20 Cold Hardy Palm Trees for Freezing Weather

Even snow is no match for the most resilient palm varieties

Date palm tree near beach and sanded pathway

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Nothing gives an outdoor space a tropical feel quite like landscaping with palm trees. But they can be tricky to grow in borderline climates that experience occasional freezing weather. Fortunately, some cold hardy palm trees do quite nicely in temperatures that hover around the freezing point and will even tolerate being blanketed with snow for short periods. Cold hardy palms may resist injury when exposed to low temperatures. While coconut palms only grow in the southernmost regions of the U.S., there are plenty of cold hardy palm trees that can survive in colder weather.

There are no guarantees that a cold hardy palm will survive in zones 5 through 7 after a rough winter, but through experimentation and care you may have good results. To boost your success, choose a variety that best suits your USDA growing zone, make sure the tree is older so it can better sustain harsher weather, place it in a location protected from wind, and keep it completely dry in freezing temperatures.

Read on for information about cold hardy palms that can withstand a bit of winter weather.

Tip

If you live in a state like Maine, Michigan, or Montana, you too can have a taste of the tropics if you choose the right kind of palm tree that can survive cold weather. Plant an appropriate cold hardy palm tree in a container, leave it outdoors in the summer, then overwinter it indoors. For super cold states, experiment with indoor/outdoor palms like lady palm and Chinese fan palm.

  • 01 of 20

    Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

    Green fronds of the lady palm tree

    Eric in SF/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

    The lady palm, also known as the bamboo palm, is a smallish, shrubby evergreen palm with bamboo-like stems. This shade-loving species has dark-green, fan-shaped leaves and is very easy to grow. It can withstand temperatures down to 18 degrees Fahrenheit. It grows well as an indoor palm, a foundation plant, or in mixed shrub borders in shady locations.

    • Native Area: Southern China, Taiwan
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9a–11a
    • Height: 6–15 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial, full
  • 02 of 20

    Puerto Rican Thatch Palm (Coccothrinax alta)

    Green fronds of the Puerto Rican thatch palm

    David J. Stang/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

    The Puerto Rican thatch palm, sometimes called the Barbados silver palm, is a palmate-leaved tree that can tolerate temperatures of 28–30 degrees Fahrenheit. if the cold temperatures are limited in duration. It does well in salt-wind conditions, making it a good choice for beachside landscaping.

    Fast Fact

    Palm trees can be divided into three categories of leaves: palmate, pinnate, or costapalmate:

    • A palmate leaf palm has lobes fanning out from a common point. The structure resembles a fan or open hand, with fingers stretching out from the palm.
    • pinnate leaf palm, derived from the Latin pinna or feather, has individual leaflets branching out on both sides of a common axis resembling a feather. 
    • A costapalmate leaf is a cross between a palmate and pinnate shape.
    • Native Area: Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: 12–25 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 03 of 20

    Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera)

    Date palm trees in front of mountain

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    This pinnate-leaved species is a classic palm tree with a tall trunk and arching, feather-like fronds. Female trees produce creamy yellow flowers followed by edible fruits. It's hardy down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The date palm is one of the oldest—and most important—cultivated palm trees. It's a frequent sight in urban landscapes, and there are also cold hardy dwarf cultivars that make good indoor specimens.

    • Native Area: Unknown (probably Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East)
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8–11
    • Height: 50–80 feet (dwarf cultivars also available)
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 04 of 20

    Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana)

    Queen palm with green fronds

    marioguanandi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    The queen palm is a pinnate-leaved tree that will tolerate temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a smooth gray trunk topped with feathery fronds of dark green leaves that droop into an attractive canopy. It's a common street-side tree as well as a yard tree, though it requires frequent removal of dead leaves and acidic soil to avoid stunted leaves.

    • Native Area: South America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9b–11b
    • Height: 25–50 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • 05 of 20

    Everglades Palm (Acoelorrhaphe wrightii)

    Green fronds of the Everglades palm

    Guettarda/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    The Everglades palm is a medium-sized tree that can survive temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This species forms a cluster of slender trunks topped with tufts of fan-shaped leaves. The Everglades palm, also known as the Paurotis palm, is a good option for beach areas, as this plant tolerates salty spray and sandy soil.

    • Native Area: Central America, Mexico, Caribbean
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: 16–23 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 06 of 20

    California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)

    California fan palm with green and brown fronds

    Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    A popular landscape tree in the Southwest, the California fan palm has a moderate growth rate and survives temperatures as low as 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, though young trees are more cold-sensitive. With regular trimming of old fronds, this species, also known as the desert fan palm, is among the most attractive of all palms.

