Saw Palmetto, Scrub Palmetto, Silver Saw Palmetto
Serenoa repens

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Serenoa (se-REN-oh-uh) (Info)
Species: repens (REE-penz) (Info)

Category:

Herbs

Palms

Height:

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

Spacing:

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade

Danger:

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Inconspicuous/none

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:

Evergreen

Silver/Gray

Blue-Green

Other details:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama

Atmore, Alabama

Bay Minette, Alabama

Los Angeles, California

Manhattan Beach, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Auburndale, Florida

Bartow, Florida

Big Pine Key, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Bradenton, Florida

Brandon, Florida

Cape Canaveral, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Hampton, Florida

Hernando, Florida

Hudson, Florida (2 reports)

Keystone Heights, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Lake Worth, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Lecanto, Florida

Longboat Key, Florida

New Port Richey, Florida

Niceville, Florida

Oak Hill, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Sebring, Florida

Summerfield, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Venice, Florida

Augusta, Georgia

Kurtistown, Hawaii

Elkhart, Indiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Emerald Isle, North Carolina

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Beaufort, South Carolina

Bluffton, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Lexington, South Carolina (2 reports)

Austin, Texas

Cedar Park, Texas

New Caney, Texas

Suffolk, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

8
positives
7
neutrals
1
negative
RatingContent
Positive

On May 1, 2014, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:

As others have mentioned, very hard to transplant. I had some success with one here in Eastern Maryland, surviving a few winters, but I had to move it due to some new construction and the transplanting killed it. I have not been able to find a new one for a decent price since then.

There are two varieties of this palm, a silver version and the more common green version. I have not tried the silver version but many have reported less cold tolerance for the silver. I have only tried the green variety.

As far as growing these in colder areas, I have noticed that they need more emphasis on staying dry in winter than some of the other well known cold hardy palms such as the Needle Palm and the dwarf palmetto. In the wild, the similar looking Dwarf Palmettos (S... read more

Neutral

On Jun 9, 2011, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

Am a little bit freaked out its thorny leaves... I'll sieck with my sabal minors personal. Both of the are hardy to indiana. We did move up from zone 5b to zone 6a or maybe 6b really it has not really got pass -5 for five winters.

Neutral

On Jan 2, 2010, cunaz10 from Elkhart, IN wrote:

I have a nice potted specimen here at my home in IN. This plant is now doing quite well & will be a nice addition to our deck. This plant has both positive & negative attributes as a landscape plant. Positive is of coarse that it is attractive & in this climate a real conversation piece.
Negative is that it is very hard to transplant. I ordered this plant bare root from a nursery in GA & the first one did not survive. It was sent bare root in Feb. (even though I had specified they not send it until at least April) & I suspect there may have been frost damage to the roots. A second one was sent in early summer, also bare root, & it did survive, but for the first couple months looked like it may not make it either. But it finally began to grow in late summer & is now doing well under... read more

Neutral

On Mar 15, 2009, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I ahve not grown this plant. Saw Palmetto, Scrub Palmetto, Silver Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is native to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missippi, South Carolina and Texas (Cameron County).

Positive

On May 4, 2007, SooBee360 from Hudson, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Palmetto "islands" were already established decades ago when we first bought our acre. Knew about the attractiveness to snakes, etc., but wanted to keep them as they are natural to Florida landscapes. Plus, they were free! We cleaned them up to about 4-7 fronds per stalk. The only snake I ever saw in ours was a pink worm snake, and only 1 rat after a hurricane. They are very nice looking if you take the time to clean them up. Caution is reminded here not only because of possible snakes in your palmettos, but most all palmettos have sharp barbs along the frond stems and they will cut you up, not just your arms but wear goggles if you tend to be hurried. They add a nice natural touch of tropical to your yard if you keep them in check once a year. Too many people just bulldoze them away, it's... read more

Positive

On Apr 14, 2006, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

From a California perspective, this is a slow palm. It is pretty easy in California as it is most places it can survive, but it seems 10x slower here than in the rest of the country. We don't have the heat here (except in our deserts) this palm needs to be happy. It can 15-20 years to get a decent specimen even worth having in the garden. For that reason you will hardly ever see one in California except at Botanical gardens or a few crazy palm collectors (like me). They are not a good landscape palm here for that reason. My own palm is about 7 years old and still only about 8" tall though starting to finally pick up a bit. Huntington gardens has some old, large specimens (though large for California standards) but they have been there for many decades.

