Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cabbage Palm, Sabal Palm, Carolina Palmetto
Sabal palmetto

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Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sabal (SAY-bal) (Info)
Species: palmetto (pahl-MET-oh) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

24 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Palms

Height:
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

Spacing:
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

Hardiness:
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)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:
N/A

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Foliage:
Grown for foliage
Evergreen

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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Profile:

25 positives
4 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive longjonsilverz On Apr 25, 2014, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:

I planted 2 Sabal Palmettos here in Eastern Maryland (zone 7)a few years ago just to see how long they could survive. Both palms were seedling size and very young. They handled the first 2 winters with minimal damage, but in 2014, this area had one of the coldest winters in decades. Temperatures bottomed out below 5F degrees on about 5 different nights, and wind chills got as low as -30F. Both Sabal Palmettos had mulch piled up at the base around the spear, but the rest of the leaves were exposed to the weather. Surprisingly, both palms survived the winter! One is in a better spot on the southeast side of the house, and it maintained a flawless appearance until it warmed up in April (as expected)

Both Sabal Palmettos are already showing new growth as of April 25, while all of my windmill palms (Trachycarpus Fortunei) are still questionable.

I believe Sabal Palmetto's cold tolerance is a bit underrated because many are transplanted at an old age to a cold climate after having lived in a warmer area like Florida for their entire existence. But when grown from seed or in a pot and acclimated at a very young age, they can handle colder winters. (Just keep in mind that the growth rate is VERY slow, and may take many years just to form a trunk)

I'm not guaranteeing that my Sabal Palmettos will prove to be fully capable of the worst of Maryland winters, and be a permanent addition here, in fact, I wouldn't recommend it. but hopefully this information will be useful for those interested in pushing the limits of this palm.

If you are interested in a palm that IS reliable in the Delmarva area, you may want to try the Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum Hystrix) and the Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal Minor) as well as the many variations and hybrids of S. Minor, each of which were flawless in 2014.

Positive jhprince On Jan 17, 2014, jhprince from Norfolk, VA wrote:

Just a wonderful plant for SE Virginia gardens. Like a lot of Southern regions, this plant and plants like the palms have been historically dismissed as "heathen", particularly in Se Va. This is far from the truth. This is a tough and beautiful plant, in all its forms and varieties and will liven up the dour landscapes so prevalent in our region. The key with Palmetto is starting them only from container specimens, that means they generally will be about 3 feet tall when planted. They quickly grow, and love water and moist areas. Political boundaries and standards of style don't create habitats for healthy plants: climate and soils do, matters of science.

Positive floridian4ever On Jun 26, 2013, floridian4ever from GERMANTON, NC wrote:

I recently put two of these fine trees in the ground here just outside of Winston-Salem North Carolina and they are doing phenomenal!! They are both 12 feet tall and the terminal fronds are starting to fan and feather out. It sure is awesome when people coming down my road sees them, and drives by real slow lol. I would say probably around August or September they should start getting a good crown showing up on them. These trees are real easy to take care of....make sure they get plenty of water for the first couple of months so they establish and then they takeoff! It was definitely worth the 4 hour drive to Wilmington NC to get these beauties! It sure is nice to have a slice of Florida in my back yard :D

Positive mmosley On Jan 6, 2013, mmosley from Pine Bluff, AR wrote:

I love sabal palmettos. I think they're beautiful, even though they're really common here in the south. Most have vertical trunks like most palms you see, but I've seen a lot of sabal palms with curved trunks, which adds to their beauty. They laugh at hurricane-force winds, sandy soil, flooding, freezes, and frosts, and the boots on these palms are great for mounting orchids and bromeliads!

Positive Mendopalmfarm On Nov 15, 2012, Mendopalmfarm from Willits, CA wrote:

These palms are awesome I got two 9' trunk sabal riverside and they look stunning. They take frost without a problem. Can't believe someone sold me these beauties I would have a hard time letting go of them

Positive SuburbanNinja80 On Aug 7, 2011, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

As much as I love this palm am going to Try it in Zone 6a... I know Two Other People is trying this in Indiana. Mind as well Join them. I hope my One Gallon can do the job I want it too. Updates soon.

