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Best palms to grow here in Chicago


ChicagoPalma

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With the windmill doing pretty well, I am going to plant two bigger larger cold hardy palms. So some suggestions would be nice for what they could be and recommend especially because of my climate.

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12 hours ago, ChicagoPalma said:

With the windmill doing pretty well, I am going to plant two bigger larger cold hardy palms. So some suggestions would be nice for what they could be and recommend especially because of my climate.

We're at the same latitude N41, same seasonal daylight but different climate - cold desert vs humid continental. I would suggest you to focus on Trachycarpus species mostly, you can also try Washingtonia with proper heating. 

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Good morning, Chicago. I am trying my hand on similar palms here in Cleveland. Please keep us posted on your progress. Do you have any photos of your existing specimen(s)?

Thanks and best of luck!

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You're a very adventurous type of gardener. I think there's some degree of that in many of us. I'll push a half zone and maybe a full zone if I'm feeling especially audacious. 

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There was a guy in iOWa who grew a robusta to 20 feet tall by covering with a structure each winter. 
 

that would be a good option because even if you have to defoliate it every winter before covering up, it will recover the fastest in the spring and put out 20+ fronds which a Sabal or trachy won’t do 

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Robustas are less cold hardy and more sensitive to cold, they defoliate around like 20 farenheit or something, so maybe a Filibusta might be the answer.

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2 hours ago, ChicagoPalma said:

Robustas are less cold hardy and more sensitive to cold, they defoliate around like 20 farenheit or something, so maybe a Filibusta might be the answer.

Either one will need to have a structure built around it and be kept completely covered for 6 months so it won’t matter whatsoever if the winters are wet or not 

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5 hours ago, ChicagoPalma said:

Robustas are less cold hardy and more sensitive to cold, they defoliate around like 20 farenheit or something, so maybe a Filibusta might be the answer.

Robusta, Filifera, and Filibusta would all need a structure built around them in your climate for nearly half the year.

I'd recommend sticking with Trachycarpus, Sabal Minor, and Needle Palm.

Good luck.

2-23-2023

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Emerald Isle, North Carolina

USDA Zone 8B/9A - Humid Subtropical (CFA)

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10 hours ago, DreaminAboutPalms said:

Either one will need to have a structure built around it and be kept completely covered for 6 months so it won’t matter whatsoever if the winters are wet or not 

A structure would be needed for 3/4 months max, for washies.....

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A boxed in filifera would definitely recover fastest from being completely defoliated..

A Louisiana would have that wow factor in a few years. Go with a 7 gallon and watch it explode.

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On 2/21/2023 at 7:16 PM, ChicagoPalma said:

With the windmill doing pretty well, I am going to plant two bigger larger cold hardy palms. So some suggestions would be nice for what they could be and recommend especially because of my climate.

If you wrap up your palms and build a box and use heated wire, you could grow a big Sabal palmetto as long as it stays above 15 F in the box.

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Larger palms are what I'd like, so a filifera I have on my mind. I will get a louisiana maybe in the front as well for a shrub like look. Maybe I should get a mule palm?

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30 minutes ago, ChicagoPalma said:

Larger palms are what I'd like, so a filifera I have on my mind. I will get a louisiana maybe in the front as well for a shrub like look. Maybe I should get a mule palm?

Keep in mind, In Chicago the ground freezes pretty hard which is what filiferas hate, a louisiana would still need protection but because of the smaller size would be easier to protect, and I would just go and forget a mule palm, in your climate it would be near impossible to keep it alive without a green house. You might have more luck trying more things in pots, and overwintering them.

Lucas

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Maybe I should put like heat wire or something around the rootball, might help. Or just deeply water with warm water. Maybe I can put them in a raised bed.

