North Carolina Palm Trees

North Carolina palm trees growing along the tropical sandy beaches here? Uhhh, well - have you been to North Carolina before? We have.

Our cousin lives on the Outer Banks, in Manteo. He used to be part owner of a unique, very popular business. In fact it was the first of its kind. A year-round Christmas Shop. It's now under new ownership, because they retired.

When visiting Richard, we began wondering if palm trees grew in North Carolina. We knew the Outer Banks had white sandy beaches & crystal clear waters. But also knew North Carolina lacked that tropical paradise weather associated with palms.

Here at Mission: Palm Trees

Palm lovers can get the info needed to ease their searching tasks. While enjoying our articles & having fun, without unneeded shoptalk lingo & tiring research.

2 men by a fountain with fish decor and one man in a wheelchairOn Left is Bill, with Richard Helping friend in Chair
At Entry to North Carolina Aquarium Roanoke Island

On our North Carolina trips, we didn't readily see any palms. But we learned something else. Look in the right places, you'll find them. Are you surprised that palm trees are growing in North Carolina?

We'll help you find North Carolina palm trees. Seeing surprising info behind their success in this unexpected location. Keep moving along for all these interesting NC palms, or Click In our Table of Contents below:









History of Palm Trees in North Carolina

Did you wonder if palms in NC is a new thing? Were they always here, or have people recently been trying to get them to grow? Are there any naturally growing North Carolina palm trees?

Actually, they have been around awhile.

Historically Palms Have Grown in NC

The earliest record for palms in the state was back in the late 1700s.

Wealthy plantation owners liked their exotic look. Imported them for property landscaping, as ornamentals. Plantations grew these historic North Carolina palm trees successfully. Mainly in coastal areas.

The palms were noticed and their popularity grew. That's when they became more common.

A North Carolina palm tree boom began in the early 1900s. Palms were planted in public parks, along roadsides, and on private properties.

White columned two-story home with palm trees and a green front lawn.North Carolina Home With Palms on the Grounds

Palm Trees in NC Today

Now North Carolina palm trees are even more common. Growing in parts of the state, where they hadn't been earlier. When seen by tourists, they're much enjoyed.

But those who really like them for growing in NC are the residents!

Climate Requirements for Growing
North Carolina Palm Trees

Palms are typically associated with warm, tropical climates. It may seem surprising they'd do well in North Carolina's varied climates.


It's that several Palm Tree Species are quite adaptable. Certain palms tolerate a range of temperatures & conditions.

Frost hit these Palms on a cold dayOuch! These palms endured a Frosty night in France.
In an area with usually balmy weather.

Palms Native to North Carolina

Palm trees have Always Grown in NC, in several climate zones. Especially coastal areas, which are typically warmer overall.


But remember, the lower the Climate Growing Zone number, the more extra work they'll need. Often needing your help to protect them from harsh winter weather.

  • You'll have to Be Aware of Cold-Tolerance of North Carolina palm species. 
  • During the coldest months of the year, keep an eye on the winter weather forecast.

Find Types of North Carolina Palm Trees

Several types of North Carolina palm trees can readily be found. One thing to remember is young palms planted in NC definitely need winter protection. Once established, they can survive on their own, with little to no help, much better.

Are you wondering if any North Carolina palms trees will be useful for you? For planting, growing, or seeing?

  • You want to buy a palm to grow in North Carolina, but worry that your investment will be wasted if the palm dies.
  1. You want to know the palms that can grow in North Carolina naturally.
  2. You want to know how to take care of the palms you end up buying
  3. So you'd like some kind of guide that can be taken along on your palm shopping around trips.


  • You'll be touring North Carolina, and want to find out which palm trees you'll see there. How to know them.
  • You'll be taking a North Carolina beach vacation.
  1. You wonder if any palms are on beaches there. How can you find out if there are, and if so - where to find them.

We purchased this handy guide for Southeastern U.S. Palm Trees. It covers those palms found, & which could be planted in North Carolina. So the question is: Will This Guide Be Useful for your concerns?

FTC Disclosure: If you purchase via a link/ ad on this site, we may earn a small royalty. There's no added cost to you. Thanks much for any looks/ orders! Details>

Figure out how helpful it will be! It has a few drawbacks. But we think the good things outweigh them by far.

Two Main Things to Consider:

  • The Good: It covers every palm tree species that can grow in North Carolina, that we mention here.
  • The Not So Good: Included is a USDA Hardiness Zone Map, which doesn't have North Carolina on it.
  1. So you'd have to look up your own area's microclimate and Growing Zone yourself.

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Endemic North Carolina Palm Trees

Cabbage Palm

Sabal palmetto is about the most common, also known as Palmetto. It's a southeastern U.S. native.

  • With distinctive fan-shaped leaves, it grows as high as 60-90ft/18-27m tall.
  • Young specimen trunks are rough with old leave bases. Becoming whitish as they get older.

Dwarf Palmetto

Sabal minor is the most northerly palm in the U.S. Native to NC, it's also called Bush Palmetto & Swamp Palmetto.

  • Prefers swampy zones (6-11), or sandy/scrubby areas that flood.
  • Its subterranean trunk seems like there's no trunk at all! But growing below ground, it's hidden. 
  • It reaches 20ft/6m tall.
  1. Can be one of those Short Palm Trees for landscape usage.

Introduced Temperate Climate
North Carolina Palm Trees

Windmill Palm

Trachycarpus fortunei is a popular palmate leafed palm tree in North Carolina. Also called Chinese Windmill Palm or Chusan Palm. A popular landscaping choice.

