Pindo Palm Cold Hardiness – Can Pindo Palms Grow Outdoors In Winter
If you think a pindo palm is suitable only for sun-drenched subtropical settings, think again. You may live where winter means sub-freezing temperatures and still be able grow one. It’s possible for them to survive in your part of the world, but only with proper winter protection. For pindo palms, it’s an ongoing process.
Can Pindo Palms Grow Outdoors in Winter?
How is pindo palm cold hardiness determined? It’s based on the USDA plant hardiness zone map and indicates the lowest winter temperature an unprotected plant can survive. For pindo palms, the magic number is 15°F. (-9.4°C.) – the average winter low in zone 8b.
That means they’re fine in the Sun Belt, but can pindo palms grow outdoors in winter anywhere else? Yes, they might even survive outdoors down to USDA hardiness zone 5 – where the temperature tumbles to -20°F. (-29°C.), but only with lots of TLC!
Boosting Pindo Palm Cold Hardiness
The care you give your pindo palm from spring to fall makes a huge difference in its ability to survive in winter. For maximum cold tolerance, water the top 18 inches (46 cm.) of soil around its base twice monthly during dry periods. Slow, deep watering is best.
From spring to fall, fertilize the palm every three months with 8 ounces of a micronutrient-enhanced, slow-release 8-2-12 fertilizer. Apply 8 ounces of the fertilizer for every inch of the trunk’s diameter.
When rain is on the way and after it ends, spray the fronds, trunk and crown with a copper-based fungicide. Doing this helps protect a cold-stressed pindo palm against fungal disease.
Pindo Palm Winter Care
As soon as the forecast calls for severe cold, spray your pindo’s fronds and crown with an anti-desiccant. It dries to a flexible, waterproof film that minimizes winter water loss. Then tie back the fronds with heavy duty garden twine and wrap them in burlap secured with duct tape.
Wrap the trunk in burlap, cover the burlap with plastic bubble wrap and secure both layers with heavy-duty duct tape. Eventually, you’ll need a ladder to wrap your palm for winter. When it’s fully grown, you may even need professional help.
Finally, space four 3- to 4-foot stakes in corner positions 3 feet (.91 m.) from the trunk. Staple chicken wire to the stakes to create an open-topped cage. Fill the cage with straw, dried leaves or other natural mulch, but keep it from touching the palm. The temporary insulation gives the roots and trunk extra protection during hard freezes. The chicken wire keeps it in place.
Pindo Palm for Zone 7
I’m thinking about trying Trachycarpus Fortunei again this year. I’ve tried 3 before. The first winter had a low of about 12° in which 1 spear pulled (but made a full recovery), 1 died, and 1 was fine. I mulched the bases and wrapped them all in burlap for that winter. The more damaged ones were planted out in the open and the one that was fine was planted in the open but next to an evergreen shrub on the Northwest side. The next spring/summer I added a Wagnerianus. The next winter was much harsher with a low of 5° and ice storms. I was preoccupied and pretty depressed during that period and didn’t have the motivation to protect any of them. They all croaked (I even had a Sabal minor ‘McCurtain’ that bit the dust after almost no damage the previous winter).
Anyways, I’m hoping to try a Fortunei again this year. I’m thinking about doing somethings different to insure success. I’m getting my Fortunei from Plant Delights in a cultivar called ‘Greensboro’ which is reported to be a hardier strain. I’m also thinking of planting it closer to my house on a Southwest wall with a stone/concrete (not entirely sure what the material is to be honest) foundation.
I’m curious to know what are the experiences y’all have had with Fortunei in the Mid-Atlantic zone 6-8. I’ve seen huge specimens grown in DC and the surrounding areas. Especially at the home of some guy named Panama John. I saw a huge windmill in Alexandria, VA (zone 7a) online which has to be about 2 stories tall. If Fortunei’s can grow in DC and Northern VA, they should be able to grow in the Southeastern Baltimore region. Their climates should be roughly the same (Though being slightly further north, Baltimore could even be a little warmer due to the influence from the Chesapeake Bay as during winter storms, my area is usually below the freezing line and gets a wintry mix or rain).