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I really can't believe anyone is entertaining this discussion.. Having lived my entire life in Chicago, minus the last three years moving to Texas this is not adventurous, it's just a fools errand.  Honestly what are you going to do (if it even survives for any length of time) when they get big enough to no longer be able to build a box?  You need to think about 3-5 yrs out... not when things are 12-24" tall..

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I do understand what you are saying Sabal King, but it's possible to grow them and it's best not to try to convince me to not grow palms here Chicago, because either way, I will still grow palms in the ground here in the Chicago suburbs.

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20 minutes ago, ChicagoPalma said:

I do understand what you are saying Sabal King, but it's possible to grow them and it's best not to try to convince me to not grow palms here Chicago, because either way, I will still grow palms in the ground here in the Chicago suburbs.

I understand your sincere, but with all respect you can grow a palm anywhere, just plop it in the ground, this doesnt insure survival, there are many members who live in zones like yours that just keep potted palms, planting palms in the ground just isnt going to work sorry, a tracycarpus cant take a beating every winter like yours did for more than a year or two.

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Lucas

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17 minutes ago, Little Tex said:

I understand your sincere, but with all respect you can grow a palm anywhere, just plop it in the ground, this doesnt insure survival, there are many members who live in zones like yours that just keep potted palms, planting palms in the ground just isnt going to work sorry, a tracycarpus cant take a beating every winter like yours did for more than a year or two.

Well, i've only got one life to live, and either way,  I will try to prove that palms can grow in Chicago with some protection. Also I will send pictures when we uncover the palm, we had a normal winter so no cold damage, first winter and its doing well. 

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Sooner or later you will get caught out on protection as well. Like you will be away, or sick, or dealing with something, and not able to sort the protection in time or able to maintain it. Perhaps a bad storm will damage or destroy the protection, or you’ll have a power cut and not be able to heat the palm. Too much stuff can go wrong in your location.

Even if your protection is on point for the next decade or so, a Trachy will get to the stage where it is too big to protect. You’ll only be growing something that will ultimately succumb to the elements sooner or later. That would be pretty disheartening as well to lose it, which you will sooner or later. I suggest you focus on an indoor collection as others mention, or move somewhere warmer.

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Dry-summer Oceanic climate (9a)

Average annual precipitation - 18.7 inches : Average annual sunshine hours - 1725

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Trachycarpus 10 years in the ground in Chicago would be a pretty impressive feat. Aren't there coconuts on the shores of Lake Michigan every summer (or at least in the past)? Palms for the summer, palms for a few years, I'd be happy to see any living palm in Chicago 😄.

I'd stick to a needle palm...Trachycarpus to fully push the envelope. It's not just a matter of cold protection but also getting good growth during your short growing season. Above palms will give you the longest possible window for growth, the needle would be much easier to protect. 

 

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Jonathan

Katy, TX (Zone 9a)

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I'm not the only one on the boat of planting Palms in really cold areas, we got a guy who has a trachy in maine. Anyways, I understand what you guys all mean, but I will still try to grow them.

1 hour ago, Brandon James said:

They have taken some wind damage from the arctic front earlier this month. We hit -14f with windchills into the -40s. The windmill palm that I cover each winter even took some frond damage 

B30BA210-6E5E-4069-B8D2-000B7D44327B.jpeg

037205C2-F413-4E30-B4F9-9F039444710E.jpeg

 

55 minutes ago, UK_Palms said:

Sooner or later you will get caught out on protection as well. Like you will be away, or sick, or dealing with something, and not able to sort the protection in time or able to maintain it. Perhaps a bad storm will damage or destroy the protection, or you’ll have a power cut and not be able to heat the palm. Too much stuff can go wrong in your location.

Even if your protection is on point for the next decade or so, a Trachy will get to the stage where it is too big to protect. You’ll only be growing something that will ultimately succumb to the elements sooner or later. That would be pretty disheartening as well to lose it, which you will sooner or later. I suggest you focus on an indoor collection as others mention, or move somewhere warmer.

