Last spring (1.5 years ago) we planted 3 Windmill palms. We live in SW PA, so we knew it was up in the air as to whether they'd survive here. The first winter we winterized them by tieing the fronds up, putting four stakes around each tree, and wrapping thick plastic around the stakes to keep the worst of the wind off of them. I also wrapped one string of 100 incandescent string lights around each and ran them for 8 hours each evening to help provide warmth.

This past spring (6 months ago) I unwrapped them and found one tree green and healthy, one tree completely dead, and one tree with green at the base and brown fronds. I hoped that tree #3 would recover over the summer, but it hasn't really changed. Now that winter is approaching again the base is still green and the fronds are still brown, and I need to make the decision whether it's worth winterizing.

It takes a fair amount of time to winterize, along with a material cost. I've also installed artificial turf around the trees and winterizing requires four holes in the turf for the stakes. So I don't want to winterize if the tree is not going to recover. However, if there is a substantial chance it will recover I'll do the winterizing.

Is this tree still alive and how likely is it that it will recover and put out new fronds in the coming year?

2 Answers 2


There are broadly two types of palms, clustering and non-clustering. The clustering types will quite readily produce "pups" at the base which can be severed from the parent and grown on to produce mature specimens of the same plant. The Windmill Palm is not generally classed as a clustering type; it normally grows as a single stem which you can confirm with an image search which will present a lot of windmill palms but very few have any green at the base.

I did find one article referring to green growth at the base of windmill palms. The author suggests that this is not a real pup, but does not explain what it is if not a pup. You might be able to track that idea down. Death of the growing tip of a non-clustering palm usually means curtains for the whole show, but you might just be able to cut down the main trunk and encourage the green at the base to produce a new trunk on the same root. Winterizing the growth at the base might be more feasible than protecting the taller growth. That's a call that you will have to make.


It's probably not worth winterizing the one that's got no topgrowth but is green at the base. The growing point is at the top of the trunk, so it sounds as if that also suffered winter damage and has been killed, which is why it's not produced any new fronds. If the green growth at the bottom is sufficient, you can try to reproduce a plant from it, but it will take some years before it reaches a reasonable size https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/windmill-palm/propagating-windmill-palms.htm. The point of tying up the fronds for winter is to provide some protection to the growing point, but it seems it was too cold for that to work last winter, or perhaps some other damage occurred to the growing point.

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