Cold Hardy Palms
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Important Note: Most of the seeds on this page will
benefit greatly from using the CAPE Smoke Seed
Germination Primer that we use in our own greenhouses. We
find we receive significantly better germination results when we
use this primer on these types of seeds.
1A444 Takil Palm ( Trachycarpus takil )
Also known as Kumaon Palm. This fast-growing palm, quite possibly the most cold-hardy of all the Trachycarpus palms, is native to a mountainous area of India where it is found at high elevations of 8000 feet. It is relatively new selectin, so is not often seen in cultivation, and is often confused with T. wagnerianus, with which it bears little resemblance. The leaves are much larger and the trunk is often bare. The Kumaon palm regularly endures cold, snowy winters and is reportedly hardy to -5°F.
It receives considerable frost and snow every year coming from cool and moist oak forests in the Himalayas in Kumaon, northern India, with an altitude of over 8000 ft.The leaf of T. takil has a neater, more clipped and manicured appearance than the T. fortunei. It grows to 30-40 feet tall, with a rough trunk covered in fiber from old leaf bases. Likes a sunny, well drained position. Easy to grow but slow. Zones 6b-12.
Z2003 Louisiana Dwarf Cold Hardy Palmetto Palm ( Sabal
A short palmetto palm growing only about 6 ft. tall with large
blue-green fan leaves. An easy to grow palm.
This palm can be grown much farther North than most palm
Young palms can be grown outside with ease and established
palms, ( grown inside in pots the first few years, then
transplanted outside ) can be grown in zone 6, and it has been
suggested that established plants could even be grown as far
North as zone 5 with foliage loss in Winter and re-growth in
Saw Palmetto Palm ( Serenoa repens )
Saw palmetto is a small hardy fan palm whose stem usually
remains below ground or runs just along the surface. In some
cases, it develops an erect or arching trunk that may lift the
whorl of leaves 2'-8' above ground. The palmate leaves are
2'-3' across and green or bluish green. The cluster of leaves
gets about 4'-6' high with a similar spread. In the wild, saw
palmetto often grows in clumps 20 or more feet in diameter. The
petioles (leaf stems) are about 2' long and sharply
saw-toothed. The fruits are round, black and about an inch in
diameter. An especially attractive form with silvery-white
leaves occurs along the Atlantic coast in Florida.
Saw palmetto occurs naturally on the coastal plain from
South Carolina to southeastern Louisiana. It grows in a wide
range of habitats from seaside sand dunes and dry scrub to
moist forests, pine flatwoods and even wetlands. Saw palmetto
can be the dominant ground cover in certain southeastern pine
forests, sometimes covering hundreds of acres. Culture: Once
established, saw palmetto is virtually maintenance-free.
Light: Prefers full sun, but can tolerate partial sun.
Moisture: Tolerates drought but can also tolerate moderately
Hardiness: Fully hardy to zone 7, this palm has been seen
growing in zone 6, but does suffer foliage damage at 10 degrees
F. and complete foliage loss at 3-5 degrees F.
Saw palmetto is a beautiful little palm and richly deserves
a place in the ornamental landscape. The silver form is
especially attractive. Plant saw palmettos in front of clumps
of larger palms, or even underneath large palms. They look good
massed in clumps in mixed borders, or as framing hedges. Use as
accents to trees or in foundation plantings.
Features: The berries of saw palmetto are used as a
treatment for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or enlarged prostate
gland. They are also used as a diuretic to tone the bladder,
improve urinary flow, and decrease urinary frequency. They may
help prevent prostate cancer.
P41 Sabal Palmetto Palm ( Sabal palmetto )
The Florida state tree. This is an attractive palm whose use is
mostly outside as lawn decoration. It grows to 80 ft. tall with
stiff, green costapalmate leaves. Has a smooth trunk that will
reach 18" in diameter. Very easy to grow from seeds. It can be
raised inside, but it will require much bright light.
Easily grown in zone 7 ounce established, it is suggested that
established, protected plants may survive in zone 6b as
P52 Jelly Palm ( Butia capitata )
This beautiful feather palm has long fronds that arch and
recurve towards the ground from atop a thick stout trunk. The
trunk can grow to 20’, but normally reaches
12’-15’ with a diameter of 1’-1½’.
