I live in southern Los Angeles county and am considering planting a stand of
coconut palms. I've been told that it will be a waste of time because of
the climate. I've been informed that the coconut palm is a hardiness zone
11 and my home is in the 11 zone. However that farthest north on record for
this palm is in Newport Beach to the south and it is a single palm that is
What is it that makes southern California a tough area for these palms?
What part of the palm is destroyed in a cold winter? The roots? The trunk?
Also, does anyone have any tips that I could try in the winter that might
help keep them alive? I've read the book "Palms won't grow here and other
myths," but it doesn't discuss the coconut palm. Are there certain
varieties that are more cold hardy?
Thanks for any help.
Be glad you saved a lot of money and worry. My son had them in his
Australian suburban garden; they are a real menace when the heavy nuts
fall, damaging cars, roofs and serious injury to people; so everyone
with coconut palms had to employ a man to come round and remove the
I know there is a palm tree that yields a small coconut-like fruit that
grows in southern California. The minature coconuts are about one inch
diameter. They taste very good. Sorry that I connot remember the name
of the tree. I know the location of two of the trees in Santa Barbara,
one in Lotusland and another at Alice Keck Park.
Several years ago I lived on a street in L.A. that was lined with date
Even though the dates were tiny compared to coconuts, when they fell they
could do a lot of damage to any cars that were passing by or just parked
below. It also hurt like hell if you got hit by one that fell from the tree
or got catapulted by a lawn mower.
Palm trees might look nice at first, but after living with them for a while,
you discover what a real nuisance they can be.
I live in San Diego.
Coconut palms are rarely grown here. They are overpowering and a liability
headache unless you have a 40 acre estate.
We like Queen Palms (Arecastrum romanzoffianum) and have planted about 10 of
them over the years. Do not confuse with King Palms or Washington Palms.
They grow only 20-25 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide. Elegant, airy, tropical
appearance. No maintenance.
They are indeed beautiful- but I wouldn't call mine low maintenance!
Between the fruit mess and the retained fronds, I'm replacing all mine with
Foxtails, Carpentaria, or Veitchia- even Solitaires are preferable.
Coconut palms are heat/humidity loving plants. While it is true that you
are in Zone 11, as based on the USDA map, which looks at low temperature
extremes, coconut palms really prefer the consistently warm, climate of
South Florida, the Caribbean and similar climates.
If you plant one, it may not die right away, but rather not thrive and
gradually collapse, as the overnight low temperates in Southern
California do not rival that of South Florida and similar climates. I
remember reading that Coconut Palms begin to stress at temperatures
below 50 degrees F. While it is true that such temperatures may occur in
South Florida during the winter months, it is almost always short
lived-- a matter of hours, and temperatures quickly rebound to the 70's.
A "cool" day there is in the 60's in winter.
Other things to consider, are annual rainfall and humidity/dewpoint.
Hope this helps. Email me if you have any questions.
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