Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Dwarf Palmetto, Bluestem Palmetto, Blue Palm
Sabal minor

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sabal (SAY-bal) (Info)
Species: minor (MY-nor) (Info)

Synonym:Corypha minor

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

18 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
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)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

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:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

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:

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

Click thumbnail
to view:

By suncatcheracres
Thumbnail #1 of Sabal minor by suncatcheracres

By suncatcheracres
Thumbnail #2 of Sabal minor by suncatcheracres

By palmbob
Thumbnail #3 of Sabal minor by palmbob

By palmbob
Thumbnail #4 of Sabal minor by palmbob

By palmbob
Thumbnail #5 of Sabal minor by palmbob

By palmbob
Thumbnail #6 of Sabal minor by palmbob

By trois
Thumbnail #7 of Sabal minor by trois

There are a total of 43 photos.
Click here to view them all!


20 positives
No neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive UrbanGreenThumb On Mar 10, 2015, UrbanGreenThumb from Detroit, MI wrote:

Sabal minor survived underneath 1-2 feet of snow for over a month here in zone 6b Detroit, Michigan.

Two of them, in fact. One that was a bit more exposed (some fronds peeked out from underneath the drifts) has some cold damage (-9F was our lowest low, with about 6 nights below zero) compared to the one that was completely buried in the snow until I partially dug it out this morning (3/10/15), which looks almost flawless.

Aside from snow, both got a healthy 6-8" blanket of black mulch (wood chips) in November and a covering of dry(ish) maple leaves, 6" for the semi-exposed Sabal and 12" for the completely covered one.

Positive Nomadct On Dec 13, 2014, Nomadct from Old Lyme, CT wrote:

Sabal minor is doing very well in my zone 7a coastal Connecticut garden.

Planted 4 years ago, and while some fronds burn in winter, it always grows 3 or so new fronds each growing season. My sabal took the severe winter of 2013/2014 (worst in at least 15 years) with a low of 3 F with about 40% of fronds burned, but still put up 3 new fronds this past summer. From observations in nearby Long Island and coastal New Jersey, Sabal minor seems to be the best bet for a palm in the Tri-State (NY/NJ/CT) area.

Should be planted on a SHELTERED south side location out of cold northwest winds, and given fertilizer during the growing season. Water well first growing season to encourage deep roots below the frost line.

Positive OldLineState On Sep 26, 2014, OldLineState from White Hall, MD wrote:

The Sabal Minor or Dwarf Palmetto is an extremely tough palm that can be planted in zone 6b with some natural protection and will eventual winterize.

I bought two Sabal Minors in May and June of 2013. A medium size one and a very small one. Here in Northern Maryland, we have hot humid summers so growth isn't a problem. However, this winter was the worst in about 20 years. There were about three dips to 0 degrees F, another dip to about 3 degrees F, and there were many days where the daytime high temperature never got above freezing. (This is what causes the most damage to palms.) The cold also continued well into March which is rather unusual.

Despite the winter from hell, both of the sabal minors, even the small one, survived the winter. Both of the palms totally defoliated due to the cold but had mostly recovered by the end of the summer. They were the only type of palms that survived that I own. My windmill palm and even my needle palm did not make it.

The palms were going to need some sort of protection for the winter so I created a fence made of chicken wire around them and filled the area with leaves and straw. The palms spent most of the winter covered (Occasionally I would uncover them if the weather was decent so they could get sun) It is my belief that palms should be protected with natural products and not some type of material. It seems to have worked well even with the winter being as terrible as it was. I plan on putting less protection on them this winter because they should be more hardy. Eventually they should be able to survive without winter protection.

Positive nativeOkie On May 2, 2014, nativeOkie from Edmond, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

I planted a Sabal Minor "Louisiana" in my Zone 7A garden three years ago in Central Oklahoma. I bought the palm at a local nursery in a five-gallon container. I planted it along a south-facing fence in full sun. It's put on a frond or two each year and is approaching four-feet tall. I left it unprotected during a rare cold snap that got down to three degrees this past winter and suffered some leaf tip damage, but the spear and base of the plant remained green and healthy. I threw a blanket over it any other night that got into the mid-teens (which isn't really necessary, but I babied it a little bit after the initial damage).

