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Planting a Palm in S-east PA

Posted by sdemjsully none (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 19, 12 at 15:53

Hi All,

We've read numerous articles and heard from several palm tree companies that here in Southern PA (very close to Delaware), we can plant and grow three different palm species, given their cold hardiness: Texas Sabal, Mediterranean Fan Palm and Dwarf Palmetto palms. Coldest temps we usually see are in the low to mid 20s (and usually only for a day or two at the most).

Two main questions:

1. Are there any tree/plant nurseries in the Southern PA/Delaware/Northern Maryland area that can get and plant a palm?

2. What is the best way to care for a palm (we're thinking of the Texas Sabal palm) that we plant?



Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Planting a Palm in S-east PA

I saw the 2012 edition of the usda hardiness zone map. Welcome to zone 7, southeastern pa! I do think that your sources overestimated the hardiness of the tx sabal and forgot to mention a couple of much hardier and much more suitable palms for your area. If you want a trunking palm, the windmill palm is generally thought of as the hardiest. For non-trunking palms, the best bet for you (and honestly the only palm i would actually recommend you try other than sabal minor) is the needle palm. As a native of your area i wish you best of luck! i've often wondered how one of these hardier palms would do in se pa.

RE: Planting a Palm in S-east PA

Texas Sabal Palms (which are either Sabal Palmettos, or Sabal mexicanas) can only survive into the low teens and need a lot of mild temperatures between that to do well so it would not be suited for your area. With the right protection it would not be impossible to grow in your climate, but there are better choices.

Mediterranean fan palms need protection, but they are hardy to around 10F when established (they will be killed below that and damaged once temperatures approach the mid teens).

The best palms for you would be Trachycarpus fortunei (windmill palms), Needle palms, and Sabal minors. Windmill palms are cold hardy to about 5F, mine starts to get damage around 10F, but has seen down to 7F and survived. Needle palms are the most cold hardy palms you can plant and once they are established for a few years, you will not need to protect them (trachys will do best if they are always protected a little in your zone). Some sabal minors are more cold tolerant than others so make sure that if you buy those, you get them from a place that has exposed them to cold winter temperatures.

Since you are in southeast PA, you probably get down to around 1-8F just about every winter which is a zone 7.
Good luck!

RE: Planting a Palm in S-east PA

Texas Sabal is a nice Sabal, one of my favorites for hardiness and growth rate, but there are hardier palms for you. Of course, you could always protect and expand the species but I prefer growing what can survive it alone. Recommend Sabal minor and louisiana (latter grows faster), Trachycarpus fortunei (Windmills), and Raphidophyllum hysterix (Needle Palm). Meds are slightly less hardy, but a good location, good sun and drainage and should be okay. Advantage with both the Needes ad Meds is tat they are clumping--so even if you suffer the loss of part of the clump, should recuperate.

RE: Planting a Palm in S-east PA

You may be thinking of sabal texensis, much hardier than texana, to around 5 degrees.

RE: Planting a Palm in S-east PA

Thanks everyone for the comments. Lot to think about.

How do you protect the palm? The area of our backyard where we are considering planting a palm gets full sun from 8am to's a south-facing backyard, with no overhead obstruction whatsoever.

Only reason we want to plan a palm is that we are building a pool (life-long dream, finally realized), and thought a palm would be a perfect complement.

RE: Planting a Palm in S-east PA

Stick with a windmill palm. It'll still need protection in your zone, but will do much better.

RE: Planting a Palm in S-east PA

There are a ton of strings on palm protection here. Personally if its anything more than wrapping the heart in burlap when it gets too cold its just not worth it. Windmill should be ok down to about 15 with no protection and somewhere in the upper single digits wrapped in burlap. From my experience you want to keep it free of debris like leaves.

RE: Planting a Palm in S-east PA

Our house is 10 miles S of the Mason and Dixon LIne, but we lived in SE PA for years. SE PA covers a wide area from just w of Elizabethtown to Easton and southward with lots of warm and cold sections. The Bethel-Shartlesville-Hamburg- Lenhartsville section is the coldest with annual lows about zero to the South of Highway 1 area south-southwest of Philadelphia and southward is the warmest with annual lows of about 4 degrees f. Another factor where it is hilly is not only your elevation, but your exposure to winds and whether you are on a S or N facing hill. Crape Myrtle and Southern Magnolia grow well. Willow Oak and loblolly Pine can be grown as well. Palms, other than needle palm are a very poor investment. In Delaware and eastern Maryland and NE VA (above Richmond) Needle palms and Sabal Minor (in the warmer sections, not colder sections like northern Harford County or northern Baltimore County,) are your only feasible options A few hardy varieties of palm can be grown along the shore areas of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia (with annual lows near 10 degrees.) Southern live oak can survive under the same conditions as needle palm, but will freeze to the roots until established, and will defoliate/ or partially defoliate in harsh winters. We plan on planting three live oaks at our house in west-central New Castle County, along with several needle palms.

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