Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Foliage Follow-up April 2014: Those Bismarck Palms

I'm joining Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-up for April by checking in on my frozen Bismarck Palms (Nobilis bismarckia).

So what about those Bismarck Palms?  Back in January I posted on the State of the Bismarckias after a deep freeze took us down to 20.8 and those poor tropical palms quickly showed the effects of exceptional cold exposure by browning up.

While 20.8 was the coldest night this past winter, it was just one of many freezes.  We lost count of the freezes and it was much, much colder than usual.  Eventually all the fronds died and our goal turned to keeping the trunk alive with lights wrapped around the trunk and base to keep the soil warm.  We left the dead fronds on through the coldest part of winter to protect the new fronds contained in the trunk.

I avoided posting this shot until now.  I thought they were lost.  Goners.

But they weren't dead at all.  We left the brown fronds in place during the coldest part of the winter. When it seemed we were safe from freezes the dead fronds were removed to make way for new fronds which were already emerging from the trunk.

These photos were taken today and the new fronds are a bit stunted but I'm happy to report the palms have survived.  More fronds are forming down in the trunk so all looks good.  I couldn't find a resource to tell me how many fronds a palm should produce in a season so it will be a surprise.

Bismarckia 1
Bismarckia 2

I've thought about moving them to a less prominent spot but they've earned a spot in the garden this year.

Yes, that is a gratuitous agave shot.  The Agave ovatifolia is the centerpiece of this bed and I'm so glad I decided to shamelessly copy Pam way back when it hadn't occurred to me that I might someday be a blogger too.  For more blogger posts on garden foliage be sure to check out Digging today.


  1. Ha ha, well I'd like to copy you on the Bismarck palms, but I'm afraid Austin gets a bit colder than S.A. and they wouldn't last here. (Luckily I have the silver Mediterranean fan palm to console me.) I am thrilled that they came back for you. And if they survived this mother of all winters then surely you're good to go for the future. I look forward to seeing them doing their fan dance in your garden again soon.

  2. So glad the palms made it through the winter. They are beautiful; I don't have any palms in my gardens, maybe I should consider finding a spot.

  3. Hooray for your palms! So glad they survived.

  4. So glad to see that it sailed through Shirley! And your Agave ovatifolia looks gorgeous!

  5. I'm glad your palms are recovering. I've seen a palm in the outlaw gardener's photos, so I know they can even grow up here, but after I lost a 10' Eucalyptus tree supposedly hardy to 0º F- the first frost was Dec. 20 and rapidly went to 6º F, so no hardening off- I lost heart to push the hardiness zones. Your Agave is gorgeous, I guess the cold didn't faze it.

  6. I'm a patsy for a palm frond waving in the breeze. We've got several native palms here in (slightly chillier) Austin, a mix of sabal and windmills, but they are all fairly cold tolerant. Plus, ours became well established before having to deal with especially hard winters. Their visual impact makes them well worth any trouble and I'm glad yours are responding to your TLC!

  7. And last weekend was Palm Sunday! So happy that these survived for you and hope that your winters are much more gentle to them in the future!

  8. Yay for that! I am so glad, loosing those would have broke my heart. I have a friend up here in Portland who tried to overwinter one and failed miserably, and it wasn't even this (horrible) winter but the one before which was a dream.

  9. What could be more heartening than a favorite plant rising from the dead?

  10. There's a special kind of joy when a plant comes back from the brink like that!

  11. Good to hear the palm made it.
    It's always good to have a favorite pull through.


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