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JJPalmer

2021 Freeze Damage - Texas and the Southern US

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JJPalmer

Given the duration and severity of the recent and ongoing historical freeze in the Southern United States, particularly Texas, it will be important to document the damage along with what happens to survive.  In the future, archiving the damage will provide good insight into what future events may bring. 

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JJPalmer

My brother in Frisco provided some pictures of the palms at his apartment complex throughout the event. They’re fully enclosed by the building and located adjacent to the pool.  Unfortunately, with temps dropping below 5°F two nights in a row and the duration of time below 15°, I’m not holding out a lot of hope. 

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Reyes Vargas

One of my royals here in Mercedes Tx.  It looks toastie but I'm going to do everything I can to see if I can save them.  If they do survive it's going to be a very long time before they experience temps like that again.  I'm going to pour copper fungicide in the bud.  Fingers crossed.

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Edited by Reyes Vargas
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Xenon
1 hour ago, Reyes Vargas said:

One of my royals here in Mercedes Tx.  It looks toastie but I'm going to do everything I can to see if I can save them.  If they do survive it's going to be a very long time before they experience temps like that again.  I'm going to pour copper fungicide in the bud.  Fingers crossed.

I hope most people are like you and don't remove palms prematurely. 

Rooting for your royal to pull through. 

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Palmlover_78

My Area in Canada Zone 4, we are getting out of a nasty cold snap of day time temps of -31 and night temps -45 :angry:

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jimmyt

Wow!  Now those temps make Texas look tropical right now!

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JohnAndSancho
1 hour ago, jimmyt said:

Wow!  Now those temps make Texas look tropical right now!

Yeah, but - they're used to it and they're prepared for it. We aren't. I don't even own a coat lol. 

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PalmatierMeg
21 hours ago, Xenon said:

I hope most people are like you and don't remove palms prematurely. 

Rooting for your royal to pull through. 

I agree with Jonathon. If there is a glimmer of hope, wait. It can take weeks for some outcomes. Besides, tree trimmers are going to be swamped for months.

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PalmatierMeg
23 hours ago, JJPalmer said:

My brother in Frisco provided some pictures of the palms at his apartment complex throughout the event. They’re fully enclosed by the building and located adjacent to the pool.  Unfortunately, with temps dropping below 5°F two nights in a row and the duration of time below 15°, I’m not holding out a lot of hope. 

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Kudos to that apt. complex for trying to protect their palms.

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Walt

With respect to this ungodly and horrendous cold weather event in Texas and the palms around the swimming pool -- the only way wrapping the palm trunks will help is if you also have supplemental heat in the form of heating cables spirally wrapped around the trunk (or lots of heat producing string lights). The wrapping must be of  a highly insulative material, not frost cloth, so as to hold the supplemental heat around the palm trunk.  Just wrapping a trunk (and meristem),  even with a highly insulative material will virtually do nothing with out adequate supplemental heat as there's no heat to hold in.  A palm gives off no heat, therefore  insulation doesn't help with regard to keeping the palm warm. The palm will quickly assume the surrounding air temperature -- where what little heat the palm may have had -- as the cold front drops the air temperature lower and lower -- is transferred from the palm and into the surrounding frigid air.

The express purpose of insulation is to reduce the rate of heat flow (in this case, loss of heat from the palm). If an object (palm) has no heat to lose to the colder air around it, the insulation does nothing.

The day Florida has a cold event like this will be the day my palm hobby will be over with for good. Too old now,  too short in years to start over.  I don't like seeing such cold carnage, even if it isn't directing affecting me. I've been there and done that, but surely not to the degree of what's happening now in Texas and Louisiana (in palm growing areas).

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Hombre de Palmas
39 minutes ago, Walt said:

With respect to this ungodly and horrendous cold weather event in Texas and the palms around the swimming pool -- the only way wrapping the palm trunks will help is if you also have supplemental heat in the form of heating cables spirally wrapped around the trunk (or lots of heat producing string lights). The wrapping must be of  a highly insulative material, not frost cloth, so as to hold the supplemental heat around the palm trunk.  Just wrapping a trunk (and meristem),  even with a highly insulative material will virtually do nothing with out adequate supplemental heat as there's no heat to hold in.  A palm gives off no heat, therefore  insulation doesn't help with regard to keeping the palm warm. The palm will quickly assume the surrounding air temperature -- where what little heat the palm may have had -- as the cold front drops the air temperature lower and lower -- is transferred from the palm and into the surrounding frigid air.

