Windmill Palm hardiness..Opinions?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Tropicals' started by F1aReD, Feb 27, 2007.

  1. F1aReD

    F1aReD Member

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    I have a few questions about protecting cold-hardy palms during the winter

    1) When you have a cold-hardy palm, is there a limit as to where it can be grown and protected during the winter? For example, I live in Massachusetts (Zone 5b), I know a Windmill Palm would grow here in early spring, all summer, fall, and even early winter, but is a Zone 5b winter just to harsh even for a a cold-hardy palm that is protected? If it had a deep root system, and was protected, does it just get to a point where even if it were protected, the palm just simply cannot be grown in some places and die?...
    Or could one succesfully grow one here with all the necessary steps...big root ball, mulched, protected during winter, christmas lights around trunk ect ect..?

    2)Say I did try and grow a fairly large Windmill outdoors, say 3 or 4 feet, would it be better to immediately plant it outdoors in spring and let it grow.. Or would it be better to leave it in a pot indoors for awhile, let it grow and get a fairly big root ball, and THEN try outdoors?
     
  2. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    A lot depends on what length are you willing to go to winter protect your palm. I've seen pics and read entries about people erecting massive (and numerous) structures with supplimental heat, ventilation, lighting etc. Zone 5b is a long way from a safe palm growing region and you would have to become one of these "extreme palm gardeners" to have it be successful.

    Cheers, LPN.
     
  3. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    I would look at the shrub palms before attempting a Windmill palm. Needle palm, Sabal minor, and Saw palmetto are easier to protect in the winter and tolerant of lower temperatures. All will be difficult in 5b.

    The winter enemies of a palm are the temperature extremes & duration of cold. The hardy shrub palms can handle temperatures down to close to or below 0ºF for a short period if the temperature bounce back up to the teens or twenties during the day. They also don't tolerate extended periods below freezing very well. If the winter temps regularly stay below freeezing for a couple of weeks at a time.

    A big rootball won't help you with the windmill palm, it's just too much of a stretch in 5b. Buy this book, if you're serious about trying a palm outside.

    Simon
     
  4. F1aReD

    F1aReD Member

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    First off, I just wanted to say thanks for the replies. I'm willing to do anything it takes to protect a Windmill during the winter, and I know it will probably be difficult and challenging to do so in 5b. I have a question though, I know Windmill palms have been grown succesfully on the West coast in Canada and Washington state, does anyone know the average winter temperature over there?

    What made me start thinking about a Windmill was the fact that this year, in particular, we've had an unusually mild winter. For the first 4 months of winter, we had absolutely no snow and every week was in the high 40s to mid 50s! One day in January it got up to 70 (F). It seems now though, there has been temperature swings into the teens and 20s, then bounces back to the 40s and repeats the process. Still, it got me thinking...I've been looking into the shrub-type palms and other things and I've been wanting to buy one for awhile now because I've heard success stories of those types growing in this area with little or no protection, but nothing compares to an actual trunked palm tree, you know?

    When I do buy a shrub type, do you have any information on how to protect it in the winter? Do I cover it with a blanket or put christmas lights on it or something? I don't really know the first thing about protecting it when it comes to that type of stuff. I've read about letting in breath and stuff but I wouldn't want to kill it trying to protect it.

    F1aReD
     
  5. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Build a plywood box around it with polystyrene insulation and put a space heater in it with a thermostat set at 20ºF.

    Good luck!
     
  6. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    "West coast in Canada and Washington state, does anyone know the average winter temperature over there?"

    Coastal areas here rarely if ever drop below 15 fahrenheit and even then for very brief periods. Much of the immediate coast is zone 8b and some small favored locations are 9a.
     
  7. F1aReD

    F1aReD Member

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    WOW! I didn't know it was like that at all. I figured the climate there was basically just like here, except a bit milderer winter...I can see how they can safely grow many types of palms there!

    smivies, thanks for the advice. I have an idea..On the the South side of my house we have a dryer vent, and the snow is always melted and I can see grass, so I think what I'm gonna do is plant a palm a few feet from there and in the winter cover it with the box..:)
     
  8. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Climate is another matter. The UDSA zone map only shows what can be expected for winter low temps and doesn't take climate into account.
    As you can see zone 8 works it's way up the west coast basically influenced by the Pacific Ocean.
     

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  9. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    F1ared

    I would not reccommend planting your palm near the dryer vent....it could lead to false growth/ warming during a warm winter spell, then comes the deep freeze and the results could be fatal for it. I planted seedlings in the garden without any protection, temp dropped to -11 celcius, and they are alive and well...
     
  10. F1aReD

    F1aReD Member

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    I never really though about climate...when you say "climate" you mean that the ocean warms up the air..and climate as in cold rain or freezing rain or fog as opposed to snow, right?

    I guess I've been thinking to much about just temperatures. Beside's the temperature, many more things affect the health of a palm..wind, rain, ice, ect ect. I heard many palms will rot out if rain freezes on the trunk?

    Anyway, thanks for the advice K Baron. I'm not going to be planting anything near the dryer vent anymore. You said your seedlings are fine in about 12 or 13 F cold, but... "knock on wood" LOL. Does where the palm actually come from affect its hardiness, for example if one were planted in Florida for its first few years of life it wouldnt grow well in a colder environment?
     
  11. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    F1aReD

    Definitely a hardened species will fair better than a tropical nursery plant, the freeze effect only on the top inside crown will die if that is your case, and never recover as the growth is only viable from this part of the plant.
     
  12. F1aReD

    F1aReD Member

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    Hmm..do you have any recomendations for one from a tropical nursery? I mean, it would have to eventually get used to cooler weather..
     
  13. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    I would recommend Trachycarpus fortunei (aka Windmill Palm) or sometimes sold as Chamaerops excelsia ...hardy to 10F or even lower...still would protect it when extreme weather arrives....unexpectedly....good luck!
     
  14. Chuck White

    Chuck White Active Member

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    F1aReD: Seattle is prox the same latitude as the middle of Nova Scotia. You can visualize that relative to Worcester. (Think way North). Bamboo grows there (Seattle) as well as a couple of varieties of palm. During the three years I lived there, two inches of snow was a hard winter. My inclination about palms where you are would be 'Forget It!' Nothing about my living in Needham ever made me think of growing palms, and I was born and raised in south Texas, where there is an original, indigeous, historical "palm grove".
     
  15. F1aReD

    F1aReD Member

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    Yeah, I know what you all mean lol. What happens if a palm gets covered in freezing rain..? like a coated with a layer of ice?
     

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