General gardening topics

Growing hardy palm trees

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While most palm trees need tropical temperatures there are a few that are suitable for planting outdoors in the UK our favourite of which is the Trachycarpus forunei but Phoenix canariensis is also a popular choice in many Uk gardens. These palm trees can add a lot of structure to your home and give it that tropical feel.

Hardy Phoenix Palm Trees (Pair)
  • Add a pair of these tropical beauties to your garden to create a real holiday feel for many years.
  • Their unique architectural shape and spectacular foliage adds instant dramatic impact to any garden.
  • Despite their tropical origins, these exotic plants thrive in the UK and are winter hardy to -6.
  • They love a sunny position and are perfect for patio pots.
  • Supplied as a pair of mature potted plants, approx 70-80cm tall in 15cm diameter pots.
Hardy Fan Palm Trachycarpus forunei 60-70cm tall
  • The ideal palm for growing in the UK
  • Centrepiece for any garden
  • Tough, fan-shaped green leaves on a long woody trunk, formed over time
  • Supplied as an established potted plant, already approximately 60-70 cm tall
  • Hardy to at least -10 Celsius

Where can you grow hardy palm trees

Hardy palm trees such as the two species just mentioned will survive winters in much of south of Britain if they are given sheltered conditions but you often see established palms further north such as in the Northwest in cities such as Manchester.

However, plants that are grown in exposed areas or in containers are more liable to be damaged over winter which is why you should always find a hardy specimen that is less likely to be damaged and give them extra protection in winter. by bringing them into a cold greenhouse, at least until it’s established with a good root system at which point it will be suitable for planting into the ground. Even further south though, we recommend growing them in pots until there is a good-sized root system before plating them in the ground.

Choosing the right compost

You can grow palm trees in containers with the right compost but make sure that you bring them undercover for the winter and work to improve drainage conditions by making sure they have ample drainage holes and have plenty of crockery in the bottom of the pot to stop the holes from becoming blocked. A soil-based compost such as John Innes potting compost is perfect as it helps to retain moisture and being a heavier medium, helps keep the pots upright in the wind.

Compo Sana 1143102004 Grünpflanzen and Palm Compost – 10 litres
  • 8 weeks nutrition
  • Beautiful, decorative leaves
  • A lot of water
  • Model number: 1143102004

Improving clay soil

On the note of drainage, if you have heavier clay soils these are much more prone to waterlogging so they won’t work as well for the palm trees. That being said, if you add plenty of grit to the soil to improve drainage and then lift the soil to the surface with some extra compost and form a mound, you can plant the palm tree with some of the roots above the original ground level so at least some of the root system is not as prone to waterlogging which may be enough to help it thrive. Failing this the only option will be to grow them in containers and pots.

Allow plenty of space for them to spread

Keep in mind that palms grow very slowly and they need a lot of space so don’t plant them near other shrubs or flowers in your garden that will try to compete for resources.

Position in a bright position with plenty of light

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Even if you do have a mild winter, remember that palms are not tolerant of a lot of shade so you will need to put them in a place that has ample sunlight.

Winter protection – bring indoors or cover with fleece for younger plants

As palm tree stems thicken with age they become more tolerant of lower winter temperatures but during the first few years, you should always protect the containers or bring them indoors during the winter into a cold greenhouse or conservatory if possible. The first few years are when they are most at risk from cold temperatures until they establish a good root system.

If this is not possible wrap the containers in lagging to protect the root system and cover the plants with a couple of layers of fleece or use a fleece jacket if the temperatures get much below freezing. Larger established plants ground in the ground are usually fine.

Haxnicks Frost Protection Large Easy Fleece Jackets, Pack of 2, 1.2m x 1.8m, Fleece030101
  • Made from high-grade 35GSM polypropylene fleece
  • Simply pop the jacket over the plant and secure with the integral drawstring around the base
  • Quality product of Haxnicks

Pruning palm trees

Unlike other trees, you don’t actually have to prune a palm tree. However, you can always remove lower leaves when they start to die off and become unsightly, however, it’s important you don’t cut them right back to the main stem and leave a little still attached.

Propagation palm trees

Palms are generally propagated by seed but some can be divides by dividing the suckers and planting these, this is usually an option for Chamaerops, much faster than trying to propagate by seed.

The seed should be planted to its own depth and it’s better to use fresh seeds and placed in a heated propagator. They will typically sprout within one or two weeks but they can take up to a few months to properly germinate and up to a few years to be appropriately sized for transplantation so its a slow process.

Problems (winter damage)

Palm trees are very strong and they don’t have a lot of issues with diseases or pests. Realistically the biggest issue you’re going to face is winter damage which can be a real problem, especially in colder parts of the Uk.

If winter damage does take place you should remove any of the damaged growth in the springtime and make sure the soil conditions are appropriate for recovery. We often asked if a palm tree has died when no new growth has appeared by summer, the answer is usually yes as they can only grow from the top of the trunk and cannot regrow from the base like some trees.

Recommended hardy palm trees to consider

  • Trachycarpus forunei (Chusan palm)
  • Dwarf fan palm (Chamaerops humilis)
  • Caranday Palm (Phoenix canariensis)
  • Washington Palm (Washingtonia filifera)

Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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