Palm trees conjure up a Mediterranean flair in the garden, on the balcony and terrace. But hibernation is often very expensive. Hardy palm trees can help here. There are several species in the Palmae family that can easily withstand low temperatures and spend the winter outdoors. Varieties that survive low temperatures should also be protected in winter.

Frost hardy or hardy

When buying suitable palm trees, a basic distinction must be made as to whether they are hardy or just frost-resistant. Frost-resistant simply means that the plants survive slight sub-zero temperatures. Anything below -4°C can cause lasting damage to the palm tree and cause it to die. However, frost-resistant is not precisely defined. The boundary between frost-hardy and hardy varies greatly.

Hardy plants not only survive light forests without any problems, but also temperatures from around -10°C over long periods of time. If there are any uncertainties as to which temperatures a palm tree can withstand, the sales staff should always be consulted when purchasing.

Winter protection is mandatory

No matter which variety is used, no palm species can do without suitable winter protection. It is often sufficient to wrap the plants thickly in cardboard. It is important that the winter protection is breathable. Foils that do not let air through should be avoided. Waterlogging can form here due to condensation or precipitation, which in turn promotes the growth of fungi and bacteria.

In the case of palm trees in pot culture, care must be taken in winter to ensure that the sensitive roots are not damaged by the frost. The pots themselves can be wrapped thickly with bubble wrap. However, breathable material should be used for the trunk and leaves.

Permafrost causes problems

Permafrost causes problems even for the hardiest of palm trees. It’s not so much the temperatures, but the lack of ability to absorb water from the frozen ground. Not all palm trees have such a deep root network that they can fetch water from deeper soil layers. The palm trees do not freeze to death in permafrost, but die of thirst.

Therefore, a good water supply should be ensured in any case of permafrost. The environment can be freed from frost with warm water, which allows the plants to absorb water again.

Tip: not only protect the palm tree itself in winter, but also the surrounding area. This prevents the ground from freezing over quickly and the palm can do without an additional water supply for a long time.

Suitable location and varieties

However, hardy species of the Palmae family appreciate warm locations. Suitable locations also help the plants to get through the winter well. A place with as much sun as possible, such as the south side of a house, is ideal. A location near the wall of the house also favors survival in winter. The house wall heats up during the day and then gives off heat for many hours at night.

Chinese Hemp Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

The Chinese Cannabis Palm is the most common hardy palm found in home gardens. It should be planted out in May or June at the latest. This gives it enough time to root and is firmly anchored in the ground for the winter. Well rooted, it can withstand temperatures down to -18°C without any problems.

Its growth is reminiscent of a typical palm tree with its large leaves and gnarled to fibrous trunk. It does not necessarily have to be in the sun and also feels comfortable in partially shaded locations.

Care of the Chinese hemp palm:

  • permeable soil
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • water thoroughly regularly
  • nutrient-rich soil
  • regularly incorporate long-term fertilizers such as compost or horn shavings into the soil
Tip: Cover the palm tree disc thickly with bark mulch, which not only protects the roots from drying out in summer, but also from ground frost in winter.

Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

The needle palm originally comes from the USA and is popular in the garden because of its small size. It grows to a maximum of three meters high and, above all, forms very lush leaves. It develops rather bushy and has long needles on the trunk. The needle palm also tolerates harsher climates and is hardy down to -20°C. In sheltered locations, even lower temperatures do not harm it.

Tip: Due to its bushy shape and weak growth, it is also very suitable for pot culture.

Care of the needle palm:

  • Keep root ball constantly moist
  • Substrate made from a mixture of compost and sand
  • fertilize every four weeks in summer, fertilize twice in winter
  • No pruning, just remove dead leaves

Wagners Hanfplame (Trachycarpus wagnerianus)

This species of the Palmae family is very similar to the Chinese hemp palm. It just has slightly smaller leaves, which makes it more dainty. It is therefore very suitable for balconies or small gardens. In terms of care, it does not differ from the Chinese hemp palm. However, it is a little more sensitive than the hardy Chinese hemp palm and only survives temperatures down to -16°C without damage.

Dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor)

This species also comes from the USA. The interesting thing about this species is that it appears to grow without a trunk. At first glance, its leaves appear to be coming straight out of the ground. However, this species only forms a small trunk underground. The leaves of this species from the Palmae family can develop leaves up to a height of three meters. It is also one of the few palm species that can tolerate lower temperatures and is hardy down to -20°C.

Care of the dwarf palmetto:

  • keep constantly moist
  • no waterlogging
  • Mix substrate from garden soil, compost soil and some sand or gravel
  • fertilize every four weeks during the growth phase, do not fertilize during the dormant phase

Yunnan Dwarf Palm (Trachycarpus nanus)

The Yunan dwarf palm tree is also a hardy variety, which is mainly characterized by its low height. In order for it to survive the winter without damage, the temperatures should not fall below -18°C, otherwise it must be very well protected so that it is not damaged by the frost. It grows to a maximum of one meter high and is therefore particularly common in front gardens. In terms of care, it is similar to other palm trees and should be kept constantly moist. By the next watering, however, the root ball of this type of palmae should be at least 2/3 dry.

However, it prefers a loamy soil mixed with gravel or sand. Very humus soils are too heavy and dense for her. Not only can this result in the soil becoming too wet for her, but also in the soil compacting too much for her.

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