Overall for the Minor "Louisiana", I've had no problem over-wintering it here and it's shooting up it's first seed stalk this spring.

I also added a small McCurtain about a year ago and covered it with leaves and mulch through the unusually cold 2013-14 winter, and it made it through fine.

I'm trying another "McCurtain" and a "Birmingham" on south-facing structures this year, and am also giving a Chinese Windmill Palm a shot.

These palms are all extremely hardy and will survive any winter Oklahoma can throw at them. Especially if you:
1. Plant on south-facing fence or structure
2. Mulch heavily in the winter
3. Provide plentiful water during drought (Minors are very drought tolerant, but in their native range they receive ample rainfall)
4. Cover with a light blanket if temps are expected to drop into the single digits for more than a few hours (very rare in Oklahoma).

I would highly recommend Sabal Minor up to Zone 7 and especially in Oklahoma where the palm thrives in our hot, long summers and relatively mild winters. I've seen these plants in their native habitat in extreme southern McCurtain County, Okla. and as a native Okie take great pride in knowing that this wonderful tropical extends its range all the way in to our state. Great, great plant!

Read more:

Positive Sabalpalmfeller On Mar 16, 2014, Sabalpalmfeller from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

You can just about grow these anywhere. I havent done anything other than water/fertilize and just watch it slowly grow! *note its a real sloooowww grower.

Positive longjonsilverz On Dec 17, 2013, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:

Dwarf palmetto is a very underrated landscape plant since it doesn't usually form a trunk above the ground, however they add a great tropical look when planted under larger trees. Sabal minor is one of a few palms hardy enough to survive here in Eastern Maryland (zone 7). In fact, they seem to thrive here without any damage in an average winter. Some of the seeds have taken root around the surrounding area and are producing fully hardy new palms. They grow very slow, but faster with hot and humid summer conditions, since they are native to the Southeastern USA. If you are looking for a "trunking" version, try the Louisiana palmetto, which has appeared to be just as cold hardy as the standard dwarf palmetto in this area. It will take many years to form a sizable trunk so be patient.

UPDATE: 2014 was the coldest winter in decades for this area and temperatures were near 0F on about 5 nights and wind chill was as low as -30F. Some highs were as low as 12F and did not rise above freezing for weeks on a few occasions. All of my Sabal Minors were nearly flawless with only small browning of the tips of the leaves. I highly recommend these palms for the Delmarva area.

Other palms that have been reliably successful in this area: Needle palm (rhapidophyllum hystrix) and other variations of sabals including Sabal Louisiana.

Positive CrispyCritter On Dec 2, 2013, CrispyCritter from Clayton, GA wrote:

I planted a 5 gallon plant about 3-4 years ago and had some slight damage the first winter here in the Appalachian mountains zone 7B/8A.
Since then though, it has received no damage and even went to seed for the first time last year.

I took the seed and stuck them in the ground in various places around my property- woods, out in the open, near a pond,etc.
and just this week I noticed 2-3 inch tall babies in all of these places.
Some I planted in pots are just a bit larger.
(So, about a year to germinate if planted directly in the ground for me)

I also have a larger specimen planted in the open in full sun and it looks very healthy.

I don't see any reason that these couldn't naturalize in this area. Th coldest temperatures they've seen here is about 11F in the last few years.

Positive IslandJim On Jan 24, 2013, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

The picture I just posted (1/23/13) pretty well illustrates that give appropriate care, this can be a beautiful plant.

Positive Tntropic On Jul 29, 2012, Tntropic from Mount Juliet, TN wrote:

I've been growing sables for about 5 years in mt Juliet tn, they have survived a week of temps where the low was 5deg and the high was in the mid 20 (winter of 2010) this same winter I lost a Trap, and the spear pulled from a sable louisana which to my joy survived and now has a 8" trunk and stands 3 ft tall. Sable are slow to grow from seed so obtain the largest you can. My sable estonia has bloomed the last two years in a row I removed the flower stalk this year in hopes for the plants energy to be focused on growth. The seeds that were produced in 2011 I removed and tossed them into the woods behind my house, although I have found 3 seedlings at the base of the parent plant I have not looked in the woods to see if they have tried to naturalize. Currently I have a assortment of 15 sables in the ground ranging from 5 winter old to two. Growth is slow until the second full fan leaf is produced at which time they will speed up if it is warm and wet, I get between 2 and 7 leaves in most growing seasons but I do fertilize by weekly until mid aug at which point I let them harden for the cool moist fall.
I'll upload pictures later

