How to Landscape With Palm Trees in Jacksonville

Tall palm trees surrounded by cone-shaped bushes and other shrubs

When people picture Florida, they see the tropical southern cities. They forget about Jacksonville and the rest of North Florida, where winters can get quite cold. But Jacksonville is still a part of Florida, and it has several of the state’s staples: beautiful beaches, high humidity, and palm trees.

Even if you don’t live in the tropical paradise that other people imagine all of Florida to be, you can still successfully grow palm trees in your Jacksonville yard. We’ve got tips and tricks that can teach you how to landscape with palm trees in Jacksonville.

How to Choose Palm Trees for Your Landscape

There may be 2,500+ species of palm trees in the world, but your options in Jacksonville are a little more limited. You’ll have to plant the more cold-hardy palm varieties.

Jacksonville is in USDA Hardiness Zone 9a, which means temperatures can drop to the 20s in winter. Those freezing temperatures (even if it’s only a few days a year) can kill a lot of palm trees, so you have to be careful when selecting what types of palms to plant.

It’s not hopeless, though. There are several palm trees that survive and even thrive in Zone 9. Here are five ideas for incorporating them into your landscape.

1. Create a container garden using potted palm trees

A line of small potted palm trees next to a white wall
Image Credit: Pikrepo

Potted small palm trees are an especially good idea in Jacksonville because they’re portable. When temperatures start dropping in winter, you can bring these palms inside and keep them as indoor plants.

If you plan on bringing your palms inside for the winter, you can be more lenient when it comes to the hardiness zone, so you have a few more options.

Container gardens are also perfect for urban areas where you don’t have a yard. You can display your potted palm trees on your doorstep, in an alley, or even on your rooftop.

Jacksonville-friendly palms for this landscape design:

  • Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana)
  • Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
  • Fishtail palm (Caryota mitis)
  • Pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

2. Use clumping palm trees as a privacy hedge

Close-up image of a large bush-like palm
Image Credit: “Chamaerops humilis” by David J. Stang, Wikimedia Commons CC 4.0

Clumping species of palm trees, like the one pictured above, grow a thick wall of fronds that would make a great privacy hedge for your front or backyard. Clumping palm trees come in single-trunk and multi-trunk varieties. There are several cold-hardy clumping palm trees that are perfect for Jacksonville’s climate.

Because they have non-invasive roots that won’t damage underground plumbing and they barely shed, palm trees are also good for creating a privacy screen around your swimming pool.

Jacksonville-friendly palms for this landscape design:

  • Needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)
  • European fan palm (Chamaerops humilis)
  • Emerald Island giant dwarf palmetto (a cultivar of Sabal minor)
  • Mexican blue fan palm (Brahea armata)

3. Make your flower bed more interesting with a small palm tree

A small palm tree's leaves spread out over a bed of colorful flowers
Image Credit: Pxfuel

With textured palm leaves arching in all directions, small palm trees make an intriguing focal point for flower beds. Palm trees break up the monotony of the usual flowers and shrubs to give any garden a tropical look.

Plant vibrant flowers of many different colors around your palm to make its tan trunk and green fronds stand out. Amaranth, milkweed, and bromeliads are all native Jacksonville flowers that would provide the desired splash of color.

In addition to palms that stay small forever, a slow grower variety would work for this look.

Jacksonville-friendly palms for this landscape design:

  • McCurtain dwarf palmetto (a cultivar of Sabal minor)
  • Sago palm (Cycas revoluta) (actually a cycad, not a palm)
  • Blue Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis var. cerifera)
  • Mazari palm (Nannorrhops ritchiana)

4. Plant a classic double row of palm trees with tall palms

Man swimming in inground pool lined on both sides with palm trees
Image Credit: Pixabay

Just like the palm trees that line Hollywood Boulevard, you can use a double row of palms to frame an important piece of your landscape. You could plant them along your driveway, around your swimming pool, or on either side of an outdoor living space you’re particularly proud of.

To achieve the glamour of this look, you’ll want to use tall palms. But remember, a “tall” palm tree doesn’t mean the same thing in Jacksonville as it does in more southern cities like Miami. These species typically grow 10-20 feet tall in this zone.

Jacksonville-friendly palms for this landscape design:

  • Chinese fan palm (Livistona chinensis)
  • Sabal palm (Sabal palmetto)
  • Pindo palm (Butia capitata)
  • Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)

5. Integrate succulents and drought-tolerant palms

Succulents and palm trees in front of a blue house
Image Credit: Pikrepo

Palm trees and succulents pair well together in a landscape because they both enjoy full sun. Plant different kinds of palms and succulents together to create a low-maintenance garden full of interesting textures.

You’ll want to choose drought-tolerant species of palms to plant with your succulents. That way, you’ll know that all the plants have similar watering needs and thrive in the same type of soil.

Jacksonville-friendly palms for this landscape design:

  • Guadalupe palm (Brahea edulis)
  • Chestnut dioon (Dioon edule) (another cycad)
  • Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis)
  • Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis)

FAQ about landscaping with palm trees in Jacksonville

How do I protect my palm trees from frost?

To prepare your palm trees for the few freezing days a year, you’ll have to winterize them before temperatures drop. For small palms, simply cover them with a box or blanket.

Ways to winterize taller palm trees include wrapping them in Christmas tree lights. Yes, the heat from those white Christmas tree lights on palm trees in St. Augustine is keeping those palms warm on chilly nights.

Will my palm trees grow back after freeze damage?

Whether or not your trees will sprout new leaves in spring depends on how severe the damage is. If the bud (where new leaves grow) remains undamaged, your tree should recover. If the bud freezes, however, it might be time for a replacement.

When to Hire a Landscaping Professional

Enlisting help from a professional landscaper ensures that you plant the best palm tree for your specific property. A professional will know what works in your soil type and what doesn’t.

A professional landscaper can also give you more design ideas tailored to your yard and neighborhood.

So, let this be a reminder that just because you don’t live in Miami doesn’t mean you’re not a real Floridian. And every Floridian – including in Jacksonville – deserves their own palm tree.

Main Image Credit: Pixabay

Jordan Ardoin

Jordan Ardoin

Jordan Ardoin is a writer and indoor plant enthusiast hailing from Florida. She enjoys reading fantasy novels, cuddling with her bulldog, and collecting succulents (because they’re so hard for her to kill).