palm tree?

obx64May 8, 2007

has anyone in central VA (richmond area) had any luck with a palm tree outdoors? the windmill palm is supposed to be hardy to 5 degrees (could wrap it in burlap if it goes below that) but the people at southern states say 'no way.' other things i have read say it's not a problem --

has anyone tried this?

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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

In the Richmond area, you should be able to grow windmill palms (Trachycarpus fortunei, T. wagnerianus, T. takil) without too much trouble. The trunkless species Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto) and Rhapidophyllum hystrix (needle palm) will be completely hardy for you.

In northern Virginia and the Washington, DC area (zones 7a-7b) they are definitely marginal; success depends on good microclimate & siting, protection while they are young, and plain old luck. I know of several people in our area who have been growing T. fortunei for several years but they are all in very sheltered locations. Even established ones are likely to be killed by our coldest winters every 15-20 years or so. The oldest in our area are around 10-13 years old, and all were planted in after the 1993-1994 winter, our coldest winter in many years and the last time it went below zero in DC. I know of at least 2 people who lost well-established windmill palms in that winter.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 12:54PM
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I have a windmill palm growing here in northern VA. It does just fine, if I can keep it from being eaten by some creeping succulents growing around it! But temperature-wise, it does just fine. I have it in a southern exposure buffeted by a building wall.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 11:46PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

babywatson, how long ago did you plant the palm? Have you given it any protection?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 10:25AM
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Saw a large Windmill Palm today at 3335 C St SE Washington, DC today. The temp was approx. 37 degrees with a 20mph wind gust.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 9:06PM
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mary_ruth(9b Space Coast)

I have a 'cluster' of banana trees in my backyard (near Williamsburg, VA) We cut them back in the fall as they die out and cover the cluster with mulch and a few sticks around the area with landscaping cloth or burlap. We have successfully kept them alive for 5 years now. Here is a picture of the bud we get each year in late summer. Last year got the largest! The bud was 10"" long and 5" wide!

Here is a picture of how they look in late Spring as they come back to life. They end up taller than the fence and real full.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 9:56AM
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nightbloomincereus 7A noVA(7a Northern VA)

I've had a dwarf palmetto growing for about three years now. The best it manages is to put up one or two leaves per year. Small strap-like leaves only for now. Naturally I've been hesitant to plant out my trachycarpus seedlings given that poor performance.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 1:17PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

Dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) is an EXTREMELY slow-growing plant, especially when it's young and at the strap-leafed stage. This species is completely hardy in the DC area but if you want to see it amount to anything in your lifetime, you should plant a good-sized specimen that already has fan leaves. I've had one in the ground for about 5 years; it puts out about 2 1/2 new leaves each growing season and hasn't amounted to much.

Trachycarpus species, and especially T. fortunei, are MUCH faster growing. My T. wagnerianus and T. fortunei all put out several leaves each growing season, and have approximately doubled in size every year (although still rather small, as they were planted as small seedlings).

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 9:35AM
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Mary Ruth,
What kind of banana do you have? I too live in Wmsbg, and would like to grow an edible banana. Right now I am growing only ornamental bananas because I bring them in every winter.I am somewhat afraid of leaving an edible banana outside in the cold.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 5:19PM
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Baylady(Z8 Va)

Yeah, Mary Ruth,
I am in Va Bch and grow an ornamental banana which I dig up and bring in each fall (what a pain!) but don't want to lose it or its pups. Don't know what it is, was told it was a basjoo, but not sure.
What type is yours? I'd love to grow an edible banana here.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 5:48AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Windmills in the Washington, DC Area can be fully hardy and I know of one in Sterling, VA a colder USDA Zone 7a that has endured -2F, -6F, -9F and -11F after it was planted and had only extra mulch as protection during its first winter in the ground. This palm was planted in the Spring of 1994 and is now 21.6 feet tall when last measured in October 2007. Good planting, sitting and winter protection for the first few years can help make them long term survivors.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 2:17AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Musa Basjoo should be fully root hardy in the ground in Virginia Beach, VA Zone 8a. My Musa Basjoos have been outside for years and grow back from the stumps each Spring after taking the cold of our Zone 7a winters.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 2:20AM
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Baylady(Z8 Va)

Thanks for the info.
Just got through dragging them down from attic again and am getting tired of it. Will leave a few in the ground this fall, well mulched and covered and see what happens.
Thanks again for info and encouragement.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 7:41PM
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