European Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis) Care

If you are looking for a winter hardy palm for your landscape, the European fan palm or Mediterranean fan palm, is one of the best choices out there. They are usually placed around the pool side and in the front yard, but they can also be planted in containers to be indoor plants. They are easy to care for and can work with newbie palm enthusiasts. 

If you are thinking of cultivating European fan palm in your landscape, you must know the most important care requirements and growing tips for this cold hardy palm. Fortunately, this post will round up everything there is to know about European fan palms so read on. 

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European fan palm: Quick Care Guide

The European fan palm is easy to take care of. It is not that picky when it comes to soils, and it tolerates harsh climatic conditions. At best, it needs direct sunlight every day for at least four hours straight.

Indoors, it needs bright, direct light. Watering intervals are reduced once the roots are established. Fertilizing is done year-round, and transplanting should take place every 2 years. 

When it produces too many suckers, it would be best to propagate. Follow proper planting procedures to make sure that they are planted with the right spaces in between for the extensive root system to spread. 

European fan palm identification

The European fan palm is the only palm type that is native to Europe so you can easily spot it in winter gardens. But there is more to its cold hardiness so how do you identify a European fan palm?

First, look at its height. It grows between 8-15ft and 10-16ft wide. It has one of the finest textured fronds of all palm types with a rounded shape composed of 10-20 leaflets. Its leaves are identifiable for their silvery, dark green shades to blue green hues that seemingly glow with light. The leaves will naturally split at maturity.

Its trunks are short and sturdy. It blooms clusters of yellow flowers in spring and tiny fruits thereafter. Overall, it has a slow growing and clumping growth habit. 

Planting European fan palm

The basics of European fan palm start with knowing when, where, and how to plant it. So, let us round up these basics in this section. 

When to plant?

The best time to plant the European fan palm is still during spring when the soil has enough moisture to support its growth and help in establishing the root ball fast enough. If you plan to grow them indoors, start bringing them in containers by fall. 

Where to plant?

European fan palms have specific sunlight requirements for it to grow. When planted outdoors, it should be placed in a location where it gets unfiltered sunlight for 4-6hrs daily.

If you choose to place it in indoor containers, set it near the window which directly faces the sun to get ample light every day. You can also rotate the pot every now and then for all sides to get enough sunlight. 

How to plant

To plant the European fan palm, you should follow these steps: 

  1. Choose whether it stays outdoors or indoors. If indoors, choose a location where it would directly face the sun. For outdoors, choose a place where it could get 4-6hrs of direct sunlight every day. 
  2. Dig a hole that is twice the diameter of its container. It should be at least 6-inches deep to accommodate the root ball. 
  3. Start preparing the potting mix. Amend it with compost and add a bit of sandy soil to make sure that it is well-draining. 
  4. Now, tap the container of the European fan palm to release the root ball. Set it in the hole. Spread the amended soil and pack the root ball firmly. Fill all gaps with the soil. 
  5. After that, apply 1-3 inches of organic mulch for water retention. Place stakes around the planted European fan palm and surround it with meshy nylon to support its growth. Be careful not to touch the root ball. 
  6. Water the newly planted European fan palm every other day unless it rains. Only water the base and never the leaves. The soil must be dry before watering and the water depth should reach 10-inches. Do this for six months. 
  • Plant spacing: As per rule of thumb, European fan palms should be planted 3-4ft away from the home because of their extensive root system. In between two European fan palms, the same space should also be observed. 

Caring for European fan palm

Growing from a medium shrub to a small tree, the European fan palm is a treat for landscapes especially those located in colder climates. It can tolerate below freezing points and is low maintenance. To that end, here are the specific caring tips for the European fan palm. 

Sun

Like other palm types, the European fan palm thrives better in full sun but can well tolerate partial shade. It needs to receive 4-6hrs of full sun every day. When grown in containers and placed indoors, make sure that it receives direct, bright light for 6-8hrs daily. 

Temperature and humidity

Just because it tolerates the cold would mean it loves being in the cold. Like its palm family, it sits well with warm daytime and cool evenings. They also thrive in average outdoor humidity but will require higher humidity when grown indoors. 

Watering

Young European fan palms should be watered regularly until the roots are established. When planted at extreme heat, watering should be done once a week to initiate growth.

As soon as the roots become well-established, watering intervals can be reduced since it is a drought tolerant palm too. Just a pro tip, allow the soil to dry in between watering schedules and then soak it thoroughly once it needs to be watered. 

Soil

When it comes to soil type, the European fan palm is not picky. It can grow well in sand, clay, or loam soils, even poorly nourished soils. This palm, however, loves slightly acidic to highly alkaline soils.

Best growth results are also achieved when well-draining soils are used. Adding peat moss with perlite or sand would be efficient in achieving a well-draining soil for the European fan palm. 

Fertilizing

Growing beautiful European fan palms means that you must fertilize it year-round. Apply slow-release fertilizer to your palm every spring, summer, and fall to encourage growth and make it less susceptible to diseases. 

Pruning

Like most palm trees, European fan palms do not need pruning. But the dead or freeze-damaged fronds must be cut back to maintain the plant’s health for the coming seasons. 

Propagation

European fan palm propagation can be done in two ways: by removing and splitting suckers or through seeds. Removing and planting suckers in containers can happen during spring and summer. 

