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Cold Damage to Majesty Palm

9 years ago


I know most of us here, whether we're in zone 4 or zone 9, are trying to push the envelope and grow palms that are better suited in the next warmest climate zone. In my case, this majesty palm, is just about the most tender palm I grow. Sure, they're much better suited for a zone 9b or warmer in coastal areas or frost free areas in Southern California, but I of course won't take no for an answer. I've been growing this one in the ground in z9 in central, inland California (near Chowchilla, to be exact.) From this place, I can see both the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the Coastal Range, so although we do have some coastal wind influence, we also have cold air drafts that sweep from the high snowy peaks onto the valley floor in the winter.

I planted this majesty palm in early 2008, so it has been in this spot for 6 years now. This last year, it finally started to bulk up and swell at the trunk, which I am most excited about. It typically gets some cold damage to the foliage every year, but by mid-May, it has put on enough new growth that I can just cut off the old, damaged foliage and it looks as if nothing ever happened to it. This past winter, however, we had a freeze which lasted for about a week. We had temperatures at this location dip to about 19 or 20 degrees for a number of nights. We didn't protect the majesty, because we thought for sure it would be a gonner anyway. (we lost a large Aloe "Hercules" this winter as well.) In the time we've had it in the ground, it hadn't seen temperatures this low. To my surprise, it looks as if though it has pulled through! I did notice the trunk began to develop soft spots which I thought were a sure sign of the palm's death. The damaged tissue seems to have dried out though, and the palm continues to push out new fronds. I think the trunk will forever have this scar, but at least the palm lives to tell of another winter in a zone it shouldn't be growing in.

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