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What are the Best Palm Trees for Cold Climates?

Updated on October 24, 2010

If you are a plam tree lover and want the tropical look to your cold region, there are many palms that will likely survive in your area:

  • Phoenix dactylifera - (Date Palms are cold hardy to 18 degrees)
  • Phoenix canariensis - (Canary Island Palms are cold hardy to 15 - 18 degrees)
  • Sabal mexicana- (Texas Sabal Palms are cold hardy to 16 - 18 degrees)
  • Chamaerops humilis - (Mediterranean Fan Palms are cold hardy to 5 - 15 degrees)
  • Washingtonia filifera - (California Fan Palms are cold hardy to 15 degrees)
  • Trachycarpus fortunei- (Windmill Palms are cold hardy to 5 degrees)
  • Butia capitata - (Pindo Palms are cold hardy to 12 - 15 degrees)
  • Cycas revoluta - (Sago Palms are cold hardy to 20 degrees)
  • Washingtonia robusta - (Mexican Fan Palms are cold hardy to 18 degrees)
  • Syagrus romanzoffiana - (Queen Palms are cold hardy to 20 degrees)
  • Rhapidophyllum Hystrix - (Needle Palms are beautiful compact ,very hardy palm that can be grown as far north as USDA zone 6.

The above tolerances are for adult palms, meaning at least several years old. Remember that the length of time a palm is subjected to the cold temps down this low plays a major roll in their survivability. The longer the temps are this low, the more damage to it. If your area only has several days in these kinds of temps, or if the temps dip down this low only at night and then in the day, temps are in the 30s, 40s, odds are the palm will be fine. If the forecast is for temps between 15-30 all day long, odds decrease it will not survive unless some protection in wrapping it or external heat is given. Palms less than 2 years will need protection from these temps.

Ironically, the hardiest palms have survived in Michigan, a place where none should exist BUT with vigilance and proper protection they do! They are usually the Needle Palm which can survive in Zone 6. This is aout the lowest level zone a palm can survive in.

Zones higher than Zone 6 are more weather friendly to palms, Zones 8-10, are really the best zones to have your tropical look without a lot of vigilance during the winter months. However, even in areas of the better zones, you might have micro-climates that are really a zone 6 or 7 during the winter or even in the better zones, you might have that "freak" winter when temps dive into the teens for days. So, during the winter months, owners of palms need to listen to forecasts regarding pending freezes, how long and how low. Once armed with this information, you can protect your palms using fans, heaters, blankets to keep the core trunk safe. The leaves or branches may not be able to be protected, but protect the trunk if its diameter is less than 3-4 inches.

So, if you live in a Zone 5 or 6, the only palms you can try are the Needle or Windmill Palms, hardy as adults to a low of 5F! If you have them as adults, people will always talk about the "house that has palms!". How crazy!


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