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bsanders44

Needle palm inground for 5+ years in West. Massachusetts (6a)

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bsanders44

I'm a long time lurker on this site, and figured I'd post some photos of a needle palm that's been growing in-ground, outdoors, year-round for about five years at my parents' house in Western Massachusetts. I live in San Diego, and bought them this palm online, figuring that it would probably die during its first winter. However, it has continued to survive and grow, albeit very slowly, only putting out around three leaves per year.

Each winter, around mid-November, my parents cover the palm with mulch, and then dig it back out in April. That's the only winterizing done to this plant. It's on the south side of their house, about three feet from the foundation, in an area that's relatively dry, at least compared to the rest of their yard.  When my parents remove the mulch each spring, they also place a laundry basket over the plant for a couple of weeks to allow the leaves to acclimatize to the sunlight. The first spring they simply removed the mulch and the leaves burned, setting the plant back significantly. Now they seem to have a good routine, and the plant has grown 3-4 inches of "trunk" and a LOT of needles around its base.

I've never seen a palm grown outdoors this far into the northeast, and it's particularly surprising that it's survived, given that winters in Western Massachusetts are about 5-10 degrees F colder than the coast. Just thought I'd share...

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Allen

Looking good.  

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oasis371

These palms are as slow as molasses in January!  Can't say they are my favorites, and then there are the spines/needles.  Keep waiting for mine to do something.

Maybe it's one of those that grow faster once they get bigger? If you can grow one of these, might you can experiment with Sabal minor..., can't be slower than this one.

Still,  terrific job!

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GregVirginia7

It’s one of my favorites...here in my zone 7, a true cold hardy palm that needs no protection at all...where you are it seems a real achievement to have it growing in-ground  for so long, especially under a blanket of mulch for roughly 1/3 of the year...congrats to your parents.

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bsanders44

Btw, here's what this needle palm looks like when they remove the mulch in the spring. Somehow most of the fronds perk back up within a couple of weeks! 

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Unfortunately, I don't think any other kind of palm could survive in Western Mass. Although the winters seem to be moderating a bit over the past few years, thanks to climate change, this area still gets a few extremely cold nights, like -10F or lower. Frankly, I think my parents' yard may be more 5b than 6a, given that they live on a hill and are somewhat exposed. The lack of growing days, coupled with the general wetness, would likely lead to mold issues and stunt any other palm (windmill, sabal, etc.) beyond its limits.

You may be able to tell from my first photos that there's some ornamental grass that started encroaching on this palm over this past summer. My mother's convinced the grass is beneficial, but I'm sure it's going to reduce the amount of sunlight the palm gets, and have been encouraging my parents to cut it back.

 

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bsanders44

I also bought my parents some other plants to experiment with, including a basjoo banana, Chicago fig, and yucca rostrata. Both the banana and the yucca rotted from the excess moisture, but the fig has been growing like a weed. My parents have since asked me to stop buying them plants, as they're too stressed out over whether the plants will survive each winter!

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Laaz

Impressive. I grew up in upstate NY & we had a camp in Pittsfield when I was young.

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kbob11

I’m from the Worcester area.  Pictured is my needle left, Trachy right, and Musa basjoo far left.  Palms have been in the ground for 3 years now. For the needle I put a box over it and fill it with leaves.  Seems to be thriving this year.  First year was slow to adapt.  

 

A813BE1F-0D20-4133-983C-42882268CC69.jpeg

Edited by kbob11
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Manalto
19 hours ago, kbob11 said:

For the needle I put a box over it and fill it with leaves. 

 

A813BE1F-0D20-4133-983C-42882268CC69.jpeg

Nice!

When I was in Eastern Connecticut, a farmer taught me this method. He used a peach basket and emphasized that the leaves have to be oak because they're sturdier so they stay drier during the winter.  (Maple leaves tend to mat.) Hardy late-season transplants benefit from this treatment as well.

Edited by Manalto
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