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Dallas Morning News - August 21, 2019

Palm Trees – Shade and Cold Hardy Choices


Several palm trees will grow well here in north Texas, some are quite winter hardy and all of them will grow in sun or shade. How well they grow in shady spots is a surprise many gardeners, but it's true.


Few palms have problems with extreme heat, but my top palm choices for general toughness and cold hardiness are the windmill palm and the needle palm. These palms suffer little to no freeze damage in much of the country and rarely if ever need wrapping. There are some others that are pretty good. Here's a rundown of the cold hardy palms therefore the best ones for you to plant. They are also quite tolerate of the most brutal hot summer weather – again in sun or shade.



Needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) is a trunkless palm that looks more like a big dark green shrub and it is tough as nails. It is cold-hardy to about -10 degrees. There is a specimen at the Dallas Arboretum that survived the severe winter of '83-'84 and the winters a few years ago when we had a 50 degree drop in less than 24 hours. By the way, it really does have serious black needles rising from the base of the plant.


Needle Palm


Texas sabal palm (Sabal texana) is a slow-growing palm with thick, smooth, spineless leaf stems and is cold-hardy to about 10 degrees. Sabal minor is the dwarf form of this plant. It doesn't develop a trunk at all, is very slow growing but makes a beautiful understory planting


Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) also called Chinese or Japanese windmill palm, it is a relatively slow-growing, small, tough palm with dark green foliage and cold-hardy to 5 degrees. It is tough, easy to grow and gets tall with age. It's only negative is that it has a puny trunk – usually looking smaller near the ground than at the top.


Sabal Palm




Pindo palm (Butia capitata) is a beautiful blue-green palm that is cold-hardy to 12 - 15 degrees. This selection made the second-choice list because some specimens came through the harsh winter just fine and it is an elegant looking palm.


Pindo Palm


Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) is cold-hardy to about 15 degrees. It is a nice, small growing palm that had no problems in protected spots but had some cosmetic damage in some gardens.


Mediterranean Fam Palm

California Fan Palm


California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) is cold-hardy to 10 - 15 degrees. It is superior for us here in north Texas to the commonly sold Mexican fan palm (W. robusta) that is cold-hardy to only about 20 degrees. Mexican and California fan palms look similar; so deal with reputable nurseries and check the label carefully before buying.





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