How to Protect Palm Trees from Cold

While cold hardy palms can tolerate freezing temperatures, tropical palms may suffer from the cold damage.

Usually, palm tree owners, that live in the warm climates, don’t need to worry about cold weather. But with unpredictable winters in the last couple of years, freezing temperatures don’t come as a surprise.

Cold weather can effect palm trees in different ways. First, freeze can damage the palm tissue in the trunk, which may limit the ability of the palm to provide leaves with enough water. Unfortunately, palm trees can’t regenerate conducting tissue and will die after a while. Cold temperatures can also slow down the root activity and growth rate of the palm. Here is an article on How to Save Cold Damaged Palm Tree.

If your palm tree haven’t been severely damaged, you need to help it with the recovery and also prepare for the next winter. There are number of things you can do to prepare and protect your palm tree during cold temperatures:

1. Freeze Protecting Spray

This step is probably the most important. To protect my palm trees from sudden freeze, I spray them with Freeze Pruf. This amazing water-based, eco-safe spray enhances the plant’s natural mechanisms to resist freeze damage, shielding it from ice crystal damage, and increasing its ability to survive cold temperatures by reducing the freezing point of water inside the tissues of the plant.

It actually improves healthy plants’ natural cold tolerance by approximately 2° to 9° F. It’s like moving your temperature zone 200 miles south! The biodegradable formula is designed to resist washing away by rain or snow and application lasts up to 4 weeks with normal precipitation. Freeze Pruf is very easy to apply and is safe for kids and pets. So, if you have time only for one thing, spray your palms with FreezePruf.

2. Planting Spot

If you are planting a new palm tree, find a spot that has wind protection. Winter winds get very cold causing the most damage.

3. Fertilizing

Palm tissue deficient in nutrients is less cold tolerant. Thus, it is important for the palm tree to receive right amount of fertilizer. Fertilization insures optimum nutrient levels preparing palms for cold winter weather. Fertilize your palms during late summer or early fall.

4. Copper Fungicide Spray

Stressed by cold temperatures, palm trees can become vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections. To give a palm tree additional protection and cold tolerance, spray it with “copper fungicide”. It has a unique formula that helps fight both bacteria and fungi. When you are expecting cold weather, spray your palm with liquid cooper few days in advance.

One of the products I found to be very effective is Bonide Products Copper Fungicide. It works very well against fungi and bacterial.  Since it’s made from natural product you can use it for organic gardening.

5. Apply Mulch

Mulch around the base of the palm will protect the roots from cold damage. Add about 3 -4 inches of organic mulch around the palm. I use Scotts Organic Classic Black Mulch because it’s made from natural forest products, not waste wood and it lasts for over a year. Great product.

6. Warm Cover

During cold days cover it is a good idea to cover your palm. If your palm tree is small, you can cover it with a weighted down box or a blanket. Don’t let the tree sit under the cover for more than 3 days in a row. After 3 days, uncover your palm during the day to provide it with some sunlight. If it is a large palm tree, use a blanket, burlap or other warm material. Wrap it around the trunk and secure it with a duck tape. You should remove all the covers once the weather is warm again. Avoid using a plastic for covering, as it may traps moisture underneath that will freeze and cause more damage.

7. Heater and Light Bulbs

Another way to warm up your palm, is to place a small heater underneath the cover or put some light bulbs. Be careful, when using any source of heat under the cover. It should not touching the material nor the tree. You can also, use Christmas lights around the trunk of the palm to keep it warm.

I hope these tips will help you prepare your palm trees for cold weather. Let me know if you have any questions.

If you don’t live in the warm climate and still want to have beautiful palm trees in you backyard, you would love this book “Betrock’s Cold Hardy Palms.” It has comprehensive profiles for 82 palm species capable of growing in climates colder than USDA Hardiness Zone 10, including 286 color photographs.

~Susan Brian

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4 thoughts on “How to Protect Palm Trees from Cold”

  1. We’ve had A LOT of rain lately. If all of my Palm fronds fell out of the tree, but there is still green in places around the trunk, is it dead? Every Palm frond fell out, like they just lifted right out of the top like they were never attached in the first place. No Palm fronds at all left on the tree.

  2. Hello, I tried to register so I could ask a question but I couldnt make it take the information. I have a 6 ft high Lipstick Palm that I have in my back yard in South Florida.
    It seems to be healthy, I water it constanly and fertilize often. The leaves seam to get week in the middle on some of the frowns and bend. Any idea what this plant may need? Its planted mostly in the shade. Thank You

  3. We just planted 3. 6 ft trees , 2windmill an 1 pindo with, 37 degrees coming and 15mph winds was thinking of covering with prefforated plastic and putting a heat lamp underneath as well we’ve already covered up the trunk , I basically I’m going to build a temporary green house , thoughts

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