So for my area (For the past 20 years, 6 Winters have been 7b, 1 has been 7a, and 14 have been 8a), what precautions would I need to take to aid a Fortunei? My native soil doesn’t drain the best and is usually soaked for a day after a rainfall (I’m going to do the Soil mason jar test on my soil for a more accurate picture). I was thinking about putting a huge bucket over the palm during freezing precipitation. Would I need to apply heavy protection to the palm? I’ve heard they don’t like being overprotected so I don’t want to smother them. Do they get hardier with age? (I’ve heard the younger ones are wimpy). Sorry for all the questions, I’m just in a pickle haha.
Pindo Palm Tree – Butia capitata
The small Pindo Palm (Butia capitata) is a native of Brazil and Uruguay but now can be found all through out northern Florida, Georgia, parts of North and South Carolina, Texas and Southern California. This palm is also commonly called the Jelly Palm because of the product made from the fruit “Jelly”. The small Pindo Palm Tree is a very cold hardy palm, sometimes tolerating temperature going down into single digits. The Pindo Palm has beautifully unique strongly-recurved arching leaves. The maximum average height of the Pindo Palm is 15-20 ft and has spread of 10 ft. The unique curving of the stunning blue-green fronds gives the Pindo Palm the unique one of a kind look every garden or landscape should have. This cold-hardy palm tree is slow growing and can tolerant salt water spray. It can be found growing along coastal areas from Virginia to South Florida. Temperatures below 8-10 degrees will cause damage to the fronds unless protected. Its frosted blue-gray color is unlike any other feather like palm tree and is tolerant of the weather in high rainfall regions. The Pindo Palm will not only look great but will do great in any location you decide to place it, giving you the tropical look your looking for.
This palm tree will make a great addition to any home office or landscape. It will give a sense of the tropics with little cost. Its time to go green and buy real palm trees. Palm trees are also great for indoors because they act as a natural humidifier and detoxifier by removing Carbon Monoxide and replacing the air with fresh Oxygen. Real Palm Trees make a home feel like home by giving you the feel of nature inside or out. Buy this palm tree and have a piece of unspoiled nature.
For wholesale palm pricing on Island Tropical Palm Foliage please contact us at 888-RPT-AGRO or contact us via email at customer.servicerealpalmtrees.com
The genus Butia, the so called pindo palms, are native to the grasslands of southern Brazil into Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina. They also are known as jelly palms since their large yellow-orange fruits can be used to make reasonably good tasting jams. They have the added benefit of being some of the more cold tolerant palm trees, taking several degrees of frost before showing signs of distress.
Perhaps the most celebrated of the genus is B. capitata, a palm that has a long history of cultivation in western gardens. This species is a pinnate palm, often called “feather palms”, since their fronds are long feather-like affairs with a central leaf axis (known as the rachis) supporting rows of long, simple leaflets (known as pinnae) extending down its length. As with many commonly grown plants however, its story is quite a bit more complicated than what one would first imagine.
Pindo palms have a very distinctive look due to their highly recurved, blue-grey fronds. This large specimen is growing next to a public building in Sasaguri Town in Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan.
The pindo palm typically grows between 3.5-4.5 meters tall, but can reach 6 meters or more in vigorous specimens. Its trunk is singular and thick, typically between 30-50 centimeters in girth, and very often covered with old petiole bases (leaf stalks) that can persist for years. Clear trunks are grey in color and patterned with old leaf scars, giving it a horizontally banded look.
The fronds are pinnate in form, growing between 1.5 and 3 meters long, and arch in a recurved shape back towards the trunk, giving this palm it’s signature look. Their overall color is commonly blue-grey, but can be light green depending on environmental and genetic factors. The rachis supports opposing rows of regularly arranged pinnae up to 75 cm long each, the longest being mid-frond, and held in a pronounced “v” shape. The petioles are armed with abundant, long teeth, as can be seen in the persistent leaf stalks. Plants grown in poor soils or more sun tend to be more compact than average specimens.
Flowering normally commences in late spring to early summer. The yellow-cream flowers grow in large, stalked bundles which can be up to a meter long with many side branches. The ovate to rounded, brilliant orange fruits are borne generously in tight clusters from late summer into fall. They average between 2-3 cm across.
The “true” Butia capitata is native to a very confined area in the coastal states of Bahia and Minas Gerais in central Brazil. Now for that aforementioned complexity about this palm. Apparently most of them cultivated around the world are NOT B. capitata, but rather are a different species, the most probable candidate being the recently named B. odorata, a native of the coastal areas of Uruguay and the adjacent state of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul. To complicate matters more, several species of Butia from the surrounding region, notably B. eriospatha (confined to southern Brazil), B. paraguayensis (a dwarf widespread species), and B. yatay (a taller growing palm with a thicker trunk) are being grown as well. Butia species readily hybridize, so it is also possible that the great range of variation seen in cultivated plants is in fact an artifact of interbreeding. Go figure.
