When thinking of a palm tree, most imagine a tall, slender trunk with green fronds and coconuts. It is almost immediately related to palm trees in tropical weather, waving in a tropical breeze over a sandy beach. But what about a palm tree in cold weather? Most people would never imagine that they survive. While not all palms can handle the cold, there are species that have evolved to endure frigid temperatures.

Although some cold-hardy palm trees grow tall, there are several palms under six feet in USDA zones 7b-8. These palms are perfect to plant where the landscape requires shorter plants, or as companion plants to bigger species. Here, we will describe in detail the four best cold-hardy palms under six feet.

Dwarf Palmetto 

Sabal Palmetto

Dwarf Palmetto, Sabal minor

Native to Georgia, the Dwarf Palmetto (also known as the Sabal minor), is one of the most distinguished freeze-resistant and cold hardy palms under six feet. It has evergreen fan-like fronds coming out of a single base that grows into a trunk. It looks similar to a young Sabal Palmetto. In fact, this is where the Dwarf Palmetto/Sabal minor gets its name. The Dwarf Palmetto grows in any type of soil; it’s even been known to grow in marshes or arid, steep mountain areas.

In terms of landscape design, the Dwarf Palmetto is the perfect palm to plant under a taller tree or palm, mimicking what occurs naturally in the wild. It is such a beautiful focal element, it thrives as a stand-alone palm. Dwarf Palmettos are sturdy, adaptable and not prone to diseases or pests, making them the perfect tropical addition to any garden! As a bonus, the Dwarf Palmetto’s flowers bloom every May and attract pollinators and birds.

  • Grows well in zones: 4-11 Patio / 7a-11 Outdoors
  • Minimum Temperature: 5° F with drops to 0°F
  • Mature Height: 2-6ft in USDA zone 7a-8
  • Growth Rate: 5" per year
  • Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade

Needle Palm

Rhapidophyllum hystrix

needle palm

The Needle Palm is the most cold hardy palm in the world, having been recorded surviving temperatures as low as -5 F. It has glossy green fan-like fronds that end in a pointy needle-like leaf, hence its name. It grows like a shrub from a single base that stays close to the ground, never growing a trunk. This slow-growing palm is great in the cold, but it needs hot summers to survive.

The Needle Palm thrives in moist environments, which is why it is one of our go-to palms to plant near pools, hot tubs, and other bodies of water. It is also an excellent companion palm; perfect for mimicking a bush in the landscape and also looks great under the canopy of larger palms or trees. It is a hardy, low maintenance palm that will look good every season, ensuring yearlong greenery with minimal effort.   

  • Grows well in zones: 6b-11 Outdoors 
  • Minimum Temperature: 0°F with drops to -5° F
  • Mature Height: 4-6 ft in USDA zone 6b-8
  • Growth Rate: 5" per year
  • Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade

Green Saw Palmetto

Serenoa repens 

Green Saw Palmetto, Serenoa repens

Native to Florida, the Green Saw Palmetto is one of the cold-hardiest palms out there. It has large green fan-shaped leaves with saw edges. Although slow growing, Saw Palmettos grow by expanding over the ground, meaning new leaves will appear next to the ones already planted. This makes the Green Saw Palmetto a great option for hardy, medium sized ground cover.

The Green Saw Palmetto is a great low maintenance palm to plant under trees or palms to fill out the area with lush greenery. They make great container palms, and look great next to fences. Apart from their beauty in the landscape, Saw Palmettos are cultivated for their medicinal qualities. Saw Palmetto extract is known to prevent hair loss, promote prostate health, and even reduce inflammation. These palms are as easy as it gets; they are maintenance-free, pest free, and cold-hardy!

  • Grows well in zones: 4-11 Patio / 7b-11 Outdoors
  • Minimum Temperature: 10° F with drops to 5°F
  • Mature Height: 5-6 ft in USDA zone 7b-8
  • Growth Rate: 1" per year
  • Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade

Silver Saw Palmetto

Serenoa repens 

Silver Saw Palmetto - Serenoa repens

The Silver Saw Palmetto, a close relative of the Green Saw Palmetto, stuns any landscape with its silver fan-like fronds. They are extremely slow growing and have a longevity of 500-700 years! They are low maintenance and important to the environment, as they are pollinator friendly. The beautiful yellow and white flowers they produce are fragrant and highly attractive to bees and butterflies, which increases biodiversity and promotes a healthy yard.

The unique silvery-blue color makes Silver Saw Palmettos look great in a variety of different scenarios. They contrast green plants around them beautifully whether in pots, situated on a porch or patio, as lush ground covers, or as a privacy screen. They are also fantastic understory plants, as they can tolerate a bit of shade.

  • Grows well in zones: 4-11 Patio / 7b-11 Outdoors
  • Minimum Temperature: 10° F with drops 5°F
  • Mature Height: 5-6 ft in USDA zone 7b-8
  • Growth Rate: 1" per year
  • Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade

Closing Thoughts on the Best Cold Hardy Palm Trees

Whether you plant palms by themselves or as companion plants to bigger palms, it is nice to know there are smaller versions of cold-hardy palms to accentuate your landscape. It is interesting to note that while all of our four cold hardy options have different physical characteristics, they all have the same basic features: cold-hardy, easy to grow, pest resistant, slow growing, and great companion palms. These small palms will look amazing in every season against your landscape.

When you buy palms, always buy from the cold-hardy palm experts: Atlanta Palms.