For those that are propagated through seeds, they must be sown during spring or the week after the last frost for those located in colder regions. The seeds must have been soaked in warm water overnight and then thoroughly dried before sowing. For the next three months, do this process called warm stratification so that the seed coat is softened and becomes ready for planting after this period. 

Plant at 1-inch depth and keep the soil moist for several weeks to encourage germination. The germination phase also takes time for the European fan palm so do not worry if roots do not appear yet after a week or two. Consider waiting for at least 2-3 months before the first sprouts appear. 

Transplanting

When transplanting European fan palms outdoors, make sure that they are spaced 3-4ft apart. They can be transplanted once their roots are already established. They must be placed in low-traffic areas. Transplanting the European fan palm every 2-3 years is highly encouraged. 

How to protect for European fan palms from cold weather? 

To protect your European fan palm from the damages of freezing in the future, you should be aware of the following protective tips: 

  • Young European fan palms must be covered with a blanket before winter. The fronds must also be wrapped to protect the palm’s heart. You can also use lights as temporary heaters during the frozen season. 
  • Before an expected freeze, water the European fan palm deeply and apply organic mulch for it to retain water. 
  • Follow the year-round application of slow-release fertilizer to improve the vigor of your European fan palm in withstanding below freezing point temperatures. 
  • Aside from heavy mulching and watering, you can also apply anti-transpirant spray to help in water retention and copper fungicide to avoid the onset of molds and rots. 

Troubleshooting

European fan palms are known as hardy palms and are not vulnerable to many growing problems and diseases. In certain instances when they encounter problems, pests, and diseases, it would be because of too much or too little of the care requirements mentioned. 

Growing problems

  • Dried leaf tips caused by insufficient sunlight, water and effects of humidity and temperature. 
  • Rusty leaves due to sunburn. 
  • Black or brown leaf splotches due to too much moisture in the soil. 
  • Yellowing leaves due to lack of iron. 
  • Dark green leaf stripes due to freezing. 

Pests

The following are the common palm tree pests with which the European palm tree is not spared from. As such, you must watch out for: 

  • Aphids
  • Scales
  • Mealy bugs
  • Spider mites
  • Palm butterfly
  • Palm weevil
  • Caterpillars
  • Springtails
  • Gnats

Diseases

Like other palm tree types, the European fan palm is also susceptible to the following diseases: 

  • Drying leaves due to sunburn, freezing and fungal infection. 
  • Fusarium wilt indicated by browning, crinkling fronds. 
  • Ganoderma butt rot which invades the root and stems of all palm types. 
  • Leaf spot diseases caused by various fungi niching on the roots of the European fan palm. 

How much does European fan palm cost?

With the European fan palm’s profile, it is expected that it comes with a price. According to Fast Growing Trees, the seeds of this palm type cost in between $150-300. Dwarf species of the European fan palm starts at $400 while a large, live European fan palm could be sold at a max of $10000. 

Related: How Much Do Palm Trees Cost?

FAQs

The information about European fan palm growth and care do not stop with the abovementioned tips and pointers. As such, here are some handy FAQs to help you through your European fan palm care. 

How tall does a European fan palm get?

The European fan palm is considered as a slow-growing palm because of its growth rate of just 5-inches annually. Aside from this, you must prepare yourself with just 7ft of height in 10-15 years of cultivation. With this, it is understandable that this palm tree just reaches 10-15ft. at most. 

Is European fan palm fruit edible?

While they are edible, they are hardly consumed because they have a very bitter taste. The very young leaf buds of the European fan palm, however, are cooked as a vegetable dish in some parts of the world. 

Are European fan palms poisonous to pets?

Fortunately, no. It is safe for common pets like cats and dogs as well as for horses. Like humans, they do not like the very bitter taste of the European fan palm fruits plus it has a spiky spine so pets would most likely stay out from this palm. 

How long do European fan palms live?

Fan palms are generally known for their long lifespan. For instance, the Mexican fan palm can live for up to 500 years. When grown in the proper location and when maintained well, European fan palms can live for decades reaching to 150 years even. However, it would take 50 years before they could reach their maximum height. 

How cold hardy are European fan palms?

Usually, European fan palms do not even need heaters and blankets during the below freezing point seasons. That is how cold hardy it is. To give you some specifics, the European fan palm grows well in zones 8-11 and can tolerate temperatures of as low as -12C. It does lose some of its foliage during harsh winters, but they will come back right after the frost. 

What are the landscape uses of the European fan palm? 

The European fan palm can thrive in any type of landscape. Particularly, the following are the landscape uses of this beautiful and cold hardy palm type: 

  • As an entryway plant.
  • Flanked in pairs by the driveway.
  • Pool cage. 
  • Focal point plant for a xeriscape landscape. 
  • Corner accent plant and container plant. 

More palm tree growing guides:

Conclusion

There are many reasons why homeowners and garden enthusiasts are attracted to European fan palms. Aside from their majestic appearance, they are very versatile. Their ability to withstand extreme temperatures is the main reason as to why they are preferred palm types but their tropical flair in a winter garden never disappoints. 

So, now that you have these pointers to refer to when it comes to growing and caring for a European fan palm, storm the local nursery and place your order from reputable stores and have one in your home now.

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