Chinese Fan Palm: Fountain-Like Elegance

Chinese fan palm trees (Livistona chinensis) are native to China and southern Japan, and are known for their fountain-like elegance.

These palm trees are popular in commercial and large residential settings. They add tropical elegance when planted along a long, winding driveway or wide walkway.

Livistona chinensis (also known as Chinese Fan Palm, Chinese Fountain Palm, or Fountain Palm) belongs to the Arecaceae family, and can be planted year round in USDA hardiness zones 9B through 11. The Fountain Palm tree is considered to be low maintenance - it will adapt to a variety of soil types and will thrive in partial to full sun.

Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona chinensis). Photo by Rachid H, Flickr

Fountain palms can grow up to fifty feet tall, with a spread of ten to twelve feet wide. Drooping, star shaped fronds fan out from a straight trunk to form a symmetrical crown or canopy. The ribbon-like segments at the end of the leaf tips give this palm tree a graceful, fountain-like appearance.

Drooping, star shaped palm fronds are light green in color, with a leaf blade length of thirty-six inches. These palm trees are planted outdoors as single specimens in residential sized landscapes, planted in a line along a long driveway or walkway, or can be planted in a container.

Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona chinensis). Photo by Alejandro Bayer Tamayo, Wiki Commons

Chinese Fan Palm Care

Chinese Fan palm trees add elegant tropical flare to residential and commercial landscape designs. Single specimens are typically used as a focal point in the landscape. Several trees can be planted in a row along a driveway or winding road in large residential and commercial landscapes.

Tips for Planting

USDA Hardiness Zone – Can be planted year-round in zones 9B – 11.

Location – Choose a location that receives partial to full sun. The location should be large enough to accommodate full growth. Fountain palm trees should not be planted near structures or power lines. Allow a minimum of ten between plantings.

Soil – Fountain palms like sandy, well-draining soil.

Steps for Planting

  1. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball. Note: The hole should be as deep as the root ball is tall. The soil surrounding the roots should be loose to allow for easy establishment.
  2. When placing the root ball in the hole, make sure the tree is standing straight. Fill the hole halfway with soil and pack firmly. Fill the hole with the remaining soil while packing firmly around the base of the palm tree. Large, newly planted palm trees may need to be protected from winds and storms by using a brace.
  3. Water thoroughly after planting is completed. Newly planted palms like lots of water. For the first two to three weeks, water daily. Continue watering three times a week. Once established, palms require minimal watering. During the warmer months, approximately two to three times per week. Water approximately once a week during the winter.
  4. Approximately six weeks after planting, fertilize Fountain Palms with a high-quality palm tree fertilizer. Fertilization schedule will be three times a year thereafter.

Note: Choose the location wisely; transplanting palm trees once they are established is risky.