    • Native Area: Southwestern U.S., Baja California
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9a–11
    • Height: 50–65 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 07 of 20

    Cabbage Palm (Sabal palmetto)

    A large cabbage palm with many green fronds

    H. Zell/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    Like all palms described as "palmettos," the cabbage palm is a great smaller tree, with a single trunk from which the large leaves emerge. It is hardy down to 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. A costapalmate-leaved tree, with both palmate and pinnate leaves, this species is very strong and quite resistant to wind. It is the state tree of both South Carolina and Florida.

    • Native Area: Southeastern U.S.
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8b–11
    • Height: 30–50 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • 08 of 20

    Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona chinensis)

    Bright green fronts of the Chinese fan palm

    Federica Fortunato / Getty Images.

    The Chinese fan palm is one of the most cold hardy tropical plants. It has a single gray-brown trunk topped by a dense crown of fan-shaped leaves that droop downward in a fountain-like appearance, which is why it's also called the fountain palm. The leaves are very large, up to 5 feet across, ranging from bluish-green to olive green in color. This hardy palm tree, which will tolerate temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, is very popular in the southern states and as far north as Oklahoma.

    Because of its moderate size, it can also be grown as a potted specimen. The Chinese fan palm eventually becomes a fast-growing cold hardy palm tree; After its first decade as a slow grower, the palm grows quickly at half a foot a year.

    • Native Area: China, southern Japan
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9a–11
    • Height: 20–30 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    Continue to 9 of 20 below.
  • 09 of 20

    European Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis)

    Group of European fan palm trees with green fronds

    tella_db / Getty Images

    This bushy evergreen palm is a very tough plant that can survive temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The European fan palm grows as a clump of trunks that lean out from the center, topped with clusters of fan-shaped leaves. This is a slow-growing tree (no more than 5 inches a year), making it an excellent potted plant or "shrub" palm.

    • Native Area: Southern Europe, Mediterranean
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8b–11
    • Height: 10–15 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • 10 of 20

    Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)

    Mexican fan palm with green fronds and decaying fronds

    H. Zell/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    Hardy down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the Mexican fan palm is a popular indoor and outdoor tree. It has a single trunk topped with arching, fan-shaped leaves that grow up to 5 feet long. Unless you trim this palm tree regularly, the dead leaves will form a characteristic "hula skirt" around the trunk. It has moderate drought tolerance but grows much faster when given adequate water.

    • Native Area: Desert regions of Mexico
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9a–11
    • Height: 40–60 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 11 of 20

    Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)

    Saw palmetto with green fronds

    Steve Nix/Wikimedia Commons

    The saw palmetto is one of the most cold-hardy of all palms, known to survive temperatures dipping down to zero. This is a short, shrubby plant that grows in a ground cover fashion with stems that sprout from underground rhizomes. The large palm-shaped leaves have saw-like teeth along the edges, lending the plant its common name.

    • Native Area: Florida
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8–11
    • Height: 3–6 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • 12 of 20

    Bismark Palm (Bismarckia nobilis)

    Bismark Palm (Bismarckia nobilis)

    vymooxa / Getty Images

    The Bismarck palm is a festive evergreen tree with stiff, steely blue fronds and a trunk that has a crisscross design from splitting leaf bases. It will tolerate very infrequent freezes down to as low as 15 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Though it's a popular palm in Florida and south Texas, it's also found as far north in the west as Oregon (zone 8b) and east as Georgia (zone 8a).

    • Native Area: Madagascar
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10-11
    • Height: 40-70 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial
    Continue to 13 of 20 below.
  • 13 of 20

    Mexican Blue Palm (Brahea armata)

    Mexican Blue Palm (Brahea armata)

    photohampster / Getty Images

    Mexican blue palm has a lovely blue hue to its long, fan-shaped fronds. The palm can survive during short periods that go as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit and as a plus, holds up to strong winds. The palm has more positive characteristics for cold weather regions: it does not survive in humid conditions and it does not attract pests or diseases.

    • Native Area: Baja California/Mexico
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9-11
    • Height: 20-50 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 14 of 20

    Guadalupe Palm (Brahea edulis)

    Guadalupe Palm (Brahea edulis)

    Liudmyla Liudmyla / Getty Images

    Guadalupe palm is a slow-growing, attractive tree with a thick trunk supporting shiny bluish-green fronds. This palm blooms with dangling fragrant white flowers which then produce small, edible fruits. It's a good palm for coastal and desert locations because it is wind, salt, and drought tolerant. The tree can grow in states with temperatures that infrequently go down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

    • Native Area: Mexico
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9-11
    • Height: 20-50 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 15 of 20

    Jelly Palm (Butia capitata)

    Jelly Palm (Butia capitata)

    Marina Denisenko / Getty Images

    The jelly palm, also called the pindo palm, is a small tree and considered one of the hardiest of the cold hardy palms. It has blue-green to grayish palms that arch inward towards the trunk which results in a weeping appearance. This palm has showy orange-yellow flowers and edible fruits that taste like pineapple. This salt-tolerant and drought-resistant palm can survive sporadic bouts of temperatures down into the single digits and has been spotted growing as far north as the challenging coastal areas of New Jersey.