  • Cold hardy as it's native to China, growing in high elevation forests. 
  • Gets up to 50ft/15m, fairly quickly.

Needle Palm

Rhapidophyllum hystrix is a U.S. southeast coastal native. Also called Vegetable Porcupine.

  • Probably your most cold-hardy palm of all. Usually can take temps down to 0oF. 
  • A smaller palm, maxes out about 12ft/4m tall.

Saw Palmetto

Serenoa repens likes hangin' out in Zone 7b-11 piney wood areas.

  • They're low to the ground, with creeping trunks.
  • When Buying a Young Palm, be sure to protect it from rabbits.

How to Care for Palm Trees in North Carolina

Have you decided to grow palm trees at your North Carolina property? Keep in mind these important preparation tips.

  • Choose a palm species that's well-suited to Your Local Climate Zone and conditions.
  • Regularly watch for pests and/or diseases. For fast management steps to avoid a huge problem.
  • Remember the care you'll need to provide. Not quite as all-consuming as taking care of your children! But most palms need plenty of sunlight, well-draining soil, and regular watering.
Woman Watering Palm tree on a Sunny Day

Winter Protection for NC Palms

When cold weather's coming, your palm tree depends on you for help. 

Challenges of Growing Palms in North Carolina

While palm trees can grow in North Carolina, there are challenges. You may love some of those you've seen in Tropical Places. Like date palms or Coconut Palm Trees. But they're not suitable for North Carolina's climate & can't survive the winters.

Why it's best to consider planting Cold-Hardy Palms.


Keep in mind, when Buying Your Palm - knowing when to plant palm trees in North Carolina. Getting the right palm for your vicinity. Advance planning & strategy is key.

The best time to plant North Carolina palm trees is in spring or fall.

  • Plant palm trees during those seasons.
  • Allowing roots to establish before stressful summer or winter's extreme temperatures arrive.


It's a challenge when cold weather protection is needed. NC experiences winter's freezing temps & snowfall from time to time. 


Provide your palms with enough water. Regularly in well-drained soil.


Palm trees can be susceptible to pests and diseases. It's important to regularly check on your palm, to Get On Top of Any Developing Problem.

Red Palm Weevil

Benefits of Growing Palm Trees in North Carolina

There will likely be some challenges. But there are pleasant benefits with having your own North Carolina palm trees.

  • Palms add a touch of tropical beauty to the landscape. Maybe a welcome change from the state's more deciduous trees.
  • They're welcomed by other plants and animals. They become an important part of the local ecosystem. 
  1. Palms help the State Insect: the Honey Bee, which has recently been threatened. Palms produce flowers, which attract & sustain them. And benefit North Carolinians too!
  • Once established, palm trees are relatively low-maintenance. 
  • Palms add visual interest and value to the property. While avoiding lots of time & money spent on upkeep. 
  • North Carolina palm trees are becoming more popular now. With even more resources.

Common Misconceptions About
Palm Trees in North Carolina

Yes palms in North Carolina are growing in popularity. But some people have misconceptions about growing NC palms.

Some feel they're only suited to coastal regions. They believe they can't survive in other parts of the state.

  • It's true most palm species are better suited to the coast. But many do fine in other parts of NC. Like those growing in the Piedmont's mountainous climes.
  • It's best to know the palm species you're planting and use Advance Planning.


Another palm tree misconception is they're difficult to grow. They'll need lots of maintenance. Of course palms want some care and attention. Yet they're generally Easily Cared For. Once established, low-maintenance is doable.

Places to See Palm Trees in North Carolina

We've discovered several places where you can find them. Check out our suggestions for excellent places to see NC palms.

We're always on the look-out for more. Especially each time we visit our cousin Richard in NC!

The Wilmington Riverwalk

A scenic walkway along the Cape Fear River. It's lined with palms. Plus has stunning views of the water and the city skyline. And there's much more to do here (that includes palm views!):

Trails through Brunswick Nature Park SW of town across the Cape Fear River

  • Boating/kayaking from Trails End Park
  • Taking the kids to Jungle Rapids
  • Visit Arlie Gardens & Adjacent New Hanover Parks & Gardens

North Carolina Arboretum

In Asheville. 434 acres of public gardens. Featuring many plant collections. Be sure to see the palm tree collection with samples from around the world.

  • And check out the Biltmore Estate. Check in & around their conservatory for lots of palms.
Biltmore House conservatory EntryWe Suggest a Visit to the Biltmore Estate - Just One Place to See North Carolina Palm Trees!

The Outer Banks

A fabulous coastal region of North Carolina. The Outer Banks Scenic Byway takes you on a trip from North to South.

  • Look for palm trees along some OBX beach towns. 
  • Also you'll note some palms in private gardens of homes along the way. 
  • Plus look for palms in public spaces & parks.

Takeaways for North Carolina Palm Trees


Palm trees in North Carolina may have seemed an unlikely pairing! The state is better known for the Blue Ridge Mountains & Appalachian Trail. Yet it is home to a variety of palm trees. And they're becoming more popular in the state every year.

Palms are able to thrive in North Carolina climate. Homeowners and landscapers are enjoying that fact. With the right care and attention, your palm tree can grow well. It will bring an exotic touch to your home or garden.

If you're interested in growing palm trees in North Carolina, do your research. Then choose the species that's most well-suited to your local micro-climate & conditions.

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