Neutral

On Apr 13, 2006, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Abundant throughout Florida, where it is found in drier areas. Here in Tallahassee the green form is the one found in the wild but the silver form is more popular for the landscape. Very tough, surviving forest fires, but reputedly hard to transplant.

Neutral

On Aug 22, 2004, Kylecawaza from Corte Madera, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

The silver variety is hardier than the green variety, and the silver variety is a slow grower, but survives in Seattle, although it can take 12 years to get a decent sized plant.

Positive

On Aug 1, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

S. repens is a wonderful native plant in Florida, but it is not ENDEMIC according to USF's Dr. Richard Wunderlin in GUIDE TO THE VASCULAR PLANTS OF FLORIDA.

Positive

On Jul 31, 2004, patischell from Fort Pierce, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

After the wildfires burned through the areas in central Florida a few years back, the Palmettos came back almost immediately, bright green among the blackened pine trunks.

Positive

On Jul 30, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Saw Palmetto is a very drought-tolerant plant, growing in the dry flatwoods, dunes, scrub and low-lying areas on the coastal plain from South Carolina to Florida and Louisiana. It is very abundant in parks in my area, growing naturally in pinelands as well as along the coast on barrier islands. It is an excellent plant providing food and shelter for wildlife, especially native wildlife such as the Eastern Spotted Skunk, skinks, lizards, snakes, birds, raccoons and deer as well as others. It is often found with the Cabbage or Sabal Palmetto, Florida's state tree, in the hammocks and pinelands. However, it is very slow-growing and it's stalk has sharp thorns, so be careful when handling the fronds or the plant itself (trunk has sharp thorns and stalks, too). Adapts to little water in the lan... read more

Positive

On Feb 17, 2004, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I am fortunate to have a garden with several large native Serenoa repens as background plants, from clumps that were not cleared away when the area was developed. They are really tough palms, tolerant of a wide variety of conditions. Since the previous poster mentioned disadvantages, I can add mine .... the undersides of the leaves are favored places for paper wasps to make nests. I knock the leaves with a stick to see if any fly out before I trim off the older leaves.

Negative

On Feb 16, 2004, chevcar12 from Wakulla Springs, FL wrote:

The only drawback to this plant is that rattlesnakes love to get in them because rats and mice like to hide in them. If you live in a dry part of Florida you should take this into consideration.

Neutral

On Jan 9, 2003, ButterflyGardnr from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is very difficult to transplant/relocate and also very difficult to kill once established. Make sure you plant it where you want it. Be careful of the "toothed" leaf stalks that give the plant it's common name Saw palmetto--they are very sharp. This is a slow grower. The seeds are gathered for use as an herbal remedy and are also very attractive for wildlife. The honey produced by the plant is highly prized.

Positive

On Oct 1, 2002, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is also quite salt tolerant and suitable for beachside plantings. It will thrive in almost any subtropical environment.

Neutral

On Oct 2, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Endemic to peninsular Florida and the coastal plains from southeastern Louisiana to southern South Carolina the Saw-palmetto helps provide primary habitat for the wildlife of southern Florida's palmetto prairies. Distinctive species include the crested caracara, the Florida burrowing owl, and the Florida sandhill crane. It also provides essential habitat for sand skinks, the Florida mouse, and a variety of birds, including the Florida scrub jay--a threatened subspecies. Black bears feed on saw-palmetto fruit and the young shoots which sprout after winter fires in the Florida flatwoods. White-tailed deer also eat saw-palmetto fruit, especially during dry years.