    • Native Area: Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9-11
    • Height: 10-20 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • 16 of 20

    Chestnut Dioon (Dioon edule)

     of 20 Chestnut Dioon (Dioon edule)

    seven75 / Getty Images

    The slow-growing chestnut dioon, also known as virgin palm, is an unusual palm with a short, thick trunk exhibiting a single rosette that opens to straight, stiff blue-green pinnate leaves that reach 6 feet long. It produces large seed cones that have edible seeds. The drought- and salt-tolerant palm survives rare occasions when temperatures tumble down to 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

    • Native Area: Mexico
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9-11
    • Height: 6-8 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • 17 of 20

    Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis)

    Jubaea chilensis

    seven75 / Getty Images

    Chilean wine palm is a huge and striking ornamental tree in the landscape. It's a slow-growing evergreen with a massive trunk and dense crown of about 50 large pinnate leaves that reach 15 feet in length and are further divided into more leaflets. Purple and yellow flowers in the summer give way to edible yellow fruits, but only on very mature trees that are 50 years old. Once established, this palm handles itself well in 7-degree Fahrenheit temperatures and it's tolerant of cold, moisture, frost, and drought. The Chilean wine palm has been known to grow as far north as Seattle and in southern regions of Canada.

    • Native Area: Chile
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8-11
    • Height: 60-80 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 18 of 20

    Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis)

    Phoenix canariensis

    LITTLE DINOSAUR / Getty Images

    The Canary Island date palm is massive, but it is one palm that can also grow in a pot to temper its size. Overwintering the potted tree is one way that it can be grown in USDA zone 8b, where temps dip to 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This majestic palm has long feather-like fronds, but the lower half of the stems are prickly with longish sharp spines that make it necessary to wear protective gear when handling.

    Tip

    The Canary Island date palm is not a self-cleaning palm, so it will need pruning whether it's in the ground or potted. There are other self-cleaning palms that don't need pruning and instead drop their dead fronds to the ground. You'll only need to pick up the debris from your yard as the tree self-cleans.

    • Native Area: Canary Islands
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9-11
    • Height: 40-60 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 19 of 20

    Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

    Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

    David J. Stang / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Needle palm is considered one of the most cold hardy palms because it can withstand temperatures that go as low as -5 to -15 degrees Fahrenheit. Though it's rated for USDA zones 6-11, it can grow in zone 5. It's found in Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and other chilly states. You may not recognize the tree as a palm, though, because it is more shrubby and doesn't have a trunk, but rather grows slender stems out of a single base. Spines between leaves protect the plant from animals.

    • Native Area: South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6-10
    • Height: 3-6 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • 20 of 20

    Chinese Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

    Chinese Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

    pcturner71 / Getty Images

    The Chinese windmill palm is one of the most cold hardy trees, able to survive freezing temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. It's grown successfully in the chilly Pacific Northwest as well as across in icy New York State in zones 5 to 7. This slow-to-moderate growing evergreen has fan-shaped leaves that are 3 feet in length.

    • Native Area: Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8a-11 
    • Height: 10-40 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade

Tips for Growing Cold Hardy Palms

When you're faced with a brief cold snap that's unusual for your climate zone, you may be able to protect your palm trees until the crisis passes. Even the cold hardy palm tree species described above may have trouble when the temperatures dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. These tips may help.

  • Keep the plant fertilized. A healthy, robust plant will be better able to survive periods of freezing weather.
  • Apply mulch. Keep a palm tree warm in the winter with a thick layer of mulch around the base of a tree. The mulch will protect its roots from permanent frost damage. If the roots survive, most trees will regain their health, even if many of the leaves are destroyed.
  • Cover small trees with sheets or blankets. Although this technique is not practical for large specimens, another way to keep smaller palms warm in the winter is by covering them with sheets, tarps, plastic, or blankets. The coverings trap ground warmth and prevent the tree from freezing. A small light bulb can be placed beneath the cover if the weather is expected to be quite cold or is expected to continue for several days. Be sure to remove the protective covers when temperatures return to normal.
  • Apply a freeze-protecting spray. A palm tree can often survive a freeze if it's well protected. Take care of a palm tree from a sudden freeze by adding an extra layer of protection with a frost-protecting spray product that shields the plant to reduce ice crystal damage.