Typically, the old leaf stalks persist for years, although
specimens with clean trunks are not uncommon. Leaves range from
light green to bluish gray. The palm produces light orange
fruits (often called pindo dates in the deep south). These
palms vary in form. Specimens raised in dry and/or infertile
soils tend to be smaller in stature with smaller leaves. Light
also affects the plant’s form -- those grown in full sun
are more compact. The orange fruits are edible and widely used
to make a delicious jelly, thus the name.
Grown regularly in zone 8, this palm has been proven to survive
0° F. when heavily mulched and protected. Generally
considered safe to grow in zone 7 if heavily protected, it is
suspected it could survive zone 6 under certain conditions.
RLP020 Blue Mediterranean Fan Palm ( Chamaerops humilis var. cerifera )
This is a great palm for hot and cold areas. It is tolerant of most extreme conditions. It would be a good plant for those who have more extreme weather.
This is a small clumping palm that grows to a maximum height of between 8-10 feet tall. Could reach 20 feet outdoors in prime conditions. The overall height often depends on the growing zone. This palm is rated from USDA zone 7b to past 11.
Absolute minimum temperatures are about -15C (5F) but it may prove to be hardier. The lower the zone, the lower the final height of the palm (as a general rule for all species).
It is a great palm for a Mediterranean type climate as the name suggests. Full sun is best as well good drainage. In a climate like Vancouver, the crown may need to be protected in the winter to prevent any risk of rot. This is as simple as a bit of plastic over the top of the plant. Don't wrap too tightly as it needs room to breathe. A tent-like structure may be best. In the summer it is drought tolerant and a great plant for xeriscaping.
It is as robust and adaptable as its regular green relative and happy in a wide range of conditions, tolerating extremes of cold and damp as well as heat and drought or full sun to shade. However, its main attraction is the colour of its leaves: an intense blue-silver (and here we don't mean the silvery colour as seen on the undersides of the leaves of many Chamaerops) on the upper as well as the lower surface of the leafblade. Indeed it is as blue as Brahea armata.
1A447 Hardy Bamboo Palm ( Chamaedorea microspadix )
A very pretty, small, clumping palm with thin stems up to 10 feet tall, each topped by a crown of dark green, pinnate leaves. In the wild it forms dense colonies, and in cultivation it is useful as an undergrowth plant, tolerating quite deep shade. Small, round, bright red fruits are readily produced and add considerably to its attractiveness. Chamaedorea microspadix is best suited to temperate and subtropical climates and is one of the most cold tolerant Chamaedorea. It can take frost and prolonged cold down to 18°F unharmed.
Z2824 Waggie Palm ( Trachycarpus wagnerianus )
The medium cold hardy Miniature Chusan Palm is more commonly known as the Waggie Palm or just plain Waggie. It is also known as the Dwarf Chusan Palm, however the Miniature Chusan Palm is not so miniature as this palm has been spotted reaching heights up to 30 ft. It's rare in the United States to see a waggie this tall, as they are extremely slow growers.
One of the slowest growing palms in the palmae family. Very similar to its brother the Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), the Miniature Chusan Palm has distinctive characteristics that differentiates it from the Windmill Palm. The Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) has and overall appearance of being more dainty and leggie.
The Miniature Chusan Palm (Trachycarpus wagnerianus) has and overall appearance of being more compact. It has smaller leaves that are much more stiff and deeply-cut. The leaves are green to dark green in color and are rounded in outline and held on shorter stems. Therefore having shorter stems they are more resilient and will not bend under the weight of snow or ice. The Waggie Palm is very cold hardy withstanding temperatures down to 0 degrees and below with little to no damage. It has shown no leaf damage in Zone 6 and will make it through anything this climate can throw at it.
The Miniature Chusan Palm is also disease free and worry free. This palm enjoys full sun to partial shade and will do best with well drained soils. It is adaptable for both containers or gardens, making it the ideal choice for the tropical look with no worries of freezing cold temperatures.