The express purpose of insulation is to reduce the rate of heat flow (in this case, loss of heat from the palm). If an object (palm) has no heat to lose to the colder air around it, the insulation does nothing.

The day Florida has a cold event like this will be the day my palm hobby will be over with for good. Too old now,  too short in years to start over.  I don't like seeing such cold carnage, even if it isn't directing affecting me. I've been there and done that, but surely not to the degree of what's happening now in Texas and Louisiana (in palm growing areas).

I am constantly reminded about the calamity that has occurred in Texas as I go about my day surrounded by my yard, pool and even when using the electrical appliances we take for granted. They are freezing, and I am running the A/C. Surreal.

I remember when I lived there we had a sensor that ran our pool when the temperature dropped below freezing. How does that work with no power? The damage to the infrastructure in many parts of Texas will take months to repair, and of course many landscapes will be devastated for the foreseeable future. A constant reminder of this event.

I'm kinda in the same boat with you, it would be hard to start again, but I would, with ultra hardy specimens. But what would be the availability and price?

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Walt
On 2/17/2021 at 4:25 PM, Hombre de Palmas said:

I am constantly reminded about the calamity that has occurred in Texas as I go about my day surrounded by my yard, pool and even when using the electrical appliances we take for granted. They are freezing, and I am running the A/C. Surreal.

I remember when I lived there we had a sensor that ran our pool when the temperature dropped below freezing. How does that work with no power? The damage to the infrastructure in many parts of Texas will take months to repair, and of course many landscapes will be devastated for the foreseeable future. A constant reminder of this event.

I'm kinda in the same boat with you, it would be hard to start again, but I would, with ultra hardy specimens. But what would be the availability and price?

Most of my most cold/frost intolerant palms are planted close to my house where I could run extension cords to power heating cables and string lights (which I've had no need to do for the past 6-7 winters). I have a 20 amp 120 volt generator as a back up if the power were to go out. But those days of protecting my palms (and some tropical plantings) are over for me now.  I may make an exception for my green Malayan dwarf coconut palm which I've been growing for 17 years.

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TylerA

Hey guys, I’m a new palm owner in the Houston area, I had a few palms put in two years ago and honestly I know very little on what or how to take care of them. With this recent freeze and extended cold I’m sure I’ve lost my palms, but I want to give them every chance I can to try and save them. What should I be doing in the coming months and days to try and revive them? 

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JJPalmer

An update on the Frisco palms. Unless someone devoted a ton of time and resources, not a single mature/large palm will be left in all of DFW.

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Hombre de Palmas
21 minutes ago, JJPalmer said:

An update on the Frisco palms. Unless someone devoted a ton of time and resources, not a single mature/large palm will be left in all of DFW.

DD51057C-D43A-48F8-946D-200FC769BAA5.jpeg

A nightmare scenario for palm lovers and I guess pretty much everyone affected.

Also, with the no power, folks weren't able to run their pool pumps. That will create a whole bunch of problems.

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anewway

I'm being optimistic with mine, especially since this is the first year I've owned palm trees, but its been pretty cold for a bunch of days.   I'm in The Colony TX, which is the town adjacent to Frisco.   I did wrap mine with heat tape, and doubled it up around the crown, and then wrapped the whole trunk and crown with two layers of quilted moving blankets, so who knows.   I gave it a good shot, and we'll see how it goes.    The fronds look pretty rough, but the ones that were still mostly in the crown look decent.

I'm one of the lucky ones that never lost power.

 

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Sabal_Louisiana

Over here on the I-10 corridor around Baton Rouge, we just ended, they say, the coldest 7 day stretch in recorded history. The lowest was 20F, and would have been lower save for persistent cloud cover. We had 50 hrs below freezing with plenty of ice during that time. 7 nights in a row below freezing, with 6 of those below 30.

