Palm Knowledge Base
Winter Protection for Palms and Plants
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Knowledge Base - Weather Protection
Written by Real Palm Trees   
Article Index
Pg.1 Winter Protection
Pg.2 One to Four Weeks of Protection
Pg.3 Two to Four Months of Protection
Pg.4 Four or More Months of Protection

Winter Protection


Palm species vary greatly in their tolerance to cold. Some species tolerate temperatures in the high teens and twenties for short periods, while others are damaged when temperatures drop below 40F. During the winter months the climate always changes and sometimes unpredictable cold fronts appear as cold snaps. These colds snaps are a quick climate change of a period of intense cold weather. With these freezing temperatures heading your way is when your palm trees will require extra attention. The percentage of your palm tree surviving those harsh severe cold winters are determined by the palm tree itself. The type of palm tree you have is key to the cold tolerance it can handle with out damage. The age, height, environment the palm tree was grown in and overall health at the time of the winter season.

Numerous measures can be taken to ensure and encourage the survival of your palm tree through the harsh or mild winters. For the best results plant only palms that are hardy to the normal minimum winter temperature in your area. If aware of a cold front or a sudden cold snap heading your way there are three preventive steps you can take to minimize damage.

Please see article index for sheltering your palm trees.

Effects of cold weather and your palm tree

Cold weather directly affects many processes of a palm tree including how the palm tree functions in photo-synthesis, root growth, absorption of water and nutrients, along with other processes. Cold temperatures also limits the conduction of water through the trunk. Frost in or on palm trees causes the water in the palm tree cells to freeze, damaging the cell wall. After this occurrence problems are made worse when the palm tree faces rising temperatures of the morning sun. As a result of the increase of temperature the palm tree will defrost quickly, shattering their cell walls damaging them further more. Spotting signs of a frost damaged palm tree include stunted growth, darkened or blackened foliage and a distorted appearance. Leaves of tender plants or shrubs take on a transparent appearance.

Ultimately the growth off all plant life including palm trees slows down during the winter. The cold weather reduces activity of the roots and can make it possible for diseases to become active and damage if not kill the palm tree. Occasionally only after the freeze damage, the excess bacteria in the damaged roots become the reason for the bud of the palm tree to die. Cold hardy palm trees can also be damaged when soil becomes frozen. Roots are unable to absorb water and plants die from lack of moisture.

Preparing your palm tree for winter

There are numerous ways to prepare your palm tree for winter. Many of these preventative measures can help minimize damage to your palm tree through those tough harsh winters. Some very quick easy tips include the following:

PLACEMENT: If you are about to plant or transplant your palm tree, the palm tree will have a better chance placed in the right area. When planting your palm tree decide on an area that receives plenty of sun and a place that will not receive much wind such as behind a wall or fence or in a sheltered patio. Palm trees surrounded by other foliage is encouraged for it is more likely to be less exposed to the harsh winds and cold damp weather. Naturally all the foliage give off some heat therefore creating a warmer atmosphere when winter arrives.

MULCHING: Mulching your palm tree with 3"- 6" of mulch will not only help protect the fine tender feeder roots which are close to the surface from freezing. Mulching will also enhance and add appeal to the look of your garden or yard. It will also retain moisture and warmth for the palm tree reducing the need for watering. Fertilization for your palm tree will decrease as well, due to the retention of nutrients held in by the mulch. Mulch will help prevent weed seeds from germinating, lowering the need for cultivation.

FERTILIZATION: The correct fertilization of your palm tree during late summer and early fall, can help encourage and ensure your palm tree remains strong and healthy through out the winter season. For best results fertilize in early fall because active growth of your palm tree has slowed. Rather than put on new foliage growth, the roots of your established palm tree or palm trees take the nutrients from the soil, rather than growth. The surplus nutrients are stored in the roots and become available when needed for new growth after winter has passed.

TREATMENT: Treating your palm tree with a fungicidal copper spray prevents from disease setting in such as bacterial leaf spot. Fungicidal copper spray is extremely weatherproof; treating your palm tree before the freezing temperatures arrive can provide protection and prevent cold damage from light frosts, ensuring your green foliage to stay green.



 

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