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'Cool hardy' palms

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ExperimentalGrower

Besides Ceroxylons, and Parajubaeas, does anyone have any insight into what other great "cool hardy" palms are a good bet?

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Swolte

Welcome! I can't even grow the palms you suggest as they'd probably perish in a z8 (though interesting to see reports of Ceroxylons in 8b, wth, anyone??). Pindo palms may be an interesting choice for you. Very tough, great looking trunk, and they'll have edible fruit too.
:)

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Collectorpalms

Just saw this article for the Bay area. https://www.floragrubb.com/plants-and-trees-at-flora-grubb-gardens/ultimate-guide-to-growing-palms-in-the-bay-area

 

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GROWING PALM TREES IN THE BAY AREA

SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

We can grow many kinds of palms in our Bay Area gardens — palm trees, shrubby palms, bamboo palms, little foliage palms — lucky us! Flora Grubb Gardens grows dozens of varieties of rare and exceptional palms. We offer palms you won’t find anywhere else.

Palm Tree at Flora Grubb Gardens

OUR FAVORITES

Chamaedorea plumosa: The baby queen palm is the fastest-growing, most adaptable, and best-scaled palm for small gardens. This delightful native of Chiapas, Mexico, tolerates light frosts, deep shade or nearly full sun, and wind, among other bugaboos of San Francisco gardening. Its fluffy leaves quickly rise on a thin green stem to create a languorous, weeping crown in deep shade. It appreciates ample water and fertilizer, but, once established, it will tolerate dry periods. Shoehorn it into narrow light wells, or plant it out to give vertical definition in broad, exposed spaces. In the windiest and coldest districts, plant in a protected lee spot, but otherwise it’s adaptable to most urban and coastal Bay Area climates (Sunset zones 16-17).

Max height: 20 feet in 15 years

Max spread: 3 feet

Small palm for small gardens and tight spaces, Versatile, Fast-growing

Chamaedorea plumosa in Flora Grubb’s Berkeley garden.

Chamaedorea plumosa in Flora Grubb’s Berkeley garden.


 

Chamaerops humilis: The Mediterranean fan palm is the most versatile species for California and in any landscape that stays above 15F most winters and can offer reasonably good soil drainage. Prune as a shrub, single palm tree, or cluster of paradise-island trunks. It’s one of the toughest plants for coastal and desert gardens alike, enduring long stretches of drought once established, shade, sun, wind, containers, and salt spray. The newer variety, C. humilis var. argentea, offers a silvery, waxy leaf on a slower-growing, hardier, smaller plant. 

Chamerops humilis, the mediterranean fan palm, at Flora Grubb Gardens

Chamerops humilis, the mediterranean fan palm, at Flora Grubb Gardens

Trachycarpus fortunei: The Chinese windmill palm can tolerate drought, wind, and some neglect, but at the expense of looking trashy and parched. The best-looking Chinese windmills get even moisture, some shade when young, and fertilizer that includes magnesium and potassium. They also benefit aesthetically from group planting and you can give them an updated look by pruning off the furry leafbases. Consider using its cousins Trachycarpus wagnerianus, Trachycarpus takil, and Trachycarpus latisectus, as well. When used as a street tree, tends to look best in multiples: two or three per well, or several in a row. Good in a pot, too.

Rhapis excelsa: The lady palm makes an elegant, small bamboo-like clump. Slow-growing, it prefers shade and year-round moisture, and grows best away from the ocean. An excellent container plant, it’s also nice as a small-scale shade hedge and as an accent against a wall. Give it protection from wind and from temperatures below about 23F. Thin trunks covered in a rustic fabric-like texture can be groomed to reveal smooth bamboo-like pattern. Its cousin, Rhapis multifida, offers a finer texture and more delicate habit and requires similar conditions, tolerating somewhat lower winter temperatures.

Phoenix roebelenii: The pygmy date palm from southern China and northern Laos grows into a mini palm tree and thrives away from the seaside and wherever temperatures stay above 26F. Best with summer irrigation. Slow-growing, it’s a pretty foliage plant before it develops its trunk, and it’s happy growing forever in a pot. Looks great planted in clusters and tolerates both full sun and bright shade.

Archontophoenix cunninghamiana: The king palm grows well in wind-protected areas that experience minimal frost and where moisture and fertilizer can be provided. In cooler areas it performs well in sunny spots, but tends to look ragged in really windy, foggy areas. It’s at its best where winter temperatures stay above 30F and summer highs consistently surpass 70F (like Oakland). Good as a street tree if irrigated. Particularly nice planted in clumps. Not viable in frost-prone inland climates away from the bay, and not recommended for long-term container culture.

