Exploring the Feasibility: Growing Palm Trees in Maryland’s Climate

Can you grow a palm tree in Maryland?

When it comes to growing palm trees, most people think of tropical destinations with sandy beaches and warm climates. However, with proper care and selection of cold-hardy palm species, it is actually possible to grow palm trees in unexpected places like Maryland. While Maryland’s climate is known for its cold winters and temperate summers, there are a few palm varieties that can thrive in this region. In this article, we will explore the possibility of growing palm trees in Maryland and provide valuable insight for aspiring gardeners.

Understanding Maryland’s Climate

Maryland has a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and cold winters. The state’s average annual temperature ranges from 55°F (13°C) in the western mountains to 59°F (15°C) near the Chesapeake Bay. Winters can be chilly, with average January temperatures hovering around 30°F (-1°C) in the western part of the state and slightly above freezing near the coast.
It is important to consider these climatic conditions when choosing palm trees for your Maryland garden. Cold hardy palms are able to withstand freezing temperatures and can survive and even thrive in colder regions. Let’s explore some palm tree species that are suitable for Maryland’s climate.

Cold Hardy Palm Species

While most palm tree species are native to tropical and subtropical regions, there are a few cold-hardy varieties that can withstand colder temperatures. These palms have adapted to survive in climates with frost and freezing conditions, making them viable options for Maryland gardeners. Here are two popular cold-hardy palm species that can be successfully grown in Maryland:
1. Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei): The Windmill Palm, also known as the Chusan Palm, is one of the most cold-hardy palms available. Native to the mountainous regions of China, this palm can withstand temperatures as low as 5°F (-15°C). It has a slender trunk covered with brown fibers and large fan-shaped leaves that create an attractive tropical appearance. The windmill palm grows at a moderate rate, reaching a height of 20 to 40 feet (6 to 12 meters) over several decades. It prefers well-drained soil and can grow in full sun as well as partial shade.

2. Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix): The Needle Palm is another excellent choice for Maryland gardeners seeking cold-hardy palms. Native to the southeastern United States, including regions with colder winters, this palm is incredibly hardy. It can withstand temperatures as low as -5°F (-20°C) without significant damage. The Needle Palm has a low-growing habit, typically reaching a height of 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 meters). It features dark green, fan-shaped leaves with sharp needles along the petioles, giving it its unique name. This palm thrives in well-drained soil and tolerates both sun and shade.

Planting and care tips

When growing palm trees in Maryland, it is crucial to provide them with the proper planting and care to ensure their success. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

1. Choose the right location: Choose a spot in your yard that receives plenty of sunlight. Palm trees generally prefer full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Make sure the soil is well-drained to prevent stagnant moisture, as excessive moisture can be harmful to palm tree roots.

2. Soil preparation: Before planting, prepare the soil by incorporating organic matter such as compost. This will improve the fertility and drainage of the soil, creating an ideal environment for your palm to thrive.

3. Water: Palm trees require regular watering, especially during the establishment phase. Water deeply and thoroughly to ensure that the roots receive adequate moisture. Once established, most cold hardy palms are relatively drought tolerant and can withstand short periods of drought.


Although Maryland’s climate is not traditionally associated with palms, it is possible to grow certain cold-hardy palm species in this region. Varieties such as the windmill palm and needle palm have proven to be hardy and adaptable to Maryland’s climatic conditions. By choosing the right species and providing proper care, Maryland gardeners can add a touch of tropical charm to their landscapes. Remember to consider the specific needs of each palm species and provide them with suitable planting locations, well-drained soil, and adequate water. With these considerations in mind, you can successfully grow palm trees and create a unique, exotic oasis in your own Maryland backyard.


Can you grow a palm tree in Maryland?

While palm trees are typically associated with warm tropical climates, certain species of palm trees can be grown in Maryland with proper care and considerations.

What are the best palm tree species to grow in Maryland?

Some palm tree species that can be successfully grown in Maryland include the Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix), and Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor). These species are more cold-hardy and can tolerate the climate of Maryland.

What are the key considerations for growing palm trees in Maryland?

When growing palm trees in Maryland, it’s important to consider the hardiness of the species, as some are more tolerant of cold temperatures than others. It’s also crucial to provide them with proper protection during the winter months, such as wrapping the trunks with burlap and providing insulation around the root zone.

What is the ideal location to plant a palm tree in Maryland?

Palm trees in Maryland should be planted in a location that receives full sun exposure and is sheltered from strong winds. Southern or southwestern-facing areas are often the best choices, as they receive more sunlight and provide some protection from cold northern winds.

Do palm trees require special care in Maryland?

Yes, palm trees in Maryland require some special care to ensure their survival. They should be watered regularly, especially during hot and dry periods, and provided with well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged roots. Additionally, applying a balanced palm fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions can help promote healthy growth.

Can palm trees survive the winter in Maryland?

With appropriate protection and care, certain species of palm trees can survive the winter in Maryland. However, it’s important to note that extreme cold temperatures or prolonged freezing conditions can still pose a risk to their survival, even with precautions in place.