Palms are integral to your exotic garden, and probably the main feature of your garden that screams ‘exotic garden’ (other than the now famous Musa Basjoo Banana). Palm trees have that distinctive silhouette that can’t be mistaken for anything else, and adds height and permanence in your garden that features through the winter too as a backbone. We have a list of the best Palm Trees below and the best place to buy a palm trees in the UK.
All palms belong in the Arecaceae (previously Palmae) family, which are monocotyledonous plants. Palms are easy to recognise, but are often confused with other exotic plants such as The hardy cordylines, yuccas, and sometimes even the humble Musa Basjoo. Cycads also look quite palm-like, so we have some information on Yuccas here.
Top recommendations for palm trees
Some of our top recommendations for palm trees would be the Camaerops humilis or European Fan Palms, or the Cordyline australis – Cabbage Tree or Torbay Palm or Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan palm – Windmill palm). Palm trees are a great addition to any garden in the UK, a great feature to complement your new exotic garden. Palm trees create a stunning architectural feature to your garden, a striking example of an exotic plant that can be easily grown with a bit of care in a British garden.
If you are looking for cheap Palm Trees for sale in the UK you’ve come to the right place. We can show you a great selection of palm trees for sale, palms you can actually grow in a British garden and keep it alive all year round.
History of growing palms in the UK
From about the 1980s experimental gardening understood that not all palms need hot tropical climates to grow successfully. There were found to be many perfectly hardy palms that one would find growing at higher elevations, mountainous areas and other chilly areas that didn’t have year round warmth from coastlines and water. These days there has never been more choice for finding the perfect palm tree for your garden, even in the coldest parts of the UK and Scotland. Any borderline palms can still be grown with minimal winter protection and the right site, keeping just frost free with the right amount of water can get through from any conditions here in the UK. It is known there are well over 100 different species of palm tree that can be grown in the UK, and the garden staple of the exotic garden, the Trachycarpus fortunei (windmill palm) will take lows of minus 15 – 17∞C, however the majority are not quite as hardy as this so be warned.
How to grow palms in the UK.
The age of the palm you are planting out has great importance to how well it will survive in this colder, temperate climate. We would always advise growing small specimens in pots for a few years to make sure they are established and have a strong root system. This age will allow them to improve their hardiness for a few years before you eventually plant them outdoors. Obviously the type of soil you have makes a big difference, so make sure you know all about yours before planting out your palm. Palms can take much lower temperatures if they are sitting in draining, sandier soils, so the water doesn’t sit around the roots and eventually rotting the plant (and keeping them much cooler). Add grit and sand to your soil to help aid this drainage. Palms still love water and food though, so don’t skimp here. Lots of well rotted organic matter such as compost of rotten manure will always be great for the palms. So in summary, well draining soils mixed in with grit is the best for palms, as well as regular watering and organic matter addition.
Palm tree health
When you are buying palms, check for yellowing leaves and stunted growth, and try and knock the plant from the pot to make sure they are not too root bound, as when plants are too root bound they take much longer to get established in the ground. Always choose plants that look healthy and strong, all the obvious signs that I’m sure you already know – just be aware that this is exacerbated with palms due to the slower speed that some of them grow, so will take longer all round if there are issues before planting out. A good tip is that avoid plants that have a whole forest of weed growing in the pot, unless you’re getting an absolute bargain of course!
Extended cold weather and the impact on Palm Trees
As we have mentioned, some palms can tolerate lower temperatures than others, but one thing to be aware of is that just because a palm may say a low temperature, this is always impacted by the time it spends at this temperature. So the palm may be able to withstand -17 degrees for a day or two, but might keel over of it’s sitting at -17 for a full week or two (and this is where the soil type, drainage and water logged substrate makes the difference between life and death). For instance an overnight of -10c would be likely better for the palm than a full week at -3, as within a few days the cold would have penetrated deep into the heart of the palm.
Where to position Palm Trees in your UK garden
The position in your garden, as well as the soil type will have large implications to the health of your palm. If you can find a sheltered south facing aspect, the palm will do so much better than an exposed North facing, shadow filled area, where the ground never warms up on those winter days. Palm planted next to larger, taller trees might survive so much better. The same applies to tree ferns, leave them out in the exposed open and expect half sized fronds the next year – I have seen this myself in my own garden!
Like all plants grown in pots and containers, the temperature variations are far wilder, they heat up quicker, and cool down faster, so an extended cold snap can kill a palm far quicker than had the root system been safely protected under the soil. If you really must keep it potted all year, bubble wrap and insulate the pot for adequate protection. Personally, I dig up and repot all the more tender palms and bring them inside the poly tunnel (assuming they fit…)
How fast do palm trees grow?
Regardless of which palm you choose for your exotic garden, they are mostly all slow growing so be aware of this when you purchase.