Palm Trees for Zone 7- Windmill Palm in Snow

3 Awesome Palm Trees For Zone 7

Years ago if someone had told me that there were palm trees that could survive temperatures into the single digits, 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 hardy palm trees that will not survive these cold temperatures, there are a few out there that have proven cold hardy into the single digits and in some cases below the 0F mark without winter protection!

What Are the 3 Best Palm Trees For Zone 7?

Here’s a list of the best Zone 7 palm trees from the least to the most cold hardy palm.

3. The Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus Fortunei)

For the cooler, Mediterranean climates, Windmill palm trees have become a very popular palm for cold hardy tropical landscape enthusiasts and the only trunking palm on the list.

The Windmill palm tree has a nice, tropical-like appearance and has been known to withstand heavy frost damage and temperatures as low as -5 degrees F!

While a popular pick for coastal areas with wetter climates, the Windmill palm tree is actually quite drought-tolerant and enjoys partial to full sun.

The Windmill palm tree has 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 Windmill palms as a replacement for the popular Mexican fan palm in colder areas due to its ability to tolerate freezing temperatures that the Mexican fan palm would normally succumb to.

Check out my full article on Windmill Palm trees HERE


2. The Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal Minor)

Coming in at a close second place of the best cold hardy palm trees is the Sabal Minor palm, also known as the dwarf palmetto.

This is known as the dwarf version of the Sabal Palmetto or Cabbage palm tree.

These palms are native to the southeast United States stretching from the southern part of Florida all the way up the northeast coast as far as Virginia.

Taking several degrees below zero before showing any leaf damage, dwarf palmettos are native to many freezing areas of the U.S. including parts of Oklahoma where these cold hardy palm trees will grow naturally in the wild.

The dwarf palmetto is a trunkless, slow-growing palm, and can have a nice bluish-green color to its fronds.

Dwarf palmettos can tolerate full shade and are perfect for planting underneath taller trees as they provide a nice tropical look in the underbrush.


1. The Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum Hystrix)

Considered the cold hardiest palm tree in the world and the top pick for zone 7 palm trees, the Needle palm tree is a shrubby, slow-growing palm with very sharp needles on the petioles.

Once established, Needle palms can tolerate freezing temperatures in the winter months down to -10F and have been known to withstand temperatures down to -15F but could get some leaf damage unless some protection is used, especially during cold winds.

The Needle palm loves moisture and hot humid summers and does best in a subtropical climate.

For this reason, drier desert climates are not ideal for needle palms, although if kept well watered and in partial shade, they will do alright especially since they love the hot summer temperatures.

Check out my full article on the Needle Palm tree HERE


What Is a Hardiness Zone?

Cold hardiness zones, also known as USDA zones, are divided up into a 5-degree incremental number and letter system used to help identify which plants may be suitable for certain climates in an average season. (ex. Zone 7a= 0-5F, Zone 7b= 5-10F, and so on…). The higher the zone number, the warmer the climate.

The USDA Hardiness Zone Map

While it has gone through many improvements and fine-tuning over the years, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a good way to find out what types of plants can grow in your specific climate.

They’ve narrowed their system down to being able to find specific growing zones right down to your zip code to get the most accurate information. You can access the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map HERE.

Not All Hardiness Zones Are Created Equal

One thing to take into account is that just because a palm tree is listed for a specific zone doesn’t mean that it will work long-term.

Hardiness zones are just one element that should be taken into consideration when choosing palm trees.

Other factors you should consider when planting palms in your yard include microclimates (areas of your yard where temperatures could fluctuate depending on sun exposure, wind patterns, or other weather conditions), moisture levels, and soil composition.

All of these can have an effect on how well your plants will thrive in any climate.

Other Palms To Experiment With In Zone 7

If you are living in a zone 7b climate that borders zone 8a, there are some other palm tree species you might want to experiment with.

Here are some more awesome palm trees that you should take into consideration for your landscape!

Pindo Palm (Butia Capitata)

The Pindo palm tree is a nice-looking bluish-green pinnate palm with edible fruit for making wine or jelly. The Pindo palm is possibly the most cold hardy pinnate palm aside from the Chilean Wine palm.

Cabbage Palm (Sabal Palmetto)

A common palmetto palm tree found in the Southeast U.S. The heart of the palm is edible and known for making it into a cabbage called “hearts of palm”, hence the name “Cabbage Palm”.

Saw Palmetto – silver and green form (Serenoa Repens)

The Saw palmetto palm is another Southeast U.S. native with popular fruit berries used in supplements known to aid in prostate health.

Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea Chilensis)

A humongous slow-growing prehistoric-looking pinnate palm with edible fruit resembling a small coconut. The Chilean Wine palm is very similar to the Pindo palm tree and is frequently hybridized together.

