When it comes to cold hardy palms, the windmill palm (trachycarpus fortunei) is one of the most popular ones out there.
What makes them so sought after is the ease of growing Windmill Palm trees in colder climates.
Windmill Palms are also low maintenance and are resistant to many diseases and pests.
Let’s take a look at this awesome palm!
- Cold Hardy: Windmill palms (Trachycarpus Fortunei) are popular for their ability to thrive in colder climates.
- Appearance: They have a single, slender trunk covered in hairy fiber, which insulates in winter and cools in summer. The palms grow slowly, reaching 10-40 feet, typically 10-20 feet.
- Climate Adaptability: Best in milder temperate areas (Zone 7+), frost-tolerant, and can survive single-digit temperatures and moderate snowfalls.
- Sun and Soil Preferences: Prefer partial shade but can handle full sun and heat. Require well-draining soil and are sensitive to strong winds.
- Ideal Locations: Suitable for landscaping around pools, decks, streets, and driveways. Also great as a container plant.
- Low Maintenance: Easy to care for, with minimal pest and disease issues. Rarely affected by spider mites or palm aphids.
- Winter Protection Tips: In colder zones (7a and below), may need protection like trunk wrapping with burlap or frost wrap, covering the base with hay or bark dust, and using old-style C9 or C7 Christmas lights for heat.
- Container Growing: Can be grown in containers and brought indoors during winter.
- Overall: Windmill palms are a great choice for palm enthusiasts in cooler climates, offering low maintenance and a tropical aesthetic.
What Are Windmill Palm Trees?
Windmill palms have a single, slender trunk with fan-shaped fronds. The trunk is covered with a hairy fiber known to keep the palm cooler in the summer and an insulator during the winter. Trunk fiber is used to make rope, hats and brooms.
They are slow growing and will reach heights anywhere between 10 and 40 feet. 10 to 20 feet is most common.
Windmill palms are dioecious, meaning they will need a male and female tree to produce fruit.
Where Will Windmill Palms Grow?
The ideal climate for growing windmill palm trees is in milder temperate areas as they do not like hot tropical climates.
The windmill palm thrives best in zone 7+ and can withstand temperatures down into the single digits with no winter protection in most cases.
They are incredibly frost-tolerant and will even survive moderate snowfalls.
This tree prefers partial shade, although it can withstand full sun and a decent amount of heat as well.
Strong winds can be a problem as the fronds aren’t as stiff as some species and can get messy after a high-wind event.
The windmill palm will grow in many soil types as long as it provides excellent drainage.
The windmill palm also makes a great container plant if you are unable to grow one outdoors or if you want to include it on a patio.
Who Are Windmill Palms For?
Due to its more compact size, windmill palms are perfect for landscaping around swimming pools and decks.
They are also perfect for planting along streets and driveways to give your place that tropical resort look.
Windmill palms are also fairly easy to care for.
If you are someone that doesn’t like growing high-maintenance plants then this palm won’t give you any grief.
Any Drawbacks To Growing Windmill Palm Trees?
The Windmill palm is also very worry-free since they don’t have many pest and disease problems.
On rare occasions, these palms might get spider mites or palm aphids.
While tolerant to heavy moisture they can develop root rot if kept too soggy, but as long as the tree is in well-draining soil, you shouldn’t see any of these problems.
Keeping Windmill palms planted in a warm area away from strong winds will provide the most success at making sure they look their best.
The Wrap Up
If you are an avid palm lover living in a colder climate, the windmill palm is an awesome choice.
For those of you living in zone 7a and below, some winter protection may be needed during severe cold bouts, but give it a try!
These palms are tougher than you might think.
The most popular way to protect palms during the winter is to wrap the trunk in burlap or frost wrap.
Cover the base with hay or bark dust.
For some extra heat wrapping the tree with Christmas lights is a common practice, especially around the crown where new growth starts.
If using the Christmas light method, be sure to use the older style C9s or C7s, as these give off more heat where the LEDs do not.
Not only that, but it will give your yard a festive look during the winter months!
There’s always the option of growing it as a container specimen and bringing it indoors for the winter.
However, if you are set on growing a palm tree in the ground and don’t live in a total icebox, the Windmill palm should provide you with years of enjoyment!