The fronds of pindo palms are composed of opposing pairs of long leaflets known as pinnae arranged along a central leaf stem. This appearance has given this type of palm the common name, “feather palms”. Butia species are one of the most cold hardy of this group.
All Butia species are native to grasslands and dry open forests ranging from southeastern Brazil, into Uruguay, Paraguay, and northeastern Argentina from near sea level to over 1000 meters elevation. They can be found in the Cerrado region of Brazil (an area comprised of various types of savanna where woody species are plentiful), sandy-soil grasslands, pasturelands, the restingias ecoregion (dry coastal forests of the Atlantic coast) and campos (grassy plains with few trees). Species growing in the inland/upland areas are subject to fairly severe frosts with little protection, and so can be assumed to be far more cold tolerant than coastal populations.
If it is true that most pindo palms in cultivation are derived from B. odorata stock, a species found only in the restingias of coastal Uruguay and Brazil, one would expect these plants to be rather frost tender. Remarkably however, most sources consider typical plants in the trade to be cold hardy to at least -10 C (14 F) without any winter protection. With some protective measures, plants have been grown in far colder climates, apparently being rather commonly seen on the eastern coastal plain of the USA as far north as North Carolina with outlying specimens being grown even up to Washington, D.C., New Jersey and Long Island, in New York State.
Even the northernmost part of this area has moderately long, hot summers, suggesting that this palm requires long warm periods to recuperate from winter’s cold. This apparently is not quite true either, since specimens have been successfully grown in the Pacific coastal states of Oregon and Washington, as well as the adjacent parts of coastal British Columbia, Canada. Growers in the UK and Ireland too have had success growing these palms in the most frost free areas. The one caveat is that palms grown in cool summer climates are much more susceptible to rot in the crown’s meristem, so every effort should be used to keep winter rain and snow off them. Having said all this, without a doubt, growing plants in hot summer areas will yield better results, both in terms of overall growth and long term viability.
With all of this in mind, I would rate these palms to be fully hardy to the equivalent of USDA cold hardiness zone 8 provided summer temperatures commonly exceed 30 C (86 F). Further, I would rate them as marginally hardy/on the edge of endurance in zone 7b, and not viable in 7a or lower. Of course, where they are sited can have a big influence. Protected, sunny courtyards next to a building with a southern aspect, for instance, may push the local zone quite a bit.
Drier conditions in winter will also have a big impact on long term survivability. For example, a grower in zone 7b, west Texas should have greater success than say a person in coastal New Jersey in the same zone. Results will vary widely however, given the uncertain origin of plant stock, the variability of the local climate, and how plants are grown by individuals.
These palms are native to regions with generally poor, sandy soils. For that reason alone, it is necessary to keep the growing area well drained, particularly during cold periods. Boggy sites, poor draining soils, and swamps should be either avoided, or the growing site needs to be modified to provide adequate drainage. This is most easily accomplished by elevating the growing area by mounting up the soil. Given these are large trees, this mound may need to be extensive. These are not particularly sensitive trees with regard to soil type however. I’ve seen equally vigorous specimens in north Florida’s deep, rapidly draining sands, as well southern Japan’s rich, volcanic loams. In both cases palms are subject to strong monsoonal summer rains without any detriment to their health. Soil reaction can vary from moderately acidic to neutral (~pH 4.5 – 7.0).
To grow pindo palms to their greatest potential, it is best to give them full sun, though they will tolerate moderate shade (with high, bright shade being best). Likewise, even moisture will greatly benefit them, though once established these are very drought resistant palms. Fertilizer should be given in warm weather, but be careful not to over fertilize – for example in highly maintained lawns where nutrient levels are more than sufficient for these palms. Luckily, this tree is fairly disease free with the occasional infestation of leaf miners and scale. Any appropriate insecticide can be applied to control these issues.
Pindo palms have very persistent leaf bases that remain attached to their thick trunks for many years. The plant on the right is a common weed tree in Japan, Malotus japonicus, growing within the old leaf bases.
