or below.  it's had snow and cold so we'll see how it turns out.  The fronds are easy to tie on these at least so far.  I hope to get a few years out of it.

When I say fool-proof, I mean they sell them now at Lowe’s as cold hardy into zone 8a Texas. I believe 14F is what they promoted them as at their launch in Florida. ( I’ll look At  my Lowe’s tag to see if they say HOW cold hardy ) So I am referring to the average shopper, not a palm fanatic that will go extra lengths to protect one. At least they go a little overboard with labeling Pygmy Dates at hardy from 30-40F. 
Dont get me wrong, any young palm can die early and any weather event can be extra bad. 
I am Texas very southern Zone 8b, they are just barely hardy enough for me to recommend to people with a caution. They won’t survive The 1980s like Sabals, a few Washingtonia filifera and hybrids and canaries.

Edited by Collectorpalms

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Allen
32 minutes ago, Collectorpalms said:

When I say fool-proof, I mean they sell them now at Lowe’s as cold hardy into zone 8a Texas. I believe 14F is what they promoted them as at their launch in Florida. ( I’ll look At  my Lowe’s tag to see if they say HOW cold hardy ) So I am referring to the average shopper, not a palm fanatic that will go extra lengths to protect one. At least they go a little overboard with labeling Pygmy Dates at hardy from 30-40F. 
Dont get me wrong, any young palm can die early and any weather event can be extra bad. 
I am Texas very southern Zone 8b, they are just barely hardy enough for me to recommend to people with a caution. They won’t survive The 1980s like Sabals, a few Washingtonia filifera and hybrids and canaries.

I think long term they are a 9a palm, I wasn't disputing that.  Zones can be funny, I am 3 zones lower than you but for this same event my low was 22F with 2 inches of snow, only a 4F difference.

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sevapalms

It’s been about 2 years since I planted this palm, so I think it’s a good time to post an update. It’s grown from about two feet tall to about four feet, and is definitely healthy (aside from a fungal leaf spot problem that doesn’t seem to be going away). We’ve definitely been lucky here in terms of lack of cold snaps over the past two winters. It hasn’t gotten below 20 degrees since I planted the palm, so I’ve never needed to protect it. It hasn’t suffered any cold damage. I hope to enjoy this palm for a few more years until it eventually becomes too big to protect and a severe cold spell comes along!

8E47D476-AE45-4F65-9B69-7CB621E5C550.jpeg

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sevapalms
On 1/12/2021 at 9:57 PM, Jhonny said:

How has it been holding up?

Last winter and this winter it was just fine! Last winter it only snowed once and was relatively mild. This winter it snowed a couple of times, and there was a consistently wet and cool period from January to February, but it never got cold enough that I had to protect it. I was concerned that it would suffer from some issues due to the wet and cold this winter, but at this point it seems to be relatively healthy.

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VA Jeff

Isle of Wight, VA

This was given to me as a strapling by Merrill Wilcox many years ago.  It would be double or triple the size if it had been growing in Florida in the ground, instead of a large container albeit still too small.  Hasn't been protected for a few years, but I know how to protect it if needed.

mule palm.jpg

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atlamtapalms

In my experience the foliage is tender as a queen. The foliage gets beat up under 20f easily.

It’s the Butia in the stem that makes up the ground. Question is for pushers would be how much of a beating can the foliage take every year long term.

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sevapalms
22 hours ago, VA Jeff said:

Isle of Wight, VA

This was given to me as a strapling by Merrill Wilcox many years ago.  It would be double or triple the size if it had been growing in Florida in the ground, instead of a large container albeit still too small.  Hasn't been protected for a few years, but I know how to protect it if needed.

Wow, I haven't seen any other mule palms in the ground north of southeastern NC that are as big as yours.

21 hours ago, atlamtapalms said:

In my experience the foliage is tender as a queen. The foliage gets beat up under 20f easily.

It’s the Butia in the stem that makes up the ground. Question is for pushers would be how much of a beating can the foliage take every year long term.

Agreed. We've been extremely lucky in my area to avoid damaging temperatures for the past several years, but if there comes a period of several cold years where the palm experiences temperatures that could cause it to become continuously defoliated, I think it would struggle to survive without significant protection.

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Collectorpalms
On 5/9/2021 at 9:46 PM, atlamtapalms said:

In my experience the foliage is tender as a queen. The foliage gets beat up under 20f easily.

It’s the Butia in the stem that makes up the ground. Question is for pushers would be how much of a beating can the foliage take every year long term.

I don’t recall my mules ever defoliating. But my queens did occasionally, but always had some green. Doesn’t matter now, all dead. I had been warned the electricity might not stay on, so I never provided heat. Sure enough, we lost electricity for 4 days in rolling blackouts.

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GregVirginia7
On 5/21/2019 at 5:21 PM, sevapalms said:

I think I’ll cover it with an umbrella somehow in cases of freezing rain, sleet, or rain before a freeze to protect the spear. I think that the 20/30 one may be too cold for a mule too. I think the 35/45 may be a better choice. I’ll have to experiment with different temperatures to see the effect on my plant. I think ~20 sounds about the limit before moderate damage besides spots begins to set in, but I’ll have to see whether my plant is more or less susceptible to cold damage than that.    

You may try a shepherds hook (I used a 6’ one) that you can wire the umbrella to. I tried this to keep my Mediterranean Fan dryer this past winter and it gave me a framework to attach the frost cloth to...had some lights around the circumference of the drip line and some around the crown...worked out well but winters have been mild enough lately that I don’t think it was necessary, though your palm’s sensitivity may be more pressing...here’s the structure...looks morbidly shroud-like but I assure you, the Medi is alive and on its 8th year in ground...

EB522472-8D39-4331-A8D9-CE491AF4F3B6.thumb.jpeg.d753b785ee4350bfc8eaacc7a693b57a.jpeg

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