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Needle Palms in Coastal Rhode Island 7A

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agt

Hello Everyone,

I just bought two needle palms from hawkpalms on ebay in an attempt to fill up some extra space on the base my dune. This is incredibly close to the ocean and the temperature is rarely warmer than 80 all summer because of the cold water. In the winter I'd say it rarely gets below 15. The last few weeks have been pretty wet and cold and now its starting to get nicer.  I was wondering if anyone had an idea if this is worth a try having minimal protection or if the winter will be too harsh. The dune also acts as a shield from the wind coming from the ocean which I think could be helpful.

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Edited by agt
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kinzyjr

Welcome to the forum!  That far north, it is often a good idea to put them near the south side of your house.  Either way, they will benefit greatly from having some protection for the first 2-3 years until they get established.  The hardiness numbers you hear about all over the internet only seem to be accurate for this palm when it is well established.

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PalmatierMeg

Certainly worth a try. Needle palms come from inland area of the SE US. I'm not aware of any that grow in sandy beach environments, which may be a clue. Over time I've tried needles 3 times here on my alkaline sandy soil in SWFL. All declined and eventually perished over time so I won't try again. I'm not sure whether it was the soil or possible nematode activity that soil is prone to. One thing to remember about many extremely cold hardy US palms (needles, Sabals) is that they need long, hot humid summers to balance cold winters. Is a maximum summer high of 80F at a RI beach enough to carry your needle through a New England winter? I guess you are going to find out for us. So, please stick around and add to our collective knowledge.

Welcome to PalmTalk.

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mdsonofthesouth

Needles,while the most cold hardy palm, really require a lot of heat to recover especially from a harsh winter. Mine don't start taking off (in needle palm terms) until mid April or so. They do seem to eek out growth here and there throughout the year, but really are slow as molasses in winter time even in the dead of summer. Now I cannot speak on which soil they prefer in an expert manner, but I can say they love moist or damn near soggy soil and sand is not something that will stay soggy as it drains and dries far to easily and fast. 

 

As for your area, I'm sure with protecting it the first few years your climate might have a chance most years, but y'all get bitter cold for a decent period and summer is cool enough that a lot of folks don't even have air conditioning...something that is quite literally deadly here from possibly April through October. Even in my milder winter climate I saw minor damage on some strap leaf specimens so be aware yours will need quite a few winters of protection to allow it to mature enough to be hardy with some coverage on bad years after that.

Edited by mdsonofthesouth

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Nj Palms

Put some black mulch around it to retain some heat. Next spring I would recommend putting some sort of plastic over it to heady start growth as  the cool New England water takes a while to warm up. Good luck and keep us updated!

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faceyourfaces

In 2016 I planted five needle palms from hawkpalms about the same size of yours. Four of them croaked the first winter but the one that survived is still kicking to this day (albeit it looks quite beat up). I protected it only in its first winter but not the following two.

I think it is unlikely, but not impossible, that your palm can survive long term. Especially considering your climate which lacks the summer heat needle palms require to grow optimally to recover from winter damage.

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cm05

Your summer temperatures may not be the most ideal, but beach sand gets HOT, so that should help, just keep it well watered in the summer, a little mulch might help it from quickly drying out. I’d keep it as dry as possible in the winter, rain/snow in the crown = no bueno.

Being that close to the ocean might actually be a godsend come winter time, Long Island’s barrier islands can be as much as 15 degrees warmer on cold winter nights.

I’d also try Sabal minor, they may perform better in sand than Needle palms.

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