Years ago if someone had told me that there were palm trees that could survive single digit temperatures and survive, I would have thought they were nuts.
Maybe they could take a light frost or a slight dip below freezing for a couple of hours, but 25-30 degrees below the freezing mark? I don’t think so.
While there are many types of palms that will not survive these frigid temps, there are a few out there that have proven hardy into the single digits and in some cases below the 0F mark without winter protection!
Here’s a list of palm trees for zone 7 climates listed from least to most cold hardy.
#3 The Windmill Palm (trachycarpus fortunei)
For the cooler, Mediterranean climates, the windmill palm has become a popular go-to for tropical landscape enthusiasts and the only trunking palm on the list.
They have a nice, tropical-like appearance and have been known to survive temps as low as -5 degrees F!
They have a slender trunk covered in a fibrous coat of hair with medium to large size fan-shaped fronds.
Many landscapers and palm enthusiasts will choose the windmill palm as a replacement for the popular Mexican fan palm in colder areas due to it’s ability to survive much colder winters that the Mexican fan palm would normally succumb to.
Check out my full article on the Windmill Palm HERE
#2 The Dwarf Palmetto (sabal minor)
Coming in at a close second place is the Sabal Minor palm, also known as the dwarf palmetto.
These palms are native to the southeast United States stretching from the southern part of Florida all the way up the northern east coast as far as Virginia.
Taking several degrees below zero before showing any damage, these palms are native to many freezing areas of the U.S. including parts of Oklahoma where these palms will grow naturally in the wild.
These palms are trunkless palms and would be perfect for planting underneath taller trees as they provide a nice tropical underbrush.
#1 The Needle Palm (rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Considered the most cold hardy palm in the world, the needle palm is a shrubby fan palm with very sharp needles on the petioles.
Once established, these palms can take temps down to -10F and have been known to survive -15F, but will become questionable at this point unless some protection is used.
They love moisture and warm summer temperatures.
For this reason, drier desert climates are not really ideal for these palms, although if kept well watered and in partly shady conditions they will do alright especially since they love the hot summer temperatures.
Check out my full article on the Needle Palm HERE
The Wrap Up
Before I go, I just wanted to emphasize that even though these three palms will thrive well in all of zone 7, there are some other species that you may want to consider, especially if you are in the high end of the zone.
While some winter protection will most likely be needed from time to time, you can still experiment with other cold varieties that are borderline with zone 8a (10-15F min temp).
Here are a few more species that you can experiment with in the 7b/8a zones.
- Butia Capitata (Pindo palm)
- Serenoa Repens (Saw palmetto – silver and green form)
- Jubaea Chilensis (Chilean Wine palm)
- Chamaerops Humilis (Mediterranean fan palm)
As you can see, even a 5 degree difference in average minimum temperatures can make a difference in the number of choices you will have.
If you find a palm that you really like, but it is just out of your hardiness zone range, give it a try anyway! Sometimes just planting a palm near a wall, away from strong winds and in full sun areas can can give it an extra zone push.