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How To Care for Palm Trees in Oregon

Winters in Oregon can often be harsh, leading many of us to dream of summer and feel like it isn’t coming fast enough. So why not enjoy a little tropical oasis at your own home? While it may be too cold to sit under your palm trees in Oregon during the colder months, they will surely be an enjoyable view and a definite source of relaxation to look forward to during the warmer months.

In Oregon, palm trees may not have crossed your mind as a tree you want to plant to enhance the landscape around your home, but many hardy palm trees can survive in Oregon during the coldest months. These beachy trees add a lot of beauty and can help make those cold winters seem a little more tropical.

The roots of palm trees grow straight down, so they make a good pool-side or hot tub-side addition. Many palm trees can be planted close together because of their roots, and they make good privacy screens, whether or not you have a pool or hot tub. Let’s take a look at the low temperatures these hardy palm trees can withstand.

How Cold Is too Cold?

Surprisingly, some palm trees can handle colder climates, but when does someone need to forgo planting one of these tropical trees? Many palm trees have a hard time surviving in the coldest climates, when the ground is frozen solid for weeks or months at a time. A surprising amount of hardy palm trees, however, can tolerate the occasional snow as well as temperatures as low as 10 degrees. Sometimes, it can withstand temperatures a little lower if proper care and precautions are taken, but this is for only brief periods of harsh, cold weather.

If Your Oregon Climate Is Too Cold

While outdoor palm trees add a lot to the landscape and add a tropical feel to the home, sometimes the region you live in just has too long a winter to allow for an outdoor palm tree. However, there is hope for still having a beautiful palm tree in your life. There are many indoor species of palm trees that will thrive during the cold, frigid winters by staying cozy in your home.

Palms make wonderful houseplants. They are very tolerant plants, so even if they’re left alone during a vacation or a weekend away, they’ll be just fine. These indoor palms are simple to care for, as they do not require a lot of light and adapt well to growing indoors.

Here are a few indoor species of palm to consider if it’s just too cold for outdoor palm trees:

  • Sago palm
  • Kentia palm
  • Parlor palm
  • Ponytail palm
  • Christmas/manilla palm

Best Palm Trees for Cold Climates


Trachycarpus fortunei

For Portland Oregon and similar climates, here are some species that do well:

  • Dwarf Chusan palm (Trachycarpus fortunei ‘Wagnerianus’)—This hardy palm has very stiff, short fronds and can withstand windy conditions well without the leaves sagging. This species can withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees.
  • Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)—This palm tree can be seen all around Portland. This specimen is happy alone as well as growing next to other plants with similar requirements. This palm can also withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees.
  • Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis)—This interesting palm can withstand temperatures as low as 15 degrees. But be careful, this species has spines and should be planted in a low-traffic area.
  • Pindo palm (Butia capitata)—Also known as the jelly palm, these are very dramatic-looking, cold-tolerant palms and are more tolerant of clay soil than many other types of hardy palms. Jelly palms can endure temperatures as low as 15 degrees.

You can find more information on what palm may best suit your needs on a variety of websites.

How to Care for Palm Trees in Oregon

Whether you’re planting less hardy palm trees or hardy palm trees, they all want a sunny location. Not only will this help them thrive, but staying out of the shade during the cold winter will help them stay slightly warmer. As your indoor palm tree is already warm, they will thrive with indirect light.

It’s very important to have well-draining soil for both indoor and outdoor palm trees. Many areas in Oregon have heavy clay soil that retains moisture, so to grow palms successfully, preparing an area that will drain well is key.

Watering your palm tree is very easy and similar to many other species of trees. Saturate the ground with water. This allows the palm to hydrate fully. Palm trees do not need to be watered frequently. In fact, after saturating the soil, the ground needs to be dry as deep as a few inches before it should be watered again.

Just about any type of fertilization will work for your palm tree, but the time of year for fertilizing is important. The best time to fertilize is in spring or summer. If fertilizer is put down during late fall or winter, it can stimulate growth, and with less time with sunshine, it’s best to allow growth to slow down during the cold months.

If Your Palm Is Young

Hardy palm trees are quite easy to grow in Oregon when you understand their needs. There are also a couple of things that can help provide the best care for your palm. Younger trees are more fragile than older, established trees, and the same is true with palm trees. A little extra care in their younger years when they’re more susceptible to cold can ensure their safety. Extended periods of cold can cause more damage to your tree, and too much moisture during the cold months makes the low temperatures harder to endure.

Smaller or younger palms can benefit from mulch covering the base and crown during the harsher months. Do not pack the mulch, as the tree still needs air circulation to stay healthy. During a cold snap, a blanket or box can be placed over the mulch for a couple of days for added protection. This extra precaution is only for those rare, cold nights, and palms should not be covered for more than three days.

At Mr. Tree, our highly trained team of arborists is happy to answer questions about the more uncommon trees seen in colder climates. With each team member being up-to-date with the latest techniques, we can easily meet any of your tree needs. Feel free to call us with any questions!