Texas Palm Trees: 11 Types of Palms That Grow Well in Texas
Thinking of planting some palm trees in your Texas home or garden but aren't sure which variety is the best to choose from? Texas can be tricky due to the varying climates within the state. But there are many palm trees well suited for the highly variable climate. Let's take a look at our favorite palms for Texas yards and garden spaces.
Palm trees have unrivaled beauty. And the good thing is that there are over 2,600 palm species, giving you tons of options to choose from, irrespective of the climate in your area. If you are looking for foolproof Texas palm trees, we will share the 11 best species and explain why they thrive even during frigid winters.
Texas is a huge state, with some zones more ideal for growing palms than others. Generally, planting palm trees in the state can be challenging because of the climate and the soil. Areas like Zone 9a experience winters where temperatures drop below 20 degrees, while places like Southeast Texas have plenty of clay soil that retains water.
Both obstacles notwithstanding, numerous palm tree species grow in Texas without much trouble. Two of them, the dwarf palmetto and Texas Sabal Palm, even grow in the wild, so they are guaranteed to thrive in your yard!
11 Palm Trees That Will Tolerate The Texas Cold and Shade
Creating a relaxing haven in Texas with a Florida tropical island vibe is possible. It simply takes choosing the best Texas palm trees that tolerate the chilly winters with grace. Keep in mind that most palm trees don’t like cold, so each palm tree will require proper care if you want it to survive more than a single season. Let’s take a look at our favorite palm tree choices to consider:
Scientific Name: Sabal Palmetto
The cabbage palm is a southeast U.S. native, meaning it is a warm-weather tree that grows well where the humidity levels and temperatures shoot during the summer months. Although it is not as cold-hardy as the Dwarf palmetto, it can tolerate single-digit brief temperature dips of up to 10°F.
Cabbage palms can grow up to 40 feet or taller. Their trunks have a uniform diameter from the base to peak, where the fan-shaped fronds are held in place by stiff, woody stalks. These fronds spread around the top to give the branchless tree outstanding aesthetics.
California Fan Palm
Scientific Name: Washingtonia Filifera
The California Fan Palm, also known as the desert fan palm, does not score high in its cold tolerance. However, the tree can grow in Dallas, Fort Worth, and parts of North Texas with a bit of care. It can survive temperature dips in winter and humidity and dry conditions during hot summers.
One of the major perks of this palm tree is that it has a fast-growing rate. A mature tree will have a wide, smooth trunk and a large crown of pale green fan-shaped leaves that grow 3 to 6 feet long. Moreover, the California fan palm can grow to an impressive height of 35 to 50 feet tall.
Scientific Name: Sabal Minor
The dwarf palmetto is pretty hardy for a warm-weather tree and can grow well in zones 7 through 11. This native southeast U.S. palm doesn’t sustain much damage through occasional winter cold snaps, especially once it matures. Its only worthy rival in terms of cold-hardiness is the Needle palm.
The Dwarf palmetto can thrive in just about any part of Texas without much trouble. It is also tolerant to hot, humid, and heavy moisture conditions. This slow-growing palm only gets to the height of 2 to 7 feet tall because it has no trunk.
The fan-shaped fronds grow directly from the ground and have slight differences in size. This palm tree is smaller in size compared to many others on this list.
Mediterranean Fan Palm
Scientific Name: Chamaerops Humilis
The Mediterranean Fan Palm is also known as the European Fan Palm. It’s a European native that grows impressively well even in the northernmost parts of the world that mostly experience cold weather. The tree is also tolerant of drought, moisture, and summer humidity.
Looks-wise, the Mediterranean Fan Palm has a small, stocky appearance. It can grow to a maximum of 15 feet at maturity and with a spread of another 15 feet. The low canopy with dark green fronds makes it the perfect tree to grow under power lines.
This type of palm also grows slowly and develops suckers upon maturity. You can transplant the suckers to grow solitary trunked palms or allow the tree to create a grouping.
Mexican Blue Fan Palm
Scientific Name: Brahea Armata
The Mexican Blue Fan palm is native to northern Mexico and Baja, California. It is a cold-hardy palm species that can bring unique aesthetics to your yard. This slow-growing tree has striking bluish-silver fronds, and each frond can have a width of up to 10 feet. The Mexican blue fan palm grows up to 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide.
