Growing the Windmill Palm in the Home Garden

Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)
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Overview:

The windmill palm is one of the hardiest palm trees available, allowing you to add a splash of tropical flavor to your temperate garden. It is a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Latin Name:

The botanical name for this palm tree is Trachycarpus fortunei and it belongs to the Arecaceae (palm) family. The species name was given in honor of Robert Fortune, a horticulturist from Scotland.

Common Names:

This is known as the windmill palm, hemp palm, Chusan palm, Nepalese fan palm or the Chinese windmill palm. Windmill is in reference to the shape of the leaves. Chusan is after Chusan Island in China.

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones:

This species tolerates frost quite well considering it is a palm tree and can be grown in Zones 7B to 11. It originates from Burma, China and India.

Size:

This tree can be from 10 to 40' tall and 6 to 10' wide.

Exposure:

For optimal growth, find a location in your garden that offers partial shade. This tree can also tolerate full sun or full shade.

Foliage/Flowers/Fruit:

The windmill palm has fan-shaped leaves that are 3' in diameter. The leaf shafts produce fibers that cover the trunk and can be made into ropes, mats, brushes, brooms, hats and other fibrous products. The leaves are also sometimes used in thatched roofs.

This tree is dioecious and you will need at least one male and female for fruit production.

The flowers are yellow and will perfume the air around them.

After the female flowers are pollinated, clusters of purple drupes (stone fruit) are formed in the summer.

Design Tips:

If you do not want to deal with fallen fruit, look for a tree that is male. These can be planted in gardens near the ocean since they tolerate salt.

 This palm tree works well when grown in containers. The pot needs to have drainage holes.

Growing Tips:

As long as there is good drainage, the windmill palm will grow in most soil conditions and pH levels. It does not like to have wet feet.

You can use the seeds to propagate new trees. They may take two to three months to germinate.

Maintenance/Pruning:

There are no pruning requirements for this tree except for the standard upkeep of removing parts that have become dead, damaged, or diseased.

Pests & Diseases:

This tree usually does not have too many problems with either pests or diseases. Frost may cause problems in the cooler zones, so choose a site where it can be sheltered from the elements. Strong winds may also cause damage.

Possible Pests:

Potential Diseases:

  • Leaf spots
  • Lethal yellowing disease
  • Root rots