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Cold Weather Palm Guidelines

European Fan Palm

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If you are interested in growing palms outside of agricultural zones 9-10, first consider palms as houseplants. If you still must have some palms outdoors, pick more cold tolerant varieties and take extra measures to protect palms during cold waves

You must determine your climate zone so look at the maps, here , before reading further

Cold weather does several things to palms including slowing growth, slowing root functions, possible weakening causing opportunities for disease. Step #1 is to be certain to properly feed palms, especially during the the 2-3 months before colder weather arrives

Depending on the size (height) of your palms, as cold weather approaches, you may be able to cover the foliage with blankets or other warm covers

You may do as the former president of the International Palm Society did with his palm collection in Kansas: build modular buildings to house your palms for the worst winter months. Take them down every spring. You may choose to add heaters to the buildings

You may be able to "tie up" fronds to encase and enclose the bud or heart (inner-most frond / newest frond) thus hoping the older outer fronds shield the bud. If the heart is damaged, the palm may die. If the heart is killed, the whole palm is dead as well

Citrus growers use overhead irrigation to protect their trees. You must start the sprinklers several hours before freezing temperatures arrive and you must run the water continuously. If you stop the water before the ice melts in the morning, you have killed your palms

If are able to somehow apply warmer water while using overhead sprinklers, so much the better

If you both tie up the fronds to encase the bud and use overhead irrigation, too much ice accumulation could break off the head of your palm

There are chemicals sold to spray on plant leaves that are said to reduce the temperature at which damage occurs. When we farmed, the claim was 28 degrees. You may investigate the latest data on this approach

After a cold weather episode passes, fronds may be damaged and look dead or dying. Do not remove any foliage. Wait until spring after growth clearly resumes

Some palm growers apply fungicide after cold. Copper based fungicides are used immediately and again after one week and perhaps one week after that. The third application is a judgment call as no more than two are recommended using copper sprays

In the spring, as soon as weather allows, fertilize and also apply foliar nutrients of micro-elements. Your fertilization should be accurate knowing the last cold wave has passed - for sure. Farmers have said danger is past after the last full moon of the month

Palms to consider for colder climates:

  • Pindo Palm, Butia capitata, zone 8
  • European Fan Palm, Chamaerops humilis, zone 8
  • Mazari Palm, Nannorrhops ritchiana, zone 8
  • Needle Palm, Rhapidophyllum hystriz, zone 8
  • Dwarf Palmetto, Sabal minor, zone 7
  • Cabbage Palm, Sabal palmetto, zone 8
  • Saw Palmetto, Serenoa repens, zone 8
  • Windmill Palm, Trachycarpus fortunei, offer page zone 8
  • Washingtonia Palm, Washingtonia filifera, offer page zone 8
  • Washington Palm, Washingtonia robusta, zone 8
  • Shopping for these palms, we recommend coastal areas starting in North Florida and then traveling further north. There is no sense going further south as the availability and desirability of palms will not be for cold weather varieties

    More info and ideas are here