Growing Palm Trees in Temperate Zones

Six Cold Hardy Palm Tree Types

Growing palm trees in temperate climates. Six cold hardy palms. Pictures of frost tolerant palms.


You can live in a winter wonderland and look out your window and see palm fronds dancing on the breeze. If you can’t live in the tropics, planting palm trees will bring the flavor of the islands home to you.

These cabbage palms are thriving in Georgia.It is a common misconception that palm trees can only grow in warm climates.

Certain types of palm trees can survive temperatures as low as minus twenty degrees Fahrenheit.

To put this into perspective, there are outdoor palm trees growing as far north as Canada!

Cold Hardy Palm Trees

Needle Palm Tree

When growing palm trees in cold climates, the first tree you should consider is Rhapidophyllum hystrix, the Needle palm tree.

This is the most cold weather tested palm in the world.

Needle palms easily survive in below zero temperatures. Plus, they require no winter protection to survive. This makes them popular with gardeners in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Cleveland who are growing palm trees to infuse their cold winter surroundings with a taste of the tropics.

This southeastern U.S. native rarely grows to more than three feet tall. However, one drawback to the Needle palm is, well, its needles. The hystrix part of its name is from the scientific name of a genus of porcupines. You must be very careful when grooming this clustering and usually trunkless tree!

If you would prefer a bigger tree, your best cold weather option is Trachycarpus fortunei, the windmill palm tree. These palms can be found as far north as Vancouver.

The Windmill palm can grow to sizes of twenty to forty feet in height. They like the shade (specimens grown in full sun will remain much shorter) and are hardy to 10 degrees F.

Windmill Palm in Snow

Windmill palm covered in snow.

If you like smaller trees, then you may prefer the Sabal minor or Dwarf Palmetto. This tree only grows to be between six and eight feet tall and is found as far North as New York City. It is second only to the Needle palm in cold hardiness.

Size is an important factor when growing palm trees. Do you want large palms to be the focal point of your garden? Or would you prefer smaller trees to act as a tropical backdrop to the overall design?

I have only mentioned the three most common cold climate palm trees. Here are three more palms that will also survive in harsh temperatures:

  1. Sabal palmetto or Cabbage palm. The state tree of both Florida and South Carolina is hardy to zone 8. You commonly see this palm planted in Virginia Beach, but there are several specimens livings in zone 7a in Atlanta.
  2. Chamaerops humilis or Mediterranean fan palm is the only palm native to southern Europe. Less cold hardy than the other palms listed here, it will grow very far north of most of them as long as the climate is Mediterranean. This palm is drought tolerant and prefers hot summers.
  3. Jubaea chilensis or Chilean wine palm has been grown as far north as London, England. Unlike most of its brethren, the Chilean wine palm does not like hot, humid weather. It prefers the cooler, maritime climate of Great Britain or the Pacific Northwest.

Buy Cold Tolerant Palm Trees

The trees below are top quality palms in hard-to-find larger sizes. Real Palm Trees offers each palm in a variety of sizes. I have only shown one size of each palm below. If you see a tree you like, click through to the sales page to see all the available sizes.

Buy a 4′ European Fan Palm – $74.95
Retail Price: 89.94
You Save: $14.99
From: Real Palm Trees
Buy a 6′ Needle Palm – $449.95
Retail Price: 539.94
You Save: $89.99
From: Real Palm Trees
Cabbage Palm Germinated Seedling or Sprout – $ 24.95
Retail Price: 29.94
You Save: $4.99
From: Real Palm Trees
European Fan Palm – Seeds – $9.95
Palm Seeds – Freshly Harvested by Season

Buy a 3′ Cabbage Palm – $69.95
Retail Price: 83.94
You Save: $13.99
From: Real Palm Trees
Buy a 4′ Windmill Palm – $79.95
Retail Price: 95.94
You Save: $15.99
From: Real Palm Trees
Cabbage Palm – Seeds – $6.95
Palm Seeds – Freshly Harvested by Season

Windmill Palm – Seeds – $ 10.95
Palm Seeds – Freshly Harvested by Season

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