Yesterday, I unwrapped my queen and date palms, and they look great. I also protected my marginal bananas - rojo, gran nain, orinoco, ruby siam, cavendish - and they, too, look good. I didn't bother protecting my musa basjoo's and chinese yellow's, but they're all nice and firm at their base. I protected my giant dioons with pine straw covered in black plastic, and they also nice and green. I'm thrilled! Pic of phoenix sylvestris.
Wow! That certainly was successful! Everything looks great.
I was in my veggie garden today, where my compost pile is and noticed that the boston fern I had put in the pile last summer, thinking it was dead, but it wasn't, has a green frond. Unreal.
Thanks, ardesia and barb! I just had to show off. I hope the date palms will take off this year - last year I had to dig them up and move them in April, which really set them back. According to DG plantfiles, queen palms are supposed to be cold hardy to 15f. (I find this hard to believe.) Are there any growing in Kure Beach or the SC barrier isles?
I want to try growing more marginal bananas this year.
I also protected a batch of heliconia last fall, which I think is going to make it. It's too early to remove its protection - dirt, back plastic, pine straw and more black plastic - but the stems still feel firm. I plan to remove its protection in April, and I'll post pics if it is indeed still alive.
Pic of protected heliconia.
The Queen Palms in my neighborhood did fine but we have a lot of tree cover. I saw some that had not been cared for in an abandoned nursery and they are all brown. There is a car dealership in Bluffton that has dozens of them in a full sun area with no protection or wind block. They always get completely fried but they do come back, just very slowly.
My son in Jacksonville has some gorgeous Queens and he says it is because he fertilizes heavily. He thinks a well fed and healthy tree withstands the cold better and it certainly makes sense. They have very sandy soil there and the ferts run through quickly. I believe he uses about a cup of palm fertilizer a month per tree. I'll check to make sure.
I grew queens here several years ago. They are hardy to 15, but only when big.
Mine were about 4' at the top of the trunk when I put them in the ground. I wrapped them during the winter and both grew quite a bit before succumbing to an extended cold snap two years ago. Here's a pic of the bigger queen a few months before it went to the big garden in the sky.
To replace them, I bought mule palms (a cross between pindo and queen), which are hardy here. They're very small right now,(about 1' tall) but in about 5 years, should be big enough to plant out. I got them from Plant Delight's Nursery.
ardesia, I noticed those queens at the car dealership - I think it was a couple years ago. They were still tethered. I keep hearing that silver queens are more cold hardy than regular queens. I spent time in Jax decades ago, and I'm amazed at how much more tropical it looks now. I'm also amazed that their lowest winter temps are colder than yours - I must remember that proximity to the Atlantic often trumps latitude. I will heed your son's advice and fertilize regularly. Thanks!
Barb, I hope to order a mule palm soon. A queen and pindo hybrid would have to be much more cold hardy than a queen. Back in the 90's, I'm told temps around here dipped below zero, but established zone 8 palms - palmettos, pindos, windmills, european fans - survived. I also like the idea that each mule is a little different in appearance and cold hardiness.
Yes, I did use frost cloth and xmas lights, and I mulched the base of each palm with pine and cypress needles. Just curious - what was your lowest temp last winter and what kind of palm are you protecting? Also, do you get much frost in Kitty Hawk?
Give an update on the heliconia if you can, I was thinking of growing those but people said they weren't likely to come back.
I think this winter may have killed some of those queen palms at the Ford dealership. They're a good 10 degrees colder then the coast and I hit a low of 24 degrees one night. First time my citrus got burnt but now I know what the limit temperature wise is on the fruit. Trees are all find and leafing out right so tree wise the temps weren't a problem.
Core, I plan to post pics and report on the condition of my protected heliconia after I uncover it - early April. I recently pulled back a little protection (dirt, plastic, pine straw, more plastic) and found the stems still firm. I'm really hopeful my method works - it's been a dry fall and winter around here, so that should help.
I'm surprised some of the queen palms at the car dealership didn't make it. Glad your citrus is okay. I just bought a satsuma orange and cumquat, both of which are supposed to be cold hardy here in zone 8a. We'll see.
The satsuma orange isn't a bad choice to try but you are right on the edge, might want to put xmas lights in it during the winter so on a cold night you could just light up the tree. Kumquats do well around here they end up being fairly large trees. I think those will go colder than the oranges.
I visited Stan's farm in Scranton last week, ardesia, and I was surprised that his 2 rows of unprotected Satsumas were alive, although very defoliated. They were already sprouting new leaves and some had buds. He protects some citrus by misting, and he had a grapefruit tree housed in a mini greenhouse. He's a high energy, delightful man doing what he loves. Hope to return soon for more exotic cultivars that were rather small and would require a few years of container growth before planting outdoors.
