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7 Palm Trees in Connecticut (Grow, Hire or Admire)


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Palm trees evoke thoughts of tropical oases for many people.

When you think of growing palm trees, the state of Connecticut isn’t naturally the first to spring to mind. However, it may come as a surprise to many that in certain parts of the state you may be able to cultivate Palm trees with due care.

The state of CT is in zones 5-7, with the warmer coastal areas of zone 7 giving you the best chances of success in palm tree cultivation.

If you don’t live in one of these zones and have the resources, you could consider bringing your palm trees indoors for the winter months or even renting them.

7 Palm Trees To Grow in CT

1. Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

Needle Palm
Image by Homer Edward Price via Flickr

The Needle Palm is native to the Southeastern United States and is a hardy and adaptable palm that’ll suit different soils and sunlight amounts.

It’s hardy down to -15 F. Instead of a trunk, the needle palm features a base of stems growing closely together. The stems are slender and have a diameter of 6-7 inches.

The leaves are palmate or fan-shaped, with a deep green color, and are between 2 ft long and 4 ft wide. 10-13 leaves grow on petioles, with sharp needle-like spines measuring 3-4”. The fiber husks help to protect the palm from cold weather.

In the wild, the Needle Palm grows in shaded areas and wooded slopes, or along streams. Many home gardeners find it works well planted as an understory tree, below large species.

Needle Palms are dioecious, with separate male and female flowers on different trees. Fertilized flowers are followed by fleshy reddish/brown drupes.

Other Common Names: Porcupine Palm, Hedgehog Palm, Needle Palmetto

Growing Zones: 5b-11

Average Size at Maturity: 5-10 ft tall and 1-5 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

2. European Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis)

European Fan Palm
Image by Teresa Grau Ros via Flickr

The European fan palm is a compact and cold-hardy palm that grows in clusters. It can also be trained into a single-trunked specimen by removing basal suckers, where it’ll reach a greater height, more like a true palm.

The fronds are finely-textured and range in color, from light green/blue to silver, and are held over a short, curved trunk.

Typically, the European Fan Palm grows in clumps and will grow happily in containers as well as in the ground in suitable areas. Whilst it is slow-growing, it makes a landscape statement in its youth as well as in maturity. Yellow flowers appear in the spring and are followed by clusters of fruit.

European Fan Palms can handle temperatures below 10 F and are drought tolerant once established. They’ll grow best in partial shade in well-drained clay/sand/rocky soils.

If you’re looking for a flowering species that lends a lush subtropical/Mediterranean flair to your CT yard, then consider planting the European Fan Palm.

Other Common Names: Mediterranean Fan Palm, Dwarf Fan Palm, Palmetto, Palmito

Growing Zones: 7b-11

Average Size at Maturity: 6-15 ft tall and 6-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

3. Pindo Palm (Butia capitata)

Pindo Palm
Image by sanxiaodevea via Flickr

The Pindo Palm is a variety of palm that’s well suited to colder climates and will tolerate temperatures down to 5 F.

It’s popular as one of the cold-hardiest palms around and also for the clusters of date-like fruit it produces. The trunk is dark and grey and covered with old leaf bases, although clean trunked specimens can sometimes be found.

The arching leaves emerge from the trunk and are blue/greyish/green and measure between 5-10 ft long, with 80-150 leaflets, which are 20-26 inches in length. These come from petioles 3-4 inches long and are covered in spines.

Spring sees the production of orange/red fruit on 3-4 ft long inflorescence and are monoecious (either male or female) but both sexes are found on a single plant.

The fruit are round/oval, mature by summer and are edible. They can be eaten fresh, pureed, preserved, or brewed into wine. The Pindo Palm will grow in any well-drained soil and has moderate salt tolerance.

Other Common Names: Jelly Palm, Wine Palm

Growing Zones: 7b-11

Average Size at Maturity: 10-20 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: Summer

4. Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

Windmill Palm
Image by Torquay Palms via Flickr

The Windmill Palm is one of the cold hardiest palm species, so can lend a distinctive tropical flair to a temperate landscape.

These are one of the few species that can tolerate freezing temperatures below 10 F. The Windmill Palm has fan-shaped leaves that measure up to 3 ft long.

The leaf shaft is covered with fibers that can be used to make rope, brushes, brooms, mats, hats, etc and the leaves can be used for thatched roofs.

