11/1/11 – Updated list can be found here
I am big lover of palm trees. Growing up in the colder northern part of the state made me appreciate just how unique and cool looking these trees are. So naturally I have been filling my yard with quite a few varieties over the years. Based on my experience, here is my list of palms and how hard they are to grow here.
EASY: The following palms are pretty much plant and go. Its hard to go wrong with these!
Date Palm – Kind of hard to find unless you buy a fully grown one. Pricey.
Pindo Palm – Used to be rare, becoming easy to find
Mediterranean Fan Palm – Grows like a champ here.Needle Palm – One of the most cold hardy palms, will do ok here.
MEDIUM: A little more work is involved with these palms.
Windmill Palm – In Las Vegas this palm is going to want to have some shade. The Windmills I see in full sun tend to look raggy and don’t grow as fast.
Ponytail Palm – No experience with it, but from what I read wrap it in winter. Seems to do OK.
Canary Island Date Palm – You need to give this one space and lots of water to keep it happy. Otherwise fairly easy.
Sago Palm – While technically not a palm, it looks like one and is sold as such. This one can be finicky if planted in the wrong spot. Also, do not plant in yard with dogs, bad things can happen. Google it.Sabal Palmetto – Native to the southeastern part of the US. You don’t see many grown here, so it gets a medium rating.
HARD: This group can be a challenge in our climate. It will take some work to keep these looking their best.
Pygmy Date Palm – Very tropical looking palm, all the nurseries stock this one even though its the least cold tolerant out of this group. Like the Windmill Palm, the right location is key for it. It likes its water, and wants some shade in our climate during the summer. The flip side is that it can freeze to death here when we dip into the mid 20′s, but will usually recover by early summer.
Queen Palm – The queen is a very common palm in Las Vegas grown for its tropical looks. Why I rate is at hard is if you don’t put effort into this one here, it will look like crap. I can’t even count how many crappy looking Queens I see as I drive around town. The easy part is that the queen is cold-hardy and will take full sun. Where people go wrong is with water and feeding. Usually they don’t get enough of either.
Raphis Palm – Usually sold as an indoor plant, you can grow it outside here with protection. What is hard about it is that the Raphis palms want mostly shade and that is hard to find in the desert. Also hard to experiment with it since they are so expensive.
Bismark Palm – Beautiful palm, this one is worth putting effort into if you can find it. It loves the heat, but how cold hardy it is depends on who you ask. To be safe wrap the crap out of it to keep it alive.
EXPERIMENTAL: I am always looking to expand what can grow in my yard. Here is my list of experimental palms, some of these I am trying in my yard. Most of these are rare so its just a matter of finding it and trying it.
Chilean Wine Palm – Rare slow growing palm, I have read it does well in arid climates is cold tolerant down to upper teens.
Senegal Date Palm – Tropical looking cousin to the Date and Canary Island Palms, this should be a good one since its cold hardy to 20 degrees. I am going to try one when I can get it reasonably priced.
Spindle Palm – Another one I am trying, its not very cold hardy so I have been keeping it as a container plant where it does well.
Foxtail Palm – I am trying one out right now in my yard. It has the same cold tolerance as the Pygmy Date, but not very common so we really don’t know how it will do. I am crossing my fingers on this one.
King Palm – likes more humid climates, but I have heard some people having luck growing it here.
Bolivian Mountain Coconut Palm – A real promising one for Las Vegas, from what I have read it can take the heat, wind and cold really well. I am keeping my eyes peeled for one.
High Plateau Coconut Palm – Another promising candidate to try in Las Vegas, this palm was only discovered in 2007. It’s natural habitat is a dry inland plateau in Madagascar which experiences nights of below freezing temperatures in the winter. Since its so new it is very hard to find, there are no large specimens to purchase. This palm tops my most wanted list since it very similar looking to the standard coconut palm.
Palms in Reno?
Just a quick note for my Northern Nevada Peeps. You are going to think I am nuts, but a few palm trees species can be grown in the Reno/Sparks area in the right micro-climate. You will also have to have a sheltered spot from the wind, wrap the trunk with burlap or frost cloth in winter for added protection and a lot of dedication. The top 3 cold hardy palms that should make it there are as follows:
I would love to hear from anyone who has had success in Northern Nevada growing palms.