Nothing seems to say “tropical” as well as a palm tree. And who can resist the laid back atmosphere of clear water, warm breezes, and a grove of palms rustling overhead? Combine that attraction with the explosion of back yard pools and voila! Palm trees everywhere in southeast Texas. Not only has the sheer quantity increased significantly over the last thirty or so years, but the number of species seen locally have grown as well. We are no longer limited to Mexican Fan Palms, as it seemed to be in years gone by, but there are now many Date Palms, Queen Palms, Pindo Palms, and more species showing up almost every year.
Variety is wonderful, but as this winter reminds us, we have to be careful with our selections, as not all palms are adaptable to non-tropical cold snaps. With that in mind, here is a list of the palms recommended by Texas A&M for USDA zone 9 which includes the greater Beaumont area.
True Date Palm, Phoenix dactilifera; Canary Island Date Palm, 'Phoenix canariensis'(see photo); Texas and Florida Sabal Palms,' Sabal palmetto'; Mediterranean Fan Palm, 'Chamerops humilis'; Chinese Fan Palm, 'Livingstonia chenensis'; Mexican Fan Palm, 'Washingtonia robusta'; California Fan Palm, 'Washingtonia filifera'; Windmill Palm, 'Trachycorpus fortune'i; Pindo Palm, 'Butia capitata'; Queen Palm, 'Syagrus romanzoffiana'; Pygmy Date Palm, 'Phoenix roebellini'. It should be mentioned that the last two are not quite as hardy as the others, and require more protection in our hard freezes. The Queen can be damaged at 25 degrees, frozen at twenty. The Pygmy Date is usually damaged at 30, and should be protected below that. Obviously, the number of hours below freezing also makes a difference.
The above information should be used with the realization that there are differences in low temperatures in any particular Zone. The coast is usually going to be several degrees warmer than Beaumont during most freezes, and there can be additional differences due to windbreaks, large bodies of water, clouds or overhead cover, and other local distinctions.
With a little forethought in selecting and locating your palms, you can look forward to many years of enjoyment of your own tropical nook. A good website for more information on specific palm varieties is floridata.com.