This palm tree will make a great addition to any home office or landscape. It will give a sense of the tropics with little cost.
RLP136 Woolly Jelly Palm ( Butia eriospatha )
Beautiful cold-hardy palm bearing small orange-red fruits with tasty pineapple-orange like pulp. Fruits are often considered even higher quality than those of its close relative the jelly palm.
At first sight looking much like Butia capitata it is immediately distinguishable by its woolly inflorescence spathe.
Indeed the red-brown colouration of this rather thick fur is visible from quite a distance and renders identification quite easy. This attractive feature, together with the fact that it
is probably the most cold hardy in the genus, makes it an excellent proposition for the temperate garden.
Hardy to 5°F.
RLP064 Southern Jelly Palm Butia catarinensis
An excellent container palm, it is also hardy to zone 7b. Butia catarinensis grows in huge populations in parts of Southern Brazil along the coast especially around Laguna, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul. This is a smallish palm compared to the usual Butia capitata or B. odorata, the trunk is very fine and the palm rarely reaches 10 feet in height.
1A450 Hardy Jelly Palm ( Butia odorata )
This popular, hardy, feather-leaved palm has recently been separated from Butia capitata to clear up a very old taxonomic mess. This palm is native to southern Brazil and Uruguay and is widely cultivated around the world, usually under the name B. capitata. It is a large, robust plant with recurved, strongly keeled, blue green leaves, a stout trunk and deliciously edible, yellow fruit with round or slightly elongated seeds. The true B. capitata is a plant from the highland of central Brazil in the sates of Bahia, Goias and Minas Gerais. It is a much smaller plant, has larger, spindle-shaped seeds and is virtually unknown in cultivation. Butia odorata will succeed in all but the coldest temperate and warm temperate climates, but does not like tropical climates. One of the few truly hardy feather palms, it will tolerate extremely low temperatures when older.
It produces bright orange fruit, called pindo dates in the US, and as Jelly is made from these it accounts for the common European name,'Jelly Palm'. Although the fruit is supposed to be delicious, there seems little evidence of it being grown commercially as a fruiting palm. The flowers are numerous, very small, creamy yellow and are borne on 3-4 feet long inflorescences bearing separate male and female flowers. Pollination is by wind and insects.
The 1" yellow to orange fruits are round or oval shaped, and hang in large bunches. Each fruit contains a single large seed which looks like a tiny Coconut, with the characteristic 3 pores at one end. The sweet, but tart, flavour is a mixture of apricot, pineapple and banana. Fruits are harvested as they ripen, or if the whole bunch is harvested they tend to ripen all at once. They can be eaten fresh or puree'd, and make excellent jelly as well as wine. They can be stored for about a week refrigerated.
Cold hardy to about 10 degrees for short periods of time.
P28 Canary Island Date Palm ( Phoenix canariensis )
From the Canary Islands off the Coast of Africa, this palm is widely grown as an
ornamental tree. It is tolerant of cold and drought and can be easily raised from seeds if
given heat. Outside, it will grow up to 60 ft. with a 3 ft. diameter trunk.
Inside, its growth can be regulated by the size of container it is raised in. It has a
distinctive spiky, architectural appearance that is a must for any home. It bears 2 in. long
fruit that is orange when ripe. The old leaf scars on the trunk form diamond shaped
Tolerates cold to about 18 degrees and needs full sun. 12 to 15
degrees will damage the foliage.
P75 Mexican Fan Palm Sky Duster Palm ( Washingtonia robusta )
This is the palm shown in the backgrounds of television shows
shot in Los Angeles. It is a tall thin palm that grows to great
heights very quickly. Outside, it can reach a height of 100 ft.
or more. Remarkably, it also makes a great inside plant. Has
fan shaped small green leaves and bears dark, glossy red seeds.
It is drought tolerant and can be easily moved at any age.
Prefers full sun and tolerates 18 to 20 degrees F. Fairly fast
growing and commonly available. 12 to 15 degrees will defoliate
Z2501 Brahea armata ( Blue Hesper Palm )
It could be argued that this is the most impressive of the
Braheas with its thick and fissured grey trunk, and its crown
of silvery blue, sometimes almost white leaves that in
moonlight take on an almost ghostly appearance. In the wild it
grows in arid canyons, sometimes with Washingtonia, and manages
to survive in incredibly dry conditions.