Positive AllSport28 On Apr 9, 2012, AllSport28 from Concord, KY wrote:

I live in zone 7 Paducah ky. The dwarf palmetto has proven to be the hardiest of all my palms. I have 7 growing in my yard. I also have 4 windmill palms, 2 sago, 3 needle palms, 3 pindo palms, 1 sable birmingham and 4 yucca rostrata. I've lost a pindo palm and a few windmills over the last 6 years. I've not lost any dwarf palmettos. They look as good in February as they do in July. The Sabal Birmingham seems to be more hardy then my Windmills also. Based on my experience. I would rate the dwarf palmettos hardier than the needle palms. They tend to grow faster if u keep them moist and look better if they're not grown in full sun but still do well there.

Positive SuburbanNinja80 On May 23, 2011, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have to say in Indiana there not very many palm growers. sabal Minor is a Huge winner in my eyes. Low Growing Palms that's insanely Hardy. It does the job in my Zone 6a. I have many most of them are small palms. Other than the Slow growth them its for the best they have that. I Seen one of the Underground Trunks.

Positive walkingthefrog On Oct 15, 2009, walkingthefrog wrote:

Native to the southeastern United States. It's slow growing but can become quite a pest when established. Much of the untamed, swampy lands of eastern Texas are filled with dwarf palmettos, sometimes farmers simply mow them with tractors or burn them to stunt their growth...but the palms grow back quickly. Tends to look like a short tangled mess when growing in the sun...when grown in shade it is much more attractive. Doesn't like to be disturbed after it has established itself, so digging them from the wild tends to be unsuccessful. It is extremely frost tolerate, every wild dwarf palmetto growing on my property survived the hard freeze of 1989 when the temperature dropped to 11 F.

Positive palmbrad On Aug 14, 2009, palmbrad from Summerville, SC wrote:

I have a sabal minor growing in Warfordsburg, PA (zone 6b) with no protection since 2006. Some winters the fronds die back to the ground other winters some make it through but the palm comes back every spring.

Positive patp On May 24, 2009, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

This palm is a very common understory plant in the wet coastal regions of South Carolina, where it receives very little sunlight. My husband found a small single fan in the back of our property years ago and moved it several times. It now resides near the base of an oak tree, where it quickly developed additional fans, then surprised us with a couple of seed stalks in late May 2009. We didn't know the name of this palm until today.

Positive gtr1017 On Feb 6, 2009, gtr1017 from Roanoke, VA wrote:

Near 0 deg. F. here in Roanke Va a couple of weeks ago, with no damage to the three of these I have, all unprotected and all in different areas on the property, with none near the house.

Positive keep_trying On May 30, 2008, keep_trying from Augusta, GA wrote:

I have never lived anywhere warm enough that palms were a good idea. So for that exotic look I have always liked Palmettos. Slow growing but very tough plants, cold hardy, and the same look as Spanish Bayonet without the danger. I planted several in Houston, they loved the wet, heavy clay soil, and mockingbirds loved the seeds. They were also occasionally to be seen wild in East Texas dry woods. Now I see densely packed trunkless Palmettos growing wild in low wet woodlands in Augusta, GA, and five foot trunks along the Atlantic coast. Of course it is the state tree of SC and appears on their flag, figuring in the patriot victory at Ft Moultrie.

I have a volunteer in my dry shady clay back yard, it is growing slowly - after 2-3 years just beginning to think about throwing up a five inch hand. A neighbor has some volunteers as well which seem to be pretty tough, she parks her trash can on top of one of them.

Working in front of some bulldozers, I dug up half a dozen from the wild and planted them deep in another back yard for a mysterious exotic look. Even on the youngest specemins the corms were a foot down in the muck. They are now in shallow craters that hopefully will accumulate water - the reverse of what would be recommended for any other plant in this clay soil. So far half are doing well. I suspect it will be many years - decades? if ever before they get trunks. I would have liked them in the front yard as well, but need something that will grow quicker.

