Chinese Fan Palm

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Chinese Fan Palm is another beautiful tree belonging to the palm family. Scientifically named Livistona chinensis, it is also known as “Fountain Palm”. The species are famous for its fronds which arch upward and spill downward. Similar to that of water from the fountain hence the name.

Chinese fan palm is native to Eastern Asia like China, Japan, and Taiwan. Apart from these countries, it’s now introduced to Bermuda, Hawaii, Florida, and other places. In Mauritius, it was first introduced in 1785 and now has become a native of this area.

How to Identify Chinese Fan Palm Tree

Chinese Fan Palm is distinct from any other palm. You’ll know exactly why. As you look at the tree, you’ll see the beautiful wide-spreading crown. Leaf’s character is what draws the viewer’s attention. I’m talking about the gracefully drooping leaf segment tips.

Growth Habit

fountain tree

Chinese Fan Palms are slow-growing palms. They have a bushy appearance when young. As time passes by, it’s the slender, single trunk that balances the crown above. An adult Chinese Fan Palm reaches the height of about 30 feet.

In addition to their height, they grow wide. Some report the spread to be about 10 feet. So make sure you’re leaving sufficient space before planting them so that they have enough room to fan out. Because of its slow-growing habit, it can be grown as an indoor plant. But, primarily, the Chinese fan palm is an outdoor ornamental plant. The distribution of Chinese Palm is widely in tropical and warm temperate regions.


This palm is a broadleaved, perennial tree. Leaves are palmate; divided into lobes. The dimension of leaves is 3 to 4 feet across and up to 6 feet long. Petioles; connect the leaves with the stem are spiny in juvenile palms. On the contrary to which adult palms have little or no spines.

The Colour of the leaves is green on both surfaces. Leaf-blades are almost circular in outline. These meet the stem in C- fashion.


Chinese Fan Palm is a hermaphrodite which means it contains both male and female flowers on the same plant. So far as the knowledge goes, the inflorescence is 1-1.2m that arises from within the crown. Flowers are in clusters of 4-7, white or yellow, and 2-2.5mm.

The flowering of L. chinesis is recorded from Feb to April in Asia. Plus, fruiting starts from April to September. But in Florida and Bermuda, flowering is seen in spring and summer.



Since both the flowers are in the same individual, the plants are autogamous. Pollination takes place through wind and insects. Fruits are berries with a green or blue-green color. The shape of the fruits varies from globose to ellipsoid or pear-shaped.

The fruits are fed to birds and small mammals which consume them. The fact that the germination rate of these berries is higher is why new growth seems at the base of the parent tree. Hence dense thickets of palms are seen along the roadside. Sometimes, the plant bears heavy fruits. This will result in a split canopy since the berries grow within the crown.


The trunk of adult palms is covered with bases of leaves. However, young palms do not have well-developed trunks. The lower portion of the trunk is uncovered and remains wrinkled and spongy. On top of that are the fronds arranged spirally to form a crown.

Species Similar to Chinese Fan Palm

No doubt, most of the fan palm trees look similar. Several other species use the common fan palm names like European Fan Palm, California Fan Palm, and Real Fan Palm. Chinese Fan Palm looks somewhat similar to Bermuda Palmetto. But, these can be differentiated through various characteristics.

Comparison Between Bermuda Palmetto and Chinese Fan Palm

If you look at the petioles of Chinese Fan Palm, you’ll notice downwardly-pointing spines on the margins. But in Bermuda palms, those are completely absent.

Another means to distinguish Chinese Fan Palm from Bermuda Palm is to look at the joint of stem and leaf. The leaf meets the stem in ‘C’ shape if viewed from above – ‘C’ for Chinese Fan Palm. In addition, the germination rate of Chinese Fan Palm is higher than that of Bermuda palm.

Where does Chinese Fan Palm Tree Grow?


Chinese fan Palm is rich in a majority of ecological areas and is the most widespread genera of palms. They thrive well across Africa, Southern Arabia, Southeastern, and Eastern Asia. Because the species is ecologically diverse, it’s got a lot of taxonomical identities. First thing first, let us know about its growing conditions.

Chinese Fan Palms grow well on the right amount of sunlight and warmth. As I said, there is much abundance in tropical and warm temperate regions. But in comparison to adult palm trees, young ones prefer some shades. If you’re planning to grow Chinese palm as an indoor ornamental, make sure you’re placing it at a bright window that gets direct sunlight.

These are cold hardy to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit which makes them suitable for growth in USDA plant hardiness zones 9A-11. Plus, some reports say it can grow below 600m elevations. Proofs are; young plants and seedlings grow well in open sunny areas as well as dense shady forested areas.

