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2011 - Volume 2 Issue 2
Casas Bonitas
Outdoor Living
Article: Jessica Muncrief
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Mother Nature surprised us with record low temperatures in early 2011, and it soon became evident that our palm trees had taken a hit. Although many delighted us by showing signs of life in the spring, some did not survive. Despite this setback, we need not give up the desert oasis feel that palms bring us. Expert landscaper Mark Nash, owner of Nash Patio and Garden, confirms that palm trees are still a viable landscaping option for the southern New Mexico and west Texas climate.


Armendariz Landscaping

Guzman's Color
Your World


Nash Patio and Garden

Sierra Vista Growers
When choosing palms, remember that despite sweltering summers, our winters are quite a bit colder than many of the other regions that can successfully grow palms, such as California and Florida. Fortunately, there are plenty of varieties that are suitable for our climate or even colder temperatures. Gary Guzman, owner of Color Your World Greenhouse in Las Cruces, recommends a few that are readily available in the area.

Joe Armendariz, owner of Armendariz Landscaping in El Paso, says a little care can go a long way in ensuring your palms thrive. First and foremost, do not shave the trunks. The bark serves as protection against the elements and palms with wider trunks have better odds of surviving cold snaps. Joe also notes that good, fresh top soil is the secret to healthy palms and that keeping your palm trees tied for four weeks after planting keeps them stable while the roots get a strong grip. Guzman also adds that protecting some palms with a frost cloth can help them withstand cold weather and that fertilizing with magnesium sulfate can aid recovery from winter damage. Talk to your landscaper or a specialist at a greenhouse about the best methods to protect different varieties when a cold front is on the horizon.

1.) Mediterranean Fan Palm and Windmill Palm
These shorter palms fare the best in cold weather. Both are cold hardy to 10° F and can tolerate brief periods at even lower temperatures. They also require less maintenance than other palms and stay green in the winter.

2.) California Fan Palm
Of the taller palm trees, these handled the unexpected freeze the best. They can reach upwards of 25 feet in height and, with their wide trunks, they are a bit hardier than the similar Mexican Fan Palms.

3.) Canary Island Date Palm
Slightly less hardy, these palms can handle temperatures around 15° F, but they do not stay green all winter, so plan on cleaning up brown fronds in the spring. Tall, with very wide bases and large canopies, these trees need plenty of room to grow.

4.) Mexican Fan Palm
Some of these slender-trunked, tall palms survived the freeze, but quite a few did not. While they are still an option, they are the first to lose their green foliage when the temperature drops into the low 20s.

5.) Sago Palm
Growing up to ten feet tall after many years, the Sago is an area favorite for those who prefer a smaller palm. Cold hardy only into the low 20s, these should be planted in areas shielded from extreme cold, such as in a courtyard. ///
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