European Fan Palm/Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops Humilis)

A nice multi-trunking alternative to the Windmill Palm that can withstand temperatures well below freezing in drier climates.

California Fan Palm (Washingtonia Filifera)

A cold hardier version of the Mexican Fan palm (Washingtonia Robusta) the California Fan palm tree can survive winter temperatures in many dry zone 7b climates with moderate leaf damage.

The Wrap Up

As you can see, even a 5-degree difference in average minimum temperatures can make a difference in where certain palm trees grow.

I consider zone 8 to be the gateway to growing more cold hardy palm tree varieties, so if you are in the high zone 7 range, then you really could have more options than you might first realize.

So if you find cold hardy palms that you really like, but it is just out of your cold 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 give it an extra zone push in freezing weather.

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  1. I live in southeast Tennessee on a mountain and my husband had bought me a palm tree a couple of years ago and it died after a year. What kind of palm tree would you recommend for me that could live through our warm and cold area?

    1. Hi Nancy,

      The Needle Palm and the Sabal Minor look like your best bet for long term survival. Southeast Tennessee is in zone 7 which is a slightly higher growing zone than the majority of the state, but since you mentioned that you live on a mountain, you could be in a colder microclimate. Even still, these two palms should do well for you since they love hot humid summers and can survive below zero temps in the winter.
      Two other palms you may want to check out are the Pindo Palm (Butia Capitata) and the Chilean Wine Palm (Jubea Chilensis). These are marginal for your area, but both can be incredibly cold hardy once established. Definitely worth a try!
      Hope this helps and thank you for the comment!


    2. I live on the NW Oregon Coast and I’m having a lot of success with the 3 Windmill Palms I planted. We sometimes (very rarely) have snow, and I had no problems.
      Also, I haven’t done anything but plant them- I don’t use any fertilizer or pesticides. They seem to be growing really well, despite all the sand in my soil.
      Good luck!!

      1. Windmill palms are great for that area. They seem to love the cooler climates, especially in that area. I grew up in SW Washington and used to see them from time to time when I was a kid. They love the Oregon coast climate, so they should do well for you there. Thank you for the comment!

  2. I live in Baltimore County. I am also in zone 7a but can palm trees, palmettos, or subtropical plants still grow here? Also I noticed that Maryland has a subtropical climate and I was wondering why people have so many palms on their porches. Can you tell me what tropical/subtropical plants can actually thrive here?

    1. Hi Keyon,

      Yes, you can definitely grow some palm trees in Maryland. The mildest parts of the state are situated around the Chesapeake Bay area and near the Atlantic in the 7b growing zone, so Baltimore County sits within that 7a to 7b range as well.

      A palm you can grow throughout the state without winter protection would be the needle palm, taking several degrees below zero without damage. There are also several varieties of the Sabal Minor or dwarf palmetto that will easily survive winters in your area. The needle palm and dwarf palmetto are both trunkless palms and will not get very tall, but can be great for planting underneath taller trees or as a property break as they can spread out like a hedge.

      For taller, trunking palms the Windmill palm and Sabal palmetto are your two best bets. Both the Trachycarpus (Windmill) and Sabal palms have several different species, most of which are just as cold hardy and can range in size and look depending on what you prefer.

      As far as palms on porches, if they are in pots, they could be more cold sensitive and brought inside during the winter months. If grown in the ground, planting palms near porches or near the house in general will keep the palm warmer since the walls will radiate heat from inside. This is why you will see palms up near structures more often in these colder areas.

      A few other palms to consider, but may need some protection from time to time would be the Butia palms (also known as the pindo palm), Saw palmetto and the Chilean Wine palm. Definitely worth a try!

      Hopefully this information helped and thank you for the comment!


  3. Pindo palms need heat. They never look good in cool climate west coast areas above southern CA. On the East Coast they look better because summers are much hotter

    1. That’s true, Pindo palms do best with hotter summers. They can tolerate cooler summers, such as the Northern California coast and Pacific Northwest, but they will grow much slower and won’t look their best. I’ve seen some descent looking ones in Northern California that are growing in full sun areas, especially in the Sacramento valley where the summers are hot and dry.

    1. There are actually four types of palms native to Georgia that can give you some variety. Here’s a list of those plus a few others you might want to try…

      Sabal Minor
      Sabal Palmetto (many varieties)
      Saw Palmetto (green and silver form)
      Rhapidophyllum Hystrix (Needle Palm)

      Others to consider for your area:
      Butia Capitata – Pindo Palm
      Trachycarpus Fortunei – Windmill Palm
      Chamaerops Humilis – Mediterranean/European Fan Palm
      Livistona Chinensis – Chinese Fan Palm (also works as a great indoor palm)

  4. I live in Dundalk MD. Trying to bring the tropics to my backyard just lacking the palms now what palms do you recommend?