As an agriculturist, what I think questions the growers is if their plant will thrive well under stress conditions? Let me tell you this. Chinese Fan Palm clears your skeptical mind as it’s comfortable to any soil type. Whether it’s acidic, basic, or neutral, your palm tree will give a satisfactorily-defined shape. Drought tolerance is another salient feature of this species. However, well-drained soil is most desirable.

Uses of Chinese Fan Palm Tree

Chinese Fan Palm is an important ornamental and can be grown indoors and outdoors. Its use varies with people. Many people use this for an aesthetic purpose and others for materialistic. However, it flaunts the pride of a place for its amenity.

Non-Medicinal Use

Throughout the tropical and subtropical areas of the world, people grow palm trees in gardens, parking lots, parks, and avenues. You’ll also see its presence at gardens or zoos. The fun fact about these trees; the leaves are used for making hats, fans, brooms, baskets, and raincoats. People of China use its wood to make umbrella handles and walking sticks.

Medicinal Use

  • Antitumor: Chinese scientists have discovered the inhibitory effects of seed extract of palm on some tumor cells. People there also use hot water extract of dry fruits as anticancer agents. This later has been confirmed through studies and research.
  • Cell protective: The phenolic compounds extracted from the fruits exhibit cell protective activity against cell damage.
  • Antibacterial: This time, the phenolic compound in seeds and fruits exhibit antibacterial effects.

Pruning Of Chinese Fan Palm Trees

Chinese Fan Palm has a single trunk with no branching. It’s the leaves that require pruning but not so often. You should remove only completely dead leaves every once a year. This means; leave the nutrient deficient and half-dead older leaves. Completely dead leaves on the lower portion are quite stubborn. They don’t get rid of for like a year or longer. Those require manual removal.

Potassium deficiency is most common in Chinese Fan Palm. It causes leaf tip necrosis on the oldest leaves. Having said that, it’s not a good idea to remove them as soon as possible. The potassium deficient leaves function as a supplementary source to other young leaves. When free of potassium deficiency, the tree gets a luxurious crown of green leaves.

How to Grow Chinese Fan Palm From Seed


The best season to propagate Chinese Fan Palm is spring. Researchers concluded that over 25% of palm seeds require 100 days for germination. But, only about 20% of total germination takes place in those seeds. However, some level of improvement can be made by paying serious attention to the germination process. The reason behind less germination may be due to immature embryos. But that’s a different story. Let’s not get into this.

Selection of Seeds

Good seed germination requires a viable seed, a favorable environment, and good soil media. Dead seeds are the primary cause of poor germination. Similarly, the seeds collected from grounds are more likely to cause insect infestation. The palm seeds must be ripe enough to ensure that the embryo is developed completely.

One of the easy methods to test the freshness of seed is the float test. Seeds that float on the water are dead and the like.

Preparation of Seeds

Water soaking is the easiest and most preferred one for seed treatment. Not only is this beginner-friendly but it also is the quickest method. Besides, there are practices like stratification, scarification, and chemical treatment.

The recommended days for water soaking are for 1 to 7 days. It’s also advisable to change the water daily. Once the days are complete, the pericarp loosens and gets removed easily.

Sowing the Seeds

If the plan is to sow the seeds on pots/containers, make sure they are deep enough to contain the soil columns. Like I said earlier, the soil must have good drainage yet good moisture-holding capacity. The same goes for the pot. It must contain a good drainage system with 2-3 holes.


  1. Collect the Chinese Fan Palm fruits when it’s ripe.
  2. Clean the seeds inside the fruit and seal them in a clean plastic bag for storage at a temperature above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Presoak the seeds for about 1 to 7 days.
  4. Fill in the pots with substrates that have good moisture retention and drainage capacity. A 1:1 ratio of perlite and peat moss is used.
  5. Chinese Fan Palm is a sun-loving plant. So make sure you’re keeping the container in proper sunlight. It’s necessary to cover the seed with soil so that it won’t dry out.
  6. Generally, about 70 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit is an acceptable range of temperature.
  7. The palms do not require supplementary fertilization for at least several months.
  8. Transplantation is a must. Shift your plant before the roots get entangled. Root pruning is not needed.
  9. Transplantation is best at the one-leaf stage.

Chinese Fan Palm Growing Conditions

outdoor care

Chinese Fan Palm isn’t a picky plant. Place it under bright sunlight, it’ll offer you a good form. Not just the light, it grows well on any soil type. With this, I’m saying clay, loam, sand, acidic, and alkaline soils. The mean annual (air) temperature for this plant is from 14 to 30 degrees celsius.

Palm trees grow well at elevations below 600 m and can tolerate the mean annual rainfall from 1800 to 3000 mm.

When to Plant Chinese Fan Palm

The best season to plant the Chinese Fan Palm is spring or early summer.

