When you think of palm trees, the first thing that comes to mind might be sandy beaches in Florida or the Caribbean. But did you know that many palm varieties can thrive in northeastern states like Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Massachusetts? In fact, adding some tropical flair to your garden can be a unique and fun way to brighten up your outdoor space and make it feel like a mini getaway.
We will go over some palms that with protection in winter, can actually survive! If you're curious about what palms would work best in your northeastern garden, read on for some ideas and inspiration. And if you prefer to only own palm trees for the summer, and not have to protect in the winter, then we have you covered as well. Visit our garden center in Cheshire, CT!
Windmill Palm - The Windmill Palm, also known as Trachycarpus fortunei, is a great choice for northeastern gardens. This multi-trunked palm can grow up to 30 feet tall and has a unique, textured trunk that gives it its "windmill" moniker. Windmill palms are incredibly hardy and can withstand extremely cold temperatures of up to -5°F. They also don't require a lot of water or fertilizer, making them low-maintenance options. However, make sure to plant these palms in well-draining soil and sheltered location to protect them from harsh winds.
Needle Palm - For a smaller option, consider the Needle Palm or Rhapidophyllum hystrix. This slow-growing palm can reach up to 6 feet tall and has short, spiky fronds that give it its "needle" nickname. Needle palms are also tough customers that can survive even the harshest northeastern winters, down to -10°F. These palms can grow well in a variety of soils, as long as they are well-draining, and prefer partial to full shade. They may also benefit from supplemental watering during hot and dry periods.
Chinese Windmill Palm - Another similar option is the Chinese Windmill Palm, or Trachycarpus fortunei wagnerianus. This palm looks like a smaller version of the Windmill Palm, with more compact fronds that grow in a round, symmetrical shape. The Chinese Windmill Palm also shares the same cold tolerance, being able to handle temperatures down to -5°F. However, it may need some extra protection during extreme cold snaps, such as wrapping the fronds with burlap or using a frost cloth.
Mediterranean Fan Palm - If you're looking for a more exotic and striking palm for your garden, consider the Mediterranean Fan Palm or Chamaerops humilis. This palm originates from Europe and Africa and is known for its unique, fan-shaped fronds and stout, spiny trunk. Mediterranean Fan Palms can grow up to 15 feet tall and prefer well-draining soils and full sun. While they can tolerate cool temperatures down to 10°F, they may need some extra protection from harsh winds and snow.
Sabal Palm - Lastly, the Sabal Palm or Sabal palmetto, is a classic Floridian palm that can also grow in northeastern gardens. This palm is the state tree of Florida and is known for its stout trunk, large fronds, and signature "hurricane cut" look, where the older fronds are pruned off to reveal the trunk. Sabal Palms can reach up to 40 feet tall and prefer sandy, well-draining soil and full sun. While they are more cold-sensitive than other palms on this list (tolerating temperatures down to 15°F), they can still thrive in sheltered locations and with some winter protection.
Tropical Gardens In The Northeast Are Now Possible
Adding a touch of the tropics to your northeastern garden might seem like a challenge, but with the right palm trees, it's definitely doable. Whether you opt for the hardy and textured Windmill Palm, the spiky and slow-growing Needle Palm, the symmetrical and cold-tolerant Chinese Windmill Palm, the exotic and fan-shaped Mediterranean Fan Palm, or the classic and stately Sabal Palm, you're sure to find a palm that suits your garden's needs and style. Don't be afraid to experiment and have fun with your choices- the beautiful and unique palms you'll grow will be well worth it! and if all else fails....you can just buy palm trees each summer and have CT Palms pick them up at the end of the season! We offer dozens of palm trees available for summer delivery that we can pick up before it is too cold in fall. Contact us to place an order for May delivery!