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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Protecting Palms From Winter Freezing

Freeze damage to "pineapple palm"

Q. Last winter we had a cold spell that turned the fronds on most of my Canary Palms brown and one of them is still recovering and hasn't reached its full width as of yet. My question...

How can I protect them from the cold that is coming in the next week and probably the rest of the winter? I've seen a few neighbors have wrapped the base of theirs where the fronds meet the trunk with burlap. Will this help? Any suggestions you can give me would be greatly appreciated as these are my favorites in our yard (we're from the Midwest originally so owning Palm trees is a kick)

Freeze damage to fan palm
A. There really is no magic way to do it. Many palm tree generate their new growth in the coming and future years from the terminal buds located at the tips of the trunks. Some will generate new trunks from the base of the trunk but not Canary Island palm which may also be called the pineapple palm due to its shape, often accentuated into the pineapple form by gardeners.

It is usually good to about 10F for short periods of time. If cold kills the terminal bud the tree will eventually die because it cannot continue its growth without that terminal bud. Damage can also occur to the trunk from freezing temperatures so wrapping the trunk or wrapping some lights around the trunk might help.

Remember that cold damage is measured in how low the temperature gets combined with the amount of time it stays at these temperatures plus any wind that might be present and the time of year. Extreme cold is more damaging in late fall and early spring than mid-winter. Winter damage to palms may not show up right after the cold temperatures. In some cases the extent of the damage my linger for years. I hope this helps.

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