If you want the feel of the tropics in your home, the Chinese fan palm or Livistona chinensis is what you need!
This plant is a common sight in landscapes with warm and humid climates like Florida, but can also thrive in homes elsewhere if provided with the right conditions. It’s native to the south of Japan and China, but today, it’s available worldwide.
Also known as the fountain palm, it’s recognizable for its unique fronds that go up and then grow downwards, reminding of a water fountain.
When kept indoors, it needs a lot of brightness, light, and space.. Indoors, the potted plant can grow up to 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Outdoors, it can grow up to 50 feet high! (Average 30 feet).
This slow-growing palm has a cute, bushy appearance when it’s young. Later though, it transforms into a plant with a slender and brown trunk that’s tall and tree-like.
For me, the best time for planting it is in the spring; when properly cared for, this wonderful palm can live up to 40 years-how amazing! They’re perfect for beginner gardeners due to being hardy and not too demanding. It also boasts some air purifying properties!
It’s also ideal for families with children and pets as it’s non-toxic.
Still, make sure it’s away from the reach of kids because the fronds can be really sharp!
The fruit of this plant is consumed by the Asian koel in Hong Kong, a common bird that lives in that region. Its leaves are also a roosting site for the short-nosed fruit bats that live in the urban regions of the city!
Chinese Fan Palm Care
To ensure a healthy and happy Chinese fan palm, place it where it will get a lot of brightness, but not too much direct sunlight due to the risk of foliage burn. A window on the south or west will be the best option.
Although it can do well in medium light areas, I wouldn’t recommend keeping it in low light areas, because its growth will diminish.
When they’re kept in an area where the temperature suites them, fan palms will prosper. The ideal room temperature for them is between 55 and 60 degrees F.
Although they love a fair share of warmth, they must never be placed near cooling or heating fans.
Water & Humidity
This plant prefers moist, but not too soggy soil. Overwatering is never a good idea because it can lead to root rot and other illnesses.
The established palms do have some tolerance to drought but need to be watered during extremely hot weather and dry spells.
In the winter, water them when the soil is dry.
I increase the watering in spring and summer. I also noticed this plant enjoys humidity and warmth so if the air in your home is drier, regular misting may be necessary or keeping a water tray nearby.
Fan palms can grow happy in different soils, including clay and sandy, provided their drainage is optimal.
When choosing soil, opt for a rich loamy one that has a slightly acidic to neutral pH. When grown in pots, you can use a quality potting mix for palms.
Or, make your own soil by combining 2 parts peat moss potting mix and 1 part sharp sand.
If you want your fan palm to grow faster and healthier, use a palm fertilizer. Apply it from late winter throughout early fall, according to the instructions on the package.
I’m not the biggest fan of repotting plants, so I like the fact that the fan palm doesn’t need to be repotted often. This is great considering their fragile roots are prone to damage. However, once the time for repotting comes, you’ll know it by the roots coming out of the drainage holes.
To repot this palm, choose a slightly bigger pot which will provide more space for the root.
Ease the plant from the old pot gently and remove as much as from the old soil as possible. Use this time to inspect the roots and check for any potential problems or poorly-looking parts.
Fill the new pot halfway through with soil and transfer the palm into it and add more soil. Before getting it back to its place, remember to water it well.
Propagating Chinese Fan Palm
Similar to other palms, the fan palm can be propagated from seeds.
However, due to the slow growth, it’s not the best option for beginners due to the lengthy process. If you want to give it a go, plant the seeds in springtime.
Use rich soil, but don’t press the seeds very low. They will need a lot of warmth so make sure you use a seedling mat or a heat chamber.
This is an easier and quicker way to propagate the fan palm. You can take cuttings when the plant is medium-sized. When removed from its pot, find a sucker that’s at least 10 inches tall and cut it off from the plant.
Put the sucker into a container with one part sand and two parts potting mix and cover it with a plastic bag. Keep it away from the sun until the roots develop.
Remove the bag and place it in a bright area.
Chinese fan palms don’t need a lot of pruning because they create their own shape. But, when you want to keep it neat, cut off any dead fronds at the bottom when needed.
Best Chinese Fan Palm Species
Real Fan Palm
Known as the makalani palm, this palm originates from the African subtropic regions and it’s a common food and material source of the native people and wildlife.
Californian Fan Palm
The desert fan palm can grow between 40 and 60 feet in height. It’s also the largest native palm in the US.
European Fan Palm
This is a common palm in Europe-it’s tough and tolerant to a colder climate.
Trouble Shooting- Common Chinese Fan Palm Issues
Problem: fronds are turning yellow and droopy
Cause: Lethal yellowing.
Solution: Antibiotic in the form of liquid injection known as Terramycin.
Problem: foliage is losing color
Cause: Lack of potassium.
Solution: Regularly apply potassium fertilizer.
Problem: white or yellow spots and cobwebs around the leaves and stems
Cause: Spider mites.
Solution: Rinse the plant well and apply insecticide like neem oil.
Like to see more indoor palms?
Checkout these easy to care for beauties;
Chinese Fan Palm: chinese-fan-palm-care
Areca Palm: areca-palm-care
Sago Palm: sago-palm-care
Parlor Palm: parlor-palm-care
Broadleaf Lady Palm: broadleaf-lady-palm-care
Ponytail Palm: ponytail-palm-care-indoor