The recent cold snap has left many royal palms looking less than regal. • The Tampa Bay area pushes the northern boundary for many palms like coconuts and adonidias, but that doesn't mean a backyard tropical oasis is something only our more southern neighbors can enjoy. • A lot of factors play into how well a palm handles the cold, including age, soil type, canopy cover and proximity to buildings. But nothing beats genetics, and some palms can naturally take the cold better than others. • Queen and Washingtonia palms both take the cold well, but are also pretty commonplace. What follows are plants that are readily available at nurseries and should fare well in a Tampa Bay-style cold snap. Greg Joyce, Times staff writer
Pindo, or jelly, palms (Butia capitata) These are among the most cold-hardy of the feathery palms, growing throughout the Southeast and surviving temperatures into the teens. They have silvery or pale green arching fronds and, as a bonus, their fruit is edible.
Bismarck palms (Bismarckia nobilis) Clear a lot of room for these. Their huge fronds can be 10 feet across and their striking silver tinge makes for a showstopper. They are relatively new on the palm scene and the data are somewhat murky on how far north these palms can go. But they seem to have no trouble in our zone.
Canary Island date palms (Phoenix canariensis) Nothing says stately like these guys, but you need to have a lot of yard — and plenty of time if you want to watch it grow. Its more slender cousins — the true date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) and the silver date palm (Phoenix sylvestris), right — also brush off the cold.
Lady palms (Rhapis excelsa) These shade-loving little palms grow in clusters and can take temperatures into the mid 20s. They grow to about 7 feet, just right for a screen.
European fan palms (Chamaerops humilis) These rather small palms grow in clumps or can be pruned into individual specimens. They can survive temperatures down to 10 degrees and even snowfall.
Cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) Absolutely bulletproof. Florida's state tree can be found growing all the way up the coast to North Carolina.
Chinese fan palm (Livistona chinensis) This slow-growing palm with somewhat droopy fronds is sometimes used as a ground cover. Given enough time, it will grow to 30 feet.