If you can pick and choose it may not be your first choice, but if palms are a stretch in your area, give the palmetto a look.

Positive Hikaro_Takayama On May 17, 2006, Hikaro_Takayama from Fayetteville, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

According to Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery, The Mc Curtain county, OK form of this palm seems to be hardier than the Needle Palm, and Logan Calhoun, whom he bought his first seeds from, reported that a number of seedlings planted in Wichita, KS survived winter temps of -24 deg F, and are producing seeds. Now if only these remarkable plants were more readily available (Plant Delights Nursery sells them as fast as they can grow them).

Update #1: I have managed to purchase two 1-gallon plants from Gerry's Jungle, and planted them in an area that is semi-shaded, near a natural seep that stays moist all year (even in our worst droughts). The palmettos are doing well thus far, but we'll see how they handle the winters around here. I'll be updating this comment next spring.

Update #2: Wow, I guess I've been slacking off, but as of June 2012, both plants I got from Gerry's Jungle are alive and kicking, but suffering due to currently being planted in too much shade. I'm currently purchasing my own place, and will attempt to move them. Definitely reccommend S. minor for colder climates!

Positive sylvainyang On Aug 19, 2005, sylvainyang from Edmond, OK wrote:

I did not like this palm at the begining. I went to the Nursery several times but I did not even look at it. The reason was, it forms no trunk forever! Until now, afterI got all the trunking Palms like Takils, Fortunei and Wagners all planted, I knew something was missing. I needed some bushy to be plant around the Trunked Palm. It could also use as a edge plant. It works perfect for the landscaping without spending a lot of time and money. A main theme of the tropical garden actually form like this.
It was very hard to make the decision to choose between Oklahoma Sabal Minor or T. Nannus (Yunnan Drawft Palm).
I finally got one T. Nannus for fun collection and majority of the bush, edges went by Oklahoma Sabal Minor. It's a native plant, unbelivable that you can find wild palm trees in such outbacked inland of America. There is only Mccurtain county has it, no where else. Many palm lovers try to go find it in that county but failed. The key is you need to go in either winter of fall when all the weeds are dead to make it uncovered to be seen.
I personally recommand not to get Sabal Louisiana, a variety of Sabal Minor which is much more easy to get than Oklahoma Sabal Minor. Sabal Louisiana grows tall, up to 10 feet. You will not able to see the trunk in 10 years. The trunk is ugly like an old spiky chimney.

The one that I like is Sabal Minor Mccurtain County Oklahoma form.

Positive aviator8188 On Jul 12, 2004, aviator8188 from Murphysboro, IL (Zone 7a) wrote:

I can tell you that the Sabal minor is much hardier than one may think. The S. minor is cold hardy to temperatures as low as -5deg.F suffering from little if any damage. This palm can be grown in zones 6b - 10. I live in extreme southern Illinois(USDA zone 7a as indicated by the map on this webpage). In my yard on the south wall, I have two S. minors successfully growing. My Sabal minors were purchased from a palm nursery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The seeds of the two specimens were collected from a native cold hardy population growing in northeastern Texas. As far as appearence, I enjoy the clumping form of the palm, it adds a "deep south" look to a northern garden. In places like Miami, the S. minor may not look very attractive growing next to a Cocos nucifera, but it looks great here!

Negative palmbob On Jul 25, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Personally, from a palm collector point of view, this is my least favorite of all palms. It rarely, if ever forms any trunk and tends to looks scrubby/messy all the time. Whenever we go to the palm auctions here in So Cal, and someone has a Sabal sp., it invariably ends up being one of these.

I love Sabals, but this is not my favorite. Even S etonia, another native of this area, has more interesting leaves, being more costapalmate and generaly more green (though S minor is a variable species that can be green as green can be in some individuals... yellow-green is not all the uncommon, either). It must be said this is an incredibly easy palm to germinate, though, and a prolific seed producer. Plants just 5-6 years old in the ground in Southern California (U.S.) are already making viable seed, remarkable for a Sabal (usually takes 15+ years for the other species to do that).

Another way to tell it from S etonia, the other trunkless Sabal, is this one has inflorescences that extend far beyond the leaves, while those of S etonia do not. THese also tend to shoot straight up in the air, while S etonias are more arching and bend towards the earth.