A preliminary survey of cold damage to area palms shows the following:

Sabals, Windmills, and Butia capitata not surprisingly, have come through with negligible effects for the worse.

Sago damage was not as bad as 2018. A few appear almost unaffected and the worst affected are partially bronzed.

Canary Island Date Palms have some leaf burn/yellowing ranging from minor to moderate. With Sylvesters the frond discoloration appears to be more extensive. Those of the medjool variety seem to be largely unscathed.

Washingtonias are common. Though cold tolerant, they don't like wet hard freezes. Many were limped with ice and now recovery is underway. Some of the filifera variety appear to be doing okay in form but have evidence of frond browning ranging from minor to moderate. The robustas and the hybrids are a mixed bag - Some look beat, others not so much.

Chinese fans (Livistonia) have come through surprisingly well for the most part. Some have fading and there are some that are still almost all green.

Mule palms show signs of yellowing, slight browning but the impression is that they will be okay.

Most Queens around here succumbed in 2018 but for those that are still around, they all appear to be alive, at least so far; None so far have been crisped extensively and most still show a fair amount of green but I've only visualized a few so far.

It's still hard to say how many of these will worsen with time but I'm cautiously optimistic.

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Austin Ag

I have three Pindo Palms that were transplanted from south Texas two year ago.  I wrapped the palms in old style C-bulb Christmas lights and then wrapped that in moving blankets.  
 

Austin Texas area got down to 1-degree and I lost power for as long as 4 to 6 hours. So we will see.  Any recommendations?

 

I will post updated photos later today   

Thanks. 

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Edited by Austin Ag
Add photos.
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Gaga Iowa/Arkansas

I just found this forum and so glad I did! We just moved to Hot Springs Village Arkansas after retiring from Iowa 1 1/2 years ago to escape the snow and cold! Last June we purchased a 12 ft Windmill Palm for our anniversary. They said it was cold hardy. Well, as you know we just had record snow and low temperatures. We had below freezing temps for 10 days straight with the lowest -5 at night and 11 during the day. My husband put some fertilizer down and then we covered the base with burlap and also with a moving blanket. Then the snow piled on top. 
We just were able to dig the snow off and remove the covers. What do you think our chances are for survival are since it hasn’t been in the ground for a year. And what to you suggest we do to help it along? I called our local landscaping business but I don’t feel too confident in their knowledge.
First picture is after the snow.
Second picture is during the snow. 
Third picture is after we had it planted.
Thank you! 

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Xerarch
1 hour ago, Gaga Iowa/Arkansas said:

I just found this forum and so glad I did! We just moved to Hot Springs Village Arkansas after retiring from Iowa 1 1/2 years ago to escape the snow and cold! Last June we purchased a 12 ft Windmill Palm for our anniversary. They said it was cold hardy. Well, as you know we just had record snow and low temperatures. We had below freezing temps for 10 days straight with the lowest -5 at night and 11 during the day. My husband put some fertilizer down and then we covered the base with burlap and also with a moving blanket. Then the snow piled on top. 
We just were able to dig the snow off and remove the covers. What do you think our chances are for survival are since it hasn’t been in the ground for a year. And what to you suggest we do to help it along? I called our local landscaping business but I don’t feel too confident in their knowledge.
First picture is after the snow.
Second picture is during the snow. 
Third picture is after we had it planted.
Thank you! 

 

Welcome to the forum! Boy that's a nice big one that you planted too,  Even for a windmill palm those temps are going to be hard to overcome, especially for a newly planted one, and for future reference, it's the crown/the growing point on top that you need to focus on protecting.  I've heard of Trahcycarpus (the genus for windmill palms) surviving temps below 0, usually is arid places in the west that tend to bounce back to warmer temps fairly quickly, and these would also be established palms.  I would not give up hope until it gets good and warm in the summer and you haven't seen any growth at all.  In the meantime, many people on this forum have recommended pouring some hydrogen peroxide down the crown of the palm to help keep it from rotting.  That may be something to consider, pour some down there now and for a few days maybe, and then maybe once a week after that.  I don't have a lot of experience doing that myself so we'll see if someone else can give some guidance.  Good luck, hope it pulls through but if it doesn't, you at least have some lessons learned.