 

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16 minutes ago, Xenon said:

Trachycarpus 10 years in the ground in Chicago would be a pretty impressive feat. Aren't there coconuts on the shores of Lake Michigan every summer (or at least in the past)? Palms for the summer, palms for a few years, I'd be happy to see any living palm in Chicago 😄.

I'd stick to a needle palm...Trachycarpus to fully push the envelope. It's not just a matter of cold protection but also getting good growth during your short growing season. Above palms will give you the longest possible window for growth, the needle would be much easier to protect. 

 

The growing season usually starts in January and ends around the middle of November.  Sometimes it ends in December if we are lucky for the weather to be warm enough.

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4 minutes ago, ChicagoPalma said:

I'm not the only one on the boat of planting Palms in really cold areas, we got a guy who has a trachy in maine. Anyways, I understand what you guys all mean, but I will still try to grow them.

 

 

well if your willing to shell out a few grand on protection and utlities go ahead by all means

Lucas

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3 minutes ago, ChicagoPalma said:

The growing season usually starts in January and ends around the middle of November.  Sometimes it ends in December if we are lucky for the weather to be warm enough.

It's what?!  Either you are a parody account and you're totally messing with people or you're a young individual who doesn't know better.  The growing season in Chicago starts in January?!?!?!  Growing season for what?  It does NOT last until mid-November (even sometimes).  I spent nearly 30+ years there, and you're just flat out living in a fantasy land if you believe this.

Here in NTX we grow Sabals year round but we get colder during the winter months, albeit for short bursts at a time, and we get intense heat which helps things recover.. you do not... seriously... please if you're a parody account tell us now.   Look at the temps in January in Chicago LOL...... come on.

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13 minutes ago, ChicagoPalma said:

The growing season usually starts in January and ends around the middle of November.  Sometimes it ends in December if we are lucky for the weather to be warm enough.

729583947_CHIL.jpg.cac1746ec5d261f4658488d5f6dd8b8e.jpg

Edited by MSX
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1 minute ago, ChicagoPalma said:

The growing season usually starts in January and ends around the middle of November.  Sometimes it ends in December if we are lucky for the weather to be warm enough.

There is no way your growing season starts in January. I would consider the 'growing season' to begin after the last frost, which for you would be late April in Chicago. Up until then, pretty much everything will be dormant with minimal growth between freezes. The palms would have been so heavily taxed by the previous winter in your location that they will likely take even longer to get growing properly too. Your first frost is late October, so you are looking at a 6 month growing season at most. You aren't getting any growth in November there as they will get bombed by 15-20F lows quite early on as soon as the first arctic blast hits.

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Dry-summer Oceanic climate (9a)

Average annual precipitation - 18.7 inches : Average annual sunshine hours - 1725

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1 minute ago, UK_Palms said:

There is no way your growing season starts in January. I would consider the 'growing season' to begin after the last frost, which for you would be late April in Chicago. Up until then, pretty much everything will be dormant with minimal growth between freezes. The palms would have been so heavily taxed by the previous winter in your location that they will likely take even longer to get growing properly too. Your first frost is late October, so you are looking at a 6 month growing season at most. You aren't getting any growth in November there as they will get bombed by 15-20F lows quite early on as soon as the first arctic blast hits.

After being a resident of the NW suburbs of Chicago my entire life minus the last three, you are correct.  I remember many a years that we'd have to cover plants and vegetables into MAY and we always get one good ice storm in April around Easter... we're in February, going into March and there isn't a prayer you are growing a thing there.  I have many friends in the area still and the pictures of their backyards with solid sheets of ice, and temperatures upcoming in the mid 20's and below.. LOL what growing season?

Like I said, I hope this guy is a parody account and just comes out already to put this to bed.  The tennessee area is probably one of the last good places to grow palms.. Louisville has some Sabals (minor, louisiana, needles) but you aren't getting much else going northward... you're just simply not unless you build a damn biodome.

