Are my washingtonias dead?
Sorry in advance for this long post. When I found this forum, I didn't realize there were so many people like me out there, pushing the zone limits in order to have a tropical landscape, if just for the summer. This sounds like a place I can learn much from others that have been doing it for awhile, and maybe I can help out at some point with my limited experience.
Here's the issue that lead me to this forum. I planted 2 washingtonia robustas outside 2 years ago and they survived the first winter. All foliage turned brown, but new growth came back in the spring and thrived all last summer. This past winter, the foliage again died, but new growth has yet to come out. I assumed they were dead and started to dig them up yesterday, but noticed the roots appeared to be healthy when raking mulch away from the base. So now I'm wondering if there is still a chance they will come back. I cut off the dead leaves about a month ago (should I have done that as soon as they died instead of leaving them on all winter?) and noticed the top of the plants were rotten. Yesterday, I cut the top 4-5" back to what appeared to be non-rotten plant. Is there still hope for these palms? A local garden center suggested giving them another month, but if they are definitely dead, I'd like to get replacements started as soon as possible.
Last winter wasn't that bad except for one cold snap, but I don't think it got as low as 15Â° more than 3 or 4 nights. I had them wrapped well I thought, which brings up another question. Does it hurt the plants to be wrapped for the winter, and a warm spell hits in January, reaching the mid-70's for several days? Any tips on how best to protect w. robustas in my climate beyond mulching the base and wrapping the trunk in burlap?
I also have 2 windmill palms I planted at the same time, which survived with no damage, even though the only protection I gave them last winter was to mulch the base heavily. I'm resisting the urge to just plant more windmills, but I much prefer the look of the w. robustas and would like some variety as well. I already bought a replacement w. robusta and a pindo palm and am debating just putting them in pots to allow for overwintering in my garage instead of planting them, but I already do that with many bananas and hibiscus that already take up a lot of space, so it would be nice if I can keep them in the ground and properly protect them.
Thanks in advance for any info or tips offered!