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The dwarf palms are one of only two palm species native to Europe. They are therefore better used to our climatic conditions than tropical palms. But are dwarf palms really hardy here?
Dwarf Palm Species
Although the genus of dwarf palms is quite variable in appearance, it consists of only one species, Chamaerops humilis. This occurs in two varieties: var. humilis and var. argenta. While the first variation occurs almost throughout the Mediterranean, the second is native to Morocco. In the trade, other names are used for the dwarf palm. The individual species differ in appearance, but only slightly in their winter hardiness.dwarf palm
The Cerifera impresses with its blue colored fronds and is an absolute eye-catcher in the garden. It is considered to be somewhat more robust than the variants with green compartments. However, the blue dwarf palm is one of the rarities. Plants with tall stems in particular are very rare and therefore expensive.
- hardy to -15 degrees
- slightly more tolerant of snow and rain in winter
A particularly beautiful variant of Chamaerops humilis is the Compacta with its smaller fans in large numbers.
- hardy -12 to -14 degrees
- dry and protected
The dwarf palm Compacta is often offered in the plant trade under the name Vulcano, as it originally comes from the island of Vulcano north of Sicily. Today, however, it is cultivated in many other regions of southern Italy.
hardinessSource: Juan Emilio Prades Bel, Chamaerops humilis 'palmito' (Tírig, Castellón), Edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
The Chamaerops humilis tolerates long periods of heat just as well as freezing cold. Older dwarf palms even tolerate temperatures below minus ten degrees. However, this temperature only applies to the plant parts that grow above ground and only for very short periods of time. The roots, on the other hand, are very sensitive to frost. If the root ball freezes, this almost always means the complete death of the plant. For this reason, the dwarf palm can only be described as conditionally hardy.
- the temperatures given are only valid for a few days
- under dry conditions
- the older the palm, the harder it is to frost
- young plants generally need protection
Even if the temperature data for the winter hardiness of the palm trees are in the double-digit minus range, this does not mean that the palm trees will actually survive these temperatures. Appropriate measures must therefore be taken.
Planted palm trees
In mild regions, overwintering the hardy dwarf palm in the garden is usually possible without any complex measures. In cold areas, it does not cope well with long periods of frost and, above all, with the high humidity.
- Mulch the soil generously (leaves, straw or bark mulch)
- rain protection necessary
Outdoor overwintering in buckets
If the temperatures drop in autumn, a south-facing, wind and rain-protected place next to a warming wall is ideal. If the first icy night frosts are imminent, good winter protection is essential.
- Wrap bucket with bubble wrap or fleece
- place on a styrofoam plate (thickness: at least 5 cm, preferably 10 cm)
- Cover the top of the soil with straw, brushwood or leaves
- Wrap trunk with jute fleece
- Tie leaves up during cold snaps
- possibly wrap with fleece
- Location: dry and sheltered from the wind
Since a fleece robs the Chamaerops humilis of the light, the time in which the fronds are wrapped should be kept as short as possible. As a rule, it is sufficient to pack them between January and March. From April you can then remove the remaining winter protection.Source: Christophe.Finot, Château de la Napoule jardins 00, Edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 2.5
Notice: Never wrap plastic foil around the leaves. The water cannot evaporate and there is a risk of mold and rot.
Hibernation in the house
If you don't want to take any risks, you should store your dwarf palm in winter. Leave the plant outside against a sheltered house wall or garage wall for as long as possible. At the latest when the daytime temperatures fall below zero degrees or the nighttime temperatures fall below minus five degrees for several days, the dwarf palm must be given a bright winter quarters. Winter temperatures of around five degrees are ideal. The dwarf palm can also be overwintered at room temperature.