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Subscribe to my YouTube here  to follow along my Sabal obsession....  Quite possibly one of the biggest Sabal plantings in the US.

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/sabalking.texas

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I mean yes you can technically grow a palm in Chicago, but when is has to be completely protected 6 months per year and have a structure built around it it’s essentially an  indoor palm at that point.

Best case scenario if it survives winter you’ll have a palm that looks good for 1-2 months after it recovers before another long harsh winter.
 

There’s a reason why there aren’t any palms within 500 miles of Chicago. If you don’t see it in New York it certainly won’t grow in Chicago.

 

Just rent palms for the summer, then you could have an actual trunking palm that looks good for a few months. 
 

or build a legit greenhouse?

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34 minutes ago, Little Tex said:

well if your willing to shell out a few grand on protection and utlities go ahead by all means

That's a bunch of nonsense.  A heated palm will cost about $2/month to heat at 80 watts.  People do it up there in zone 5 and up in foamboard

1 hour ago, Little Tex said:

I understand your sincere, but with all respect you can grow a palm anywhere, just plop it in the ground, this doesnt insure survival, there are many members who live in zones like yours that just keep potted palms, planting palms in the ground just isnt going to work sorry, a tracycarpus cant take a beating every winter like yours did for more than a year or two.

I bet there are some zone 6 tropical yards that look better than some TX yards.

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YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@tntropics - 60+ In-ground 7A palms - (Sabal) minor(7 large + 27 seedling size, 3 dwarf),  brazoria(1) , birmingham(4), etonia (1) louisiana(5), palmetto (1), riverside (1),  (Trachycarpus) fortunei(7), wagnerianus(1),  Rhapidophyllum hystrix(7),  18' Mule-Butia x Syagrus(1),  Blue Butia odorata (1) +Tons of tropical plants.  Recent Yearly Lows -6F, -1F, 12F, 11F, 18F, 16F, 3F, 3F, 6F, 3F, 1F, 16F, 17F, 6F, 8F

 

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27 minutes ago, Sabal King said:

After being a resident of the NW suburbs of Chicago my entire life minus the last three, you are correct.  I remember many a years that we'd have to cover plants and vegetables into MAY and we always get one good ice storm in April around Easter... we're in February, going into March and there isn't a prayer you are growing a thing there.  I have many friends in the area still and the pictures of their backyards with solid sheets of ice, and temperatures upcoming in the mid 20's and below.. LOL what growing season?

Like I said, I hope this guy is a parody account and just comes out already to put this to bed.  The tennessee area is probably one of the last good places to grow palms.. Louisville has some Sabals (minor, louisiana, needles) but you aren't getting much else going northward... you're just simply not unless you build a damn biodome.

 

31 minutes ago, UK_Palms said:

There is no way your growing season starts in January. I would consider the 'growing season' to begin after the last frost, which for you would be late April in Chicago. Up until then, pretty much everything will be dormant with minimal growth between freezes. The palms would have been so heavily taxed by the previous winter in your location that they will likely take even longer to get growing properly too. Your first frost is late October, so you are looking at a 6 month growing season at most. You aren't getting any growth in November there as they will get bombed by 15-20F lows quite early on as soon as the first arctic blast hits.

 

33 minutes ago, MSX said:

729583947_CHIL.jpg.cac1746ec5d261f4658488d5f6dd8b8e.jpg

 

39 minutes ago, Sabal King said:

It's what?!  Either you are a parody account and you're totally messing with people or you're a young individual who doesn't know better.  The growing season in Chicago starts in January?!?!?!  Growing season for what?  It does NOT last until mid-November (even sometimes).  I spent nearly 30+ years there, and you're just flat out living in a fantasy land if you believe this.

Here in NTX we grow Sabals year round but we get colder during the winter months, albeit for short bursts at a time, and we get intense heat which helps things recover.. you do not... seriously... please if you're a parody account tell us now.   Look at the temps in January in Chicago LOL...... come on.