 

By the way, that windmill palm is the most cold hardy trunking palm in the world, but you may not know that what is arguably THE most cold tolerant (but normally not trunking) palm in the world is native right there in Arkansas and other states in the southeast.  In fact I believe that the most northern (inland) population of it is in Arkansas.  It's called Sabal minor, a small, native and nearly invincible palm in your area.

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Gaga Iowa/Arkansas

Thank you for your response. I don’t even know how we would even get up there to pour hydrogen peroxide down there, unfortunately. Next thing, we would fall off a ladder and then we would have worse problems. So very discouraging. The Sable Palm sounds familiar. Disappointed in our local landscaping business as well. This was the only kind they said they would sell in our area, and we took their word. We will let it stand till it shrivels to the ground. 

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Xerarch
4 minutes ago, Gaga Iowa/Arkansas said:

Thank you for your response. I don’t even know how we would even get up there to pour hydrogen peroxide down there, unfortunately. Next thing, we would fall off a ladder and then we would have worse problems. So very discouraging. The Sable Palm sounds familiar. Disappointed in our local landscaping business as well. This was the only kind they said they would sell in our area, and we took their word. We will let it stand till it shrivels to the ground. 

Well the landscape company is right for the most part, the windmill is probably the only palm that would "sell". Sabal minor is not commonly cultivated for nursery selling purposes, most people wouldn't think they are exciting enough, probably for not having a trunk so they don't sell well when offered, so nobody sells them.  There are people on this forum that appreciate them though and would be able to point you in the right direction about acquiring some if you so desired. 

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Gaga Iowa/Arkansas

I researched the Sabal minor palms, and yes, I agree, I would not be interested in them, especially after having my Windmill Palm! I’ll just do a lot of praying and tree hugging hoping to send positive vibes to it! Lol. Thanks again! 

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airtouch25
13 hours ago, Gaga Iowa/Arkansas said:

Thank you for your response. I don’t even know how we would even get up there to pour hydrogen peroxide down there, unfortunately. Next thing, we would fall off a ladder and then we would have worse problems. So very discouraging. The Sable Palm sounds familiar. Disappointed in our local landscaping business as well. This was the only kind they said they would sell in our area, and we took their word. We will let it stand till it shrivels to the ground. 

Buy a spray bottle from a local hardware store that shoots far enough.

Saturate the crown with enough hydrogen peroxide or copper fungicide at all angles.  Let it dry then repeat.

A palm tree in this condition can’t draw moisture from the soil or food from the sun.  In this weak state it becomes vulnerable to disease and rot.  

This is why applying a product like liquid hydrogen peroxide in this state is crucial to protect your investment.

Be patient as you may notice much improvement until warmer weather arrives.  

Edited by airtouch25
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Gaga Iowa/Arkansas

Thank you so much! I am definitely to going to see what we can do!! I appreciate you suggestion to very much! 

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Texas_Katy_Palms

We moved to this house not even a year ago and it’s our first time to have palm trees. They did not do well with the freeze in Katy, Texas. With the three Queens, we will remove all the palms that are falling Over and leave the very few at the top and then wait and see. I do not know what variety the other two large palms are. perhaps a Pindo and Canary Date palm. They are all brown. Should we remove every frond?  Or just leave them all on the tree and wait and see? Or remove some? I’ve read so much online but can’t seem to find info on what to do when all leaves are brown...not sure if we remove them all? I can’t figure out how to attach pics. Thanks for any info!

 

 

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ShadowNight030
On 2/22/2021 at 9:57 AM, Gaga Iowa/Arkansas said:

Thank you for your response. I don’t even know how we would even get up there to pour hydrogen peroxide down there, unfortunately. Next thing, we would fall off a ladder and then we would have worse problems. So very discouraging. The Sable Palm sounds familiar. Disappointed in our local landscaping business as well. This was the only kind they said they would sell in our area, and we took their word. We will let it stand till it shrivels to the ground. 

