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Can Palm Trees Survive Cold Weather?

Ben McInerney Nov 18, 2019
Palm trees are evergreen plants that typically grow in the tropical regions of the world. There are more than 2,500 species of palm trees. Despite the fact that most of them can only survive in the weather conditions of the tropics, some species are capable of surviving in places where the temperature during winter gets very cold.

How Much Cold Can They Tolerate?

The temperature that cold-hardy palm trees can tolerate varies depending on the specific species of palm tree.
The Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) has survived record temperatures of -17 F.
The Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor) has been known to survive at record temperatures of -24F.
Other species cannot survive at such extreme cold weather, like the Pindo Palm Tree (Butia capitata), which can tolerate temperatures of 5F (which is still very cold). This is a very high tolerance for a type of plant that is associated with the warm and humid tropical regions of the world.

Can Palm Trees Survive Freezing Weather?

The area of the temperate zone that is closer to the polar regions gets too cold in winter (way below the freezing point) and the palm trees cannot survive.

How Do You Care For a Palm Tree in Winter?

There are several advices that can help you care for your palm tree in the winter months. If you can do all of them, it will be better for your tree. During the first three years, cover it with a sheet, plastic, tarp, or blanket in order to keep it warmer.
When the tree is still young, its height is still moderate enough to find a sufficiently big blanket to do the task. Another way to care for the tree in winter is to use a freeze-protecting spray (follow the instructions in the bottle). You can also fertilize the plant well so that it is healthy and can withstand the cold weather.

Hot tip

Cover the base of the tree with a thick layer of mulch to help it tolerate freezing temperatures, too.

Is Pruning Before Winter a Good Idea?

Experts recommended to prune palm trees during spring season. The dead fronds look bad, but they help the tree tolerate the cold weather of the Winter months. When pruning the palm tree, only the dead and dry fronds that hang down can be cut off.
It is important to leave a small section of them (a few inches long) joined to the trunk. You should never cut them completely as that could injure the trunk and it may never recover. Fruit stems and flowers can also be trimmed. Removing them helps the palm tree become stronger, especially in its younger age.

What Are the Best Palm Species for Colder Climates?

1. Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

It was originally grown in China and Japan, it can grow from 39 ot 66 ft tall, its flowers are yellow in the male and green in the female, and has survived at record temperatures of -17F.

2. Pindo Palm Tree (Butia capitata)

It was originally grown in Brazil and it can grow up to 32 ft. tall. Its flowers are yellow, it has a round fruit that is used to make jelly, ice cream, and juice, and it can tolerate temperatures of 5F.

3. Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

It was originally grown in the southeastern coast of the United States, it can grow up to 9.8 ft tall, its flower is light brown, its fruit is a brown drupe, it grows needle-like spines in the bases, and it can tolerate low temperatures of about -10F.

4. Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor)

It was originally grown in southeastern United States and northeastern Mexico, it can grow up to about 10 ft tall, its flower is light yellowish white, its fruit is black drupe, and it has tolerated a record temperature of -24F.


Scientists have found all sorts of species in every single place they look for, even in the most unsuspected places (Mariana Trench, Movile Cave, underwater volcanoes, etc.).
This tendency seems to be related to the fact that palm trees expanded their location from the tropical zone to the temperate zone. Some species of palm trees have evolved to survive in much lower temperatures than those found in the tropics (even in freezing temperatures).
For more information on palm tree types, visit: