Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Dwarf Palmetto, Bluestem Palmetto, Blue Palm, Louisiana Palmetto
Sabal minor var. louisiana

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sabal (SAY-bal) (Info)
Species: minor var. louisiana

Synonym:Sabal louisiana

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

5 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

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There are a total of 14 photos.
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11 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive CrispyCritter On Oct 27, 2014, CrispyCritter from Clayton, GA wrote:

I live in North Georgia in the Appalachian mountains, these things grow great here. I started with a 5 gallon about 5 years ago. It has never been damaged by the Winter cold, snow, ice, temps down to 10F.

Actually this largest one has been going to seed for the last few years, and I've been randomly poking the seeds into the ground around my property, where they tend to come up the next year- even the tiny one,two leaf seedlings are undamaged by the cold.

I have one other sabal minor that is in a very exposed place and it has gotten some damage- burnt leaves- but every year it replaces anything burnt the winter before.

Positive nativeOkie On Apr 23, 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!

Positive niagarapalms On Apr 15, 2014, niagarapalms from St. Catharines
Canada wrote:

Grew 50 Louisiana's from seed about twelve years ago and planted in ground about 9 years ago once established. Some of the faster growing plants had reached frond heights of 5 feet on my west facing wall. The winter of 2014 finally reminded me that I live in Canada. I lost 7 of 10 in one garden and the three remaining really took a beating. Very disappointing to see them go. I am certain that they were the only true sabal's growing in the area naturally (zone 6b niagara).

Positive longjonsilverz On Jan 8, 2014, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:

Louisiana Palmetto is a great palm for cold tolerance. Here in Eastern Maryland (zone 7) this palm has never shown any damage in 4 winters and is planted far away from the house and has never been protected. It seems every bit as hardy as standard Sabal Minor, at least for this area. It grows very slow, compared to other plants, but when compared to Sabal Minor, and other Sabals, it seems to have a faster growth rate at least from what I have observed here. Eventually it will form a trunk but be very patient because it will take MANY years. It is much hardier than windmill palms and is a good choice for those wanting a trunking palm but have not had success with windmills.

Positive TDogg77 On Oct 28, 2013, TDogg77 from Belle Vernon, PA wrote:

This palm made it through last winter (it's first here) with little trouble. Some tip burn but most foliage came through intact. I did give protection from the wind and mulched heavily around the base.
It saw temps as low as 5 degrees in addition to heavy snow and ice. Sabal Louisiana is a pretty fast grower too adding 5 new fronds this summer. A good palm to try in zone 6A!

Update September of 2014:
Sabal Louisiana had a rough winter here. It saw 2 nights of -8 and a few more below 0. There were also many days in a row that never reached freezing. That being said it died almost to the mulch line.
It was still very much alive though. Sabal Louisiana has put out 3 fronds and is working on 4 right now. In addition it is pushing a flower stalk.
This is one tough palm and I will protect a little more this coming winter.
It's definitely a keeper for me here in zone 6 in Pennsylvania.

Positive WVTropics On Oct 29, 2012, WVTropics from Martinsburg, WV wrote:

This is an update to my previous post in 2011. So far this plant has been in the ground for 3 years in Martinsburg, West Virginia (6b) and has done better than even my Needle Palms. This plant has had, at most, only minor tip burn. While it is planted near the house it is not protected from the cold winter winds. This plant has set seed twice for me. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this plant if you are into trying out palms in marginal climates. It is tremendously slow growing but when people think you can't grow palms where you live it doesn't matter.

Positive SuburbanNinja80 On May 1, 2012, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is very Fast Grower, When I got it it just had its fat Grass looking Leafs on. Now its starting its full Fan leafs. Very very Hardly. My Only Complaint is If you don't Protect it Really well then your going to have Cold damage on it. I learned that the hard way. yet the Standard "Sabal Minor" was still 95% Green. In Zone 6a. Last winter was a 9b winter so very mild winter.

Neutral Polarpalm On Mar 5, 2011, Polarpalm from Martinsburg, WV wrote:

I planted a large Louisiana Palmetto in my yard (zone 6b) near to the house but not smack dab against it. It pulled through the winter marvelously! There are a few leaf tips that have browned, but that's it! The spears are solid and the plant looks wonderful.

I must admit that I was surprised that it did so well. The only protection I gave it was some leaf litter. In the fall (late November) I piled some dried leaves from the yard over it...but it only covered the part of the plant closest to the ground. Most of the plant was exposed...increasingly so as the wind blew away many of the leaves over the winter.

