Can palm trees survive in Ohio?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

In my experience as the manager of Oakland Nursery in Delaware, I have found that cold-hardy palms struggle to survive in central Ohio without protection. This is something I have personally witnessed, as I have taken some palms home myself and unfortunately, they did not make it through the winter.

Due to the harsh winters and cold temperatures that Ohio experiences, palm trees are not well-suited for this climate. They are typically found in tropical and subtropical regions where the temperatures are consistently warm throughout the year. Central Ohio’s climate simply does not provide the necessary conditions for palm trees to thrive without extra care.

Without protection, the cold temperatures can cause damage to the palm trees, leading to their failure to survive. The cold can freeze the water inside the plant’s cells, causing them to burst and ultimately leading to the death of the tree. Additionally, the cold and dry winter air can cause dehydration and stress to the palm, further weakening its chances of survival.

In response to the challenges faced by cold-hardy palms in Ohio, I made the decision to stop carrying them at the nursery for a couple of years. This was prompted by complaints from customers who had purchased these palms and were disappointed when they did not make it through the winter.

It is worth mentioning that some gardeners may have had success with protecting their palms during the winter months. This can be done by wrapping the tree in burlap or using other protective coverings to shield it from the cold. Additionally, planting the palm in a sheltered location, such as against a south-facing wall, can provide some added protection.

However, it is important to note that even with these precautions, the survival of palm trees in central Ohio is still uncertain. The extreme cold temperatures and prolonged freezing periods can be too much for these tropical plants to endure.

Based on my personal experiences and feedback from customers, it is challenging for cold-hardy palms to survive in central Ohio without protection. While some gardeners may have had success with extra care and precautions, it is generally not recommended to rely on palm trees as a long-term landscaping option in this region.