Palm/cactus protection over the years.

jimhardyOctober 4, 2011

I posted this in Greg's post but thought I should also make it a separate post.

Since I am lazy,I prefer to make it as easy as possible,really.

It has nothing to do with having over 60 palms/cactus to protect! LOL

Here are 4 methods I have tried and like,all but the

bigger "hoop" house are heated with X-mas favorite(:

All of them together.

O.k. really 5 ways,there may even be a few more in there somewhere.

I covered my Sequoia with this umbrella greenhouse,

I love these things but they take a lot of heat.

This is what I used the first year for the first

2 Trachys I ever planted.

I have no name for this but it is kinda my favorite...

one layer of green plastic coated fencing with 2 layers

1" clear bubble wrap and a layer of opaque foam between.

I use a trash can lid with a burlap coffee bag in-between

for insulation,it can also be draped over the south side

if the sun is heating them to much..15-20 7wt(x-mas) lights.

Large "Rose cones" protected all my Tree ferns etc.

8/7wt bulbs all hooked into a thermocube/on at 35F/off 45F.

Washys cover this way-same double b-wrap,thermocube etc,

I will need to add 2' to these this year-and more x-mas lights.

I opened the top on these when I could.

Heres what I did the first winter(-:

pretty wasteful but fun!

Now that the palms/etc have grown so much I can't afford to light up the neighborhood!-LOL

More insulation less lights these winters!

Anyway,that is some of what I have done over the years

(not all though)hopefully this will give some of us some better

ideas on how to improve protection-like me!

Temps in the garden have ranged between -18F and 106F over the past 4 years.

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I'd hardly call that lazy! That's probably more energy invested for winter prep than I do all year for my palms. I'm all stressed because I have to winterize one pindo this year. When do you start the winterizing process?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 12:11PM
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brooklyngreg(7a NYC coastal plain)

Thanks Jim,

Its the fencing idea I like and the layers of protection. Lights are key as well for the fridgid nights.

Wetsuiter, here in NY zone 7a-b I cover mine by Thanksgiving to be on the safe side.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 1:25PM
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It is different every year but as Greg
mentioned Thanksgiving is usually the time to do it...
here anyway.

I basically look at if temps are going into the teens
or if the highs look to be below freezing and there
isn't any warmth or recovery back to above freezing likely.

Rainfall and below 20 in 48hrs can be another signal,
esp if temps have been mild in advance of this scenario.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 9:49PM
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Thanks for the tips, guys. Jim, I was just curious how far out you have to get started prepping since your winters are much more severe and you have so many plants to protect.

For my area, I'm thinking I'll have to winterize the pindo closer to early to Mid December here. Our December average high is still 49 and average low 33 (January is 45/28).

We typically don't see any winter precip until after the New Year and any temps below 20 are thankfully rare. But I know my pindo won't much like those typical rainy 35 degree days any more than it would like a few inches of heavy wet snow or an occasional night around 18F.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 10:43PM
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Definitely not a lazy method Jim! Looks like a bit of work, but definitely nothing too crazy and it's doable! Not looking forward to putting the protection back on the plants.

I started protecting my palms last year in mid December and the year before it was mild enough for me to uncover my palms for Christmas and a few times in January and February as well. Thanksgiving is usually a little too early for me since I need a few weeks of doing nothing to recover from bringing all my plants indoors! I protect my plants when temperatures are forecasted to dip below 25F (just in case they end up dipping much lower), but if its a warm day that follows cold temperatures, then I will leave some of the palms, like the trachycarpus, unprotected from 25F. It all depends on the weather. I dont usually heat my palms when it snows (depending on the temperatures for that week), but I always cover them unless the snow is a very light dusting.

Thanks for posting pics Jim.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 11:01PM
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Its always amazing to see what you have to do keep your palms alive. Luckily I don't have to go do anything that drastic. However my sabal palmettos will require more than the usual plastic cover to keep them dry. Since this is there first year in the ground.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 11:22PM
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Thanks guys.

Butia is one touch palm,mine has never pulled...knock on wood.

It easily takes down to 20F.


Luckily I don't have to do everything at once,the only
plants I start digging up(around now)are the ones coming inside,I don't want them
damaged and I give them time to adjust to potted life before being brought inside.

I let the Bananas going in the basement get frosted as their
leaves will be removed anyway,gives me more time to enjoy them.

I usually cover the cactus Oct 1,or at least put up the framework
to tarp them if it rains but it has been so dry the last 3 1/2 months that I will not
worry about it yet,they could actually use up to an inch of rain.
We have not had a single rain event over 1/2" in 3 months
and only about one of those per month!

