I’ve been getting a lot of emails recently from people who have never listened to GardenLine, were just introduced to our tip sheets, or received a copy of one from a friend. Many have questions about why palms or new trees croaked from the January freezes.
In almost every case, they were Piru palms or Tru-Green laurel trees - two species I’ve always said should NEVER, EVER, EVER be planted in a Southeast Texas landscape.
In my opinion, these two trees being marketed in the Houston area will die from simple freezes, never mind the devastating types we had in January. No matter what the sales pitch, they are not "freeze-tolerant!" In fact, they can't even handle 30 degrees for several hours. That's why so many of them perished when temperatures dove into the teens for many hours. It’s my belief that anyone who bought either of these trees because a salesperson said they could handle freezes, were duped, scammed or conned!
Tru-Green laurel is from the ficus family, which is tropical in nature. Planting one outdoors in a landscape is punishment for your wallet.
Piru palms are supposedly a sturdier, thicker version of a queen palm, which are themselves struggling to come back this year. These “new-fangled” Piru palms didn’t make it through the January 2010 and February 2011 freezes, either. Piru palms were supposedly bred to handle cold and heat. My research shows they’re a cross between a queen palm and something closely related to a coconut palm. Well, coconut palms can barely survive at 30 degrees.
Just because a retail plant place sells a lot of palms, they’re not necessarily a palm expert. In fact, I would argue that a true palm specialist would never to sell Piru palms in this zone. And I contend that anyone who sells Tru-Green laurels and Piru palms in this area should be upfront and admit that they can’t handle freezing weather. Period.
I advise you to just avoid them at all costs!
Anyway, here is the entire list of trees I would never, ever, ever plant in this region.
- Arizona ash
- Silver leaf maple
- Tallow - Chinese tallow, chinaberry
- Hybrid poplar
- Giant mulberry
- Tru-Green laurel
- Piru palms
If you want more on my reasons for rejecting the other six, please call the GardenLine show this weekend.