This tree can tolerate temperature dips of up to 10°F. When the winter temperatures fall below double digits, you may have to winterize the fronds to protect them from damage. Moreover, the tree grows best when planted in warm, sunny spots.
Scientific Name: Rhapidophyllum Hystrix
The Needle palm is arguably the most cold-hardy palm tree in the world. It thrives where most palms barely survive. Because the tree is known to survive subzero temperatures, it grows beautifully in Texas.
This shrubby, evergreen palm has a short, thick trunk and large palmate leaves with a glossy dark green hue. The leaves can grow up to 3 feet long and 90cm in diameter. They have long, needle-like edges that create dense foliage around the tree.
Phoenix sylvestris Palm
Scientific Name: Phoenix dactylifera
The Phoenix Sylvestris palm, also known as the Silver or Wild Date palm, is fast-growing and can reach up to 50 feet tall and 25 feet wide. It is native to India but has been grown in Southern Texas, the Caribbean, and Florida with great success.
The most prominent characteristic of the Phoenix Sylvestris is the robust solitary trunk with a swollen base. Also, the trunk has beautiful diamond patterns made by leaf scars.
Even though this is not the most cold-hardy palm species, it grows without much trouble all through its teenage years. After that, the canopy may begin to show signs of freeze damage. The Phoenix Sylvestris is a worthy contender because it recovers nicely from cold damage and develops a new crown in less than one growing season.
Scientific Name: Butia Capitata
Pindo palm trees, also known as wine or jelly palms, are among the most cold-hardy pinnate species you can find. They are also tolerant of the hot and humid conditions during the summers in Texas. The tree has highly tropical aesthetics with large green or silver-hued pinnate fronds that curve downwards.
The outstanding aesthetics of this palm tree do not come without some downsides. The Pindo palm is one of the slowest growing cold-hardy palms. On the bright side, once it matures, it produces fruit you can use to make jelly and wine!
Sago Palm Tree
Scientific Name: Cycas revoluta
The Sogo palm is one of the slowest growing palm trees that thrive in Texas. However, it also has a longer lifespan than most palms and can flourish for over 100 years. The tree can grow up to 10 feet tall and has a large, round trunk with a crown of stiff, feather-like fronds.
Once the Sago palm is mature, the leaves at the tip of the crown unfurl, and the old layer of leaves will droop. You can remove the loose leaves safely by slashing them off as close to the trunk as possible.
Texas Sabal Palm
Scientific Name: Sabal Mexicana
The Texas Sabal palm is also known as the Oaxaca Palmetto tree. It is native to Texas and resembles the California fan palm with its crown of fan-shaped fronds at the peak of the huge, thick trunk. These fronds range in color from light green to emerald green, depending on whether they grow in an area with shade or full sun.
Another distinct feature is the crosshatch pattern on the trunk and the limited number of leaves (usually 10- 25). Each leaf features 80-115 leaflets with threads hanging along the margins.
The Texas Sabal palm grows up to 50 feet tall and 25 feet wide. It grows well in most soil types and is pretty tolerant to drought, cold, heavy winds, and salt.
Scientific Name: Trachycarpus Fortunei
If you are searching for a versatile Texas palm tree, the Windmill palm is your best bet. It is cold-hardy and highly tolerant to numerous climate types, including humidity, heat, and moisture. The best part is that it has a moderate growth pace, meaning you don’t have to wait for too long to have matured palms in your yard.
The Windmill palm is a mid-sized tree that grows in a solitary trunk with a fibrous appearance. It can reach up to 40 feet tall, although some trees only grow as tall as 20 feet.
The palm has a canopy of lustrous green fan fronds and is perfect for use as a framing tree or an accent around the shady borders of your yard. Just ensure that you plant it on well-draining soil.
Even though winters in Texas can get pretty chilly, the state mainly enjoys a mild climate most of the year. Deep freezing events and arctic blasts are rare and far between. If palms seem like they are too much work, consider a maple tree instead.
The 11 best palm trees that will grow in Texas on our list are cold-hardy enough to survive brief periods of freezing temperatures without much trouble. Some winterization may be necessary if the temperatures fall below the normal average.