Note - all temperatures listed here are Fahrenheit.
How did I become "The Palm Lady"? ...that's a long story. I grow palms and have a pretty good collection. My customers began calling me this, and for some reason it stuck. The local nuseries send their customers to get help with their palms ..."Go and see the palm lady"... At first I didn't like it, but now it's kinda of stuck . One of my good friends, who has been growing palms for over 30 years, got dubbed the palm man ...Bill Jenkins.
Why do I grow palms? ...Believe me, there is not much money in it. It started as a hobby. Now I keep pretty busy selling them. I grow very slow growing palms. The Windmills are the best seller along with the Butias. It takes a long time to build up stock so I have diversified into other unusual perennials, subtropicals, and cactus.
Here are some of my thoughts on growing hardy palms:
- Nannorrhops ritchiana will not grow on the east coast where we are...to much humidity, it kills them.
- Sabal palmetto can withstand about 7 degrees before it is killed. I have seen large ones killed at this temperature.
- Serenoa repens is not hardy when young but can take cold down to probably 18 here in zone 8A when it is mature. It likes only dry or well drained soil - here it dies if planted in clay soil.
- Chamaerops humilis (Mediterranean Fan Palm) is burnt to the ground at around the low teens. However, they can be cut down and they will come back. They like to be high and dry and prefer well drained soil and need protection on the south side of any house, fence etc.
- Sabal texensis No temperature data is avialable yet. I am proably going to say about 5 or lower. It is much hardier than the Sabal palmetto (Cabbage Palm). There is a lot of confusion between the Sabal texana/mexicana and the Bresorian Palm, Sabal texensis.
- Sabal mexicana is not very hardy. However, the Texana is much hardier. We recently obtained some Texensis, which were thought to be Texana. The parent plant is from Gloucester VA . This one is 10 years old and has taken down to 2 degrees without any damage. However, we now believe this is the Texensis because some of the plants are showing signs of the stiff leaf like the minor and some have the costapalmate leaf like the cabbage. As you know the Texensis is a crosss between the Sabal minor and the Sabal mexicana. On the other hand, I bought some babies from Tony Advent two years ago and they burnt at 25 degrees. I've decided to order seed from the true source to see if they are really hardy.
- Another key factor in hardiness is the size of the palm. For example I have a Sabal domin/blackburnia, and it burnt every year. So, I had to wrap it. I was very disappointed with this palm because I was told it was hardy. This year, the palm is at least 5 years old, and is does not seem to burn anymore.
- What you have to realize is that some people, especially in the lower South, will tell you a plant is hardy down to a certain temperature. This is probably true. What they don't tell you is that the palm can take that temperature only for a brief cold snap. However, a prolonged snap will kill the palm. Also, only 100 miles from here, much bigger palms can grow, yet they get just as cold as here. The difference is that they warm up much faster in the mornings and in the spring. This is a big factor. I know because I have a friend in North Carolina who likes to tease me about what he can grow better than I can here in Virginina Beach.