Palm Trees In Raleigh

Palm Trees along Glasscock Street

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I’ve been having fun with a little photo project over there. I’ve been cataloging the location of palm trees in and around downtown Raleigh.

More palmetto than real palms, spotting the fronds around town gets me thinking that they could have been fashionable at one point in time. Someone more knowledgeable could probably weigh in on the difficulty of raising a palm in Raleigh but it seems possible, yet not widespread.

The rolling hills of Raleigh feel like a connection to the mountains but the palms get me thinking eastward, towards the coast. It reminds you that we sit the in the North Carolina Piedmont, with bits of both east and western parts of the state.

I put together a quick website to highlight and map the ongoing project. Feel free to follow and/or contribute in your own way. Go palms!

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    None right now. Must be a new project.


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  1. Thanks, Leo! Love the Raleigh palms! There is one in my backyard at 601 E. Lane St. and one in the front yard of the house I used to own at 501 N. Boundary St. There are some at Jaycee Park. They are all Chinese Windmill palms. As I understand it, Taylor’s Nursery had a lot of them several decades ago. A bad freeze came and killed all but one. That one tough tree is the ancestor of all these trees!

  2. I think the go-to palm for the Raleigh area is now the Windmill palm. You can buy those at Atlantic Garden Supply for about $125 (but they are still young and small).

    I’d like to hear from some windmill palm owners about their experience. What about upkeep? How much sun are they getting? Etc.

    If I see a lot of people having success with these then I might be ready to plop one on my front lawn sometime next summer.

  3. Got a smile from you palm post, Leo. I like the extra tropical flavor they add to our landscape, and their numbers are not overbearing like in Florida. As Matthew and Lou noted, the hardiest and IMO most attractive palm species in Raleigh and the Carolinas are Windmill Palms. Be wary of others (Mediterranean Fan and needle palms, etc) that are not as hardy.

    When I lived in Cary, I planted 8 of them in my backyard, and 8 years later all were 10 feet tall and quite happy. More recently, I saw the light and moved in closer to downtown Raleigh, and have planted several in my new smaller backyard. If you visit Lowe’s or Home Depot a lot, and watch for sales, you can snag young windmills at $20 dollars or so. They’ll grow about a foot a year. Counter-intuitively, I found they were happiest in a partly shady location on the north side of the house. They require minimal attention, welcoming an occasional splash of “black cow” and water during hot and dry weather, but are otherwise not finicky and no bugs. Mulch and leaves will help shelter the roots in winter weather.

    I personally think the increased windmill palm sightings in Raleigh are related to climate change. When I first planted my 8 palms in Cary, and old man ambled over and watched me planting. He shook his head and said “you know those won’t grow here. Winter’ll kill em all!”. And I said “maybe so…just wanted to give it a try!” Never saw him around again when they were 10 feet tall.

  4. Certain species of palm trees are fairly common to the Raleigh area and are a beautiful addition to many landscapes – both public and residential. While some can be temperamental, especially whenever we get those rare, below freezing, winter nights, the majority of them in the area hold up pretty well. I also wouldn’t want to see as many as Florida,where they have become a kind of “tropical cliche” there, but they do make for a stunning display, especially when combined with other plants, such as agaves and succulents.

  5. You can take the boy out of Miami but you can’t take the Miami out of the boy. :-) Fun project Leo!

  6. Raleigh does not have the only Piedmont area windmill palms. How about Winston Salem! There is a 12ft windmill palm on the 200 block of Anita Dr. Palm located close to the front of the driveway. Another set of windmill palms surounds the front of Whittaker Elementry school just off of Buena Vista Rd. We love our palms in Winston Salem,too!

  7. Recently moved to Clayton and have spotted numerous windmills and sabal palmettos within a few miles of my home. I plan to plant sabals as I landscape over the next few years.

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