6 Cold Hardy Palm Trees That Will Thrive in USDA Zone 7

Last Updated:
Photo of author
Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

This article may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you purchase via these links. Learn more.
Home » Palm Trees » 6 Cold Hardy Palm Trees That Will Thrive in USDA Zone 7

With average winter temperatures of 20-30 degrees F and average summer temps of 80, USDA hardiness zone 7 may contain one of the most pleasant temperatures ranges to live and garden in, with relatively mild winters and long hot summers.

And fortunately for zone 7 gardeners who want to add some exotic flair to their landscape, there are a number of palm tree varieties that can grow in the seasonal heat of this climate.

Let’s take a look at some of the best cold hardy palm trees for zone 7.

6 Hardy Palm Trees For Zone 7

1. Chinese Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

Chinese Windmill Palm
Image by Torquay Palms via Flickr

One of the world’s hardiest palms, the Chinese windmill palm can grow outdoors in regions as low as zone 6, in the right conditions. Zone 7 gardeners who choose a sheltered location to protect this palm during the winter months should have no problem establishing it on their property.

This narrow palm has a rough, shaggy trunk with fan-shaped leaves that shoot out from the top of the palm in a pattern that somewhat resembles a windmill. It adds a note of tropical elegance to its surroundings, and its bulky yellow flower panicles add brightness and color in summer.

Aside from necessary winter precautions the Chinese windmill palm is very easy to grow, perfect for zone 7 gardeners with no prior experience with palm species. It prefers moist, well-draining, acidic to neutral soil and grows well as a container plant, as long as there are plenty of drainage holes.

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

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 8-10 feet tall, with a 4-6 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Cabbage Palm (Sabal Palmetto)

Cabbage Palm or Sabal Palmetto
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

While most cold hardy palms are fairly short, the cabbage palm adds significant volume to your garden, typically reaching up to 30 feet tall! And what’s more, it’s a US native, hailing from the coastal plains and brackish marshes of the southeast coast, according to the Coastal Carolina University Arboretum.

The cabbage palm can be identified by its long, bare, and uniform trunk and its fan-shaped leaves that form a round canopy right at the top of the palm. It also produces copious tiny white spring flowers, followed by black summer fruits.

Outside of the ornamental, this palm has interesting culinary uses – the palm heart is edible and can be used in various dishes, and its flowers result in rich, smoky palmetto honey.

Otherwise, use the cabbage palm as a specimen, street tree, or in loose groupings and groves. Plant it in moist, well-draining soil in a location in full sun.

Other Common Names: Sabal Palmetto, Cabbage Palmetto, Palmetto, Sabal Palm, Blue Palmetto, Common Palmetto, Swamp Cabbage, Garfield’s Tree, Carolina Palmetto

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 feet tall, with a 10-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

3. Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

Sago Palm
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

While it isn’t technically a palm (it’s a cycad!) the sago is widely regarded and referred to as a palm when it comes to landscape gardening. And when it comes to zone 7 gardeners who need a touch of the tropics on their property, the sago palm is an excellent stand-in.

Ornamental flair abounds in this plant, with its giant fern-like fronds that shoot out like a feathery fountain from atop its shaggy trunk. Instead of flowers, it produces small cones in fall, similar to conifers. These plants are relatively low maintenance but do require bright light and will not tolerate overly moist or wet soil.

Zone 7 gardeners considering the sago plant need to be aware of its highly toxic characteristics. Ingesting any part of the sago can cause internal damage or death – make sure to plant it away from the reach of pets and children. Sago palms make excellent house plants, which may be preferable for concerned gardeners.

Other Common Names: King Sago Palm, Japanese Sago, Cycad, Japanese Funeral Palm

Growing Zones: 7-12

Average Size at Maturity: 3-10 feet tall, with a similar spread

Fruiting Season: Early to Mid Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

4. Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

Needle Palm
Image by Homer Edward Price via Flickr

Small and shrubby, the needle palm has plenty of uses in your zone 7 landscape as a specimen or understory shrub, as an accent, foundation, or even a container plant. Its needle-like, glossy, evergreen foliage provides a lot of visual interest – just be careful where you plant it, as its leaves are spiny and sharp, able to injure both people and animals.

It is exceptionally cold hardy as well, being the most cold hardy palm in the US, able to grow as low as zone 6. Just ensure it is planted in a sheltered area to protect it from harsh weather, and consider mulching the roots to provide insulation.

The needle palm grows easily, being very adaptable and drought tolerant, only needing to be watered until it is established, and having no serious pest and disease issues. It prefers rich, moist, well-draining soil and partial shade.

Other Common Names: Porcupine Palm, Blue Palmetto

Growing Zones: 6-10

Average Size at Maturity: 3-6 feet tall, with a 4-8 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Pindo Palm (Butia capitata)

Pindo Palm
Image by sanxiaodevea via Flickr

One of the most popular cold hardy palms for landscaping is the pindo palm, a palm native to certain parts of South America. It is an elegant, slow-growing tree with a thick trunk and feathery palmate leaves that arch up and outward. Both its trunk and foliage add texture and color to the landscape during zone 7 winters.

The pindo palm typically grows as a shrub or a small tree and is one of the few plants that grow better in partial shade than full sun, as its fronds will grow more elegantly, giving the tree a more graceful appearance overall. While it is more often used for landscaping in the US, the pindo fruit also makes a tasty edible jelly, hence its alternate name, the jelly palm.

It is somewhat tolerant to drought and shade and prefers rich, well-draining soil. It will require more pruning than most zone 7 palm trees as it does not automatically shed its dead fronds.

Other Common Names: Jelly Palm, Brazilian Butia Palm, South American Jelly Palm, Satay Palm, Wine Palm

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 18-20 feet tall, with a 14-16 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Mid to Late Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

6. Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis)

Mediterranean Fan Palm
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

Also commonly sold as the European fan palm, this tree is the only palm species native to Europe. It is unusual and beautiful, striking a unique note in any garden.

It has several fibrous trunks that jut out from its base and are decorated with pinecone-like scales, topped by perfectly formed fan-shaped leaves. Its foliage will grow out in a naturally profuse, shrubby form, but some gardeners will prune the leaves back to draw more attention to the trunks of the palm.

The Mediterranean fan palm makes an appealing specimen when planted on its own, or planted in numbers as a privacy screen or hedge, as these palms can grow up to 15 feet tall without pruning.

These palm trees will grow best in an environment that mimics their native Mediterranean environment. This includes temperatures that consistently reach above 5 degrees F, full sun exposure, and rich, moist, well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: European Fan Palm

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 10-15 feet tall, with a 6-8 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

Ideal Palm Trees For Cooler Landscapes

Despite their tropical inclination, breezy palm trees are definitely an option for ambitious zone 7 gardeners. Whether you want to start off with something easy like the Chinese windmill palm, or a species that needs a little extra care like the pindo, you’ll find an option that fits your property.

Just keep in mind that there are extra steps most palm gardeners will need to take to ensure their tree’s survival. Gardeners should still aid overwintering by mulching and planting in sheltered areas. Even the hardiest palms will need some degree of protection, and fertilizer is also always recommended for palm trees.

For more trees with year-round foliage, check out these excellent evergreen trees for zone 7.

Related Articles:

Photo of author

Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.