This page gives a list of some palms which I have seen described as hardy, with comments about their form as well as their reputed hardiness.:
Many authorities regard this as the hardiest true palm (it is generally accepted that it is the hardiest trunk forming palm), and it is the only one at all widely grown in Britain. It is common in public parks around the south west coastal areas of England and is also grown in south west Scotland. The Royal Horticultural Society is widely regarded as the ultimate fount of all wisdom on horticultural matters in Britain, and its "Gardeners' Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers" classifies it as hardy down to -5C (23F). (The book has only 4 categories: tender, down to 0C (32F), down to -5C (23F) and down to -15C (5F)). Huw Collingbourne, who grows it in north Devon, England, claims it can take -15C or lower, and says it has been known to survive -20C. Richard Woo, in Canada, rates it the third hardiest palm and puts it in the category that can take 5F to 10F. Leonard Holmes, in Virginia says it loses its leaves below 10F and is killed below 5F. Mine is still thriving (22nd December 1997) following our coldest January for 10 years and snow again earlier this month (132,822 byte picture).
This is the plant I would recommend as the key feature for any exotic garden in the southern half of Britain (and perhaps beyond) other than the mildest parts of Cornwall where more tender plants will thrive. The alternatives are either less effective or less reliably hardy. These photos (total of 114,401 bytes) give some idea what it looks like.
The RHS book does not list it, so no guidance on hardiness is available there. Huw Collingbourne says it will stand -15C (5F) or lower. Richard Woo rates it the hardiest, capable of surviving 0F to -5F (-18C to -20C)! Leonard Holme also gives this temperature, but for established plants, and adds that it likes warm summers. It may well be that it is less hardy in Britain, where summers are cooler and winters wetter, than in Philadelphia or Canada.
The RHS book classifies it as standing 0C (32F). Huw Collingbourne says it can take -10C (14F), and this is also in Britain. Richard Woo classifies it with Trachycarpus fortunei in the 5F to 10F range. Leonard Holmes gives no temperature range for it except to say it is rated as a zone 8 palm. He also says it likes dryish winter soil and gives it very well drained conditions "as for a cactus bed".
The RHS book, however, says it needs a minimum temperature of 5C (41F). Huw Collingbourne says it can stand -10C (14F), not significantly different from Leonard Holmes who says it is often killed below 10F. Richard Woo puts it in the 10F to 15F category.
Andrew Withey, who grows it in his garden in Reading, says it is "probably hardy to about -10C. I wrap my specimen up well during winter as I have found that, whilst the plant does not seem to mind them, hard frosts cause unsightly spots on affected fronds".
I may be tempted to try it if the Phoenix fails (see next item).
Small specimens were widely available in ordinary shops around here during summer 2000, so compared with most palms they were cheap to buy. I tried a larger specimen from a nursery and planted it in a raised bed with added grit. During the winter I tied the fronds together and wrapped it in several layers of fleece to protect the growing point from frost. We had an exceptionally wet, mild autumn and winter, so much so that at one time it was standing in water. In spring the younger, central fronds rotted at the base, leading me to think it had drowned, but in late summer it produced several new ones. This winter (2001-2) I have left it unwrapped to encourage air flow in the centre - of course we have had a drier, colder winter so far!
This palm site owned by Jim Fisher.
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