Well I wouldn’t be too disappointed with them, my dad and his family all live in Little Rock, and windmills are planted all over in his subdivision. Hot springs is LOADED with them, and most winters they do just fine. Sad to see this happen. In some parts of Little Rock Ive seen sagos, chamaerops, sabal palmetto, and 2 washingtonia. Even live oaks were starting to gain popularity in Little Rock. The low was at zero or lower depending on location. My dad picked up -3 in his garden. Hate to see what all the windmills in his neighborhood look like now... but, in short, they are usually dependable palms for your area. This was just a horrible cold snap that’s not typical at all for your area. 

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Gaga Iowa/Arkansas

Thank you! Yes....I guess I’m not the only one when I think about it! I’ve seen them also in Hot Springs....that’s what made me want one!! Thank you for bringing me to my senses! I’m trying to think we enjoyed a tropical vacation since last June we purchased it. That was a pretty inexpensive tropical vacation! 

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anewway

Here are a few pics of how mine fared the storm.   The fronds look like they are toast, but, if you look at the trunk, you can see a better color where I had the trunk wrapped with quilted blankets with heat tape underneath.   I'm hoping that means that the tree itself will be ok, just a little short on fronds for a while.   The small cluster looks real bad, not sure if they will make it, they were covered, but not heated except for a few lights under them.

Any thoughts on the bigger one?   Think it will make it?   BTW, I've been told its a Texas Sabal, does that correct to you guys?

 

Fronds.jpg

Medium group.jpg

Trunk 2.jpg

Trunk.jpg

20210221_135246.jpg

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Walt
22 hours ago, anewway said:

Here are a few pics of how mine fared the storm.   The fronds look like they are toast, but, if you look at the trunk, you can see a better color where I had the trunk wrapped with quilted blankets with heat tape underneath.   I'm hoping that means that the tree itself will be ok, just a little short on fronds for a while.   The small cluster looks real bad, not sure if they will make it, they were covered, but not heated except for a few lights under them.

Any thoughts on the bigger one?   Think it will make it?   BTW, I've been told its a Texas Sabal, does that correct to you guys?

 

Fronds.jpg

Medium group.jpg

Trunk 2.jpg

Trunk.jpg

20210221_135246.jpg

What you did (heat tape and insulation blankets) is exactly what I do for my coconut palm here in zone 9b. My coconut palm was exposed to 20.7 degrees in December of 2010 and it pulled through with no problem, albeit the fronds were toasted. The key was that the meristem and trunk were not exposed to sub 32 degree temperatures. I used EasyHeat cables rated at 7 watts per lineal feet.  While I didn't have the extreme low temperatures that your did,  I had six nights below 30 degrees, three of those nights below 25 degrees, the lowest being 20.7 degrees F. However, my coconut palm is far less cold hardy than your palm, so from a relative standpoint you sable palm should pull through. I also tried to use a forced air kerosene heater to protect the fronds on my coconut palm, but ran out of fuel. Lastly, I put a remote digital thermometer sensor under the palm trunk insulation,  but away from the heating cable.  The lowest the temperature dropped to was 55 degrees F. It took close to two years for my coconut to regrow a full crown of fronds. But grow it did, and has been yielding me coconut now for many, many years.

20.7 degrees 12-28-10.jpg

Coconut palm trunk wrap 12-07-10.jpg

Cocos nucifera with heating cables.jpg

Post freeze 12-29-10.jpg

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Walt

My coconut palm this past September of 2020.

Coconut s.e. view 9-16-2020 (2).jpg

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Reyes Vargas
28 minutes ago, Walt said:

What you did (heat tape and insulation blankets) is exactly what I do for my coconut palm here in zone 9b. My coconut palm was exposed to 20.7 degrees in December of 2010 and it pulled through with no problem, albeit the fronds were toasted. The key was that the meristem and trunk were not exposed to sub 32 degree temperatures. I used EasyHeat cables rated at 7 watts per lineal feet.  While I didn't have the extreme low temperatures that your did,  I had six nights below 30 degrees, three of those nights below 25 degrees, the lowest being 20.7 degrees F. However, my coconut palm is far less cold hardy than your palm, so from a relative standpoint you sable palm should pull through. I also tried to use a forced air kerosene heater to protect the fronds on my coconut palm, but ran out of fuel. Lastly, I put a remote digital thermometer sensor under the palm trunk insulation,  but away from the heating cable.  The lowest the temperature dropped to was 55 degrees F. It took close to two years for my coconut to regrow a full crown of fronds. But grow it did, and has been yielding me coconut now for many, many years.

