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z-6 and I want PALMS!

Posted by mkelgo z5 OH (My Page) on
Mon, Dec 19, 05 at 19:33

I would like to have some advice on where and how to get some palms to grow in my zone-6.Trachycarpus fortunei-vs-takil(kumaon palm) both seem very hardy with a little extra care.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

I've never seen one look good north of the Carolinas, and even here most of them look ratty. I expect you could keep them alive with "extra care" but I don't think I'd bother.

Just my 2

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

Try this site they're in Vancouver Canada, but have an outlet in the U.S. Rai

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

there's a book out about growing plants beyond their normal range. can't think of the title, but the guy who wrote is from miami u in oxford. i read it about 3 yrs ago when it first came out. that might be helpful. he shows pictures of
palms around his home in oxford. but it seemed like a lot of work to me. most of it was in keeping 'damp' away during the winter-- good drainage so you don't get root rot, keeping the earth from freezing so roots don't die, and keeping the plant well insulated above ground.

here in NE Ohio i do it for figs and rosemary, but that's the limit of pushing the envelope for me.

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

Hi Mkelgo,
I have a Trachycarpus Fortunei here in Chicago, and it is going on its second winter. Here is a picture of it taken Christmas eve:

It was protected earlier this month, because we had severe cold, but we are in a mild streak so I took the protection off.
What I do to protect it, is I wrap rope lights around the ground below the palm, work them up the trunk, and to the spear leaf. I then bundle up the fronds with bungee cords, and wrap another strand of regular christmas lights around the bundle. I then wrap a large frost cloth (available at: OR you can also use the weed sheets that are used to line garden beds or rock gardens to prevent weeds from growing.) A sleeping bag may also work, if it is waterproof. I then put that over the bundle, and turn the lights on when it is below 12F or so. If it is very cold, like in the single digits, I will put a large plastic bag over the the bundle of frost cloth, making sure no plastic touches directly to the palm.

I know it sounds complicated, but it is really not that hard. This is my idea, if you ever try to overwinter a trachy there (And it is very possible!) you will form your own ideas and ways of doing so. I went into this knowing half as much as I do now. I bought this palm with absolutely no idea of how I was going to protect it, and when winter came, I just improvised and came up with a solution. You can do it, fairly easily, despite what others tell you. Last year, I protected my palm this way for about 40 days (Late Dec-Late January) only involving a few minutes of work protecting a year, and you know what, now I have a nice palm tree in my yard.

If you ever have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.

Good Luck,


And I forgot to mention, The book Digger is referring to is called 'Palms Wont Grow Here and Other Myths' by David Francko. I definately recommend you order it.


RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

Humber Nurseries near Toronto, Ontario sells "hardy" palms for growing outdoors here (not listed in catalogue though). I have been tempted to
try one, but the $100.00 plus price tag has scared me off for a tiny plant (2 gallon pot) with no garantee. After seeing the picture of a beautiful palm tree growing in Chicago I think I'm going to give it a try this year. Has anyone overwintered one in a Zone 5 area?

Here is a link that might be useful: Humber Nurseries

Kyle (Chicago), treemedic (ON): Good Job

Keeping protection on all the time during winter may cause damage. Some folks cover their exotics and remove all the light for months damaging or killing their palms and other exotics. Trachys are tough so your choice was good for a hardy trunk-forming palm.

Treemedic: Someone near Ottawa protects his exotics in winter. He has small Trachys by the house with very good protection. I suggest that you start with R. hystrix first and then Sabal minor as second choice. A Trachy would not be as cold hardy as these two and it grows at or past 30 ft. Protection would be tougher.

An ex-Ottawa resident (small world) now living in Victoria has many Trachys including wagnerianus. Trachys can take quite a bit of cold but not as hard, often and sustained as R. hystrix or S. minor. Imagine protecting a palm of this size (photo). It would be quite logistical. Trachys can take long winter nights and very moist soil in winter. A reason why they do very well in Vancouver. A 1 gal Trachy in Vancouver costs between $8 and $12. In Victoria they cost $10 to $16. You might as well order from on the lower mainland if you want a small Trachy. T. fortunei is tough for a trunk-forming palm because I can leave garden seedlings out in winter with no protection. It propagates easier than Sabal palms. R. hystrix is slow. Trachys require less heat and will put on slow growth even in fall or winter while Sabal minor waits for spring. That's out here with our conditions.


