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The Best Palms in My Central Florida Garden

phoenix Roebellini pygmy date palm

I love palms. When I purchased my home, the first trees I planted were two Jacarandas and three Queen Palms. Nothing says “hello tropical” better than a bank of palm trees.

Even though I am in Florida, there were palms that I purchased here in Pasco that didn’t survive their first winter because they needed to be in zone 10 or higher. Of course, you may be able to if you’re closer to the Gulf or Ocean or you happen to be in a warmer microclimate. I know Orlando has a ton of plants that grow there that I simply can’t, despite the fact that we are in the same agricultural zone… and they have a paid gardening staff!

Wonderful palms in my yard are:


bismark palm planted 3.5 years ago and grew rapidly to 12 feet

Roebellini / Pygmy Date Palm

phoenix Roebellini pygmy date palm
phoenix Roebellini pygmy date palm also planted 3.5 years ago

Lady Palm

lady palm
lady palm planted in dappled shade under mature oaks; slowly gets to 9-feet tall; protect from frost.

Saw Palmetto

saw palmetto
saw palmetto planted by nature in the woods. the silver ones are particularly stunning; grows 5-6 feet

Sabal/Cabbage Palm

cabbage sabal Palm
volunteer cabbage sabal Palm… our state grass, i mean tree; grows 50-70 feet tall

Queen Palm

queen palm juniper
queen palm nearly 20 years old. it’s much healthier than it appears in this photo and the dead fronds have been removed; can grow to 60 feet. seeds readily when mature

Chinese Fan Palm

recently planted chinese fan palm still very young; they prefer more shade when young but will do fine in full sun once mature; slowly grows to 25 feet; can be purchased as a single trunk plant or with several plants in the same pot.

Pindo/Butia Palm

crotons, perennial peanut, hibiscus, butia palm
crotons, perennial peanut, hibiscus, very juvenile and slow growing butia palm planted in morning sun; grows to 15 feet

Washingtonia/Mexican Fan Palm

washingtonia/mexican fan palms are probably too large at maturity for most yards, unless you enjoy staring at telephone poles from your deck; grows 70-100 feet tall

Cat Palm

cat palm planted under a mature oak canopy

Windmill Palm

windmill palm
windmill palm also very young! also prefers shade as a juvenile.

Sago Palm (actually a cycad)

sago cycad
20-year old sago cycad planted under oaks

And, while we’re on cycads, Coontie…

coontie prolific on the woodland’s edge under oaks; mature height around 2-3 feet; makes a nice ground cover

Some of the next palms on my list are:

Sylvester Palm: stunning silver palm that is next on my list!

Canary Island Date Palm: I’ve seen many of these with lethal yellowing

European Fan Palm slow growing

potentially fish tail palm.

Some of the palms that failed for me are: traveler’s palm, coconut palm (although it is possible it just didn’t get enough sunlight), adonina (christmas palm), and even young roebellini palms if not protected their first couple of winters. Actually, I still protect mine four years later, but they are starting to get pretty large.

I had a few others that died, not due to cold, but because they are a grass, and the horses ate them. Most of you won’t have to contend with that issue.

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