Plant Profile: Sabal minor - Swamp Palmetto 

Origin: Swamps and floodplains of Southeastern USA. 

Height: 1 to 2 metres (3 to 6 feet). Trunk is normally underground so the adult palm may look more like a shrub than a tree. 

Requirements: Full sun. Moist soil. 

Sabal minor is potentially a wonderful palm for British gardens, being quite small, able to thrive in fairly wet conditions and, best of all, quite possibly one of the most cold-hardy of all palms…

So just how hardy is it? 

In his book, Palmen, Frank O. Steeb, claims that mature specimens of Sabal minor are able to withstand fiercely cold temperatures as low as -24C. In Identifying Palms, Martin Gibbons lists it as "one of the most cold-hardy palms". In Palms For Cooler Climates, Philip McMillan Browse describes it as "among the most cold tolerant palms". Richard Woo of the Pacific Northwest Palm & Exotic Plant Society has informed us that it survives down to -18 degrees Celsius. The RHS Encyclopaedia of Garden Plants, on the other hand lists Sabal minor as 'frost tender'. 

Until more British gardeners give Sabal minor a go, we won't know how hardy it really is. We are very eager to encourage more people to grow this palm. To this end, we hope to have a continuous supply of modestly priced juvenile plants. We recommend that small plants be grown in a bright, unheated room or greenhouse for two or three years prior to planting them in the garden. 


Information and photos on this page are
courtesy and © copyright Huw Collingbourne
Rosedown Mill Palms & Exotics

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