3 Cold Hardy Palm Trees for USDA Zone 6

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Written By Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

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Home » USDA Zone 6 » 3 Cold Hardy Palm Trees for USDA Zone 6

If you’re looking for a tree that’ll bring the tropical landscape at your home, you can’t go wrong with palm trees.

However, it’s essential to understand that palm trees love tropical and humid climates, so growing them in Zone 6 will be somewhat challenging. That said, you can grow a few varieties of this evergreen tree.

Since you’ve already confirmed your USDA planting zone, here are some of the cold-hardy palm trees for Zone 6 you can plant today.

3 USDA Zone 6 Cold-Hardy Palm Trees To Plant Today

1. Windmill Palm Tree (Trachycarpus fortunei)

Windmill Palm Tree
Image by Wendy Cutler via Flickr

Standing pretty in some parts of PA, the Windmill Palm Tree is a challenge to grow but a delight to have in your backyard. The deep green fan-like leaves infuse a tropical and beachy vibe, the perfect backdrop for pleasant summer afternoons! Native to eastern China, the Windmill Palm Tree requires full sun (at least six hours or more daily), partial shade, and moist, loamy soils to thrive.

Did you know that many people continue to use this tree’s leaves in weaving? In some parts of the world, palm trees signify victory, triumph, and eternal life. For example, palm trees were sacred in Mesopotamian religions, and for Egyptians, they represented immortality. Regardless of how people see palm trees, the Windmill Palm is a beautiful addition to a garden but requires strong winter protection to survive.

If you’re looking for drought-tolerant trees, the Windmill Palm won’t disappoint, but apart from winter protection, it requires protection from strong winds. While this tree doesn’t attract many diseases, it can fall prey to scale and palm aphids. As previously mentioned, the tree thrives in moist, loamy soils, so frequent standing water can cause root rot. The leaves may fall off in winter, but they’ll grow back with proper protection when temperatures warm up.

Other Common Names: Chinese Fan Palm, Chinese Windmill Palm, Chusan Palm, Fortunes Palm, Windmill Palm

Growing Zones: 6-11

Average Size at Maturity: 20-40 ft tall, 15-20 ft wide

2. Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal Minor)

Dwarf Palmetto
Image by David J. Stang via Wikimedia

Growing in some parts of OK, NC, GA, and TX, Dwarf Palmetto is an excellent addition to small and medium-sized gardens. This perennial flowering tree looks great, but to survive the winter, it needs protection. The Dwarf Palmetto requires full sun (at least six hours or more daily), partial shade, and loamy soils with high organic content to thrive.

You need at least six to 12 feet of available space to plant this tree. While they’re relatively drought-tolerant, they don’t appreciate frequent standing water and wet feet, which could cause root rot. Nevertheless, the dwarf tree plays a significant role in sustaining local wildlife. Its black and green fruits, that display in fall, attract songbirds, robins, raccoons, and other small mammals.

In spring and summer, you’ll be able to notice the intense fragrance of this tree’s beautiful yellowish-white flowers that’ll attract beneficial pollinators to your garden. This is the perfect tree to add life to an otherwise bland garden.

Since this isn’t a very tall tree, you may want to keep its surrounding area clear from other shrubs and smaller plants. This tree grows very slowly, so you may want to keep the season in mind before planting. You don’t want to plant too close to winter.

Other Common Names: Swamp Palmetto

Growing Zones: 6-11

Average Size at Maturity: 2-10 ft tall, 4-6 ft wide

3. Pindo Palm Tree (Butia Capitata)

Pindo Palm Tree
Image by Leonora (Ellie) Enking via Flickr

You might be surprised to see this tree make the list because isn’t this not a tree for Zone 6? While it’s true that palm trees need tropical and humid conditions to thrive, with the right care and proper winter protection, they can survive as a Zone 6 tree! Native to Brazil, the Pindo Palm requires full sun (at least six hours or more daily) and moist, well-draining soils with high organic content to thrive.

The Pindo Palm is a landscape tree mainly used to accentuate landscapes, but it works well in backyards too! In spring, the tree decorates itself with fragrant sunset-shade flowers. These flowers are soon replaced by edible fruits that are commercially used to make jellies and fermented for wine. The Pindo Palm is salt and drought-tolerant, but it won’t appreciate frequent standing water that can cause root rot.

While the tree doesn’t attract many diseases, it can fall prey to palm-infesting whitefly, black rot, borer, and weevil. In ideal conditions, this evergreen tree can live up to 80 years, provided that it receives protection during bitterly cold winters. Pair your Pindo Palm with colorful hostas, crotons, hibiscus, and bromeliads for a pop of color!

Other Common Names: Brazilian Butia Palm, Jelly Palm, Pindo Palm, South American Jelly palm, Yatay palm

Growing Zones: 6-11

Average Size at Maturity: 18-20 ft tall, 10-15 ft wide

A Tropical State of Mind

While it’s difficult to find a wide variety of palm trees for Zone 6, some cold-hardy cultivars don’t mind growing in your yard, provided that you protect them during freezing winters. You may want to consider pairing your palm tree with nut trees or other fast-growing trees to help act as a windbreak around your other delicate trees.

If you’ve already picked your palm tree, you’ll need to measure the amount of available space against the tree’s height at maturity, so it’s not growing too close to immovable structures, overhead utility lines, or underground pipelines. Also, keep in mind the soil your tree needs to thrive and amend it accordingly.

Finally, remember not to be discouraged if your palm tree doesn’t take off as you expected. Most palm trees grow slowly, so you’ll need to be patient, but before planting, keep the seasons in mind.

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Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

Lakeisha grew up in East Africa, literally surrounded by nature which sparked her interest in learning more about trees and plants from a very young age. She belongs to a family of gardeners, so for her, gardening is a way of life, a tradition she’s proud to uphold. As a self-taught gardener, Lakeisha has successfully grafted trees to produce hybrids for gardens and landscapes. When she’s not gardening, she’s writing about her experience with nature or watching baking fails!

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