Ask a Question forum→Pigmy date palms dying?

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Name: Deanna Smith
Concord, NC
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Chaddeesmith
Mar 15, 2021 6:10 PM CST
I purchased 3 single trunk pigmy date palms in Florida after researching temperature tolerance. We planted after the last frost in mid-May of 2020(photos attached). They were doing great until late December; early January and the fronds immediately turned brown and are almost crunchy. With the hope of no more freezing temperatures; we cut the dead fronds off today. I still see some green on the trunk in certain places on all 3; but am worried they weren't as tolerant as I thought they'd be and are dead or dying? Can I bring them back to life; or will they possibly grow new fronds?

Please help; I love my palms. Im a Florida girl living in North Carolina and picked this type so I could have a little bit of "home" in my yard.

Thank you
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[Last edited by Chaddeesmith - Mar 15, 2021 6:15 PM (+)]
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ElPolloDiablo
Mar 16, 2021 1:41 AM CST
NC is too much at risk of freezes for date palms, so you have to plan ahead and protect them during the cold season. The palm will survive temperatures up to 25°F, but as you've seen the fronds will be heavily damaged. Note that harder freezes, or a series of hard winters, will eventually kill the plant.

There are cold tolerant palm out there, but we'll talk about them if you need it.
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Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Mar 16, 2021 4:02 AM CST
They can tolerate a night or two in a weeks time at 25* or a bit higher. BUT if you subject them to a period of a couple of weeks at or below that temperature, they are going to succumb to the overall damage. And if it went down to 15-20 degrees, they are toast!
Palms are unusual plants featuring a heart if you will, a growing area where all the fronds arise from, if that gets cold enough and dies, the Palm is dead.
Palmettos might be better in your area then a Palm!
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Name: Deanna Smith
Concord, NC
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Chaddeesmith
Mar 16, 2021 7:10 AM CST
When I bought them the tag said 10 degrees, and we only had 1 night that got even close to that...thank you for the information. I pray they will come back. Palmetto's are not real pretty to look at; Is there anything I can do to see if they'll survive or to bring them back?
California (Zone 9b)
CalPolygardener
Mar 16, 2021 7:24 AM CST
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If it got below15 they're goners. You could try Trachycarpus or Chamaerops, they aren't feather palms but they're as cold tolerant as you'll find easily.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Mar 16, 2021 7:34 AM CST
I know that I will date myself here Chaddee but when I hear Palm tree, date palm or otherwise, I think hula, white sandy beaches, Hawaii and warm tropical breezes drinking pina coladas!! Not 10 degrees.
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ElPolloDiablo
Mar 16, 2021 8:06 AM CST
Chaddeesmith said:When I bought them the tag said 10 degrees, and we only had 1 night that got even close to that...thank you for the information. I pray they will come back. Palmetto's are not real pretty to look at; Is there anything I can do to see if they'll survive or to bring them back?


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Chusan palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) are the bane of gardens here: they will survive everything Nature can throw at them, from oven temperatures over 100°F to tons of snow in the low 10's. I have disposed of more of them than I'd like: it's not a pretty palm by any stretch of imagination and has some of the worst roots I've seen in my life.
Mexican fan palms (Washingtonia robusta) can survive temperatures in the low 10's if wrapped and heavily mulched.
Needle palms (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) can probably survive under 10°F since it's a suckering palm and will always come back even if cut to the ground. Luckily I haven't had the joy of disposing of such a specimen. Hilarious!
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California (Zone 9b)
CalPolygardener
Mar 16, 2021 1:15 PM CST
If you want a REALLY weedy palm, plant a Washingtonia. 60 to 80 feet of brown trunk with a tuft of leaves at the top and thousands of seeds every year. I think any palm well-adapted to a foreign climate becomes weedy if there are enough of them to produce quantities of seeds. Just ask the gardeners in Florida, they hate Queen palms (Syagrus romanzoffianum). Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
Mar 16, 2021 1:29 PM CST
It appears you are in zone 7b and Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) are listed for zones 9a and higher. We lived in east coast zone 9a (Daytona Beach, Florida area) for 43 years and I had three Pygmy Date Palms in the ground for many years but they all died one winter when we had a few consecutive nights of very cold temperatures.

A few palms that might do well in your zone 7b garden:
Chinese Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)
Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor)
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