Anyway,after everything is nuked by frost,I remove it and
I get to enjoy the palms and cactus for a while....
without all the clutter!-LOL



Check out how low the humidity has bottomed out the last 4 days.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 10:39AM
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LOL talk about hard work. What do your neighbors say? Do they say what the hell is he doing or what are those? I would. But thanks for the ideas good to know how to protect my palms when they mature. But i plan not to have that much to protect just a plam to have as a center peice maybe atleast 4 palm in yard. idk

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 1:52PM
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They are mostly frightened and stay indoors!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 5:18PM
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butiaman(8a Douglasville,GA.)

Hey Jim,
You definitely have winter protection down to a science.I like all the tree ferns.What is the most cold hardy tree fern?I have 3 Brizalian tree ferns(Blechnum),there only hardy to 25f.Why I got them is because they only get a trunk up to 18" tall.I figured I could keep them inside during winter and put them out in summer,and they wont never get to big to bring inside.Have you thought about how your going to protect yours when they get big?Just courious.I bet you have already come up with something.People can learn a lot from you and your protection methods.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 10:25PM
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Thanks Randy

Of the most "popular"/available T.ferns I think D.Fibrosa
D.Antarctica and C.Australis top the list.
You may see some argument there but some others I have read
about seem almost impossible to find.

This will be the last year I can use the same size Rose cones
on all of them because next year the Cooperi will be to big
(to much trunk),this presents a problem because they are
all on the same Thermocube...perhaps another one for the
Cooperi will solve the problem.
Since I remove most of the leaves it shouldn't be to big a
problem to cover them,the Washys will be tougher.
Washys will already need a 6' tall cover and next year could
be 9-10'+!


    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 10:11AM
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where did you get those dome tent like coverings at?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 6:41PM
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E-bay and someplace else on line.

You can search for Umbrella greenhouses,mostly
now they say "out of stock" these days for some reason.
They work great but require a lot of heat as they are only one layer thick.
They would probably work well in warmer climate as
they are easy to remove and apply(-:

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 10:33AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone.


Thanks for the detailed pics on your protection methods. You have always done a great job protecting all of your tropicals C&S Palms. etc. You definately know what you are doing and i might add...that you do a great job!!!


You will have no problem protecting your Pindo this winter.

Like Greg and Alex, they have protected theirs and it will be easy for you too!

Im going to need the experience of Jim to protect my "Big Daddy" Agave that i planted in the ground this summer.

I think im going to throw frost cloth over it and maybe use christmas lights or heat tape to keep it comfy under the cloth...

Tarp too, JIM? What do you think? Do you take yours in every year? I cant remember...


Take care,

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 12:08AM
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I do bring it in,last year I learned to
cut the horizontal leaves off before I dig it up!(-;

Maybe you will need a tarp too,it just depends on how low the temps get...
I would use the C-7 lights and remember the more covers you
use the better the insulation/less warmth you need.
I have covered mine like that in fall if there
are just a few cold nights coming
and I don't want to remove it....
Remember,snow is your friend in winter if you have it covered
and will help keep the temps up in the protection.
I would put a remote sensor in there to see what the temps are,
once you do that for a while you will have a clear picture
of how much of a bump in temps your getting with various covers.
I would love to be able to leave this and my Sago out in winter
but I just have to much to cover already.

Heres a pic of my Americana from Oct 3,about 4' wide by 3' tall.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 10:41AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone,

Hi JIm,

Thanks for the info!! I thought that i remembered that you brought in the "Big Boy!!" LOL...I understand about cutting the horz leaves to help prevent possible unwanted piercings ! I have had my share of pokes!!! : )

I think that i will make some sort of a tall barrier with stakes and then place a tarp over the Agave so it wont put to much weight on it during the winter. Maybe put some rebar around it to make a tent. I will watch the temps and then supplement heat when its needed. Maybe keep lights in there and just plug in when needed. Sounds like a plan!!!

Thanks for your tips!!

Hope all is well up and over in Iowa!

Thanks again!!!

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 1:02PM
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You will have no probs I'm sure!

This is fun stuff,nothing better than seeing
something that "shouldn't" be there in winter.... a palm or cactus!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 3:40PM
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I just had a funny vision of a Saguaro (with two "arms") cactus in Jim's yard wearing a heated parka.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 6:28PM
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Or all wilted in a hot tub

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 1:40PM
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