How do you grow Winter Hardy Palm trees in zone 5

marbree(z5 MI)September 7, 2007

Hi, I was wondering, what varieties of winter hardy palm trees and tropicals (like bananas) could a person grow in zone 5, and what would you have to do to take care of them.

Also, is there anything in this category that would do well in sandy soil, with sometimes dry conditions?



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I'm in my third year growing a Chinese Fan Palm (with much success) at my home in Troy, MI. It is now about 3-4 ft. tall and has really leafed out this year. I put cottonwood and oak leaves around before Christmas, then wrap burlap to hold leaves in place, unwrap in early March and cut off any burnt leaves and watch it bloom out again. Usually looks like something again around Memorial Day.

I also cut down my banana tree (musa bajoo) to the stalk, cover with similar leaves and cover with oak/cottonwood leaves until mid-March. It comes up with new shoots around late april. Fully leafed out by Memorial Day.

I also have two MonkeyPuzzle trees, tree trunk yuccas, and native (to Michigan) prickly pear cactii.

Most visitors and relative can't believe what they see when they visit.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 11:22PM
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marbree(z5 MI)

Thanks so much for replying!

How big were the banana plant and the Chinese Fan Palm when you got them?
Is there a desired gallon size / height ratio?
I heard that they are more hardy the larger they get, at least as far as the palm trees go,
does the same matter for the banana plants?

Do you get seeds at all on either?
I'm not sure if there's enough summer to ripen the fruit.

I'm sure I'd have more questions if I was more knowledgeable on the subject to ask them,
so is there anything else I need to know?

Thanks so much again,


    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 6:27PM
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iowapalmz5(Zone 5)


Search "Hardy Palm and Subtropical Board" and go to that board. Lots of knowledgeable people about palms and other tropical plants. I live in the Quad Cities if u know where that is. I have several palms that I keep i the ground with protection over the winter. I also grow lots of bananas and I have four southern magnolias.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 12:10AM
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ottawa_basjoo_z5a(z5 ON)


I grow banana's trunking yucca's and 6 different palms here in Ottawa, Ontario. they are; trachycarpus takil, and Trachycarpus wagnerianus. livistona chinesis, sabal minor, Rhapidophyllum hystrix, washingtonia,... i don't know which one it is whether if its the robusta or the flifria. please check out........

you can email me at


    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 12:08AM
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I am interested in growing Palm trees in my yard I have a needle palm, a European fan palms 1 green 1 blue, & Windmill palm. I live in greenville Michigan Zone 5... I have not planted them outside yet have had them for many years and they are bigger each year its alot of work to haul them in and out every year. I want to plant them outside, what do i need to do to have them live through the winter???

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 2:01PM
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mcgyvr2009i(Schenectady, NY 5b)

In zone 5, you can forget about the European Fan Palm. That one will die before spring. You MIGHT have success with the Windmill Palm. And if you're in zone5b, you are the most likely to have success with the Needle Palm. The European Fan Palm reaches heights of 5 to 10 feet, and if it outgrows your house, I'd personally recommend either moving to someplace warmer, or sell your European fan palm for maybe $30 to $40 and you can buy maybe 3-4 more of them. But the needle palm may be your best chance at a tropical garden if you can give it sufficient winter protection. Try the Trachycarpus Fortunei. Leave it in the pot, and outside until you start to notice cold damage(Remember, young plants are a lot less hardy then the mature specimens). If you see the leaves start to burn, BRING IT INSIDE IMMEDIATELY, and nurture it until the cold damage goes away. Try again in maybe 2 or 3 years(Repeat until it can live through december with minimal damage). These palms are hardy to 5*F when mature. When it seems okay for the environment you're in, plant it. To protect it in the winter, wrap the trunk in a blanket, or burlap. Stick some christmas lights(the ones that produce heat) along the entire trunk. Spray with freezepruf. It dehydrates your palm a little bit, decreasing the water content in the palm, thus making it more tough against freezes. Now, as for the needle palm, please visit this link:

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 10:34PM
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I tried to grow a windmill palm in our backyard, but it died before the end of summer... I think it got a fungal disease... Dunno... It's leaves just shrivelled up and turned a greyish brown. But having said that, I'm a firm believer that they CAN survive in zone 5! I would like to try a needle palm, and a dwarf palmettoe... (The Louisiana one?) I think you can if you cover it up go the winter... I'm hoping to try it again this year (2013) and hope it works!! It'll be an experiment worth trying!
Hardy palm include:
Needle palm,
Windmill palm,
Dwarf palmettoe,
And some hardy bananas which are musa basjoo, and another one I can't think of!! :-P also, I would encourage giant elephant ear... I've heard wonderful stories... None of these can be left without a mulch or covering and protection of some sort. I've heard of people leaving the dwarf palmettoe in the ground in zone 5 and letting its leaves die down and then come back up... Don't know how quick it would grow... Also, snow is a very good insulator! I would still mulch, but let snow cover it! With the trees it's better to just bundle em up and use Christmas lights... Bug it seems to vary with te micro climate too!
Hope it succeeds!!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 3:19PM
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