🌴 Needle Palm - The Truly Cold-Hardy Palm!

Welcome to ColdHardy.com, a website to document and showcase my cold-hardy "Needle Palm" collection after surviving one of Oklahoma's worst winters. The overall goal of this website is to inform palm collectors, having a winter slightly too cold for traditional palm cultivation, that they can indeed enjoy a outdoor palm, the Needle Palm.

Contents: Introduction | The Third Greatest Freeze | The Surviving Palms | The Deceased Palms | Production | Miscellaneous

~ Introduction ~

My name is Don, I live in zone 7 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and have built an unique collection of cold-hardy palms over the past years. My collection is built on survival of the fittest, with trials of many different cold-hardy genera, of which most failed. However, two have been successful, Rhapidophyllum hystrix ▶️ (Needle Palm) and Sabal minor ▶️ (Dwarf Palmetto).

Most of my limited production over the years was the Sabal minor varieties because of their ease of cultivation. My cold-proven Sabals produced many seeds, which had a high germination rate, producing vigorous seedlings that quickly grew into a sellable size. On the other hand, my Needle Palm collection has one female specimen which did not produce many seeds when young. The few seeds had a low germination rate and the seedlings had a low survival rate. With 2021 hindsight, I should have worked more on Needle Palm production but all is not lost!

Even though my Needle Palms were not being used for production, they were still proving themselves to be the most cold-hardy palm. Many terrible winters, such as 1987, 1989 and 1996 passed with Needle Palm surviving undamaged. Growth was slow at first but after a decade, each passing year saw exponential growth. At first, the initial trunk develops some size. Later, multiple trunks develop around the initial trunk, giving the plant some mass. Mature plants develop into a clump of trunks, looking as one large (fat) trunk. Leaves are very persistent, lasting many years.

My now large female Needle Palm specimen produces a large quanity of seeds and I have collected and planted them into a seedling bed. If all goes well, I'll be in the hardy palm bussiness again. My production efforts will be documented in the "Production" section.

~ The Third Greatest Freeze ~

The month of February, 2021 started slightly warmer than normal with lows near freezing and highs around 60*F. However, frigid doom was on it's way. The local tv weather forecasted a record cold outbreak, perhaps on par with the disastrous freeze of December, 1983. I was doubtful of such a severe arctic outbreak, but this air mass indeed hit and hard, placing OKC in the deep freeze for almost two weeks.

Oklahoma City, February 9-20, 2021. Temps. are fahrenheit.
*Record low high. **Record low. ^Second coldest low ever recorded. ^^Tied all time coldest wind chill of −29*f.

This cold event ended being the third worst arctic outbreak since records have been kept. Only surpassed by the great freezes of February, 1899 and December, 1983. As the freeze went on, I feared my trunked Sabal palms (Sabal minor var. Louisiana and Birmingham) would perish and they did, but the Needle Palms (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) survived -14*F. unscathed.

~ The Surviving Palms ~

Below are various pictures of my Needle Palms taken on 3-28-2021.

My largest Needle Palm clump (northside), being around 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Damaged Sabal minor specimens to the right.

Needle Palm clumps from southeast-side looking north-northwest.

Smaller Needle Palm clumps from center of east-side looking west. Defoliated (fusiformis) Live Oak in background.

Needle Palm clumps from southwest looking northeast.

Southside of Needle Palm clumps.

~ The Deceased Palms ~

All my trunked Sabals were lost. Below are three of my favorite specimens. Pictures were taken on 2-18-2021 and are the plants last photos.

An approximately 20 year old trunked Sabal minor 'Birmingham'. A descendant of the Tulsa, OK. specimen, which perished from a -12°f. low in 2011.

Left is an approximately 30 year old Sabal minor 'Louisiana' with about 1 foot of clear trunk. Right is a Sabal minor 'Birmingham'. Pond in background, covered with 4 inches of ice.

~ Production ~

Nothing here yet.

~ Miscellaneous ~

The miscellaneous section contains notes pertaining to cold-hardy palm culture.

Nothing here yet.

🚧 Under construction. Last updated on 6-24-2021.