In higher pH soils (neutral and above) and very dry, poor soils you may notice micronutrient deficiencies. Frond length may be shortened and their color may be pale. The best way to combat this is to bring the pH down by adding compost, manure, peat, or any other organic matter to the area. Be careful to avoid prepared composts that contain lime. The addition of elemental sulfur as well can bring the pH down, but refrain from adding acids to the soil directly since this is dangerous to the plants and may cause unhealthy side effects in the soil as well.
Propagation is from seed. Allow seeds to fully mature, remove the flesh, and then dry before planting. Dry seed should be treated with a fungicide before being put into a sealed plastic bag, and kept above 18 C (~65 F). Butia seem to need this dry period before planting out. Unfortunately, Butia seeds are notoriously difficult to germinate, taking as much as two years using normal techniques. Some have found it better to crack the hard seed coat (the endocarp) to facilitate germination. Broschat found the complete removal of the endocarp increased germination dramatically (see the full article here). The time for germination is sped up also with higher temperatures with 40 C (104 F) being cited as optimal. As with many palms grown from seed, these are very slow growers at first, having to build up a good root base and stem before “taking off”. Therefore, those wishing to have a full grown tree quickly should buy either large subadults or adults at the get go – a more expensive option, but not unreasonable.
The very interesting “mule palm” (X Butiagrus nabonnandii) has been created by hybridizing Butia (putatively B. capitata) with another South American feather palm, the queen palm, Syagrus romanzoffiana. The resulting plant is not surprisingly somewhere between the two parents in both looks and cold hardiness (likely not much more hardy than zone 9, or perhaps 8b). Without a doubt, it is a lovely palm for the garden, having a more tropical appearance than a straight pindo palm. As its name implies, it is sterile, meaning it cannot make viable seeds.
As with other palms, when pruning their crowns, don’t overdo it. The “10 to 2” pruning method works fine for them, meaning cut only the fronds below the clock positions of ten o’clock and two o’clock. Ideally, leaving at least half the crown is even better, and if you wish, only remove the dead fronds. Having said that, I’ve seen a local specimen “get butchered” every winter (complete frond removal) in my neighborhood and the darn thing always has a full crown of fronds by the end of fall. Longterm though, such pruning will only weaken your palms. I would refrain from trying to remove the petiole bases as well since they cleave to the trunk keenly – besides, they are very well equipped with long, spine-like teeth, so attempted removal may end up hurting you more than the palm!
In the southern USA, where these palms have been grown for decades, people commonly call them pindo palms, apparently after the Brazilian town of Pindó in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul where the trees were first discovered. The fruits have long been coveted as a seasonal treat in the south, often used to make jams, hence its other common name, jelly palm. The taste is both sweet and tart, and said to be a mix of fruits ranging from apples to apricots to bananas. Local growing conditions can supposedly effect their flavor. Some folks apparently make a fermented wine from them as well. See for both a jelly and wine recipe. As a side note, their fruits have been used by people native to their natural distribution in the preparation of juice, jelly, and even ice-cream. Faria, et al. (2011), have found Butia fruit to be high in beta carotene and provitamin A.
Here is perhaps the most beautiful of the cold hardy feather palms. Butia are distinctive in look as well, adding that signature recurved frond shape to your garden’s palette of forms. Disease free, cold resistant, and needing little care – the pindo palm may be the perfect answer to that tropical look you’ve been trying to achieve.
The Pindo Palm, botanical name Butia capitate, is an easy to care for, small to medium evergreen palm tree that is perfectly suited for use in a rock garden, planted poolside or kept in a container. Easily recognized by its striking silver-green, graceful arching fronds, the Pindo Palm will fit in perfectly with contemporary, Mediterranean and tropical landscape styles. It is a cold-hardy, drought tolerant palm that thrives in full to partial sun environments, making it an excellent palm tree for Southwestern landscapes.
This Pindo Palm has a slow growth rate and will require low to moderate watering needs once established. Due to its slow growth rate, buy bigger palms grown and nurtured at our Moon Valley Nurseries farms. We grow these beautiful Pindo Palms in our local climate, in conditions that ensure thriving palms – we have these beauties available in a variety of sizes.
Dramatic foliage colors are sure to please the senses, no matter where you plant this Pindo palm tree. In the summer, it blooms beautiful yellow to reddish flowers that add to its year round interest. Nature provides. These yellow to reddish flower clusters will produce the sweet and edible Pindo fruit, which is often used to make jelly. It complements a variety of plants, so feel free to plant this palm in landscapes with Bird of Paradise, Canna and Hibiscus, for a colorful garden that is sure to attract pollinators and enhance the look and feel of your landscape.