It tolerates down to about 18 to 20 degrees. 12 to 15 degrees
will definitely damage the foliage of this species.
Z2504 Nannorrhops ritchiana ( Mazari Palm )
Nannorrhops ritchiana, the Mazari palm, one of the very
hardiest palms in the world was, until recently, also one of
the rarest in cultivation. Finally, after several years of
work, literally hundreds of faxes and phone calls, and not
least of all, a trip to Pakistan (not our favorite holiday
destination), we located what we hope will be a regular source
of seeds of this tough and attractive palm. Its high altitude
desert origin in Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan (to about
1700m/5600ft a.s.l.) gives an indication of its requirements
is: hot, dry, and bright. Mature Nannorrhops ritchiana are
successfully cultivated in such diverse places as Florida,
California, Texas, Italy, France, and Venezuela, indicating
that it will thrive in temperate areas just as well as in the
cooler tropics. In winter, if kept dry, it may resist
temperatures as low as -20C (-4F). With summer heat it is
relatively fast growing, and will develop into a large shrub
with several short, erect trunks and very thick, blue-green,
leathery fan-shaped leaves. It is a palm which surely everyone
will want to have in their collections.
P11 Silver Saw Palm ( Acoelorrhaphe wrightii )
A palm widely used in Florida for street decoration. It grows
to a height of 20 ft. It has a slender trunk covered with brown
fibers. The leaves are fan shaped and a light green with a
silver back. The seeds germinate quickly and easily. This is
good outdoor palm for mild climate areas.
It will tolerate high moisture conditions and temperatures to
about 20 degrees. It prefers full sun.
Z1995 Senegal Date Palm ( Phoenix reclinata )
A beautiful, clump forming palm whose trunks tend to lean
outward, hence the name. Easy to grow indoors or out, will
reach 30 ft. outdoors when mature. Attractive, leaf scarred
trunks and ¾" brown fruits. Also called the African Date
Demands full sun and tolerates temperatures to 20 degrees or
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Z2808 Trachycarpus ukhrulensis
On the border of Assam and Myanmar the latest species of trachycarpus has been discovered. Growing to 15m Trachycarpus ukhrulensis has a hairless trunk, the underside of the leaves are a powdery white and the top sides are dark green. According to WWF some scientists think this is the most interesting trachycarpus yet discovered.
A fast grower, good in containers when young, this palm is hardy to zone 8b.
P16 Queen Palm ( Syagrus romanzoffiana )
An excellent palm from Brazil. It withstands a wide range of
climates and can be raised outside in northern areas if
protection is given. The first simple leaves of this palm can
be up to 3 ft. long. It will grow up to 60 ft. outside. The
trunk is long and slender and will bear distinctive old leaf
scars that accents its tropical look. The leaves are long and
curving. Can be raised as a houseplant inside.
The Queen palm can tolerate to about 20 degrees, 17 degrees or
colder will kill this species. It demands full sun.
Cold Hardy Bananas
Note: All banana leaves, even of the most cold hardy species,
will be damaged by frost and killed outright by a hard freeze.
But many underground rhizomes are much cold hardier than people
realize. This means that that the underground root will sprout
new growth in the Spring.
Z2450 Darjeeling Banana ( Musa sikkimensis = M. hookeri )
Wow! A rare and little known large banana species, new to
cultivation, that sports a massive pseudo-trunk to 4,5m (14ft)
tall and 45cm (18in.) in diameter., tinged with red, and purple
new leaves and leaf-midribs. A percentage of plants even
exhibits beautifully dark red mottled leaves. The Darjeeling
Banana is very hardy to cold (i.e. in the sense of Musa basjoo)
coming, as it does, from mountain forests up to 2000m (6000ft)
in the Himalayas of NE-India. It can easily be grown in zone
First trials outdoors in the US, Britain, Germany and
Switzerland have shown an excellent resistance to cold and
frost. Like all bananas, it is extremely fast growing, given
rich soil and an abundance of water. The fruits have a sweetish
pulp but are hard and contain a few large seeds. An absolute
novelty that shows great promise as an ornamental for the
temperate as well as the cooler tropical garden. We think this
plant that has more potential than any other cold tolerant Musa
in cultivation at the moment.