October 16, 2011
I like to say this is growing very well. It even seen its first two Frosts.
October 23,2011
this Palm is a Beast, It Seriverd its First Hard Freeze without in torble
December 7, 2011
Lived thought 16 degrees with any Troblm or anything.
Feb 6,2012
Things are not looking good but, the new fround has not pulled, I pray to Allah it doesn't.
April 22, 2012
Allah Akbar, well am very happy it made it. Its Growing again and I can't wait for a few more leafs on this poor palm of my Luckly. I have another one as well and few more Comeing in. useing thoses as house Palms until they have a good truck on them.

Positive NorthSC On Jun 12, 2011, NorthSC from North, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

In the mid SC (28 miles south of downtown Columbia) have about 20 tall Sabal Palmetto palms in my yard and adding more soon. They grow without problems. Zero percent loss. No protection. Watering when necessary or while newly planted. Their seeds germinate in the soil almost like weed, some of the shoots survive winter, some don't. I also grow Washingtonias, Windmills, Butias/Pindos, European fan palms, all in ground and will be adding more variety soon. This area is a small town ITMON (in the middle of nowhere), surrounded by forests, so the local micro-climate could be anywhere between zones 7B and 9A but usually it is 8A or perhaps 8B for 360 days a year. Last winter 2010/2011 we had minimum 17F and no less. But that was my thermometer on the wall of my house. So maybe away from the house was a bit colder, probably 15-16F and only for a couple nights during winter.
I remember one winter perhaps 2007 it got down to -11C (not sure how many F's) for a couple hours.

I would also like to go visit other people's palm gardens in exchange to showing mine. If anyone's interested.

Positive AZJeff On Aug 22, 2010, AZJeff from Sahuarita, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love this palm.! It is one of several favorites of mine. I think it really gives a sub-tropical feel to ones yard or landscaping like being in Fla. or near the Gulfcoast,or the Carolinas by their coastline, for that matter. I tried growing this palm from seed I sent for last year. They take time to come up,almost 2 months. I have only one plant left as the rest died. I have the plant in a pot,and it gets just early morning sun for now. A very slow growing plant. I may try to grow more of these from seed plus it's cousin palm the "Texas palmetto". I've read on some websites that these palms can grow in the desert climates of California and Arizona. I have yet to see any nursery selling these palms except one,and the tree was still young but gigantic! And it was in one of those huge wood box containers. I spotted this palm as a young juvenile, in someones yard,although it could be the Texas variety also. I also spotted these palms or the Texas variety, about 4 of them, which are mature trees in downtown Tucson. I sure wish these palms would be more commonly grown in this area. I was reading that it takes 10 years from seed before this palm starts to form a trunk.!

Positive donnacreation On Aug 1, 2010, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I had 3 tall, bare root palmettos installed April,2009. I watered them faithfully throughout their first summer, and noticed sheared center fronds feathering around mid July, indicating they had rooted. This spring and summer I surrounded them with perennials, which all died from ground vole infestations. I didn't realize until a few weeks ago that ground voles were also munching on the newly rooted palmettos. I'm afraid I may lose the taller specimens. If you live in area with ground voles, take note. Ground voles can easily and quickly KILL a newly rooted palmetto. I wish I didn't have to learn this fact the expensive way.

Positive LynchburgPalms On Jul 1, 2010, LynchburgPalms from Goode, VA wrote:

This palm is growing all over the Tidewater area of Virginia. I know I would really be stretching this palm in my area, but with a little effort I may be able to get it to work in my zone 7 - time will tell :)

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

I have a Sabal growing well as a potted plant here in Northern IN. Started from seed this plant has proven to do quite well as long as it is protected during winter & placed under grow lights.
Incidentally, I used to live in S.C. & can attest to the fact that the Sabal Palm grows naturally in great abundance in the eastern half of the state. Kudos to the person who is aware of the trees significance in S.C. history.

