Just because you live in a colder climate doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a bit of tropical landscaping! Palm trees are iconic to many outdoor spaces, but are there palm trees that can survive in winter weather conditions?
The good news is, yes, there are palm trees that can survive in the cold weather, and the number of palms that can make it through the winter outdoors may surprise you!
But how cold is too cold for a palm tree? And how can you best choose a palm that is right for you? Let’s go over some basics before getting to our list of some of the best palm trees that can survive in the cold weather or winter climates!
Table of Contents
- 12 Palm Trees that Can Survive in the Cold Weather
- Cold Weather Palm Trees FAQs
- Final Thoughts
Can Palm Trees Survive the Winter?
The ultimate question when it comes time to landscape or otherwise plant plants in your backyard: can certain plants survive the winter in your location? This is a necessary question to answer, especially if you plan on planting palm trees.
So, can palm trees survive the winter? It will depend on the species of palm, but some palm trees can survive 20-30 °F (or -1°C to -6°C) for a season. The average palm prefers 40°F or 4°C, however, so you should be absolutely sure that your palm can tolerate colder temperatures.
There aren’t any palms capable of surviving a long winter season, or multiple months of hard and frozen ground. However, depending on the species and certain preventative measures that you can take, your palm may outlive a colder winter than you expect!
Learn all you need to know about keeping a palm tree alive in the winter in this detailed article.
How Cold Can Palm Trees Tolerate?
The average palm species or variety can tolerate 20-30 °F (or -1°C to -6°C) for a season, or a few months where the ground is cold, but not frozen solid. There are some smaller palm trees capable of withstanding more cold and for longer, but it all depends on how long the winter lasts.
For example, some palms have been known to withstand negative degree temperatures, but for only a day or two out of a season. Many palms can’t handle such cold temperatures for an extended period of time.
When in doubt, you can always take some preventative measures to further protect your cold weather palm from the harshest winter weather. However, it is always best to plant a palm tree that can thrive in your climate zone!
12 Palm Trees that Can Survive in the Cold Weather
If you are looking for palm trees that can survive in the cold weather, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s take a look at some of the hardiest palms for your winter season.
1. Needle Palm Tree
Perfect for East coast climates, the needle palm tree may make a striking addition to your backyard landscaping. This short and spiky palm loves hot and humid summers, but can handle up to -10°F or -23°C when winter comes. It can get up to 8 feet tall as well, making it a shorter, more shrub-like palm tree.
This palm tree is hardy and versatile, capable of living through longer winters without the need for protection. It may be a slow grower, but if you live in a colder climate, it is a palm to consider!
2. McCurtain Dwarf Palmetto
Hailed as a snow-hardy palm, the McCurtain variety of Dwarf Palmetto is a fantastic choice for colder climates. It can handle temperatures as low as -25°F or -31°C, though perhaps not for many months at a time. However, this palm may be one of the most cold-hardy varieties available!
Though it is a dwarf palm, this particular variety can still grow up to 6 feet tall and grows much faster than other palm trees. It is spiky and attractive, and is a perfect tropical addition to your not-so-tropical backyard climate.
3. Pindo Palm Tree
A taller variety than the last two on this list, the Pindo palm tree can grow up to 17 feet tall, complete with a wide trunk and feathery fronds. This particular palm can handle temperatures as low as 5°F or -15°C, which may not be cold enough depending on where you live.
However, if you experience average levels of snow or cold snaps in your area, the Pindo palm may be a good choice, especially if you are looking for a full grown palm tree, not a dwarf variety.
4. Blue Mediterranean Fan Palm
This palm tree comes in a striking pale gray-blue shade, making it appear a bit different from the average palm. However, this cold-hardy fan palm is a great addition to any homeowner’s landscaping given its unique coloring and ability to withstand the cold.
It can grow in areas that occasionally reach 5°F or -15°C, though it is a slow growing palm. It can grow over ten feet tall, but you may not reach such heights for some time. This is a beautiful clustering palm option for a unique backyard!
5. Mazari Palm Tree
A stocky trunk with many spiky fronds make the Mazari palm tree a good choice for a tropical backyard oasis- even in locations where it snows! This palm is among some of the hardiest varieties, capable of handling temperatures as cold as -4°F or -20°C.
Given the shorter size of this palm, it could also be easily covered or frost protected, should you be worried about it. This palm tree grows best during the hot, dry months of summer as well.
6. Cabbage Palm Tree
Looking for a more familiar looking palm tree? The Cabbage palm is a type of fan palm that grows into a powerful and more traditional palm tree- but only after about a decade or so. Despite its slow growth, this palm is capable of living through frosty conditions as well: up to 10°F or -12°C!
The fronds on this tree grow in clusters, and the trunk is an attractive tan color. You can plant many of these palms together, or opt for a single statement tree. While it isn’t capable of withstanding deep freezes, it can take a surprising amount of cold weather!
7. Mexican Fan Palm Tree
Another familiar palm tree variety has to be the Mexican Fan palm tree. This variety is common on the West Coast, and may bring a bit of California sunshine to your cold and wintery backyard! While this palm grows best in warmer climates, you can still get this tree to survive at 15°F or -9°C.