Z2116 Yunnan Banana ( Musa sp. "Yunnan" )
These seeds originally came in as the rare Ensete wilsonii, the
Snow Banana, however, seed shape and size suggest that the
seeds are not Ensete but Musa sp. Our collector insists that
the seeds were collected at very high altitude in Chinas Yunnan
province, where Ensete wilsonii usually grows up to 2700m
(9000ft). Even with its identity not cleared yet we think this
could be a very interesting cold hardy species that would
probably thrive under the same conditions as the legendary Musa
basjoo and M. sikkimensis. Easily grown in zone 6 if mulched
heavy, it should be tried in zone 5 more to determine it's
Z2093 Cold Hardy Chinese Dwarf Banana ( Musella lasiocarpa )
Musella lasiocarpa is an exciting banana relative that comes
from high altitudes (to frosty 2800m / 9200ft!) in the Yunnan
province in China. The maximum height of the plant is only
about 1.5m / 5ft, half of which is a very stout, conical trunk,
topped by a crown of handsome, slightly glaucous, broad leaves.
From early age, the rhizome produces many suckers. The
"flower", which is big and bright yellow, appears in its second
year, and grows upright at the top of the trunk. As the
inflorescence grows in size, tiny 'bananas' begin to appear
under each bract which curls back to reveal the fruits.
Unfortunately inedible, the 2" long bananas each contain dozens
of small, shiny jet black seeds. The seed requires cool
stratification (abt. 5°C) but then germinates easily, and
subsequent seedling growth is as you might expect, very fast.
Musella appreciates heavy watering and feeding and a place in
full sun. It will flourish in all climates from cool tropical
down to temperate, where it will be found to be root hardy,
enduring even cold winters with its underground rhizome, just
like the well known "Hardy Banana", Musa basjoo. It also makes
a perfect conservatory plant which will be a true conversation
piece that certainly will not outgrow its location.
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Z2306 Velvet Banana ( Musa velutina )
Good container type of banana with dark green leaf blades to 3
ft. Produces erect spikes of white flowers, followed by softly
hairy, pink fruit. Can easily be grown in zone 9 for fruits,
but can survive zone 7, maybe even zone 6 for foliage
Z2115 Giant Nepal Banana ( Ensete glaucum )
This exciting but little-known banana relative is also known as
Musa nepalensis and Ensete giganteum, hinting at the plants
giant size. It grows in China (Yunnan 800-1100m a.s.l.), Nepal,
India, Burma, Thailand and possibly also in Tibet, Indonesia,
Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. It has a thick, waxy and blue,
solitary trunk, huge bluish leaves up to 10ft/3m long, and a
huge nodding banana-producing inflorescence. It is extremely
fast growing and so requires a good supply of fertilizer and
water and is best planted in rich soil. In cold climates it
would make an astonishing bedding plant during the Summer.
Hardy to zone 7 with heavy mulching.
Cold Hardy Yuccas
2070 Spanish Bayonet ( Yucca aloifolia )
Spanish bayonet has an erect trunk, 3-5" in diameter, reaching
up to 5-20' tall before it becomes top heavy and topples over.
When that happens, the tip turns upward and keeps on growing.
The trunk is armed with sharp pointed straplike leaves each
about 2' long. The young leaves near the growing tip stand
erect; older ones are reflexed downward, and the oldest wither
and turn brown, hanging around the lower trunk like an Hawaiian
skirt. Eventually the tip of the trunk develops a 2' long spike
of white, purplish-tinged flowers, each blossom about 4"
across. After flowering, the trunk stops growing, but one or
more lateral buds are soon formed, and the uppermost becomes a
new terminal shoot. Any other buds become branches, but these
are usually few, and the plant has an open, airy habit. Spanish
bayonet also produces new buds, or offshoots, near the base of
the trunk, forming a thicket.
Cold hardy to 6b with protection.