Windmill Palms in Southern New Jersey
by Rich Sanderlin
Updated June 6, 2005
I am a fellow palm enthusiast. I thought it would be nice to share my experiences with you.
I have had a needle palm for about 5 years now and a windmill palm for 4 years. Both have been outside the entire time. The needle palm looked like it died once but sent out three new side shoots to take its place. It seems rather slow growing but has remained alive since that episode three years ago. The windmill palm I purchased at Smithfield Gardens in Suffolk, VA in a 5 gallon bucket. Originally it was about 2 1/2' tall. It has grown to 6' since then. The trunk at its base is the size of a dinner plate (approximately 9" diameter). It has done surprisingly well. I planted it in the ground once it warmed up a little bit in the spring of 1997. I covered the trunk with bubble wrap for the first winter and then again last winter (with the cold we had I was afraid of loosing it.) For the last two spring seasons I've had blossoms on the windmill palm. Of course there are no close by ones to pollinate with it so I've not received any viable seeds.
I am going to purchase another windmill palm and possibly a cabbage palm this summer. In addition to those mentioned I also have a butia palm which took a very bad hit this winter. I hope that it survives. It was looking very good. I purchased that one 3 years ago at a supermarket in NC for $15.00. It was burlap wrapped with clay soil and hardly any roots. I took very special care to make sure that the root system was encouraged before planting that one into the open ground.
Here is a picture of my palm from the other day. My large windmill palm is still doing great with no protection at all. You can sort of tell how tall it is. It is approximately 4' to the top of the trunk. The leave tops are at 6'. Of course, this winter hasn't been bad yet. That remains to be seen.
I keep checking everyone's web pages for updates. Good luck with your palms.
Here is a picture of a palm tree (windmill) in Paulsboro, a town nearby me. This palm has been here for several years. It has been completely unprotected for the past two winters.
I purchased two new windmill palms and three sabal minor palms from Kathy Denton of Pungo Palms Nursery this past May. She had a good selection with very good prices.
This was a good year for my palms despite the extreme heat and drought we suffered through this year. Everything has made it through another summer. My largest windmill palm, which is now 4 1/2' tall to the top of the trunk, bloomed as it has for the past 3 years (with 7 inflorescences). It seems to gain about one foot per year now. I've included a picture (at right).
Hoping for a warm winter once again.
Well, it has been a while since I've written you.† I continue to get emails from palm enthusiasts from all over who have visited your website and† clicked through to the page with my palm story.† I've enjoyed giving my two cents worth of advice.
Now it is time for us to move on.† We are selling our home this month.† I am sending you a picture of the windmill palm as it looks now (June 05, 2005).† The look is pretty typical of how it looks after a cold winter.† This year wasn't particularly colder than average, but it was cold for extended periods of time, so the main leaves turned brown and died.† But as always, the leaves are being replaced with new deep green leaves.† The needle palm has survived unscathed.
Thanks for keeping your website up and running.† It helps to keep the message out there that you can grow hardy palms in areas outside of the norm and have it be successful.