| A Master Gardener's guide to gardening in a hot dry climate
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Snowy Palms. We were amazed to receive an e-mailed photo
from a friend in London in early April showing several
inches of snow on the small palm tree in her front yard. (What's
this? A palm tree in a London garden!?) As surprising
as the photo is, we know that some palm trees are quite
hardy in cold temperatures.
||This photo of a
Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops
humilis) was taken in London in early April,
(Note: after the even colder winter of 2010-2011,
this palm tree still lives and grows! And in
2013 it's still thriving!)
Later the same day in 2008 the snow had melted, but even
those few hours of sub-freezing temperatures damaged
the fronds slightly, turning them brown on the
Photos by Joan Padro.
All Rights Reserved
Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis),
shown in the photos above, is ideal for small gardens and has
survived brief cold spells down to 0 F. (-18 C.) And
"brief" is the important factor; their survival depends on
daytime warming after a night of chill.
Palm, (Phoenix canariensis) will
withstand temperatures to 20 F. (-7 C.) at least for
a short time. After a cold snap the fronds will
turn brown and may very slowly regrow.
Its cousin, the
Date Palm, (
dactylifera), a native of the Middle East, is
even hardier. It has been known to survive and
regrow after experiencing temperatures down to 5 F.
Mexican Fan Palms, (Washingtonia
filifera and W. robusta), natives of
Southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, are also
rugged, surviving cold weather as low as 18 F. (-8
Both Washingtonias and both Date Palms reach heights
of 60 to 100 feet, making them not particularly
suitable for residential gardens -- although we see
them planted around homes everywhere.
Weather Proofing Palms
Some people wrap burlap around the trunks of their palms in
an effort to shield them from the cold. Unless, however,
the burlap is very thick and wrapped around the heart of the
palm -- which is just below the top of the trunk where the
fronds emerge -- wrapping will not improve survival
chances. Wrapping the lower part of the trunk will provide
no benefit at all.
If you palm tree appears badly damaged after a cold spell,
don't rip it out immediately. Wait a few weeks to see if
new green fronds begin to appear.
Planting Palm Trees
If you have to replace your palm,
plant a new one during the summer. Palms usually thrive when
planted in warm summer months. They like warm soil on
their shallow roots. For more about palm trees
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