Positive ArchAngeL01 On Mar 16, 2009, ArchAngeL01 from Myrtle Beach, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

i LOVE this tree its so amazing there could never be too many palmettos its native too s.c not only on the beach but in the forests and marsh esp near charleston and sabal minor is everwhere in the forest floor and marsh but i love S.C its amazing here and in florida I love both S.C and F.L the same but anyway this is an amazing plant and everyone shood apreciate it and not take it for granted because it is the native trunking tree of the southeast :) and Extreamly disease resistant and hardy

Neutral mary_robin On Mar 21, 2008, mary_robin from Montgomery, AL wrote:

We have 4 sabal palms; 2 are close to the back door and bake in the Western exposure, 2 are out front by the sidewalk and get more sun hours but less radiant heat from the house. Of the two out front, one palm's fronds are nice and erect and the other one's fronds are droopy. This one had a large ant bed at the base and when my yard man was cutting away the spent lower fronds from a ladder, he noticed a large ant bed in the crown which he sprayed w/ant killer. I had read that ants were not harmful to these palms, but now I wonder....
I do still like them very much.

Positive stevennewnan On Dec 11, 2007, stevennewnan from Palmetto, GA wrote:

Newnan, Ga(7b)
I love this tree and it even grows here in 7b, with little damage during the coldest of our winters. I was surprised of this fact and that so many people and businesses in the Atlanta metro area(south) now have these beautiful trees. I have Windmill, Sonoran Palmetto, and Live Oak growing here too.

Positive sylvainyang On Nov 19, 2006, sylvainyang from Edmond, OK wrote:

This palm is the best alternative of Tachy Fortuneii (Wind Mill Palm). In Oklahoma, the compleately defoilage Windmill palm always grow back in spring but fungus kills them all. The wind will tears off all the fan leaves of Windmill as well.

Sabal palmetto has non of these problems. For people do not like hairy trunk, this palm works even better. The only flip side of this palm is not growing faster than Windmill Palm.

Positive 1cros3nails4gvn On Sep 29, 2006, 1cros3nails4gvn from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

this plant is extremely common here in south carolina. it was formerly called "Inodes palmetto" before being classified as "Sabal palmetto". it is our state tree and for a very good reason. in 1776 the british were about to attack and capture charleston, and our only defense was a small fort on sullivan's island at the mouth of the harbor. this fort was made from palmetto logs which proved to be a superior material than the oak used in the british ships because it absorbed the shock of the cannonballs and allowed us to reuse them against the british. this noble tree is a common landscape plant all the way up to Columbia. I know this because i just recently moved from there after living there for 15 years (my entire life). in fact it was not out of th ordinary for us to find babies living in the woods or our yard. (this also lives all the way up to southern NC and can survive in greenville, SC, that is like almost in the mtns, of course it could use some protection there) oh yeah i almost forgot... it was OUR state tree first. Fla copied us :-)

p.s. To FLpalmgirl: we have every right to have beach music as our state music. we may not have the most coastline, but we certainly have more than most states in the US, and we may not be as famous for our beaches as FL, but tourism is not one of our major industries for no reason!

Neutral FLpalmgirl On Aug 3, 2006, FLpalmgirl from Orlando, FL wrote:

This palm is beautiful...but there's just too many! And, um, WHY is it the state tree of South Carolina?? They can really only grow them on the beach, and they don't have enough beachfront to really call it their state tree. Bunch o' Florida-wannabes (their state music is beach music..ha ha..yeah right). It does look very well lining roads, etc. But, for a Florida yard, I'd rather go with a Queen or Coconut (for central and south FL).

Positive mikmar On Jul 22, 2005, mikmar from Toccoa, GA wrote:

I live in zone 7a and have several sabal palmettos which I grew from seed collected in Florida. I have not lost any of my sabals however I they do get some leaf burn below 10degF.My sabal minors are tougher and are never damaged by the cold even at 0 deg.F. My largest sabal palmettos are about ten years old and are sometimes completely defoliated by near 0 winter temps. however they always make a quick recovery in the spring.They seem to have about the same cold tolerance as my butia capitata which do quite well here with a little protection (if i don't forget to wrap them).My windmills are by far the hardiest though surviving 0 deg.F with no protection even as seedlings.I have several 15 year old trees in my yard some of which are over 25 feet tall.