How to Plant Chinese Fan Palm

Whether you choose your liners or purchase the seedlings, here’re some instructions you can look over:

Transplanting the Seedlings

As I mentioned earlier, the two-leave stage is the best for transplanting. Once the seedling gets its height, it gains root density. Transplanting the seedling in a container requires proper attention to the roots. Transplant them before the roots get entangled so that root of one seedling won’t disturb the other.

Transplantation to small liner pots will require frequent shifting. On contrary, shifting the seedling in a larger container will not only encourage unrestricted root growth but also decrease the labor costs. The downside to this is the possibility of root rot. Hence, comparatively larger pots with frequent shifting are better.

Planting depth is another factor to consider. Chinese Fan Palm is intolerant if it’s planted too deep or too shallow. At the time of transplanting, place the seedling in the soil such that the stem base is half-inch below the soil line. Similarly, shallow planting will not let newly emerging roots continue normal growth down the soil.


Chinese Fan Palm requires a well-drained and well-aerated substrate. There should be enough air space in the container. The recommended air space is about 10-15% with 30-40% water holding capacity. A 2:2:1 mixture of peat, pine bark, and sand is advisable. Cocopeat can also be used as a substitute for peat.

Chinese Fan Palm Water Requirements


At the time of germination, Chinese Fan Palm seeds need uniform moisture. However, overwatering can be deleterious. When in doubt, cover the container with clear plastic to retain the moisture. Don’t let standing water on the surface of the container. Alternate during and wetting, on the other hand, can affect the germination percentage as well.

The same goes for standing palm trees. Make sure you’re providing constant soil moisture. At peak summer days, water your plant twice a day. If you’re planting the palm in the container, don’t let any chances for water stagnant. Provide your plant with enough aeration and enough water.

Chinese Fan Palm Sun Requirements

Many palms, even if they grow in full sunlight, can also germinate under the forest canopy. Similar is in the case of Chinese Fan Palm. This means; even if they prefer bright sunlight, young palm trees can grow well in partial shade.

The bright sunlight might sometimes cause the yellowing of leaves. Despite the bleaching, roots develop well and overall seedling growth is good in full sunlight. The tree should get at least six to eight hours of sunlight every day.

Best Chinese Fan Palm Fertilizer

Chinese Fan Palm does not require supplementary fertilization for about one to two months. This is because the endosperm within the seeds is the reservoir that provides enough nutrition for seedlings. Fertilization can be done by applying different strategies. There are techniques like fertigation, controlled-release fertilizers, palm special fertilizers, and foliar fertilization.

Fertigation: This is the method of applying soluble fertilizer with water through the means of irrigation. Drip irrigation is most preferred among other irrigation systems. One downside to this technique is that there’s a possibility of salt accumulation in the root zone. 

Controlled-release fertilizers: Chinese Fan Palm exhibit potassium deficiency compared to other palm trees. The visible symptom of this is leaf tip necrosis in the older leaves. Controlled-release fertilizer is the most effective way of applying fertilizers. For potassium deficiency, try applying 8-2-12 (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium content) palm maintenance fertilizer. 

The effectiveness of fertilizer application is also dependent on how you apply the fertilizer. You may concentrate the fertilizer around the trunks. Here, you’re going wrong. You want to apply the fertilizer uniformly throughout the canopy area. On days with heavy rainfall, water-soluble fertilizer gets leached out – a reason why controlled-released fertilizers are preferred more.

Essentially, we recommend 8(nitrogen) -2(Phosphorus)-12(potassium) with some micronutrients. When solving the potassium deficiency problem, you must also use some portions of magnesium. So now the composition becomes 8-2-12 + 4Mg. You must be very patient with the treatment as it may take 2 to 3 years.

Some areas of Florida prohibit the application of nitrogen and phosphorus. In the rainy months of June through September, the soil nutrients are more likely to be leached out. Some reports suggest no need for phosphorus application under most of the Florida landscape. So now the formulation changes to 8-0-12+4Mg.

Best Chinese Fan Palm Tree Companion Plantings

False aralia

Depending upon light, consider planting any of the following as companion plants:

  • False aralia
  • Croton
  • White fountain grass
  • Thryallis
  • Agapanthus
  • Thunbergia
  • Dracaena

Chinese Fan Plam Diseases and Common Problems

Indoor Chinese Fan Palms are subject to several pests such as mealybugs, thrips, and scales. Spider mites are another plant pest in greenhouse-grown indoor palms. Routine inspection with proper maintenance can remove this problem. Small infestations can be taken care of with some home remedies. But for large infestations, do use the insecticides in the recommended dose.

