Are My Pygme Date Palms Dead?
Q: I have several Pygmy date palms planted outdoors that did not fare well this past winter. I covered them with frost sheets, as I have done the past 3 winters, and all the fronds were freeze damaged, as they usually are. I trimmed all the dead fronds off. Usually the tops of each trunk show signs of life with new fronds coming out. There has been no sign of re-growth anywhere this year. Some of the trunks appear to be dead while others are still green. Do you think all is lost or should I just be patient?
A: As for the Date Palm if it is Phoenix roebelenii, it is not listed for any temperatures much below 50 F. It may have survived past winters due to the fact that most of the cold temperatures were for short periods. This winter was longer and colder. If there is not sign of green at the very top of the trunk where the new leaves should be sprouting out that is not a good sign. If she has the patience all I can say otherwise is to wait till May, if no growth by that time I would say it was dead. This is a tough one in the ground with the temperatures we had, anything in a container is exposed to even more cold. A customer of mine saved his date palm by wrapping it and its container in an electric blanket. Frost sheets are for minor frost protection only they do not generate or hold heat around a plant and over several hours cold seeps in and will do its damage.