I want to make my bay area yard tropical

haycarumba99September 27, 2003

What trees could I do this with? I am looking for a few trees maybe larger ones to make a big difference. Like trees with aerial roots and larger palms? What palm trees can grow in the bay area? (San Francisco that is) Sunset zone 16, USDA zone 9b.

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go to www.jurassicpalms.com
they are a bay area palm provider with lots of good info

also check out golden gate palms located in pt. richmond.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2003 at 10:00PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

There are many palms that will be hardy in your area. One of the better ones (although not the largest growing) is probably Trachycarpus fortunei, also known as chusan palm.

If you're looking for stature and a distinctly tropical look, there aren't many plants more tropical looking than bananas! Most kinds are probably hardy in your area, although Musa basjoo is by far the hardiest (and may perform better in areas with cool summers).

Your best bet is to visit nurseries in the bay area, to see what they sell and ask about what will grow well in your area. Visiting local botanic gardens is another good way to get ideas for hardy, tropical-looking trees and other plants.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2003 at 1:13PM
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kerrican2001(z9b CA)

Aerial roots are hard to get in climates with low humidity like ours, but Zone 16 is the best in NorCal for tropicals - warm summers and mild winters, often a little drier than surrounding areas. These would all do very well based on what I've seen around San Jose: ginger, banana, giant bird of paradise, avocado, australian tree fern, Jacaranda, tipuana tipu, angel's trumpet, chorisia speciosa, chinese hibiscus, bougainvillea, mandevilla, and for palms that are readily available: sago, queen, brahea (several), mediterranean fan palm, jubaea chilensis, washingtonia (several), phoenix (canary island, dactlyfera, reclinata, or roebellini), trachycharpus. You might even get away with Kentias and Kings in Zone 16 (they do sell them at Jurassic Palms and they grow in Zone 17). There are many other palms that grow but are hard to find. Arenga engleri, dypsis decipiens, etc. Someone above mentioned trachycarpus, which is one of my favorites, but you won't need to limit yourself to palms that hardy (those grow in Seattle).

    Bookmark   October 5, 2003 at 12:57PM
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You can grow practically every thing there! You are zone 17. Buy a "bible", Sunset western garden book. You will be amazed. Heck the entire Left coast from mexico to Canada is practically all sub-tropical. But especially the coast to your north coast 17 all the way to the Rogue River in southern coastal oregon you can have about 20 types of palms, hibiscus, bird of paradise, tree ferns, canna, year 'round, snail vine, bougainvillea, bananas, very COOL cactus, some blooming cosmicly at night glowing white under a full moon blossoms 8 inches across (cereus peruvianus), Some ficus', and many many more.
Have fun and go crazy. Even if they tell you it won't grow, chances are it will and so what, your out a few bucks, and anyway the benefits totallyoutweigh the risks.
Questions? E-mail me, my friend-
PEACE NOW!!!! Donn

    Bookmark   October 18, 2003 at 11:44AM
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davissue_zone9(z9 Sunset 14)

Richard Ward at the Dry Garden Nursery in Oakland has Chorisias intermittently. He might be able to special order you a large quantity. I have one I bought from him last year that survived it's first winter here (although it spent most of the winter wearing my husbands old heavy robe)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2004 at 10:28AM
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kerrican2001(z9b CA)

Chorisia is hardier than you might think. There is a guy here in Walnut Creek up the street from us who planted several about 6 years ago without protection and they are growing BIG! Also, the huge one at the Ruth Bancroft Garden survived the all-time lows in 1990, albeit with major limb damage. But in other words, in 29 out of 30 winters, I wouldn't even expect any real trouble.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2004 at 12:08PM
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Cajun_Texan(8b - 9a TX)

Check out the Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. There are some incredible plants there that will give you ideas for your own San Francisco / Bay area plantings. The major entrance to the botanic gardens was renovated a few years ago by Planet Horticulture to include more tropical, colorful plantings.
Also, near the DeYoung museum is at least one Chilean Jubaea Palm.

Here is a link that might be useful: Strybing Arboretum Planet Horticulture

    Bookmark   April 27, 2004 at 2:22PM
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bmason(8a N Van BC)

One of the better cold hardy palm sites is below. Most palms that can make it in the PNW and your area are listed.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2004 at 3:26PM
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maleko(USDA 9)

So many tropical do well in SF,it is more what does not do well. Cold winter rain will also kill some tropicals even without any frost, but most sturdy tropicals will do well.
Jacaranda is a nice tropical tree that does well in SF, but look around, most of the street trees are tropicals. Flame eucalyptus, Victoria Box, Indian laurel (Ficus indica) and Acacias are tropical trees used as street trees in the city.
Palms come in two basic types, fan and feather. Fan palms are hardier in general and you can grow many many types. (Chuson, Windmill, California, Mexican, Mediteranian, Palmeto, Chilian Wine, to name a few), Feather palms (like Coconut Palm)are more cold sensitive. Two basic types do well in SF. Date palms (5 or 6 species)and Queen palms. A few other feather types will grow in SF, but are rarer, blue palm and jelly palm come to mind. In really protected areas you can grow Raphis, Kentia and bamboo palms but they are all relatively small scale plants. The big palms on Dolores and up Market are Date Palms. Mexican Fan Palms are the most common fan types and are seen everywhere in CA. They are cheap and fast growing. Most other fan palms are slow growers
Just about any type of banana will grow in SF, but won't produce fruit. My fave is the red or Abasynian banana. As well as bananas, also think about giant bird of paradise and giant taro or elephant's ear. The only problem with these plants is that wind will shred the leaves. When they get big enough giant philodendron and monstera have arial roots. I live in Sacramento and can grow 90% of what you can grow. I have mexican fan, queen, windmill and pigmy date palm, bananas and giant bird of paradise. I also have some philodenron with arial roots.
The low humidity is the most limiting factor. Most of the tropical trees I mentioned don't grow here because of it, but oleander and gardinia do great here and we can grow plants like crepe myrtles without too much fear of mildew, which is a big problem in the Bay Area. I guess it is a trade off.
Happy planning

    Bookmark   May 4, 2004 at 2:36AM
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It has been a few years since this thread was posted and I just wondering how haycarumba99's yard turned out? Could you load up some pictures? Sounds like you have gotten some good advice from the posters.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 7:13PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

Just another suggestion if you still have room for palms-- some caryota species do well on the coast. I've seen caryota urens within feet of the coast in Monterrey. Kentias should also do fine, they tolerate cool summers. Majesty palms are another truly tropical palm that does well in the bay area. I have one of these in central inland Cal in z9b.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 12:53PM
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