Palm tree – when you hear those words what pops into your mind? Cold hardy palm trees are not what most people think of.
Most people I’ve surveyed immediately think of the coconut palms dotting a beach, their palm fronds swaying in the wind as waves lap the beach sand and the sturdy trunk.
But, there are cold hardy palms that can handle deep cold winters and freezes as temperatures fall to subzero ranges.
5 Factors Affecting Cold Hardy Palm Tree Success in Cold Climates
Species of Palm Tree – Each species handles cold temperatures differently
Acclimatization – The same palm species grown in a warm climate will not handle cold and could (most likely) die. When buying cold-hardy palms, purchase palms grown and acclimated to tolerate cold weather areas.
Palm Health – A healthier palm has more chances surviving cold winter temperatures.
Palm Maturity – Mature palms have thicker trunks and more leaves protecting buds giving more chances of surviving a cold weather due to its cold hardiness.
Root System – Older established palms have a more extensive root system increasing its cold tolerance.
Top Cold Hardy Palms
Below is a list of the some of the Top Cold Hardy Palms (in no order) for use in the landscape – durable, easy to grow and available from many nurseries specializing in palms.
Bismarck Palm Tree – Bismarckia nobilis: Native to Madagascar, they are low maintenance plants that can tolerate temperatures down into 15°-20° degrees Fahrenheit when mature.
Cabbage Palm Tree – Sabal palmetto or sabal palm: Native to North America, a durable palm plant, cold, weather , soil and drought tolerant, temperatures down to 10°-15° degrees Fahrenheit when mature.
California Fan Palm Tree – Washingtonia filifera: North American native, popular in the southwest, tolerates drought and cold down to 15°-20° degrees Fahrenheit when mature.
Chinese Fan Palm Tree – Livistona chinensis: Native to China and southern Japan, can tolerate drought and temps down to 10°-15° degrees Fahrenheit when mature, widely grown in southwest US.
European Fan Palm Tree – Chamaerops humilis: – Slow growing, native to Mediterranean area, attractive, bushy, evergreen, extremely tough, handling cold temperatures down to 5°-10° degrees Fahrenheit.
Mexican Fan Palm Tree – Washingtonia robusta: Native to Mexican desert regions, temperatures down to 15°-20° degrees Fahrenheit when mature.
Needle Palm Tree – Rhapidophyllum hystrix: Native to southeastern US, slow growing, when mature extremely cold hardy tolerating temperatures down to -10° degrees Fahrenheit.
Pindo Palm – Jelly Palm or Butia Capitata: Native to South America savannahs, slow growing, temperatures below 5° degrees Fahrenheit will cause damage, requires some maintenance.
Sago Palm Tree – Cycas revoluta: – Not a palm, East African native, cold hardy can tolerate temperatures down to 5°-10° degrees Fahrenheit. Saw Palmetto Palm Tree – Serenoa repens: – Florida native, very cold hardy, tolerates cold down to 0°-5° degrees Fahrenheit, slow growing.
Windmill Palm Tree – Palm Trachycarpus fortunei, Trachycarpus Wagnerianus or Chusan Palm: – Native to central and eastern China, slow growing, very cold hardy palm tolerating cold down to 5°-10° degrees Fahrenheit.
Chamaedorea radicalis – Dwarf palmetto – a small palm without a trunk that grows up to 4 feet tall. This palm can survive low temperatures up to 10° degrees Fahrenheit.
Mazari palm – Nannorrhops ritchiana – one of the hardier palm species. Mazari palm can withstand up to -5° degrees Fahrenheit.