NC hardiness help-Chinese Fan Palm?

kwz7nc(7)March 4, 2006

Anyone ever tried growing a Chinese Fan Palm in NC (southern Triad area)? I believe it is not known for great hardiness, but was wondering if anyone had been adventurous and it worked.

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arecales(7 a/b)

Yes, I've grown two Livistona chinensis clumps outdoors over this past winter in the High Point area. They were inexpensive plants bought at Wal-Mart for an average of about $6-7 per pot. Dr. Francko's book (Palms Won't Grow Here . . .) suggests that they are die-back perennials, and so I gambled for less than the price of an average New Guinea impatiens or clump of Purple Fountain grass (they would die over winter, anyway).

The only protection I provided was a little Wilt-Pruf, copper fungicide, and a Wall-O-Water for each of them. They're in a shady location with a lot of W/SW winds. So far, the leaves at the base look fine, but anything sticking out of the top has turned brown, as you might expect with lows getting down to about 18 in December and February (still only a mild zone 8b, but anyway). They had looked good until temps reached the low 20s.

If Dr. Francko is right, they should come back in the spring after I cut off the dead leaves, but the jury's still out on that. If they can recover over the summer to their previous heights (leaves about 4 feet tall or so), I'm guessing that they might be medium-term survivors with protection, such as burlap, mulch, etc. (until there is a *bad* winter). Wal-Mart often has these on sale for less than $5, so at that price, it may be worth a try for you even as an annual, as they are very beautiful plants for a dappled-shade location.

On the other hand, if you want something more permanent with lesser maintenance requirements, Trachycarpus fortunei (Windmill Palm or Chinese Windmill Palm) and Sabal minor (Dwarf Palmetto) sailed through this winter with no protection except for copper fungicide. Home Depot on Wendover currently has many 3-gallon Trachycarpus fortunei for about $24, and 7-gallon ones for about $60. You can also find them on eBay. LA Reynolds on the west side of Winston-Salem had lots of Windmills and Sabals last year, and Camellia Forest and Plant Delights in the Triangle have all of these and then some (including Rhapidophyllum hystrix, the Needle Palm). There will probably be even more selection in a few weeks. In any case, good luck!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 5:46PM
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Thank you for the help. I posted a forum in Carolina gardening as well including other tropicals questions.
-Gosh, LA Reynolds is expensive! I go there occasionally and catalogue/fantasize about what I want to buy at the summer 1/2 off sale.
-I'm planning on experimenting with many things this summer, trying dracenas, tis over winter, etc. This will be the first year I actually will try to plan out my garden, move everything around and have at least one side of the yard with the tropical theme. I have a windmill and others I posted on the Carolinas page.
I appreciate your help-K

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 7:43PM
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arecales(7 a/b)

Good luck with everything! Two other notes . . .

1) LA Reynolds had a buy one get two free sale on plants, including palms, last August (they had 7-gallon Windmills for about $33 each in quantities of three, and very large 1-gallon Sabal minors for about $13 each in quantities of three).

2) This winter was so mild that Cordyline indivisa (spikes, sometimes called false dracaena) survived outdoors here *in pots*!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 8:56PM
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Yes, it has been a mild winter-I have a Kalanchoe in a pot on my porch that still looks alive! I also posted a question about cordylines (ti) on carolinas forum-ever tried the hotpink kind outside?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 8:35AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

At best they are a die back perrenial for the long term, mild winters not withstanding.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 11:15AM
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