mature sabal palm tree

The Sabal Palmetto- also known as the Cabbage Palmetto - is native to Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. It is the official state tree for both Florida and South Carolina. 

It is a robust palm with a heavy, thick trunk and a dark green canopy with fan-shaped fronds that can grow up to 4 feet wide. Sabal palmettos can reach heights of up to 20-25' ft tall, and the full-grown crown can expand anywhere from 8-10' ft when in zone 8-9. In spring, creamy-white flowers bloom and turn into edible fruits in late summer.

The many looks of Sabals and the different terms to describe them can be confusing. We define these terms here:

Hurricane Cut:  All fronds are pruned off except for the youngest ones. This method is used when a hurricane is about to hit; the fewer fronds affected by the wind, the greater the chance of survival. Some growers give this cut to their palms before selling them, with the idea that they will adapt better when transplanted if they don't have their fronds. Buying a hurricane-cut Sabal Palmetto means it hasn't been regenerated. 

Regenerated Sabal: After getting their hurricane cut and being dug from their planting spot, the Sabals are taken to a nursery to receive irrigation and care in order to obtain partial root and frond regrowth. This makes the transition to the planting site much easier. This is why as an end client, you need to make sure you are getting Regenerated Sabals and not hurricane-cut ones (which may be offered at a cheaper price but don't be fooled)

Booted Sabals: Booted Sabal Palmettos are natural palms that have all their “bootjacks” or remaining leaf bases from old leaves that have fallen. This gives a spiky, dynamic look to the trunk.

Slick Sabals: As the name suggests, Slick Sabals have spiky boots shaved off. They can have the boots shaved all the way up, referred to as a “slick cut”, or can be shaved halfway up, which is referred to as a “cigar cut”. 

Curved Sabals: The trunks on Sabal Palmettos can also be found with varying degrees of curved trunks. These look wonderful when planted near a pool as a single specimen or in groups. The angle can also be created from a straight Sabal by planting it at an angle; the palm will naturally grow upwards and create a curve. 

Double Sabal: Double Sabals are a single trunk base that divides into two trunks each with its own head. Although very heavy, they make quite a statement. 

How cold-hardy and tough are Sabal Palmettos? 

Sabal Palmettos are very tough palms. They have excellent hurricane resistance and have been known to resist winds of up to 145 miles/hr and bend at an angle of 50 degrees, which is why so many of them can be seen in hurricane-prone coastal cities. They are also resistant to fire, floods, high winds, drought, and drops in temperature down to 20 degrees, with short drops to 10°.

Maintenance and Fertilization: 

LIGHT: The Sabal Palmetto tolerates a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade. Though it prefers being in full sun. 

SOIL: It thrives planted in soils of any type, provided they are well drained. 

PRUNING: The Sabal Palmetto is a self-cleaning palm, which means it will drop its fronds when they turn brown and completely die. If you do have to prune off dead fronds, wait until they are completely brown before doing so. 

WATERING: It needs to be watered several times a week when it is newly planted. Once established, you can cut back to watering weekly or less depending on local rainfall levels. Read how do I know my palm is established. for more information on how to tell when a palm is established. 

FERTILIZING: Sabal Palmettos should be fertilized three times a year. Use a slow-release, 8-2-12-4 blend specific to palm trees as specified in the package. 

The cabbage palm is harvested for its edible heart, which is considered a delicacy. The issue with harvesting the palm for its heart is that it dies. Read the heart of the palm

Where can I buy a Sabal Palmetto?

Although Sabals are tough, they also need to come from a reliable, responsible farm. This is why you should buy your Sabal Palmetto from Atlanta Palms. We guarantee the quality of your palms. Learn more today!


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