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teddytn

Hi everyone, I live in northern middle Tennessee and have been growing palms in ground unprotected for 8 years. Haven’t always been successful by the way. Have a pretty decent collection of non palms also. Anyway to get to the point, I am in the process of planting some potted sabal palmettos and was hoping to pick some of the experts brains on the realistic long term survival of a palmetto in northern Tennessee. I’m fairly deep into this project already and am half tempted to start a post to document and track the whole process if anyone is interested. Thanks in advance

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Jimbean

It is a matter of time really.  Sabal palmettos are tough palms and will grow in zone 7 until you get the statistical hard winter every 20 years or so.

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teddytn

I agree, definitely want these to be here long term to maturity. We get bad weather here for sure. I’m originally from upstate New York and the winter we just had in Clarksville was bad. Full on ground freeze, 2” of snow followed by 4” of snow and without looking at the data was below freezing for a week straight.

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PricklyPearSATC
On 4/11/2021 at 1:02 PM, teddytn said:

I agree, definitely want these to be here long term to maturity. We get bad weather here for sure. I’m originally from upstate New York and the winter we just had in Clarksville was bad. Full on ground freeze, 2” of snow followed by 4” of snow and without looking at the data was below freezing for a week straight.

I think a few large sabals were lost up in Dallas this winter.  
Plant Delights rates them as 8b with the exception of S Birmingham
However, you do have potted plants...what are you going to do with them anyway?

You could ship them to Texas..LOL


https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/cold-hardy-palms-windmill-needle-palm-tree-weather

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NCFM

If you're going to give it a shot, I'd recommend trying one of the hardier varieties of palmetto like "Tifton Hardy" or "Bald Head Island."  Good luck and keep us updated! 

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teddytn
8 hours ago, PricklyPearSATC said:

I think a few large sabals were lost up in Dallas this winter.  
Plant Delights rates them as 8b with the exception of S Birmingham
However, you do have potted plants...what are you going to do with them anyway?

You could ship them to Texas..LOL


https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/cold-hardy-palms-windmill-needle-palm-tree-weather

What a good link, I’ve been on plant delights website a bunch but never read that.
Was trying to wait until I was further along with this project before I started to post everything, since you asked I will start now.

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teddytn

This project is taking things to the next level as far as palm growing goes for me for sure. I plan to post everything as humbly and honestly as I can. If I can admit to being anything it’s definitely a “plant scientist”. I say that because all I’m ever doing is long term multi year experiments, making mental notes and learning from my mistakes as I go. I feel successful as a home gardener only because of all the experience I’ve gained from trial and error over the years. I’ve lost 4 windmill palms in the past even though I protected them so I know I’m venturing into deep water with this project. Why am I doing this? For my love of palm trees. What do I plan on doing? Keep reading.

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teddytn

One main takeaway I’ve learned is at my house in Clarksville, TN for palms to grow successfully they need to be planted against the foundation of my house on the south or west facing side of my house for the best possible site so we’ll start there. I knew a few years ago that I wanted to wall up one of my garage doors and build a raised bed in front of it. This year just happened to be the year. I also haven’t planted a new palm tree in a few years now either ( I’ve been busy watching my palms grow that are in the ground and have gotten pretty deep into the home orchard game ). My house is built on a hill that slopes directly south, you drive down my driveway and pull around back and my basement opens up to my garage ( south facing ). Check the pictures and you will see some progress I have made so far. 
The first photo was step 1, I had to push that porch column to the left because the raised bed would be right in the walkway of entering the basement/ garage. Wife already shaking her head at this point! Lol. 
The second photo I’ve gathered some block and roughly getting an idea of size and how much concrete I’m going to have to remove.

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teddytn

I’ll keep posting pics and give explanations as I go to catch everyone up to where I’m currently at with this.

