Not so minor sabals

One of our favorite native plants for the garden is Sabal minor, yet you rarely see these mentioned in lists of great native plants to use in the garden. I wonder if this is because they don’t have that “weedy, unkempt” look that most folks associate with Southeastern US natives. I’ve talked with many native plant enthusiasts, who dismiss Sabal minor as not fitting well into a native plant garden. Imagine that, for a plant that thrives in both sun and shade, and in both wet and dry soils. I would think this would be the poster child for great garden-worthy natives.

Below is a clump of Sabal minor ‘Pittsview’, grown from our seed collection in 2006 of a particularly narrow-leaflet form in Russell County, Alabama near the town of Pittsview. There are few other plants, with this much interest in the winter garden. Sabal minor varies greatly in mature size, from the giant 6-8′ tall specimens from Eastern NC, to dwarf populations were the plants never top 18″ tall.

Sabal minor ‘Pittsview’

Below, growing a few feet away in full sun, in a bone dry location, is Sabal minor ‘Wakula Dwarf’, a compact selection from a Florida population.

Sabal minor ‘Wakula Dwarf’

4 thoughts on “Not so minor sabals”

  1. Lynda B. Waldrep

    Years ago sgomeone brouh a tray of seedlings to a local garden centr for a giveaway. I got one an it has thrived! (Zone 7a Piedmont near Grenwboro.) This year we found a seedling from my original plant an have pottd it up to share. I hae no clue where the original sourcen ot his plant, so don’t know any more. However, it i interesting and does well here.

  2. We have a 30plus year-old Sabal Minor growing on the bank of an ephemeral stream in the bottomland section of our lot just SW of Raleigh NC. It had received no attention until 3 years ago I decided to clean up the deep layers of pine needles and leaf litter that had accumulated there for decades I did not fertilize or mulch. The next year I cut it back severely in order to stimulate a flush of new growth, it responded well and flowered nicely in it’s shade/part-shade location. This year I noticed multiple seedlings sprouting along the edge and within the creek channel and on the flood plain where its seeds had been carried. At this early stage the pups appear to be growing about 6 inches per year. I would like to transplant these to areas within the bottomland and to sunnier locations in our garden. Do they transplant well? And what soil prep and amendments are needed in the bottomland and in other areas that may involve heavy clay soils?


    1. Sabal minor will not transplant unless your try 1 year seedlings. The trunk is actually subterranean and not designed to transplant outside of young seedlings.

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