    1. Hi Steven,

      It looks like Dundalk is in a solid zone 7b with hot humid summers, so all three of these palms would work long term for you. There are a number of species within the Trachycarpus and Sabal genus’, so you have great variety based on what look you’re going for.

      Since you are near bodies of water, this area could be in a micro climate that can work to your advantage since these areas tend to stay a bit milder during the winter months. Here are a few other palms you may want to try…

      Pindo palm (Butia Capitata, Butia Ordata)
      Mediterranean Fan palm (Chamaerops Humilis)
      Saw Palmetto (Serenoa Repens)
      Cabbage Palm (Sabal Palmetto)

      Some of these are smaller, clumping palms so if you’re going for something that trunks and gets some height, then the Windmill palm, Pindo palm and Sabal Palmetto would be your best bets.

      All of these palms will give you a nice tropical look to your yard.

  5. I live in south central Kentucky. An hour north of Nashville TN.
    I have a pool and would like to plant tropical things that can survive through winter. What do you recommend?

    1. Hi Audrey,

      It looks like you are in zone 6b, so there are a couple of palms you can try around your pool. The Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum Hystrix) is the most cold hardy, but I wouldn’t recommend it around pools or near walkways since they contain sharp thorns. Your best bets would be the Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal Minor) and Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus Fortunei). Luckily both of these palms are small to medium sized, so you won’t have to worry about them taking up too much room.

      Keep in mind that zone 6 is pretty cold for palms. The Sabal Minor should do just fine handling your winter temps, but the Windmill palm may need some winter protection during severe cold snaps.

      Sabal Minors can vary with frond size with smaller ones looking more shrubby, so if you really want to more of a tropical look and have some room, I would go with larger forms like the Sabal Louisiana or the Sabal Minor “Emerald Isle Giant”. They are just as cold hardy, but the fronds get large giving it a cool tropical appearance.

  6. I have witnessed needle palms growing in the Evansville, Indiana, (zone 6b)area at the zoo without any winter protection other than tree canopy. They even reseed themselves.

    1. That’s impressive, especially the fact that they are reseeding themselves. They can definitely handle some zone 6 areas. Sounds like they are happy in their location, especially with the tree canopy!

  7. Hello! I also live in Maryland (north) and just ordered a Windmill Palm. Now I am deciding how close to the pool I should plant it. Do they really grow 20-40 ft in our climate?
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Jessica! Windmill palms usually average around 20-25 feet tall in most cases, although they do have the potential to get taller. They are quite slow growing, so if you ordered a smaller palm it will take quite a while for it to reach these heights. The crown is fairly compact as well, so it should be perfect for planting near your pool.

  8. Hi, I’m Chris and live in Yorktown, VA.
    I’m debating between a palm or some type tall grass. My front lawn gets the best sun. My porch is always in the shade so no chance of planting a palm near the front. Any tips?

    1. Hi Chris,
      The Windmill palm and Sabal Palmetto would be great to consider for their versatility to weather conditions and slower growth. Windmill palms stay fairly compact as well, so great for planting near decks or walkways. Both of these palms do like full sun, but should do fine in partial shade.
      Dwarf palmettos are more shade loving if you have an area like near your porch where you would like to grow something with a tropical look, but have little sunlight. They’re used to growing underneath taller trees in their natural habitat where they are in shade most of the day.
      I would also check out the Pindo palm as well since it is hardy for your area. They’ve become a very popular palm in Virginia, especially near the coast.

  9. Hello Everyone, hope all is well. I live in Brooklyn New York. Can you plz give me any recommendations on what palms may grow in my zone.

    1. Your best bets would be the Needle palm and Sabal Minor palm. Both of these would work well for your zone without the extra upkeep of winter protection.

      They are both smaller palms, so if you are looking for something that gets a bit taller, you can try the Windmill palm. Windmills may need some winter protection when temperatures drop into the single digits. Freezing winds during the winter can be a big issue as well, so try growing these palms in a wind protected area for best results.

  10. I live in the high desert area near Reno Nevada. We get freezing temperatures all winter and dry, hot temperature in the summers. What would be my best choice as I love tropical palm trees. I believe I am in 7a or 7b

    1. You might want to try the Mazari Palm (Nannorrhops ritchiana). Not on this list, but turns out it’s an extremely cold hardy palm that likes drier climates. I lived in Reno for a couple of years and with the dry cold in the winter, it should be a good pick with little to no protection during freezes.

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