Here is a link that might be useful: Mature Trachy in Canada

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

I have not protected my windmill seedling in any way. Lowest temps here were 8 degrees in south city here. it has been a solid zone 7 for a number of years. i think a large chamaerops would easily survive. Anyone else out there have any experience growing palms in a truly continental climate such as mine. any help would be great.

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

yes the David Francko book was definitly the one. I had read it thinking to grow crepe myrtle in my area.
but many good insights. most important being drainage issues.

Frost beaters for zone 6

If you are interested in learning more about cold tolerant palms you should drop by the Hardy palm & Subtropical Forum. There are lots of folks in zone 6 & 7 growing hardy palms. Rhapidophyllum hystrix and Sabal minor would be the first two you should start with. Don't let anyone make you believe it can't be done. With a zone's worth of protection it is not difficult. It is the people that say it can't be done, that have never tried. I much rather look at a cold tolerant palm in zone 6 than some boring Mugo Pine or Juniper. I hate those things. Trachycarpus fortunei are also a very easy palm to bring through cold winters, and a favourite of northern experimenters. I know of folks growing them in Colorado and even on the coast of Alaska. If you need any further info. drop me an e-mail. It is easier to grow some species than some may think. Cheers, Banana Joe

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

I'm also very interested in hardy palms, but have never heard before that they were grown in coastal Alaska, who can tell more?

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

Well that may not be as impressive as it sounds. Alaska has zones 1 through 7b. Zone 7 is 2 zones warmer than it is here in Michigan.

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

Hey Mkelgo,

I live in SE Michigan and actually ordered a Trachycarpus Fortunei from Oikos Nursery in Kalamazoo area. They grow several dozen per year. Just do a google search.

I also bought one from a local Lowe's two springs ago. I planted it in the ground in late April/ early May and it has now survived two winters with just a runner rug with a chicken wire frame with a BBQ cover over the top to keep it dry during Jan/Feb.

I plan on unwrapping it again near the end of Feb or early March once the threat of unusual single digits are over.

Good Luck!

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

mkelgo: Don't let anyone tell you "it can't be done". I find that there are people out there so determined that they beat the odds. Some locations would require extreme measures to protect hardy tropicals, but it's not really hard work if it's something you love to do. Experiment with Waggies (T. wagnerianus) too. Pindo palms are also good, and have the feather-look vs the fan-look trachy's have. I love my pindos. All of my palms survived the winter in pots (which is worse than in-ground) in my back yard with only a rooftop to protect them with minor leaf-burn. They will be in-ground once I buy a home. This year I've planted Waggies in ground, which I will likely leave once I move (just experimenting with seedling).

SandyHill: Yes, I also tell people that I look better in my native Puerto Rico than I do this far north. Seriously, I have seen palm trees in worse conditions in Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico than some palms I've seen in New York and New Jersey. It's all up to the caretaker.

diggerb2: That one is called "Palms Won't Grow Here and Other Myths" by Dr. David A Francko. I had the pleasure of communicating with him last year regarding my palms. He is now down in the state of LA. A new book/followup to his "Palms Won't Grow Here" will be available in the future.

anttisepp: The Alaskan panhandle and that area sees the same effect as the UK when the warm gulf stream brings up tropical heat. That quickly changes when you go further inland though.

RE: z-6 and I want PALMS!

Palms for zone 6:
Needle Palm (5b * -15F)
Trachycarpus fortunei (7b * 5F)
Saw Palmetto (7b * 5F)
Dwarf Chusan Palm (7a * 0F)
Find out more, google:
Palms won't grow here and other myths: Warm climate plants for cooler areas

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