Brahea edulis: The Guadalupe palm, a native of Guadalupe Island off the Pacific Coast of Baja California, succeeds like a California native up here in the Bay Area. It thrives in sun or shade, wind, with minimal summer water, near the sea or inland, and can be kept indefinitely in a container. Whether solitary or in groves, it provides a friendly garden canopy. Excellent street tree--as long as fruit clusters are removed annually. It sheds its spineless leaves once they turn brown, revealing an elephantine, striated trunk. Moderate in growth speed, it reaches a max height of 30 feet in 60 years. Pale creamy-green flower stalks are followed by green fruits the size of large olives. 18F minimum temperature; avoid spray irrigation on the trunk or crown.

Brahea edulis, the Guadalupe palm, at Flora Grubb Gardens

Brahea edulis, the Guadalupe palm, at Flora Grubb Gardens

Chamaedorea hooperiana: Hooper’s bamboo palm / Maya palm is a moderately fast-growing, adaptable, and relaxed-looking bamboo palm for small gardens. This native of Veracruz, Mexico, tolerates light frosts, deep shade or part sun, and some wind, among other bugaboos of San Francisco gardening. Its elongated, arching leaves quickly rise on a thin green stems that look like bamboo. Suckers lean out from the base and expand the plant into an open, bamboo-like cluster, occasionally producing showy black fruit on orange branches. It appreciates ample water and fertilizer, but, once established in our cool climate, it will tolerate moderate to occasional irrigation. Place it behind a seating area to add a loungey vibe, or plant it in lines and clusters for an informal shade hedge. A tidy substitute for bamboo whose minimal leaf drop reduces the need to sweep patios and pathways. In the windiest and coldest districts, plant in a protected lee spot, but otherwise it’s adaptable to many urban and coastal Bay Area climates (Sunset zones 16-17).

Max height: 12 feet in 15 years

Max spread: 8 feet

Chamaedorea microspadix: Compared to Hooper’s bamboo palm, the hardy bamboo palm is smaller and more upright and tolerates more sun and more frost. It’s best away from the fog belt but can be grown in frostier areas than its cousin. Great in containers and nice bright-orange fruit.

Chamaedorea pochutlensis: Compared to Hooper’s bamboo palm, this bamboo palm is faster-growing, denser, and more upright, with thicker, lusher foliage. It thrives in the fog belt and in frost-protected gardens in urban centers and near the bay. Also great in a pot.

Syagrus romanzoffiana: The queen palm is a good choice for a fast-growing, narrow, medium-size palm tree where summers are slightly warmer than the foggiest districts and moisture and fertilizer can be provided. In windy, chilly-summer neighborhoods west of Arguello or Masonic it looks ragged. Inland it will thrive and quickly reach maturity but can be killed by the rarest 30-to-50-year freezes. A good street tree. Quite nice in shade as well as sun. It’s at its best where winter temperatures stay above 25F and summer highs consistently surpass 70F.

Rhopalostylis sapida: The nikau is New Zealand’s native palm, and like its fellow native plants, it does exceptionally well in Bay Area climates where winters remain above 27F, especially in cooler, foggier areas near the bay and ocean. A moderate-size, moderately slow-growing palm tree (to 30ft in 50 years), its smooth green trunk and stiff, upright crown of foliage make a dramatic, architectural statement. Fascinating purplish flower clusters are followed by tiny red fruits. Best started in a shady spot, it will grow up into sunshine happily over time, and established plants can tolerate moderate coastal exposure. Make sure to supply consistent summer irrigation. Its narrow crown fits into surprisingly tight urban spaces. 

A close cousin, Rhopalostylis baueri, the Norfolk Island palm, offers a softer, more tropical and more colorful look, slightly faster growth, and higher light tolerance when young. It’s less frost-tolerant. Both species are exceptionally pretty foliage elements as juveniles in shade and both can live for many years in containers.

Butia odorata: The pindo or jelly palm from Uruguay and south Brazil is an exceptionally versatile and adaptable plant, suited to coastal gardens as well as hot, inland places. With its leaves recurving down over the lip of a pot, it makes a perfect container specimen. In the ground it slowly becomes a modest-size palm tree (to 20 feet in 50 years) in sun or shade, developing drought tolerance with age. Showy flower stalks pop out of dramatic baseball-bat-like bracts popular with floral designers. Fruits that follow ripen to yellow-orange and can be delicious and made into preserves, as befits its common name. Use it anywhere temperatures stay above 15F and soil is reasonably well-drained. Its hybrid with the Chilean wine palm, Butia x Jubaea, offers a larger size tree with a more structured crown of foliage and equal or greater drought and cold tolerance.  

