Palms update

JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)August 9, 2013

I haven't posted here in a while, but here's a recent shot of my garden--palms are doing great after several mild winters in a row! You'll mostly find me posting these days in Yahoo groups (DCTropics) and on Facebook (MidAtlantic Tropics).

This one doesn't show the palms as well, but gives a closer look at the upper section of the garden--believe it or not, I haven't fertilized my Musa basjoo once this year!

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The waggie looks great, I remember when it was just a little baby. In a few years, the trachies in the back will look great when they reach over that Japanese maple.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 9:36AM
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Nice bananas!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:45AM
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I also remember those Waggies...are they hardier every year now...?

What do you think?

You started out with some beauties right away and they are still looking great.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 4:01PM
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Great pics. I'm glad that your yard is looking as nice as always! Those trachys are beautiful and so are the basjoos.
Thanks for sharing!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 11:01PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Stop telling people we have had mild winters, look at the data and we have had in USDA zone winters, most winters over the last 8 years. The DC area ranges from 8a in very protected pockets to 6b in the far western suburbs and the temperatures have not been excessively mild by any stretch.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 4:24AM
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I'm assuming you don't protect your palms at all during winter??

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 10:33AM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

I protected my waggies during their first one or two winters in the ground, but that was 10 years ago when they were very small seedlings. I haven't protected any of my palms since then (aside from heavy mulching) because I want to find out how hardy they really are. That means risking them every winter and I did lose two of my waggies this way a few years ago, as well as one T. fortunei but the survivors have done great since then.

I've had lows in the mid to high teens the last 3 winters in a row. The coldest I've recorded in my back yard (since buying this property in 2000) was 6 degrees and that was nearly 10 years ago. We have been very fortunate not to have had any truly cold winters for the last decade but sooner or later we'll get another winter like 1993-1994, the last time it went below zero in the District of Columbia. Our region gets winters like that on average every 15-20 years and we're about due for one.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 5:22PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

How odd, apparently I'm supposed to retract my personal experiences and tell people I've had COLD COLD COLD winters to prove how incredibly hardy these palms are, oh and by the way there's a magical windmill palm in Sterling that survived MINUS TEN DEGREES!!! (Which not even the guy who planted and grew it--and is a personal friend--believes). Sorry, but I prefer facts over hype and unsupported claims.

It's easy for people who have only been gardening for a few years to get a skewed view of what is "normal"--and only having gardened in this region since 2000 myself (although I've lived here since 1991) I can't claim to be any kind of expert. So I polled a group of experienced mid-Atlantic gardeners in a separate forum, and their consensus is that yes, the Washington, DC region has had warmer-than-average winters for the last decade.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 12:29PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

I would like to point out that having an in zone winter with lows in the zone 7a/b range is not "mild" by any stretch inside the beltway or outside it. Nowhere in the DC area have we had a "string of mild winters" of 8a or above except in urban areas that are enjoying some of the heat island effect locally. Most of the area is a zone 7 and those lows have been very consistant through out the last 10 years or so. It is wrong equate coming from a colder environment and imposing a view with what we should consider cold or out of zone for a typical winter. Those upstate NY winters must have been brutal, almost arctic in nature to chill anyone's perspective on what winter should look like from a temperature perspective. It is incorrect to tell people that we have had a "string of mild winters" when the National Weather Service proves that this is not so in the outer suburbs especially.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 5:03PM
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This past winter was pretty mild, lowest temperature at Dulles Airport was 9 degrees on January 23, 2013 (15 degrees at National Airport). Hoping there is a repeat this winter.

Those are beautiful palms, I've had no luck with trachycarpus.

Here is a link that might be useful: Monthly Weather Summary

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 6:54PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

Thanks, I've been pleasantly surprised how well my palms have done but they have really exploded in the last 3 years. Last winter was pretty warm but the previous winter was even warmer--the lowest I measured in my back yard all winter was 18 degrees. Here's a blog post (not my own!) that graphs yearly highs & lows for DCA since 1872; note that it only goes to 2010, and doesn't include our recent 3 winters which were all unusually warm.

Here is a link that might be useful: High and low temperature by year at Washington, D.C.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 10:36AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

9F is still an in Zone 7a temperature, so how is this perceived as being mild somehow? Just asking. Mild to me would be having a "string of mild winters" with low temperatures in the 8a or 8b range OUTSIDE the 7a zone temperature range.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 8:09PM
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No. 9F is a high 7b rating. 10F would be low 8a.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 8:56PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

Thanks wetsuiter, Dulles Airport is in zone 6b (average low -5 to 0 degrees), so a low of 9 degrees is well above average and I think counts as "unusually warm".

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 10:18PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Wow! That is great because that would mean the Sterling Trachycarpus is even more hardy than previously believed. Trachys once established can survive and thrive in 6b conditions. Great information! True it is a 7b temperature, I meant a Zone 7 temperature while on the mild side of Zone 7 is not a mild winter in that zones were only split recently and for many years prior to that we had lower single digits and even a zero or near zero temp within the last 5 years....well with in zone. Anyone with a sense of reason would see that a mild winter would be an out of zone winter in the zone 8 range a/b and a string of them would be more than 3 in a row. If you look at the averages, the temperatures in the low range still average out to Zone 7a on the low side.

This post was edited by the_virginian on Wed, Oct 16, 13 at 0:14

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 7:35PM
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