Windmill Palms are dioecious, meaning you’ll need separate male and female trees if you want fruit production.

The flowers are cream or yellow/green and are mildly fragrant. If pollinated, clusters of hanging purple drupes form in the summer. Windmill Palms are salt-tolerant so can be grown in coastal areas of CT.

Windmills palms prefer semi-shade/shade but will do best in full sun when pushing the northern reaches of their range. Protect from strong winds which can damage the leaves. They’ll grow in any soil type provided it’s well-drained.

Other Common Names: Chinese Windmill Palm, Chusan Palm

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 10-40 ft tall and 6-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: June-July

5. Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

Sago Palm
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Whilst not a true palm, but rather a member of the cycad family, the Sago is considered a palm, as the common name attests. Cycads are ancient plants that are sometimes (erroneously) called living fossils. Either way, they’re still very old and lend a timeless appeal to the landscape.

Sago Palms are extremely slow-growing, and the feather-like foliage grows out from the center in a symmetrical ring. Sago Palms grow well in containers and can be brought outside once the threat of cold weather has passed.

Using unglazed terracotta will ensure that excess moisture leaves through the porous container material. Sago Palms thrive in full sun but also do well in partial shade. They aren’t fussy about soil type and will grow in any medium, provided it’s well-draining.

Other Common Names: King Sago, Cycad, Japanese Sago

Growing Zones: 8b-11

Average Size at Maturity: 3-10 ft tall and 3-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

6. Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)

Saw Palmetto
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

The Saw Palmetto is one of the most cold-hardy palms and is capable of withstanding temperatures down to 0 F, making it suitable for zone 7.

Native to Florida, the Saw Palmetto will grow throughout the southeastern states and further north with a bit of planning. It typically grows as a shrub with the stems occurring below the ground, forming a dense ground cover.

Sometimes Saw Palmetto develops an arching trunk covered with old leaf bases. Each clump features between 20-25 clusters of large palmate, fan-shaped leaves on 2 ft long petioles.

The leaves are 3ft across with 18-20 leaflets. Most are green but there are some silvery/green varieties as well. The stems feature sharp spines, giving the species its common name.

Spring sees small, dense clusters of small white/yellow fragrant flowers which are supported by an inflorescence that can measure up to 3 ft long and emerges from the leaf bases. The flowers are followed by greenish/grey fruit that ripens to blue/black between August and October.

They’re an important food source for small mammals and birds. The Saw Palmetto likes full sun but will tolerate partial shade as well as some drought.

Other Common Names: Silver Saw Palmetto, Scrub Palm

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 5-10 ft tall and 4-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

7. Mazari Palm (Nannorrhops ritchiana)

Mazari Palm
Image by Daderot via Wikimedia

The Mazari Palm is native to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Northwestern India, and Southeastern Saudia Arabia. Needless to say, it grows in dry areas.

It’s been gaining popularity of late due to its durability and attractive appearance. Typically it’s a clustering palm, sometimes single-trunked.

The leaves are fan-shaped with 20-30 leaflets and are glaucous green, although pale and silver varieties also exist. The stems and leaf petioles lack spines. Leaves tend to retain a stiff fan form, though floppy leaf varieties can also be found.

The Mazari Palm is almost as cold-hardy as the Needle Palm. Branches or stems are monocarpic, meaning they flower once and then die back to the base to produce an offshoot. The white flowers are held above the foliage in 4-6 ft long branching clusters.

The Mazari Palm is adapted to desert extremes of heat and cold. It’s extremely drought tolerant and can survive frosts, provided conditions are dry and there’s good drainage. In its natural environment, heavy snow serves to insulate it from the cold. Wet cold won’t be tolerated.

According to Plants for the Future the Mazari Palm should be suitable for temperate regions that only receive light frosts.

Other Common Names: Mazri Palm

Growing Zones: 7-10

Average Size at Maturity: 10-20 ft tall and 5-10 ft wide

Flowering Season: Summer

Oasis in Connecticut

The state of Connecticut in New England isn’t an area typically associated with palm trees. CT sits between zones 5 and 7, with areas in zone 7 being the optimal area to attempt palm cultivation in the state.

More varieties of palm trees can be cultivated in zone 7 than you might imagine at first.

If you do decide to try planting a palm, make sure they’ve been acclimatized to the cold and soil type of your area first to ensure your best chances of success.

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