It autocorrected to January, so relax people.

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3 minutes ago, DreaminAboutPalms said:

I mean yes you can technically grow a palm in Chicago, but when is has to be completely protected 6 months per year and have a structure built around it it’s essentially an  indoor palm at that point.

Best case scenario if it survives winter you’ll have a palm that looks good for 1-2 months after it recovers before another long harsh winter.
 

There’s a reason why there aren’t any palms within 500 miles of Chicago. If you don’t see it in New York it certainly won’t grow in Chicago.

 

Just rent palms for the summer, then you could have an actual trunking palm that looks good for a few months. 
 

or build a legit greenhouse?

There’s a guy in Medford New York that grows trachys and many other hardy palms. I believe it’s called https://www.islandwidepalmtrees.com 

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4 minutes ago, DreaminAboutPalms said:

I mean yes you can technically grow a palm in Chicago, but when is has to be completely protected 6 months per year and have a structure built around it it’s essentially an  indoor palm at that point.

I think a established full size Trachy would need protection Dec-March in most years 4 months.  

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YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@tntropics - 60+ In-ground 7A palms - (Sabal) minor(7 large + 27 seedling size, 3 dwarf),  brazoria(1) , birmingham(4), etonia (1) louisiana(5), palmetto (1), riverside (1),  (Trachycarpus) fortunei(7), wagnerianus(1),  Rhapidophyllum hystrix(7),  18' Mule-Butia x Syagrus(1),  Blue Butia odorata (1) +Tons of tropical plants.  Recent Yearly Lows -6F, -1F, 12F, 11F, 18F, 16F, 3F, 3F, 6F, 3F, 1F, 16F, 17F, 6F, 8F

 

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3 minutes ago, Allen said:

That's a bunch of nonsense.  A heated palm will cost about $2/month to heat at 80 watts.  People do it up there in zone 5 and up in foamboard

I bet there are some zone 6 tropical yards that look better than some TX yards.

Ill send some pictures to hopefully prove that my yard might as well look better than a TX yard. Thanks for the support Allen

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In maybe april Ill send pics, by then the trachy should be fully outside. The new palms Ill send pictures maybe in May or June.

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4 minutes ago, ChicagoPalma said:

OH GOD I MEANT MAY! It may have autocorrect without me knowing.

Hahaha. Shout out brother. I admire your obscured persistence. 

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Thanks for the support, Las Palmas Norte

15 minutes ago, Las Palmas Norte said:

Hahaha. Shout out brother. I admire your obscured persistence. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Allen said:

That's a bunch of nonsense.  A heated palm will cost about $2/month to heat at 80 watts.  People do it up there in zone 5 and up in foamboard

I bet there are some zone 6 tropical yards that look better than some TX yards.

 

10 minutes ago, Allen said:

I think an established full size Trachy would need protection Dec-March in most years 4 months.  

That’s basically what I do, however I have the enclosure slowly built to protect from west, north and east winds but I got lexand glass for solar heat on a sunny day684E7106-DFBB-405F-9496-7E48C4BBAEFC.thumb.jpeg.bb53f97fd56f1981c63c628bcf7b6aba.jpeg

. I leave the south side open mostly the whole winter, with the exception of cold snaps and storms. Once it’s sunny and if the highs are at least around freezing I let it soak up the sun. I marked the newest frond coming out last fall and it shows some growth. 3 degrees was the coldest the enclosure has gotten this winter. 

CFBE39D2-DEAF-4BA5-B875-7D5FC6E01B5D.thumb.jpeg.616839903fbbcdd2b1a9f840bd97dd10.jpeg

below is how it looks most of the year  

ACF2214D-A8CF-4B2B-8183-808DA93DFBCD.thumb.jpeg.22f4c0656b1fc1ad9163320fd7a97444.jpeg

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