Washingtonia robusta, Classic street and skyline tree of California, the Mexican fan palm and the unbeatable “cockroach” of palms, grows fast and looks good in a wide array of conditions. It will tolerate but not look good in the chilly fog belt, while it will thrive but get occasional winter foliar damage in the coldest inland climates. Widely available, it grows fast and gets quite tall (50 feet in 50 years). (We do not offer its cousin and our native California fan palm, Washingtonia filifera, because it does not do well in coastal California; it’s best suited to hot inland areas like its desert home.) 

Phoenix dactylifera: Selections of the true date palm, ‘Zahidi’ and ‘Medjool’, tolerate our cool, humid summers better than the skinnier ‘Deglet Noor’. True date palms can also replace Canary Island date palms where specimens are needed, offering similar size but a more open, spare appearance. Tall specimens make good street trees.

Howea forsteriana: The kentia palm is a slow-growing and moderate-size (30 feet in 50 years) palm tree that brings a tropical note into local landscapes with its crown of weeping feather leaves and its gently leaning, smooth, green ringed trunk. Single trees attract attention but plants in clumps and groves look especially attractive. Young plants look best in part to full shade, while older trees handle both full sun and shade. Supply summer irrigation. Kentia palms are useful in urban centers, in frost-free, windy, bayside gardens, and even in fog-belt landscapes. Can be a nice small street tree with irrigation. Not viable where temperatures regularly drop below 30F.



 

Choice Palms for The Cool Summer Bay Area

Parajubaea torallyi var. torallyi Pasopaya Palm

A fast-growing, very rare, majestic tree from high in the Bolivian Andes. Looks like a husky coconut palm. Give it full sun, good drainage, ample water, regular fertilizer, and stand back and watch it develop into a graceful and substantial palm with a hefty, fiber-clad trunk and finely divided pinnate leaves. Once established, it will tolerate drought. Can reach 20 feet tall in 15 years. Produces edible miniature coconuts. Enjoys the Bay Area’s cool and warm microclimates and will tolerate moderate frosts. Plant as young as possible and with no root disturbance. Minor seashore tolerance, but otherwise adaptable from the foggy Outer Sunset to Walnut Creek (Sunset zones 14-17).

Max height: 80 feet in 100 years

Max crown breadth: 20 feet

Rare, Majestic, Fast growth, Hardy



 

Parajubaea sunkha Zunca Palm

A fast-growing, very rare tree from the Bolivian Andes. Looks like a silvery coconut palm. Give it full sun, good drainage, ample water, regular fertilizer, and watch it develop gradually into a graceful and substantial palm with a moderate, fiber-clad trunk and finely divided pinnate leaves. Once established, it will tolerate drought. Can reach 15 feet tall in 15 years. Produces edible miniature coconuts. Enjoys the Bay Area’s cool and warm microclimates and will tolerate moderate frosts. Plant as young as possible and with no root disturbance. Minor seashore tolerance, but otherwise adaptable from the foggy Outer Sunset to Walnut Creek (Sunset zones 14-17).

Max height: 40 feet in 100 years

Max crown breadth: 20 feet

Rare, Graceful, Moderate growth, Hardy



 

Hedyscepe canterburyana Umbrella Palm Big Mountain Palm

One of the most colorful, clean-looking and graceful palms we can grow in San Francisco, this native of Australia’s tiny Lord Howe Island in the South Pacific develops a powdery blue-green trunk and crownshaft, apple-green foliage, and lipstick-red fruits the size of robin’s eggs. It prefers a bright, semi-shaded position in well-drained soil, and regular water and fertilizer. Its slow growth and modest proportions make it perfect for small gardens, reaching 10 feet in 30 years, with a crown spanning five feet. It tolerates light frosts but should be planted only in San Francisco and the most protected climates of other bayside and coastal cities like Sausalito, Belvedere, Oakland and Berkeley (Sunset zone 17). Minimize root disturbance upon planting. Thrives in the foggiest neighborhoods, but not especially tolerant of direct coastal exposure.