Like other palm species, this is also susceptible to Ganoderma butt rot. The fungus, Ganoderma zonatum, lives in the soil and causes trunk rot, and infection is seen at the bottom four feet of the trunk. The infected trunk shows internal discoloration yet no softening of trunk tissue.

Another distinctive feature of this infection is the woody mushroom (conk) on the lower portion of the trunk. Ultimately, the crown begins to wilt and die and should be removed as it could fall anytime. It is one of the most mysterious fungal diseases in the palm family. No one has known the control measure of this disease so far.

Lethal yellowing is another common disease of Chinese Fan Palm. The symptoms are somewhat similar to the Ganoderma butt rot. Primarily, it’ll cause a rapid loss of older leaves with fruit dropping. The only measure to distinguish lethal yellowing from trunk rot is trunk coring. Again, routine inspection needs to be done for this as well. Reports suggest the application of oxytetracycline in the areas with active lethal yellowing.

Thielaviopsis trunk rot also affects Chinese Fan Palm as a fungal disease. It affects the trunk and the entire crown of the tree. If by any chance, the fungus finds the wound in an upper portion of the trunk, it causes a soft rot. This will eventually result in the trunk collapsing or crown toppling over. No chemical control measures are known for this, just make sure not to wound the trunk.

Chinese Fan Palm Tree Treatment and Maintenance


Chinese Fan Palm is not so picky plant. It does well in almost every type of soil and sunlight. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll completely neglect them and let them be on their own. Two of the major factors to be taken care of are its growing environment and the temperature.

Sunlight is one of the most crucial things in any plant growth stage. Your Chinese Fan Palm will do its best in about six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Too much sunlight can sometimes cause burning/bleaching of leaves, while too little sunlight will cause slow growth.

Water your palm only when the surface of the soil/container dries out. Don’t let the water stand on the container as it can result to root rot. Your Chinese Fan Palm thrives well in average humidity. Indoors, avoid the foliage drying out by keeping your palm away from the heating and air-conditioning vents.

Since Chinese Fan Palm is a tree with a single trunk, it doesn’t require excessive pruning. But make sure you’re maintaining the aesthetic appeal of the plant. Check out any dead, infected, or damaged foliage. Trim those fronds as soon as possible and make sure you don’t trouble any part of the trunk.

Pruning of your palm is best during late winter. This season of the year doesn’t contribute to the growth of a plant. Your palms are dormant during winters and the new growth begins during the spring season.

Repotting the palm is necessary to make enough space for the roots. Do this once every two to three years or whenever it’s needed. You’ll figure out the time for a larger container when you notice the roots growing out of the drainage hole. Remember to increase the size of the container each time you shift the plant.

How to Remove Chinese Fan Palm Trees

The saplings of the palm are easy to remove. All you go to do is pull the seedlings. But, be careful about the breakage of the seedlings as they can re-grow in that condition. There are three ways to remove adult Chinese Fan Palm. One, you want to hire a professional removal service. Second, digging up an adult palm. In this, you can re-plant this palm elsewhere.

Digging up the palm tree is quite a tedious process. By securing the tree with several ropes, expose the root balls of the palm. Some damage to the roots won’t affect the tree. Prune the longer roots if needed.

The last method to remove them is by cutting the tree. It’s advisable to wear protective gear while working with chainsaws, machete, and bow saw. Machete and bow saw is preferred as compared to chainsaws. Since the palm is fibrous you’ll need to unclog the chainsaws regularly. And lastly, you can use a stump grinder to remove the rest of the tree. Alternatively, potassium nitrate will make it easy to kill the stump.

First thing first, protection is a must. Be aware of the cracks and holes in the trunk as it can lean in opposite direction. Always make sure the tree you’re removing is clear of any power lines.

Where to Buy Chinese Fan Palm Seeds online


There are some websites where you can purchase the Chinese Fan Palm seeds online.

Where to Buy Chinese Fan Palm Saplings Online

It’s not that easy to get just the saplings of the Chinese Fan Palm online. However, some online outlets can provide you with the plants in the container.

Research Citations:


Question: How often should I water the Chinese Fan Palm tree?

Answer: The plant require enough water in the first week of planting. As it obtains its shape, two sessions of watering per week are enough.

Question: Why is my Chinese Fan Palm leaves turning brown?

Answer: This may be because you’re overwatering the plant. Also, too much fertilizer application can turn the leaves brown.

Question: What is the recommended dose of fertilizer for the Chinese Fan Palm?

Answer: The palm doesn’t require additional fertilizer at the time of germination. However, an adult tree requires 8-2-12 palm fertilizer.


Chinese Fan Palm is a beautiful leaf drooping foliage that enhances the beauty of any landscape. It is a tree with low maintenance and doesn’t require strict care. Just a ray of adequate sunshine, water, and temperature, your Chinese Fan Palm will perform as expected.

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