Cold Hardiness

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

wondering if anyone knows the cold hardiness of crownshaft palms. i understand they are the more tender kinds, but why is it that theres fully healthy foxtails while theres dead ones? and literally half-dead Christmas palms? i read somewhere that king palms are hardier than xmas palms.... and theres royals growing fine too....Could anyone please make suggestions - based on their experience/knowledge/kindness - on which ones of these palms are known for being able to tolerate freezes. Thanks.

Brisvegas, Australia(Zone 12b)

Hi Coastalzonepush,

Wow! that name sure is a mouthfull, ^_^

I'm afraid I am not much help as I am in the Tropics.
3 of the Palms you mention are endemic to my State. (Queensland)

The others grow like weeds here.
Bob may be able to help you as he lives in your Area. (USA)


noonamah, Australia

Coastalzonepush, when you speak of "crownshaft palms" you're speaking of a huge number of different palm species, with a varying tolerance of different climatic conditions. While some palms can take a quick dip in temperature they have problems with extended cold periods. Also, people get away with growing palms in sheltered spots against buildings on the sunny side, well out of their accepted zones. There's a lot of factors involved. This is why you see pockets of living or dead palms in the same area.

The Christmas Palm, Adonidia merrillii, is one of the more sensitive palms. It comes from the Philipines rainforest and requires warmer humid conditions. The Foxtail, Wodyetia bifurcata, although from a very warm area, appears to cope with more extremes of temperature. On the other hand the King Palm, Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, comes from a colder climate (like where Ginger lives which is well outside of the tropics) right down to southern New South Wales. So it's much more cold tolerant. There are other species of Archontophoenix which do come from the tropics that are sometimes referred to as King Palms but they are less cold tolerant, such as Archontophoenix alexandrae.

The thing is you need to check around your area to see what's growing there and take particular note of what their microclimate might be. These factors can mean the difference between the same species of palm living or dying in different parts of your yard. When you're close to the margin it becomes a fine balancing act. That's how you become a successful zone pusher.

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

Kell, thanks for the response. i understand, it must be rather different there. ive been to the real tropics but never the southern hemisphere. it must be more annoying than pleasing to have those palms as weeds.
Tropicbreeze (love the name!), you are actually answering questions i havent put up yet! thanks. i was really going to get towards kings versus christmas. they sell both here. but i wasnt sure which was hardier. i havent seen mature plants of either one in the area. also i run into the problem of not knowing the difference between kings and alexanders. they do not label them specifically at the garden center, all the container says is king palm. But basically youre saying that if i plant a king (cunninghamiana) palm this spring maybe i will have a chance of survivial?

Brisvegas, Australia(Zone 12b)

Hi Zonepusher,

I really love Palms,
My area of the Cold Goast is absolutely ideal for palm growing.
Infact they grow so fast they literally jump out of their skin/bark.
Cocus are the worst.
They have recently been declared a noxious weed and can't be planted in any new suburb.
Most Nurseries don't even sell them.

This Picture is typical of the splitting many of my Palms get up to.


Thumbnail by ginger749
Brisvegas, Australia(Zone 12b)

Another Picture.

Thumbnail by ginger749
noonamah, Australia

Coastalzonepush, if you pick your species, and pick your micro-climate you have a far greater chance of plant survival. So definitely get a cunninghamiana over an alexandrae.

Another point on survival is that older (taller) plants can often cope with cold better than smaller ones. Seedlings and short (young) plants are closer to ground level, where colder air can accumulate. Higher up the air doesn't cool so much. If you can put your plants in the warmest spots and give additional protection when needed, it gives them a chance to grow taller and then be less susceptible to cold weather.

But you can still end up with the situation shown in the photos above. When the plant is growing and the weather goes cold the centre of the trunk may keep growing while the outer trunk stops causing it to split. My sister lives in a cold climate and she's also had that happen. Check out this forum, it could help:

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

i appreciate the responses! very helpful, i really got my questions answered. i will try to purchase a cunninghamiana, but typically they dont specify the specie *sigh. is there any way to tell the difference between the two? i can only buy them as triples, no trunk.

noonamah, Australia

Try asking on that link I gave you. There's a lot of palm growers from Florida on that site and from what I've seen quite a few of them grow cunninghamiana. Some are also nurserymen who specialise in palms and are quite reliable.

Acton, CA(Zone 8b)

If you are getting your palms from a garden outlet store, chances are they are Archoto cunninghammaina as those are by far the most commonly available species. Every now and then A alexandrae shows up at a common nursery, but never do any of the other Archotophoenix... the rest are only available from specialty palm nurseries and then they will definitely be identified.

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Archoto cunninghammaina are short lived in the ground in Florida - nematodes eat their roots.

They are long lived in containers.

The toughest palm, that looks exotic to me, I know as Alexander Palm.

This message was edited Mar 6, 2012 6:09 AM

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
noonamah, Australia

Alexander palms are Archontophoenix alexandrae, they're not as cold tolerant as Archontophoenix cunninghamiana.

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