These pics jump ahead a little bit, I’m notoriously bad at taking pictures of projects I’m doing, but here in the order I did things I set the back wall against the garage door, hammer drilled 3/4” holes into the concrete slab in every opening in every block and hammered in a 1/2” steel square bar into the hole and did this for the entire perimeter of the bed. The back wall was of more importance at this point because it will become an exterior wall to my house. I will get the blood pressure up of any real block or brick masons reading this, but I always dry stack the courses and then completely fill the wall with concrete to make a solid concrete wall. You can see in 2 of the pics that I removed all the concrete in the middle. Hammer drilled holes to make the concrete weaker and little by little after work everyday sledge hammered away at the slab until I removed all the concrete. I didn’t dig to much further down, just removed all the big rocks at the surface. By the way this is the exact process I used in constructing my succulent/ cactus bed also.

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teddytn

Sorry for all the rambling, but I promise this is all about palm trees!!!!! At this point the back wall was cured, I have been spraying my hose from the outside for days at it “leak checking” and felt confident I was good to proceed. My garage doors are one solid piece that swing out from the bottom and then up and back vs like a normal segmented door. This is the next time the wife came shaking her head. I will be the first one to admit that I make mistakes at least on here because no one has seen my face lol. I forgot how much pressure garage door springs were under. I felt confident I was going to hold the spring with one hand and remove the nut holding it in place with the other. It sounded like a gun shot when the spring slipped out of my hand and hit the ceiling.....immediately the wife comes to the basement, sees my bloody hand and the head shaking begins again lol. But here is the garage door open which was convenient to just slide back in place at night and put some weights against it. Next step is framing the wall for a giant window I ordered from Lowes. Here I am not taking pictures again and jump ahead. Framed the wall with hardwood 2x4’s we have laying around at work, used construction adhesive for the bottom board to the concrete and anchored it with countersink sleeve anchors. ( I work at a metal fab shop in Nashville and always have piles of wood laying around to load steel on top of on flat bed trucks ). Framed in the opening for the window, glued and screwed 3/4” hardwood plywood to the framing, picked up and installed the window with a friend from work, I had the brick caps glued already at this point on the back wall and he helped me pour the rest of the concrete in the rest of the bed that day. You can see 2 blue Lowe’s buckets with small sabal palmettos in them in the left of one of the pictures.

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teddytn

To recap so far, some of you still reading may be wondering why in the world am I doing all this? This is my opinion is going to give the sabal palmettos that I plant the best chance at success I can give them, knowing all too well they may not make it through the first winter or take a bad hit, struggle through their second summer in the ground and not make it through their second winter. Again why? I love palm trees. From movies as a kid to everytime me and the family have taken off south to Florida usually Panama City beach, I’m nervously on the look out for the first trunking palm tree I see on the way which by the way Montgomery, Alabama had some unexpected ones last time. Huge palmettos all over the place that I don’t remember seeing the previous trip. So this spot on my property is the holy grail of hot spots. South facing, one of the walls of the raised bed is my house, surrounded by my concrete driveway and my second story covered deck directly adjacent. That part will only help because it blocks a lot of winter weather. That spot in front of that garage door gets the best of winters at my house. Here’s a pic of the mix I use and have had success with over the years for filling raised beds. Depending on what I’m growing I always adjust, but this is the mix I used to to fill this bed for the sabal palmettos. Oh also I have a lot of house plants and the interior of the window will be turned into a plant room to move a bunch of my house plants out of my bedroom which has a south facing window right above this raised bed actually. The mix I’ve made is 1/2 organic bagged raised bed soil, I sometimes just use bags of top soil, 3/8 corse sand, 1/8 limestone pea gravel. Every 3 bags of soil, gets 2- 5 gallon buckets of corse sand and 1- 5 gallon bucket of gravel, also put a generous amount of organic fertilizer and mix with a shovel and water heavily, reappear the next day until full. I’ve used palm specific fertilizer before but I feel the added mycorrhizal fungi is what really helps plants in the long run, and have been only using jobes for the last few years because I also grow vegetables and one fertilizer around the house is enough. Research it if you’re not familiar. 

