We all think of palm trees as growing in hot environments and they are typically associated with deserts, but that might leave you wondering, can palm trees survive cold weather? Can you grow a palm tree if you live in a cold state?
Most palm trees don’t tolerate cold weather well, but a few can cope with temperatures below 40 degrees F, and some can even go lower than 20 degrees F without dying. If you live in a cold state, you can grow palms as long as you choose your variety with care.
Many palm trees will die if they get too cold, so it’s important not to grow a palm in an unsuitable environment. Let’s figure out more about which palm trees you can grow in cooler climates.
Can Palm Trees Survive Cold Weather?
Palm trees can survive surprisingly well in cold weather, although it does depend on the variety. Many palms will be outright killed by cool temperatures, and certainly by frost, ice, and snow. They evolved in balmy and tropical environments and cannot cope with being frozen. We often see palm trees in places like:
- The warmest states of America
- The Southern Pacific Islands
The more resilient palms will manage fine in cold climates, however, especially once they are well established trees. Palms can be enormously tough, and will sometimes flourish even in harsh conditions that aren’t at all like those they evolved in.
That means that you can grow some kinds of palm trees in many of the colder parts of the US. They will survive in some of the northern states, and sometimes even in cold countries like the UK, as long as they are grown in the south.
Which Palms Are Best In Cold Weather?
If you want to grow a palm somewhere that suffers from icy winters, choosing the right variety will be critical. Fortunately, there are a few different options, including:
|Palm Tree||Tolerate temperatures as low as…|
|Blue Hesper Palm Tree||25 degrees F|
|Canary Date Palm Tree||15 degrees F|
|Chinese Fan Palm Tree||25 degrees F|
|Lady Palm Tree||15 degrees F|
|Mazari Palm Tree||10 degrees F|
|True Date Palm Tree||15 degrees F|
|Windmill Palm Tree||10 degrees F|
|Saw Palmetto Palm Tree||5 degrees F|
|Pindo Palm Tree||10 degrees F|
|Mexican Fan Palm Tree||15 degrees F|
|Cabbage Palm Tree||10 degrees F|
|Bismarck Palm Tree||25 degrees F|
|Puerto Rican Thatch Palm||30 degrees F|
|Queen Palm||20 degrees F|
As you can see, there are plenty of palm trees that will survive cold weather, even below freezing. The above list isn’t a comprehensive one, so if there’s another palm tree that you like the look of, you might want to consider researching its frost tolerance.
How Can You Help A Palm Deal With Cold Weather?
Even if the palm tree is cold tolerant, there are things that you can do to help it withstand cold weather and ensure that any damage is minimal. These ideas may help if your area goes through a particularly cold snap and you’re worried about your tree, or may just be part of your yearly routine for helping your palm to survive the winter.
Some of the techniques that work well include:
- Cover with a sheet
- Place it in a sheltered spot
- Bring potted palms into a garage
One of the best techniques is mulching. This protects the tree’s roots, its most important part, and reduces the risk of them freezing. In general, if the roots survive, the tree will recover even if its foliage gets damaged by frost.
You can mulch around a plant using almost any compostable material that you have to hand. Leaf litter, wool, and even cardboard will work well. Create a thick layer of at least two inches all around the trunk, and this should prevent the surface of the ground from freezing, protecting the roots. It will work in all but very cold weather.
Cover With A Sheet
If you only have a small palm tree, you can cover it with a sheet or blanket to protect it. This will trap a bubble of air around the tree and prevent it from freezing. Even a thin sheet may be sufficient to protect the tree.
This will not work with a palm tree that has grown very tall, but if your palm is small enough, a sheet is an effective and simple way to protect it.
Place It In A Sheltered Spot
When you are planting your palm tree, make sure that you put it somewhere that it will get some shelter. Being close to the house will help it to enjoy some residual warmth. Having other trees and plants around should help to reduce the wind chill and could protect it from freezing.
You should combine this strategy with choosing a palm that is suitable for the coldest temperatures that your area experiences.
Many people also build in a little leeway so that particularly cold snaps will not kill the plant. If your area usually only drops to 20 degrees F, it’s sensible to choose a palm that can tolerate temperatures as cold as 10 degrees F.
Bring Potted Palms Inside
If you are growing a dwarf palm in a pot, one of the simplest ways to protect it from the cold is to bring it inside. You should not bring it into the house, however, as this could shock it and it may die from heat exposure.
Instead, carry the palm into an unheated garage, shed, or greenhouse, and leave it there. The building will protect it from freezing temperatures and should keep it warm enough that it will survive unless it has particularly low cold tolerance.
Can You Grow Coconut Palms In Cold Weather?
The most iconic of the palm trees, you might be hoping that you can grow this in your backyard, but unfortunately, the coconut palm is not remotely tolerant of the cold. It can only be grown in USDA zone 10 or above, or it will freeze.
It will not tolerate temperatures below 71 degrees F, so if you want to grow a coconut palm, you will need to do so in a state such as Florida, where temperatures rarely drop for extended periods. This is the perfect environment for one of these trees.
Some palm trees can survive cold weather surprisingly well, and palms are found in cold environments across the US and even in parts of Europe. However, they are not generally considered suitable for cold weather, and many will not tolerate being frozen or even chilled.