This tree can also grow anywhere from 50-100 feet tall, though it won’t reach such heights if it doesn’t get hot and dry summers or experiences many cold snaps.
8. Bismarck Palm Tree
One of my favorite varieties of palm tree, the Bismarck palm is large and in charge. Growing around 20 feet wide and up to 50 feet tall, this tree is certainly a statement piece in any backyard landscaping. It has a light trunk and silvery fronds- almost wintery in appearance!
Speaking of winter, this palm can handle temperatures as low as 15°F or -9°C, but may take a while to grow in such conditions. Make sure you have enough room for this tree before you plant it, too!
9. European Fan Palm
Evergreen and bushy, the European fan palm can handle cold temperatures- as low as 5°F or -15°C. It has many fronds that clump together atop a thick brown trunk, giving it a more traditional palm look. This variety also grows slowly, so it may take some time for it to reach any tall heights.
10. California Fan Palm
Speaking of the West Coast, there are few palms as picturesque and traditional as the California fan palm. Tall, skinny, and covered in fronds that go tan with age, this variety can handle a surprising amount of cold.
While the younger trees need more help in winter, mature palms can take temperatures as low as 15°F or -9°C. Just be sure to trim the old fronds off of this one to keep it looking beautiful!
11. Chinese Fan Palm
Also known as a fountain palm due to its draping fronds, the beautiful and delicate Chinese fan palm can handle temperatures as cold as 15°F or -9°C. This makes this particular palm variety similar to many on this list, but it’s a winner because of its size as well.
The Chinese fan palm only grows roughly 5 feet across, and 20 feet tall. It can even grow indoors should that be something you are interested in! The fronds also grow in a variety of green shades too.
12. Windmill Palm Tree
Found in Vancouver and other locations in Canada, the Windmill palm tree is a tropical beauty that can survive the winter. Hardy down to 10°F or -12°C, it may be a wonderful choice for your colder climate and backyard landscaping!
This large fronded palm is capable of adapting to many soil types, sun exposures, and weather, making it durable for many homeowners. You can even pot this palm and move it indoors should the cold weather get particularly bad.
Cold Weather Palm Trees FAQs
Still have questions about your palm trees surviving cold weather conditions or other winter freezes? Let’s take a look at some questions that are often asked when it comes time to plant a palm tree!
Should You Protect Palm Trees in the Winter?
Depending on your climate and the type of palm you have planted, you may want to protect your palm trees during the winter months. Read our guide on how to keep palm trees alive in the winter by clicking here.
You can protect your palm using the following methods:
- Cover the ground around the trunk with mulch or leaves. You can also place frost blankets or burlap around the trunk to encourage the ground to stay warm.
- Water before an anticipated storm or freeze. Take the time to water your palms well, as the trunk will be better insulated with more water.
- Cover the tops, trunk, or entire palm with burlap or heat cloths, depending on the type of palm you have. Always research whether or not your variety of palm likes being covered up by cloth.
- Use heat lamps or lights. Plant-safe heating lights could be an option for you when it comes time to protect your palm tree from winter frost. You can also look into using heat tape.
- Use frost protecting spray on certain parts of your palm. The fronds in particular should be sprayed with this impressive product, as palm tree leaves are the most vulnerable part of the palm. Frost sprays can protect your tree from freezing cold, harsh winds, and more inclement weather issues for about two months before reapplying!
Do Palm Trees Turn Brown or Yellow in the Winter?
Palm tree fronds can turn brown or yellow in the winter, but only if they have experienced cold damage. This damage will also often not appear until months after the cold snap has occurred, making it difficult to determine why your tree has turned brown or yellow.
The following are also reasons why your palm fronds may be brown or yellow:
- Natural aging process of older fronds
- Unexpected cold damage caused by cold snaps
- Your palm may be lacking nutrients
- Diseases or sun damage
- Insects or other pests
- You are using too much fertilizer
Can You Grow Palm Trees in Zone 3?
Zone three is a northern region of the United States and Canada. It experiences cold weather and may not be ideal for some palms. However, there are some varieties that can survive, especially with help from you.
Look at our list of palm trees that grow well in negative degree temperatures, and take care to properly protect your palm tree when winter comes. You could consider installing underground heating cables or using frost protective spray on your fronds.
Can You Grow Palm Trees in Canada?
There are some palm trees that can grow in Canada! It is important to only plant varieties that can handle negative degree temperatures, and frequently, however. Given how cold many locations in Canada can get, paying special attention to the variety that you plant is important.
The following palms are capable of being grown in certain parts of Canada:
- Windmill Palm Tree
- Mazari Palm Tree
- Cabbage Palm Tree
- European Fan Palm
- Pindo Palm Tree
- McCurtain Dwarf Palmetto
- Needle Palm Tree
Always check your local weather averages before committing to a palm tree- some of these options can handle more cold weather than you think!
While palm trees don’t necessarily love cold weather, you can choose from any number of varieties that are built to withstand the cold. These palms are your best bet should you have a long and cold winter season ahead of you!
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.