Positive levana On Jul 5, 2005, levana from Jupiter, FL wrote:

The Sabal Palm grows all over Palm Beach county including my backyard! Not many people are aware, but it is also called Swamp Cabbage and may be eaten! The trunks are peeled to expose a large white heart. These hearts are cut up and cooked with bacon, sugar, salt and pepper until soft and has a wonderful cabbage like flavor. It is full of fiber and minerals!

Positive artcons On Mar 4, 2005, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I garden for enjoyment and butterflies. The first year in this house I dispised the utility wires that strung across the eastern boundry of my yard. However the second year I began noticing all the plants that were growing under the lines from bird droppings. I transplanted three palm seedlings that turned out to be Sabal Palmentto.
It took several years before I noticed the bases of dead leaf stalks surrounding young tree trunks had a fibrous material in the boot-jacks, as their called and around the trunk. I quickly experimented and found I can grow an assortment of fern, bromeliads, orchids, cacti, and climbing vines in the boot-jacks. This adds charm and character to the young trees. My three palms bloom for about 2-3 months. When blooming their fragrance is strong and sweet (most fragrant early morning or just after the sun goes down.) They attract nectar feeding insects from bees to butterflies. I often see butterflies resting on and drinking from the many bromeliad plants I have growing on these palms. They also provide a pleasant shade for the many birds in the neighborhood. Mine are fifteen years old and only one needs to be pruned with a ladder. They are just great trees, but better yet, when young they look and act like bushes. This will also give you a good idea of planting radus when they mature. I suggest buying them young or growing 'em yourself.
Last word, when pruning be carefull not to cut into the palm's bark. They won't heal themselves and the palm will die.

Neutral BROforest On Feb 1, 2005, BROforest from Brownsville, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

Sabal Palmetto does not survive in Brownsville, TX, as well as Sabal mexicana(texana). We allow both palms to be planted with our commercial landscape ordinance but our native (to south Texas) Sabal texana has a much higher survival rate(planting both with 6' trunk heights), and grows with a larger diameter and wider crown. Some landscapers suggest the roots are cut smaller while others suggest that with our dry hot winds we aren't as good of an environment for palmetto as Florida. Any other comments on the differences?

Positive TREEHUGR On Dec 21, 2004, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This also happens to be the state tree of South Carolina. So where are all the gardener's notes from SC, hmmm?

Positive nick89 On May 31, 2004, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I live near Huntsville, Alabama and have been experimenting with various hardy palms. The cabbage palmetto seedlings I collected from Florida grow nicely and survived one winter already unprotected when uncovered windmill palms died. Nice growth rate but seedlings slow to establish.

Positive TerriFlorida On Jan 8, 2004, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

I inherited a sabal palm with new property, and I was happy to have one. I also got another queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) and was less thrilled about that. Sabal palms tend to be less prolific seed producers, whereas the queen palm will send out a bloom stalk at least twice a year here in central Florida, and many germinate just FINE. I love both frond types, however, and the queen does create a bit more shade with its longer fronds.

My husband prunes off the dead Sabal fronds once or twice a year, mostly to discourage wasp nesting. When we moved here a year and a half ago, the tree was about 15' tall. Now, it is past 20' and a fine specimen. I will grow some from seed when I have ripe seeds, because I am very fond of tough native plants that pretty much grow themselves and are well behaved.

Positive Bob4 On Jul 11, 2003, Bob4 wrote:

I live in San Diego, California (U.S.) The Sabal Palm will make a beauitful addition to my landscaping. I visit Florida often and just admire the beauity of this palm. In comparison, the Washingtonia or Mexican Fan Palm are very boring and grow way too fast.

Having the Sabal will add a different look and with it's slower growth, require less maintenance. I plan on transporting a number of these specimens to California for my home.