I am highly impressed with the performance of this plant. I plan to try another specimen of this plant to see if it does as well as the one I have!

Positive Fires_in_motion On Jan 5, 2011, Fires_in_motion from Vacherie, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is an incredible understory plant that is totally taken for granted around here in southern Louisiana. Apparently it will soon be getting its own species name (Sabal louisiana?), or so I've heard. Amazing glaucous (bluish) foliage, ridiculous cold tolerance (probably in the top 3 most cold-hardy palms on earth), rigid leaves that do not get torn up by wind (unlike those of its ugly taller brother the Cabbage Palmetto). If you're standing in a forest and can look around and not see a Dwarf Palmetto growing right at the base of a Live Oak or Bald Cypress, you're not standing in south Louisiana.

Due to their deep underground trunks, these are all but impossible to dig up in the field, unless you're talking about a little baby seedling. I generally have to forcibly restrain myself from digging up each seedling I find in the wild. Some people complain about the amount of volunteer seedlings, but this is generally just hyperbole on their part. (If you don't want seedlings, then just cut off the flower stalk before it can produce seeds, duh!) They fetch a surprisingly high price at the few local nurseries that stock them, simply due to their slow growth rate and need for large pots due to their deep root systems. As a general rule, slow-growing species (e.g. Live Oak, Yaupon Holly) tend to be tough as nails, and this one is no exception. I would go so far as to call it bulletproof in cold, heat, flood, drought, fire... You name it, this plant can shrug it off. It apparently has zero disease problems and zero predators.

To summarize why Dwarf Palmettos are so superior to Cabbage Palmettos: They stay smaller and have prettier, stiffer leaves that never droop. This 'Louisiana' variety does develop a decent trunk over the years, and has bluer leaves than "regular" Dwarf Palmettos from the rest of the Southern U.S. I ought to take some pictures of some of the centuries-old ones in the forests around here.
The easiest way to tell seedlings apart is that D.P.'s lack the "dental floss" that adorns the edge of C.P.'s, and the leaves are of course much stiffer and bluer.

If this palm were only known to grow in some remote outposts of the world, there would be a frenzy of attention given to it, and people in the southern half of the U.S. would be falling all over each other trying to plant it in their yards. But nope, it's a native species, so it is of course overlooked to an almost criminal degree. Photos truly don't due Dwarf Palmettos justice, because when you walk or drive past one, the beautiful spacing of the fronds gives sort of a mesmerizing effect.

Positive purplesun On Nov 7, 2009, purplesun from Krapets
Bulgaria (Zone 8a) wrote:

This one is another survivor. It didn't die after three weeks with no watering after being planted in the ground. It has even grown its first bifid leaf here in Z8a. I already lost one plain Sabal minor because of transplanting in mid-season, so I hope this one will become a permanent element of my garden.

Update April 7th, 2010: My three-year old Louisiana Palmetto has survived a bitterly cold winter with temps dipping to -3 degrees F under heavy snow cover, in Krapets, Bulgaria. Palm virtually untouched!

Positive hardyinokc On Jan 22, 2008, hardyinokc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

I have had this growing on the south side of my house for 4 years now (Z7). I have never covered it with anything, just 6" of mulch around the base. Have never lost a single leaf to the cold. Lovely bluish-green leaves.

Positive aviator8188 On Apr 30, 2005, aviator8188 from Murphysboro, IL (Zone 7a) wrote:

The louisiana variety is a Sabal minor with a trunk basically. Some debate whether it's actually a different variety of minor or not. In some cases, old specimens of S. minor can form a short trunk, similiar to the louisiana variety. There are native populations of the louisiana variety growing near lake Ponchatrain (sp?) just outside of New Orleans. The louisiana is usually as hardy as minor, but can lose some hardiness when it forms a trunk. I would rate minor a 7a hardy palm and would grow in 6b if planted in a warm microclimate. However, to be on the safe side, var. louisiana is probably a 7b palm, definitely worth a try in 7a. It would probably require adequate protection in 6b compared to minor. It's very beautiful with costapalmate leaves and a short, fat trunk. Seeds are also very easy to germinate!


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

Mobile, Alabama
South Lyme, Connecticut
Auburndale, Florida
Augusta, Georgia
Clayton, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Murphysboro, Illinois
Plainfield, Indiana
Edgard, Louisiana
La Place, Louisiana
Mandeville, Louisiana
New Iberia, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Schriever, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Bishopville, Maryland
Centreville, Maryland
Preston, Maryland
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Edmond, Oklahoma (2 reports)
Jay, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania
Norfolk, Virginia
Martinsburg, West Virginia (2 reports)

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