Proper Care of Florida Palm Trees Before Frost

Overview

Florida's tropical and subtropical climate offers palm trees prime growing conditions. Though this might be true, northern and north-central regions of the state suffer freezing temperatures annually. This needs to be taken into consideration when selection a variety of palm to add to your landscape. Research the lowest temperature the palm is hardy to and compare that to your area's average low. Palms such as the sabal palm grow throughout the entire state and are cold hardy, but palms such as the coconut will die in areas that experience prolonged freezing temperatures.

Step 1

Bring container-grown palm trees indoors or relocate to a warm area in the event of a freeze. If containers are too large to move indoors, bunch them together with other plants for added protection and warmth.

Step 2

Water the container-grown palms remaining outdoors well before the freeze to help the soil retain heat. Spray the fronds with water so that, in the event of a freeze the trapped water will help the leaves retain heat and keep their temperature from dropping lower.

Step 3

Tie the fronds of flat-leafed palms that are hanging low to the ground upwards. Pull the fronds together in a bunch and wrap a rope around them. This will help them remain in an upright position, as frost is less likely to remain on the fronds and will fall off.

Step 4

Water palms growing in the ground well before the freeze, as this will help the soil retain heat and it will radiate up from the earth and warm the trunk as the cold weather approaches.

Step 5

Spray the palm's fronds with a copper fungicide before the freeze as a preventive measure. This will help kill any bacteria on the fronds and in the event of frost damage, the palm is less likely to die from disease.

Step 6

Cover the palm with a cloth sheet, quilt or shade cloth, if possible, to help maintain heat. If the palm is too tall, this will more than likely not be possible or practical.

Step 7

Wrap the trunk with dead fronds, burlap or some type of cloth covering to help maintain heat in the palm's trunk during the freeze.

Step 8

String lights, such as Christmas lights, around the palm's trunk and through its canopy to help retain heat during the cold weather.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not prune your palms in late winter in the event a freeze may occur. Heavily pruned palms are more likely to succumb to frost damage and disease than those left in their natural state.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Rope
  • Copper fungicide
  • Sheet
  • Quilt
  • Shade cloth
  • Dead fronds
  • Burlap
  • Christmas lights

References

  • University of Florida: Cold Protection of Ornamental Plants
  • Grow It: USDA Hardiness Zone Map
  • University of Florida: Treating Cold-Damaged Palms
Keywords: Florida palms, frost protection, caring for palms in cold weather

About this Author

Joyce Starr is a freelance writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawncare, gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.