I just looked at their website again. Not that I have any more room, but there are so many to choose from!
I have the Thomasville, bought it at the hardy Citrus Expo in Wilmington, NC last Fall. Once the chance of frost is gone, I'm going to plant it in the ground.
AND, I was very surprised to see new growth at the base of my Jasmine simbac. It's only moderately hardy here, I planted it last Fall, then didn't protect it at all. Nice!
Stan was at the Hardy Citrus expo so you may have already met him.
My citrus handled the cold fine this year, unlike a lot of my other plants. One of the lemons lost a lot of the top leaves but only on the top, the rest were fine. The tangelos did not de-foliate at all nor did the grapefruit. What suprised me was was a very tender lime, as I espected, it lost most of it's leaves but it is still alive and perhaps I'll get some limes one of these days.
I couldn't resist removing most of my heliconia protection, and checking things out. If we get another freeze, I'll re-cover it with dirt, plastic and pinestraw. There was a massive fire ant bed throughout the heliconia stand, but it didn't seem to have damaged anything. The stems are firm and healthy, so, as long as the ground voles leave it alone, it should be blooming by late summer.
You know, Barb and Core, with your porous beach soil, I think they would survive easily for you. And I think keeping them dry and insulated is the key to survival. I scooped up most of my heliconias last fall and kept them in my heated back porch. They didn't get enough sun and I watered them too much - they look terrible compared to the outdoor stand. I made the same mistake last year, but they quickly sprouted when I planted them outside. I remember reading a thread last fall in which Mme X and Stono were discussing using soil or composted manure to insulate plants from winter cold - thanks for the inspiration! I'm still curious about the zone 8 heliconia that Plants Delight is marketing...
Your heliconia stems look great in that photo above. In fact, everything you protected looks amazing.
I've been debating planting one of my heliconias in the ground and perhaps putting it right up next to the house where it'd be easy to protect. I don't think I'll ever get blooms while it's potted. But I might not if it's in the ground either bc of the cold winters. What'd I'd give to be one or two zones warmer sometimes :)
I think winter protection would work well for you, keon. My heliconias are out in the open, but they are growing in sandy, porous soil. I'm wondering if composted manure would work better than dirt for insulation.
If I were your age, I would seriously consider moving to the west coast. A dry, mediterranian climate that you and your fiance could enjoy year round would be heavenly. And I could spend summer and winter camped out in your backyard!
I wish you and your soon to be wife much happiness, wherever life takes you :-)
Thanks, I appreciate that. :) If I go that far west, I'll probably got a little further and just plant myself in HI. Maybe one of these days, we'll see.
I'll definitely consider putting one of my heliconias in the ground this year, making sure to protect it with mulch/manure next winter. I did that (with dirt/manure) a few years ago and got a Monstera (Zone 11) to come back, so it should work well with the heliconias too. Your soil sounds a lot like mine, with the sand, so they should be quite happy if I can get them to survive the cold.
replying to Donna's message from earlier this month (really busy getting new plants to replace the winter damage)
We typically don't get a lot of frost in Kitty Hawk - and rarely a freeze - but this winter was much colder than normal.
Snowed twice - really atypical!!!!!
How did you use the xmas lights? I am trying to protect pgymy date palms which are about 3 feet high. Also will need to protect a new shell ginger - which is four feet high. When do you put your mulch on - and do you water your plants during the winter? Or, do you just let them get by with rainfall?
The areas I put my tropical plants in are very protected from the wind. They get a lot of morning sun (7am- 12noon).
I first gather and tie the fronds on my date palms, then wrap xmas lights around them, and finish by wrapping the palm with frost cloth. I also mulch the base of each palm. I don't water my palms while they are protected - which is usually an 8 to 10 week period from Dec through mid Feb. Since you rarely get freeze/frost events, it may not be necessary to protect them. I only burn the xmas lights when temps dip below 20f. I've seen pygmy dates growing happily in the Beaufort, SC area w/o protection. Are you certain your zone is 8a? Have you seen other Phoenix dates in the area? I don't protect my shell ginger, which is root hardy to 10f. They don't flower for me, but I grow them for their foliage. Snow provides great insulation from cold temps, and is not as damaging as heavy frost. My zone 8a is much colder than yours with lots of frost and many nightly lows in the teens. (Based upon lowest temps, Washington DC is also zone 8a, but their daily highs are much colder than my zone 8a)
I hope this info is helpful.
Thanks - very helpful . I have not seen other pygmy date palms in our area as yet. Lots of cabbage palms which do pretty well. I think the Outer Banks significant Jan-Feb problem is the possibility of cold, very strong winds. That's a great idea wrapping the trees with Xmas lights. I'll try your method next fall. Thanks again.