Cold Damage to Majesty Palm

Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)May 6, 2014


I know most of us here, whether we're in zone 4 or zone 9, are trying to push the envelope and grow palms that are better suited in the next warmest climate zone. In my case, this majesty palm, is just about the most tender palm I grow. Sure, they're much better suited for a zone 9b or warmer in coastal areas or frost free areas in Southern California, but I of course won't take no for an answer. I've been growing this one in the ground in z9 in central, inland California (near Chowchilla, to be exact.) From this place, I can see both the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the Coastal Range, so although we do have some coastal wind influence, we also have cold air drafts that sweep from the high snowy peaks onto the valley floor in the winter.

I planted this majesty palm in early 2008, so it has been in this spot for 6 years now. This last year, it finally started to bulk up and swell at the trunk, which I am most excited about. It typically gets some cold damage to the foliage every year, but by mid-May, it has put on enough new growth that I can just cut off the old, damaged foliage and it looks as if nothing ever happened to it. This past winter, however, we had a freeze which lasted for about a week. We had temperatures at this location dip to about 19 or 20 degrees for a number of nights. We didn't protect the majesty, because we thought for sure it would be a gonner anyway. (we lost a large Aloe "Hercules" this winter as well.) In the time we've had it in the ground, it hadn't seen temperatures this low. To my surprise, it looks as if though it has pulled through! I did notice the trunk began to develop soft spots which I thought were a sure sign of the palm's death. The damaged tissue seems to have dried out though, and the palm continues to push out new fronds. I think the trunk will forever have this scar, but at least the palm lives to tell of another winter in a zone it shouldn't be growing in.

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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

This is the side of the palm that is facing the house, and so I believe was better protected from cold wind. The house's roofline is about 5 feet from where the palm is.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:24PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

This is the side that is exposed away from the house showing the scarring and tissue damage.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:25PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

And here's a side shot.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:26PM
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The last time you posted it,wasn't it surrounded by lawn and across from the Australian tree fern?
I have seen photos of them in Bakersfield with some serious deep scars,but they kept going. And the owners added the burden of not much water.
I would just plant some undergrowth to cover the scars as the top growth of fresh green fronds is what you really want to see anyways.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:22PM
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I just planted 5 coconut seedlings in the ground here in Orlando, so I know what you mean about zone pushing.

Also, I have successfully sealed wounds like that in the trunks of small palms using a mixture of Elmer's glue and the sandy soil we have here. It turns into a cement type material and really stays in place to keep out bugs, etc.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 7:02AM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

Hey Stan, yes this one is across from a large Cyathea cooperi. We added a simple paver patio in this area so that is why it looks different. You have a great memory!

Williamr, I wish I could plant cocos! But alas, I can't push the limits that far here haha. That's interesting. I wonder if I can do that with wood shavings?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 6:33PM
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