Palm trees are another must have in any tropical planting theme. Many are hardier than customers believe. Trachycarpus are the hardiest useful palm for the UK fairly quick growing and ornamental with huge leaves, colourful yellow flower spikes in spring and attractive furry hessian like trunk, great to cuddle if you are into that sort of plant affection! The ones to choose are T. fortunei
, T. takil
that is a bit more robust with wider leaves and more leaflets. But my favourite is Trachycarpus oreophilus
a slightly slender form with a bright blue hue to the leaves. We find these three are hardy down to about -15 ºc once mature, so ok for most parts of the country but be aware small plants in pots can be susceptible to hard frosts. They germinate well and we use them as patio decoration in pots during their early years, eventually planting out when they outgrow a 12” pot. My first Trachycarpus planted in our garden 35 years ago grown from seed is now about 40ft high!Chamaerops humilis
are quite tough to maybe -10 ºc and the blue form var cerifera
is stunning grown in a pot but we bring these into an unheated glass house for winter to avoid unsightly leaf damage in bad winters. If you have a frost free glasshouse Cycas revoluta
also makes a stunning patio pot plants but very slow growing. The one in the picture on our decking I have had for over 40 years! The other very useful and attractive palm hardy to about -10 ºc is Butia capitata
. We keep several of these for pots on the decking with blue tinged foliage although one is now too big to easily move and may have to go!
For quicker palms from seed and fairly easy are Washingtonia
and Phoenix canariensis
. I have one of each planted in our garden that I protect with hessian then a heated cable set to come on at 4 ºc and then bubble wrapped that have been outside now for about 10 years. They make good conservatory plants though until they get too large. Cordylines
of course are easy from seed and can be grown outside if you live in a mild area or microclimate. Often referred to as Cornish palms although not strictly a palm. Unfortunately not hardy enough for us (-8 ºc) in Oxfordshire. For heated glasshouse use there are many excellent candidates and one of mine is the new red leaves of Chambeyronia although seed is not always available.
Remember all palms are slow growing from seed in the early years but an investment well worth considering if you have the patience.