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teddytn
18 hours ago, NC_Palm_Enthusiast said:

If you're going to give it a shot, I'd recommend trying one of the hardier varieties of palmetto like "Tifton Hardy" or "Bald Head Island."  Good luck and keep us updated! 

If I could find a 7 gallon size or bigger of either of those for sale, let’s just say I would be going home “sick” early that day and drive straight there to pick them up :D

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Allen

Palmetto get big and will do ok here most winters but will outgrow your house in 10 years.  But they are slow!

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NCFM
12 hours ago, teddytn said:

If I could find a 7 gallon size or bigger of either of those for sale, let’s just say I would be going home “sick” early that day and drive straight there to pick them up :D

Gary's Nursery in New Bern, NC might have some bald head island that size, but boy would that be one long drive for you lol

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teddytn
1 hour ago, Allen said:

Palmetto get big and will do ok here most winters but will outgrow your house in 10 years.  But they are slow!

Hey Allen, you get hit by the flood? I know Franklin was bad. Why do you think they they would outgrow my house after 10 years? 

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Allen
10 hours ago, teddytn said:

Hey Allen, you get hit by the flood? I know Franklin was bad. Why do you think they they would outgrow my house after 10 years? 

Palmetto get pretty big once they get going.  The fronds are large.  We got 9" here over 2 days.

Edited by Allen

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teddytn

So the tentative plan is to drive to Georgia next week at some point and pick up a pretty good load of palms. 

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Allen
1 hour ago, teddytn said:

So the tentative plan is to drive to Georgia next week at some point and pick up a pretty good load of palms. 

What size Palmetto are you getting?

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teddytn
1 hour ago, Allen said:

What size Palmetto are you getting?

2- 7 gallon palmettos, 1- 5 gallon palmetto. I also have what I would guess is a 3 gallon at the house from the last time I was in Florida. 

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teddytn

Here’s the palmettos planted, I ended up with smaller plants than I had hoped to start with, but all good!! 2 made it in the raised bed (south facing), 1 on the east side of my house, 1 on the west side. This is a volunteer I dug the last time I was in Florida. It lost the 3 oldest fronds recovering, but is pushing growth now.F93F5C0A-1E42-4A3F-B8A5-8B9ADFB7179C.thumb.jpeg.226eabc9247762adb93c86599ad21795.jpegThis is the biggest of the bunch I bought 5 gallon.A39B0CF9-AA56-4B57-81AB-F49A7026DDDF.thumb.jpeg.571c1db653df5651a730926ecdb069f1.jpeg02599E41-5DE3-450A-B154-A9687A8BB90A.thumb.jpeg.c4446d88d4e85fb56f349b687e0e0a23.jpegD173BA83-C748-44D7-8587-251ECD3DA1D9.thumb.jpeg.e953f289dd92ef4cb951376e2e970099.jpegThis one is in a raised bed on the east side of my house 3 gallon double.943FDF97-A6F3-4FF4-8E60-96BB9C1F15D5.thumb.jpeg.c6bba83a4c57eb2f7489614843ffda68.jpegThis one is on the west side of my house in a raised bed 3 gallon. 55CF5194-DA5F-4BF6-9607-78E3BEC09270.thumb.jpeg.acc9c04afda5f0d94920e1159fe20df5.jpeg20F91186-34CC-4ADE-9D82-03346B4246D5.thumb.jpeg.1e97460045673b43e12fe664b5d6b66c.jpegLet the experiment begin! I have no doubt they will grow great this summer. Next February/ March may be a different story...

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Allen

They should do great there.  But they could get really big in future years.  The fronds are big.

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teddytn
2 hours ago, Allen said:

They should do great there.  But they could get really big in future years.  The fronds are big.

I usually don’t protect plants, but if the weather gets real cold I might throw a trash can over them. I won’t mind the fronds against the house, but against that window won’t work. Might have to trim a few if they get to that size. I just really wanted them close to the foundation to try and keep them warm.

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