Palm trees are one of the most distinctive elements in the Florida landscape. Tall and stately or short and spreading, palm trees are found growing in gardens, along the streets and as specimen plants in all areas of Florida. Including the Florida Keys, there are four USDA hardiness zones in the state: zones 8, 9, 10 and 11. Most palm trees are tropical and need the warm temperatures of the south, but even gardeners in zone 8 can have a palm or two gracing their landscape.
Scrub palm (Sabal etonia) is also known as scrub palmetto and is a member of the palm family. The plant grows from 3 to 4 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide with fan-shaped leaves that measure 3 feet across. The plant produces small, white, fragrant flowers that are followed by small black fruits. Plant scrub palm in full sun and a soil that is moist to dry. Except for the Florida Keys, the plant is hardy in the whole state.
Christmas palm (Veitchia merrillii) is also known as Manila palm and adonidia. The tree grows to a height of about 16 feet and has a slim, gray stem with distinguishing marks left by old leaves. A short, green, crownshaft grows above the trunk and produces about 12 feathery leaves about 5 feet long. Gray-green flowers grow on 2-foot long stalks that emerge from the spot where the trunk and crownshaft come together. The flowers give way to small green fruits that turn bright red in late December. Plant Christmas palm in full sun and a soil that is moist to dry. The plant is hardy in Southern Florida and the Florida Keys.
Cuban Petticoat Palm
Cuban petticoat palm (Copernicia macroglossa) is also known as petticoat palm. The tree grows up to 30 feet tall with an 8-inch trunk diameter. The fan-shaped leaves grow out of the trunk. As the leaves age and are replaced by new ones, they droop down and form the petticoat. The spiral measures 6 to 10 feet across. It is best to plant Cuban petticoat palm in full sun and a soil that is moist and well-drained to dry. The plant is hardy in South Florida and the Florida Keys.