Advice needed! Which palm to use?

LagoMar(USDA 8/AHS 7)June 4, 2012

I would like to use the vast amount of experience here to make the right decision on which tree to buy for a spot I have. It is an open spot in my deck (I had a tree removed). It would grow right in the hole in the deck. It gets very hot on the deck with full mid day sun. However, I am in the woods so morning and late afternoon would be shaded. We are zone 8b, with the lowest temp over the past 15+ years being 16F, but rarely below 20F. HOWEVER, we DO have fairly wet winters and snow is a possibility. Rain is pretty consistant year round (3-5 inches a month), but that particular spot may get a little less due to trees blocking from the North. Not much wind, either if that matters.

The "finalists" I have in mind are Canary Island Date Palm, Washingtonia Filifera or Blue European Fan Palm. If any other great sub-tropical plants are out there that you think are worth considering, please share those as well!

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Of the three that you mentioned, I'd go with the Med fan. I love Canaries but they are Really massive palms and rather prickly when smaller. Filiferas, I have had problems with in the humid East coast summer. If you could temper the heat of the deck some (add some surrounding plants and/or fountain), a Trachy (windmill would work), and they grow at a moderate pace and cope with winter cold/wet quite well. Sabals are just too slow and a quicker growing Sabal Louisiana would take up a lot of deck space before trunking. A Pygmy Date would be ideal but you are probably too cold in the long run for this gem. I'd go with a Trachys and try to cool off the deck some.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Duh...I forgot to suggest the Pindo Palm (Buta capitata in particular). That would work, and mine grow really fast--almost too fast!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Braheas should definitely be considered. Some have extremely blue fronds and they will get to a nice trhinking height some day. They are hardy down to 15F at least, I have heard of them surviving colder than that in warm climates where they can recover. They dont like a lot of rain and they LOVE heat. The wet winters can be a problem though for them so find a way to keep moisture off of them during the winter time.

Trachys would be great for wet winters and they can handle a pretty good amount of heat. Of course Butias (pindo palms) are a great choice for a zone 8b and they have the added benefit of making edible fruit! The palms you have mentioned are also good choices although I personally like green med fan palms over the blue ones because the green ones reach more impressive heights (the blue ones are beautiful for their color though and look great among green tropicals).

Good luck with whatever you choose!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 7:07PM
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I like all of those suggestions assuming you get ample sun. You said it gets a good amount of shade, if you get at least 6 hours, I think you'd be fine with any of those. Otherwise I'd go with a trachy in a shadier situation because they will handle it better out of full sun in a Z8. You don't say where you are, I'm assuming West Coast. If so, consider trunk width for the hole in your deck, Washies and CIDP's will get thick trunks, med fans will sucker.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 10:15PM
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LagoMar(USDA 8/AHS 7)

Thank you all for the suggestions. Keep 'em coming! I am in Virginia Beach, Virginia, BTW. I already have Sabals (Palmettos and Minors), Butia's, Needles and a Trachy on my property, so am looking for something different. I will look into Brahea as suggested above. As far as trunk size, I have a huge deck and am willing to increase the size of the hole as needed. I've also read that Blue Euro's tend to rot with too much rain in winter, so I'm hesitant with that. Anyone have experience with that one?

Here is a link that might be useful: Virginia Beach Weather

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 10:42PM
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You can definitely grow all the palms NJ and I mentioned above in Virginia Beach. Blue med fan palms are not fans of cold winter rain, but they have more cold tolerance than the green form. Both forms will do fine in your climate.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 12:49AM
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Given that you already have several of the hardier palms listed here, you might consider a non-palm tropical. What about bananas? Basjoos and a few others will overwinter nicely--but they will be seasonal and die back over the winter. But come to think of it, they might have a problem with the reflected heat off the deck. Personally, I do use Phoenix palms to help create a cooler situation in back of the house where there is a large amount of south-facing, backtop driveway space. Mine get protected over the winter, but the the Cretan Date is supposed to be even hardier than the Canary. --I just don't know how this Mediterranean species would resond to humid, wet, hot summers. Canaries, don't mind it as long as there are intermittent dryer, less humid periods--otherwise they seem prone to these ugly black spots (like the one I once got out of the Miami area).

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 1:51PM
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