Max height: 30 feet in 75 years

Max spread: 3-5 feet

Exceptionally beautiful, Rare



 

Ceroxylon quindiuense Andean Wax Palm

One of the endangered wax palms of the Andes and the tallest palm (and monocot) in the world, this very tall Columbian cloud-forest tree will function as a luxuriant foliage element for decades before developing its wax-smooth, white, ringed trunk and becoming a spectacular skyline feature. Plant in bright shade or half-sun in rich, well-drained soil (even clay if sloped), water regularly, and it will steadily produce long, dark-green, glossy, silver-satin-backed leaves. Tolerant of light to moderate frosts, it is best in foggy coastal and humid bayside climates (Sunset zones 16-17 and mild, woodsy parts of 15). Not tolerant of direct coastal exposure.

Max height: 100 feet in 70 years

Max spread: 20 feet

Rare, Exceptionally beautiful, Uniquely adapted to SF Bay Area climate


SELECTING PALM SPECIES

Screen by these criteria: aesthetic appeal, design function, frost-tolerance, heat requirements, wind tolerance, sun tolerance, and water needs. Most soils can be amended.

EXCEPTIONAL CHOICES FOR THE COOL-SUMMER BAY AREA:

Rhopalostylis spp. (nikau & Norfolk palms)

Parajubaea spp. (Andean “coconut”/”coquito” palms)

Trachycarpus spp. (windmill palms)

Brahea armata var. clara (Sonoran blue palm)

Brahea edulis (Guadalupe palm)

Butia odorata (pindo palm)

Chamaedorea spp. (bamboo palms)

Livistona spp. (Australian fan palms)

Jubaea chilensis (Chilean wine palm)

Jubaea x Butia hybrid

Howea forsteriana (kentia or paradise palm)

Hedyscepe canterburyana (umbrella palm)

Ceroxylon quindiuense (wax palms)

EXCELLENT CHOICES FOR INLAND EXTREMES:

Butia odorata (pindo palm)

Brahea spp. (Mexican blue palm and many others)

Jubaea chilensis (Chilean wine palm)

Chamaerops humilis (Mediterranean fan palm)

Chamaerops humilis var. argentea AKA “cerifera” (blue Atlas fan palm)

Livistona decora (ribbon palm)

Livistona australis (Australian fan palm)

Trithrinax spp. (Argentine fan palm)

Sabal spp. (palmettos)

Trachycarpus spp. (windmill palms)

Phoenix dactylifera (true date palms)

FOR OCEAN-SIDE OR WINDY BAYSIDE LOCATIONS:

Butia

Chamaerops

Brahea edulis

Jubaea

Livistona australis

Trachycarpus wagnerianus

Trachycarpus takil

*Worth a try: Parajubaea, Howea, Rhopalostylis, P. dactylifera ‘Zahidi’ & ‘Medjool’, Sabal, Trithrinax

BANANA-BELT TREATS FOR THE MISSION, TELEGRAPH HILL, OAKLAND, TIBURON, LOS ALTOS HILLS, SANTA CRUZ HILLS:

Pritchardia spp. (Hawaiian fan palm)

Archontophoenix cunninghamiana (king palm)

Dypsis baronii (hardy areca palm)

Caryota maxima & C. obtusa/gigas (fishtail palms)

Chamaedorea tepejilote (pacaya palm)

Howea forsteriana (kentia palm) & Howea belmoreana (curly palm)

Ravenea glauca (mini-majesty palm)

Rhapis spp. (lady palms)


GROWING PALMS IN THE BAY AREA

Good drainage & consistent water: few palms tolerate drying out, and few tolerate cold, wet roots.

Fertilizer: Apply NPK 3-1-3 + 1 magnesium in March, June & September.

Palms start growing slowly and accelerate.

Good to plant slow-growing species large.

Palms are slow to adapt to increased light levels.

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CodyORB

Juania australis is more than just cool hardy, it’s cool dependent. They die in long stretches above 75F or so. Looks to be the same with Ledidorrhachis and maybe the high-elevation Chambeyronias.

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ShadyDan

Trachycarpus fortunei is the go-to “cool-hardy” palm just about anywhere. Grows perfectly happily in the northern UK and far northern Vancouver Island where the average summer highs make me shiver...

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Ben in Norcal
13 hours ago, CodyORB said:

Juania australis is more than just cool hardy, it’s cool dependent. They die in long stretches above 75F or so. Looks to be the same with Ledidorrhachis and maybe the high-elevation Chambeyronias.

Yeah, this is a no-go in Vallejo - it gets too hot out in this part of the East Bay.  I doubt Ceroxylons can be sustained long-term due to this (though I finally have one surviving in ground!)

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ExperimentalGrower

Ya I’m going to give a try w C. quindiuense, we’re in zone 17 which gets us the frequent fog blanket and high humidity in the evening but it can get quite hot here. It’ll be an experiment. Nice to hear you’ve got one surviving in Clayton Ben! 

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