Positive palmbob On Jul 8, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This palm grows pretty slow in California, but has a nice, woven look to the trunk when pruned. However, it is not a great palm for So Cal since it is so slow. But in Florida and the Southeast, this is a much more attractive palm than a Washintonia in my opnion. Washingtonias all get cut down by lightening, and looks sort of anemic on the east coast. They (Washys) do look much better out in So Cal, though.

Negative IslandJim On Jun 11, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I think this palm is rather... well... ordinary. Its closest competitor is Washingtonia robusta, which has far better color [both frond and boot].

Positive Lavanda On Jun 11, 2003, Lavanda from Mcallen, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant also grows along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico & down thru the Gulf coast in Mexico to the Caribbean, that I know of. It is a beautiful plant/tree, and the rustling sound of the breeze thru its fronds is very soothing and relaxing.

Positive ORLFL On Jun 18, 2002, ORLFL wrote:

Florida's state tree is exceptional for its beauty, ease of transplant, and versatility. The genus and species names are correct as listed: Sabal palmetto. Serenoa repens is the name of another Florida native palm that bears a superficial resemblance to the immature Sabal palmetto.

Neutral Floridian On Oct 12, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is Florida's State Tree

The cabbage palm is a medium sized (30-50) spineless, evergreen palm with an unbranching trunk and very large, fan-shaped leaves that form a circular crown. When the palm is young, the gray-brown trunk is rough and covered with the old boots of leaf stalks. These stalks fall away, revealing the trunk as it matures.

This U.S.A. native palm occurs near the coast, from Southeastern North Carolina to the Florida Keys, including the coast of Northwest Florida. It is the northernmost New World palm and is one of the hardiest. It occurs along sandy shores, often in crowded groves, and inland in hardwood hammocks.

The cabbage palm is used as an ornamental and street tree, well adapted for group, specimen or avenue plantings. This palm is very salt tolerant and can be grown on the beach or directly at the water's edge of bays and inlets. Very adaptable. Average moisture will do. Tolerates drought, standing water and brackish water.

Please avoid eating hearts of palm, as most commercially available canned product is obtained from wild strands of Sabal species in Mexico and Central America. The large leaf buds of immature cabbage palms are used in southern cooking to make swamp cabbage and hearts of palm salad, but this practice is lethal to it.

Regional...

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

Grenoble,
Narva-jõesuu,
Anniston, Alabama
Enterprise, Alabama
Flomaton, Alabama
Florence, Alabama
Lillian, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama
Orange Beach, Alabama
Sahuarita, Arizona
El Dorado, Arkansas
Lonoke, Arkansas
Los Angeles, California
San Diego, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Willits, California
Auburndale, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Homosassa, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Jupiter, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Niceville, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
Okeechobee, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Orlando, Florida (2 reports)
Pensacola, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Umatilla, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Alpharetta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Augusta, Georgia
Brunswick, Georgia
Carnesville, Georgia
Covington, Georgia
Macon, Georgia
Newnan, Georgia
Palmetto, Georgia
Peachtree City, Georgia
Sharpsburg, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Elkhart, Indiana
Plainfield, Indiana
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Denham Springs, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Centreville, Maryland
Natchez, Mississippi
Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Germanton, North Carolina
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Matthews, North Carolina
Southport, North Carolina
Whiteville, North Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Ada, Oklahoma
Edmond, Oklahoma
Beaufort, South Carolina (3 reports)
Bluffton, South Carolina
Cayce, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina (2 reports)
Florence, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Lancaster, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina (2 reports)
Liberty Hill, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
North, South Carolina
Pelion, South Carolina
Prosperity, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Alice, Texas
Austin, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Katy, Texas
Kyle, Texas
Mcallen, Texas
Richardson, Texas
Rockport, Texas
Chesapeake, Virginia
Norfolk, Virginia
Suffolk, Virginia
Virginia Beach, Virginia (2 reports)
Kent, Washington
Kirkland, Washington
Long Beach, Washington



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