Indoor plants

Queen Palms in winter: Taking care of the Queen Palms in winter

The palm trees are a reminder of the warm temperatures, exotic flora and lazy people on sunny holidays. We are often tempted to plant one to harvest this tropical feeling in our own landscape. Queen Palms are hardy in USDA zones 9b to 11, making them intolerant to the temperatures of most of our country. Even warm regions, such as Florida, tend to fall into a zone 8b to 9a, which is below the Queen Palm’s hardy range. Cold damage to the royal palm can be fatal in extreme winters. That’s why knowing how to winterize palm queens is essential to protect your investment.

Cold Weather Damage to Queen Palm

The Queen Palm ( Syagrus romanzoffiana ) is a majestic tropical tree that can reach 15 meters high. It is easily damaged by temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 C.). It is almost impossible to overwinter queen palms that are at their mature height. Smaller specimens can be protected from light frost and snow. If exposure is brief, the cold damage to the queen palm can be recovered. There are some things you can do to minimize problems by taking a little more care of the queen palm in winter.

The types of damage caused by cold weather on dwarf palms vary according to exposure and location of the plants. Low exposure will result in worn and discoloured fronds. The most severe damage results in a condition called «spear shooting», where the sling slips easily off the trunk when it is pulled. The stem will be soft and moist. This condition is rarely recoverable.

The death of meristem is even worse. This is when a frost causes parts of the trunk to discolour and eventually rot. Fungal problems develop early and within a few months the fronds fall off and the tree is about to come out.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, queen palms can recover from exposure to mild cold, which usually occurs in areas where they are grown. Applying a few ideas for caring for the royal palm in winter will improve the plant’s chances of survival.

Winter care for young plants

Young palms are particularly vulnerable to cold damage because they have not developed a root system deep enough to ensure the survival of the base of the plant. Plants in containers can be taken indoors for the winter. Those in the ground should be covered with mulch around the base.

For extra protection when it must freeze, place a bucket or trash can on the wreath with Christmas lights inside. The lights give off enough heat and the blanket protects the foliage from heavy snowfalls and icy winds.

How to winterize the Queen’s palms

The wintering of queen palms is essential if your area is ever to expect freezing temperatures. Young plants are easy to protect, but mature beauties are much more difficult. Christmas lights or garlands of lights can be used to add ambient heat. Wrap the trunk and fronds. To make this more effective, build scaffolding around the plant. You can then cover the whole plant with an antifreeze cloth. This is an important part of winter care for the Royal Palm, where even a prolonged frost can cost the plant much of its vitality.

There is also a product that is a protective spray. Whichever method you choose, follow up in late summer or early fall with an appropriate fertilizer. Well-fed trees are much more resistant than nutrient-depleted tissues.

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