Palm trees don’t just make an appearance in Hollywood. Different varieties can be grown around the United States, even in places where snow is a regular winter feature. Snow and freezing temps aren’t exactly a palm trees milieu, so what kind of winter protection must you provide for palms?
Winter Palm Tree Care
Frost and freezing temperatures damage the tissue of plants, in general weakening them and leaving them susceptible to diseases. Cold snaps, in particular, are of concern. Winterizing your palm tree to protect it from cold damage may be of paramount importance, especially depending on your region.
Winter palm tree care usually requires wrapping palm trees in winter. The question is how to wrap the palm tree for winter and with what?
How to Wrap Palm Trees for Winter
If your palm is small, you can cover it with a box or blanket and weigh it down. Don’t leave the cover on for longer than 5 days. You can also cover a small palm with straw or similar mulch. Remove the mulch immediately when the weather warms up.
As to winterizing a palm tree by wrapping it, there are 4 basic methods: stringing Christmas lights, the chicken wire method, utilizing heat tape and using water pipe insulation.
Christmas lights – Christmas lights to wrap the palm are the easiest method. Do not use the newer LED lights, but stick with good old-fashioned bulbs. Tie the leaves together into a bundle and wrap them with a string of lights. The heat emitted by the lights should be enough to protect the tree, and it looks festive!
Chicken wire – When using the chicken wire method, lace 4 stakes, 3 feet (1 m.) apart, in a square with the palm at the center. Wrap 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm.) of chicken wire or fencing wire around the posts to create a basket of about 3-4 feet (1 m.) high. Fill the “basket” with leaves. Remove the leaves in early March.
Pipe insulation – When using water pipe insulation, cover the soil around the trees with mulch to protect the roots. Wrap the first 3-6 leaves and the trunk with water pipe insulation. Fold the top over to keep water from getting inside the insulation. Again, in March, remove the wrapping and mulch.
Heat tape – Lastly, you can winterize the palm tree by using heat tape. Pull the fronds back and tie them. Wrap a heat tape (bought at a building supply store), around the trunk beginning at the base. Leave the thermostat out at the bottom of the trunk. Continue wrapping around the entire trunk up to the top. One 4′ (1 m.) tall palm needs a 15′ (4.5 m.) long heat tape. Then, wrap the trunk with 3-4 layer of burlap and secure with duct tape. Over top of all of this, wrap the entirety, including the fronds, with plastic wrap. Plug the tape into a ground fault receptacle. Remove the wrapping just as the weather begins to warm up lest you risk rotting the tree.
All of that is too much work for me. I am lazy. I use the Christmas lights and keep my fingers crossed. I am sure there are many other winter protection methods for palms. Use your imagination and be sure not to wrap the tree too far ahead of the cold and to unwrap it just as the weather warms.