Highlight the beautiful features of this Pindo Palm with landscape lighting to display the graceful arching fronds and dramatic foliage! Feel free to speak with our nursery pro for placement ideas. We offer free professional landscape design consultations at our nursery, and for a small fee, offer professional offsite design consults too!
For spectacular results and explosive growth, be sure to plant with Moon Valley Nurseries Super Charged Moon Juice and All Natural Planting Mulch. Better yet, let our experienced landscape crew do all the work. You buy it ‘“ we can deliver and plant it!
Southern Warmth and Charm in Cooler Climates
Yearning to plant a Southern Palm even though you’re just North of the Mason Dixon line? Then warm up to the Pindo Palm. This date palm with desert appeal can withstand the chilliest Southern winters. It’s been known to shrug off frigid temps below freezing, even as low as 20℉. And it’s a gorgeous, low-growing palm that will produce a hefty yield of juicy, amber-colored fruit in warmer climates.
Basically, its name is well-deserved. So succulent and delicious are the Pindo dates that they are often used to create savory jams and jellies, which is why the Pindo is nicknamed the Jelly Palm. But the pale green leaves are what give the Pindo its character.
Supported by inward curving fronds, the leaves are accentuated by a blue-gray sheen that gives it a distinctive look, unlike any other Palm.
Although it won’t grow beyond 25 feet in height, the leaf span can spread to an impressive 20 feet, and its trunk base can exceed 2 feet. Still, the single trunk, slow root growth and extreme drought tolerance make it an excellent candidate for container growing. Pot them up and put them on the patio, the deck, or plant them in your yard to create a relaxing Southern retreat.
Polished, plush and totally posh – this tropical-inspired go-to is a landscape staple. Order your Pindo Palms today!
Planting & Care
Pindo palms (Butia capitata) is a cold tolerant palm tree that slowly grows up to heights of 20 feet tall with fronds that spread out 10-20 feet. Cold tolerant all the way down to 20℉, this tree is one of the most versatile palms for planting in the ground for USDA growing zones 8-11 with minimal protection needed in the northern zones. This palm can also be potted and kept as a house plant if you are in an area where it is too cold for them. Pindo palms are widely adaptable and can grow in many conditions from full sun to partial shade and in a variety soil types. In warmer climates (zones 9-11) this palm can produce a small edible fruit called “pindos” that can be made into jelly.
Choosing a location: Pindo palms will thrive in a variety of conditions, in cooler climates they will like a full sun location, in warmer areas they will prefer some afternoon shade. Pindo Palms can tolerate almost any soil type and can be grown in small areas like parking lot islands and small spaces. They prefer well draining soil and can tolerate dry conditions, but look better with adequate moisture.
Planting Directions (in ground):
1) After choosing your location, dig a hole that is twice as big around as the container the palm is in (the root ball), and just as deep. If you have a hard clay soil you can dig the hole a little deeper to amend the area more so the roots can establish more easily.
2) Remove the plant from the container and lightly comb the roots to loosen them.
3) Place the plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is even with the surrounding soil.
4) Backfill the hole with a mixture of 60 % native soil and 40% good compost or garden soil. Water lightly every few inches or tamp the soil to remove air pockets.
5) Water well when done, saturating the area to ensure that all of the roots are moist.
6) Mulch the planting area when done to conserve moisture and protect the roots from temperature fluctuation.
Planting Directions (potted):
1) Choose a container that is 1-2 times larger than the container that the plant initially arrived in.
2) Use a quality acidic potting mix such as a palm or citrus mix.
3) Fill the container part way and place the palm in the container so that the soil is just below the top of the container and fill the remainder of the way.
4) Water until the water just flows through the bottom, keep the plant slightly moist but not wet.
Watering: Palm trees are drought tolerant once established, but will require frequent watering while getting established. Allowing the soil to dry out will weaken the root system of the palm tree, only allow the soil to dry 1-2 inches down before watering again. The frequency will depend on the climate and how much rain you are receiving.
Pruning: Palm trees need very little pruning, only needing brown fronds or old fruit removed on occasion. This can be done any time of the year as needed.
Fertilizing: Young palm trees do not need fertilized until after they put out a new spear, about 2 months. After that they will perform best when fertilized with a slow release fertilizer such a 10-5-10 formula.
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