3 Awesome Palm Trees For Zone 7

Palm Trees For Zone 7 - Needle Palm In Snow

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!

What Is a Hardiness Zone?

Before we get into the types of cold hardy palm trees for zone 7, first I wanted to provide a brief description of what exactly a hardiness zone is.

Hardiness zones, also known as growing zones, are simply a guide to gauge the average minimum temperatures of a given area over time.

There are a total of 13 zones that range in 10 degree increments. For example, zone 7 encompasses minimum average temps ranging from 0-10F. The higher the zone number, the milder the climate (zone 8=10-20F, zone 9=20-30F and so on).

In 1990, the U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced breaking the zones down into 5 degree increments specified with a letter following the zone number.

Using zone 7 as an example, 0-5F would be considered zone 7a while the 5-10F range would be considered zone 7b.

This can be a huge benefit considering that there are a number of plants that may be able to withstand certain temps on the high end of a zone, but may perish if subjected to extended periods of temps in the lower end of the same zone.

Not All Hardiness Zones Are Created Equal

A WORD OF CAUTION…..the hardiness zone guide is only a guide and shouldn’t be your only factor in choosing which plants can survive winters in your region.

Other factors such as climate type (wet or dry), microclimates (small areas of a growing zone that can range colder or warmer depending on conditions in that particular area) and whether the plants are already established or just being introduced to their environment will also play a significant role in how you choose the right plants for your area.

In most cases, especially with palms, the longer a specimen is in the ground and becomes more adapted, the hardier it becomes over time.

However, a palm that can survive zone 9 in a dry climate may not survive a wetter climate in the same zone especially if the palm is native to a drier climate.

With that said, let’s get to the list of the 3 palms suitable for zone 7 climates. I’ve ordered the list from the least cold hardy palm to the most cold hardy, although all three palms will survive single digit temps with little to no protection.

Keep in mind that for young plants or ones that you are just introducing to your cold climate, you may need to add winter protection for the first couple of winters during cold snaps to avoid shocking the palm. Though once established, these palms should thrive in most zone 7 climate conditions.

#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.

#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.

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 ‘Cinerea’ (Silver Saw palmetto – silver form)
  • Serenoa Repens (Saw palmetto – 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.


14 thoughts on “3 Awesome Palm Trees For Zone 7”

  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?

    Reply
    • 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!

      Mike

      Reply
    • 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!!

      Reply
      • 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!

        Reply
  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?

    Reply
    • 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!

      Mike

      Reply
  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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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…

      Natives:
      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)

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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply

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