20.7 degrees 12-28-10.jpg

Coconut palm trunk wrap 12-07-10.jpg

Cocos nucifera with heating cables.jpg

Post freeze 12-29-10.jpg

Where did you buy your EasyHeat cables?

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jimmyt

@Reyes Vargas  not to butt in but I have been using Easy Heat cables for around 10 years.  I have been using them on the date palms, Washingtonias, mexicana, and palmetto at different winter times.  I used one on my new Mule palm this winter.  It may have saved it.  My low temp was -2 F.  I bought my cables via internet from https://morelectricheating.com    They are not exactly cheap but pay for themselves if they save your large thousand dollar palm.  There are other brands SR Trace heat cables than Easy Heat. Raychem WinterGard is one and there are others but they all work the same and around the same cost.

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Reyes Vargas

@jimmyt thank you.  I want to plant some coconuts and use the heating cables just in case we get cold just like we got this time.  The chances of it getting this cold in the RGV anytime soon is very low but I just want to be prepared.  -2f man how did your sabal palms fair.  I know that palmettos are more cold hardy than mexicanas but I don't know that they are -2f cold hardy.

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jimmyt

Yeah what a kick in the ass for all of us!  The sabals took leaf burn but the petioles and crowns still look ok.  I will do a survey and post the aftermath this weekend.  The final results are still under review 

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jimmyt

This is the packing info the Easy Heat cables come in/with.  The nice feature is that you can overlap the cable without it burning out like other cables as they are “ self regulating(SR)”  This is just for everyone’s information.  I am not selling anything here!  I connect mine to a thermostat and set it to around 32 F
 

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Edited by jimmyt
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anewway
5 minutes ago, jimmyt said:

This is the packing info the Easy Heat cables come in/with.  The nice feature is that you can overlap the cable without it burning out like other cables as they are “ self regulating(SR)”  This is just for everyone’s information.  I am not selling anything here!  
 

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This is the same type I have, and I could feel the warmth under the blankets, so I have hope.   I also checked with an infrared thermometer and it was in the 50s, but it was only in the 20s when I checked, but these give out more heat as the temp drops, so hopefully it will be ok.   It got to -1 here one night, and in the single digits and teens 4-5 nights in a row.  Thanks for the replies!

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TylerA

How long should I be putting in hydrogen peroxide? I’ve been doing it about every other day for a week now. Also wondering if I should trim off all the dead or burnt fronds? Or just leave them for now?

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Walt
21 hours ago, Reyes Vargas said:

Where did you buy your EasyHeat cables?

They come in various lengths.  I have about 10 cables of 24 feet and 40 feet in length. I first started buying my cables from a local hardware store that ordered them for me, but I bought many of my last cables from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Heat-AHB-013-Weather-Heating/dp/B0000DGAJP/ref=sr_1_6?crid=3VE55VKYPUDFK&dchild=1&keywords=easyheat%2B2102%2Bfreeze%2Bfree%2Bheating%2Bcable&qid=1614461226&sprefix=easyheat%2Caps%2C190&sr=8-6&th=1

 

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kinzyjr
18 hours ago, TylerA said:

How long should I be putting in hydrogen peroxide? I’ve been doing it about every other day for a week now. Also wondering if I should trim off all the dead or burnt fronds? Or just leave them for now?

Does the peroxide still fizz up profusely when you pour it in, or is it a bit more stable with just light bubbles?

I'd leave the dead fronds until you see if the plant lives.  If it does, probably late March/early April is a good time.  If not, you don't have to worry about trimming the palm, you can just remove the whole thing.

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