Positive suncatcheracres On Jul 24, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

This interesting, small native palm grows in large patches under old live oak trees on my six acre property in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b. It grows near the road and driveways, where it can get some sun during the day. It is "a very fine dwarf palm with glaucous, silvery-green, fan-shaped leaves, almost circular in outline, and deeply and geometrically cut into 20 or 30 segments," which is a quote from an English seed catalog. The Europeans seem to value our American native plants as landscape specimens much more than we do--the grass is always greener?

This plant is highly variable, due to genetics. Its native range is the coastal plain of the Atlantic states and the states along the Gulf of Mexico, and the varieties grow larger from East to West, with some specimens in Texas found growing as tall as 18 feet--of course, they are in Texas. My plants seem to top out at about six feet. Sabal minor is touted in the plant trade as being the hardiest palm, and often pictured under snowfall. Coldhardiness is also genetically determined, with plants from its northernmost range being the most hardy, and it is grown as a landscape plant as far north as Rhode Island.

In the trade it has various named varieties: 'Louisiana' is often named as the smallest dwarf palmetto, but there is a variety that grows to only two feet or so from Southeastern Oklahoma. The LSU agricultural center has done extensive genetic research and found that Dwarf Palmetto can live to be over 400 years old! The plant was first described by LeClercq in an account of LaSalle's explorations of the Mississippi River valley. There is another small form at about three feet square called 'Hill Country Form' that is from "remnant populations existing along and near water growing in and out of limestone rock in the baking Texas sun."

In Florida the Dwarf Palmetto grows naturally in about half of the counties, mainly in the northern parts of the state, in the understory of deciduous woodland. In the trade it is often confused with Sabal etonia, the Scrub Palmetto, which is another dwarf fan palm that perfers the dry pineland and sand pine scrubs of Central Florida. You can easily tell the difference because Sabal minor does not have the stringlike filaments that develop along the edges of the leaves of Sabal etonia.

The native people found many uses for this plant, from roofing material to cooking to medicine. It has an interesting underground trunk, so appears trunkless until it reaches a certain size, genetically determined of course, and the white flower inflorescence is sweetly fragrant and bears small, shiny deep blue fruit after flowering.

It is readily propagated from seed, but seed should be sown as soon as possible, as dried seed is much more difficult to propagate. Seedlings should be grown out in a pot for a year or two as young plants have not developed their legendary coldhardiness. Siting can be problematic, as it likes it's head in the sun and it's feet near the water, or at least a wet site. It can be grown as an inpenetrable border, or as a tall ground cover under oaks. It is not known to be invasive and has no known serious pests.


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

Midland City, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Encino, California
Los Angeles, California
Upland, California
Grand Junction, Colorado
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Millsboro, Delaware
Wilmington, Delaware
Auburndale, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Grant, Florida
Havana, Florida
Old Town, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Venice, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Clayton, Georgia
Douglasville, Georgia
Macon, Georgia
Newnan, Georgia
Palmetto, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Murphysboro, Illinois
Plainfield, Indiana
Lawrence, Kansas
Ledbetter, Kentucky
Paducah, Kentucky
New Orleans, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Centreville, Maryland
Cockeysville, Maryland
Easton, Maryland (2 reports)
Germantown, Maryland
Preston, Maryland
Silver Spring, Maryland
Stevensville, Maryland
White Hall, Maryland
Detroit, Michigan
Columbus, Mississippi
Natchez, Mississippi
Ridgeland, Mississippi
Morganville, New Jersey
Brooklyn, New York
Roslyn, New York
Staten Island, New York
Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Gastonia, North Carolina
Rolesville, North Carolina
Ada, Oklahoma
Edmond, Oklahoma
Jay, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (2 reports)
Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Bluffton, South Carolina
Cayce, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Fort Mill, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Inman, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Cleveland, Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Mount Juliet, Tennessee
Alice, Texas
Austin, Texas
Boerne, Texas
Cedar Park, Texas
Devers, Texas
Huntsville, Texas
Kendalia, Texas
Mcallen, Texas
Rockport, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
South Padre Island, Texas
Roanoke, Virginia
Sterling, Virginia
Suffolk, Virginia
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Allyn, Washington
Kent, Washington
Shoreline, Washington

We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2015 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.

Hope for America