Chinese Fan Palm Care: How To Grow Livistona Chinensis

Livistona chinensis (liv-iss-TOE-nuh chih-NEN-sis) is also known as the Chinese Fan Palm or the Fountain Palm. This subtropical palm fan tree is a member of the Arecaceae family of plants and hails from east Asia.

Chinese fan palm livistona chinensis
Chinese fan palm tree growing in the garden | YAYImages-DepositPhotos

This fan palm is a perennial, evergreen and native to:

  • Southeastern China
  • Southern Japan
  • Ryukyu Islands
  • Taiwan
  • Hainan

Palm Livistona Chinensis Care

Size & Growth

The fountain Palm is slow-growing and very hardy. In its native tropical setting, the Chinese Fan Palm is able to attain a height of 50′ feet tall.

In other outdoor locales, it typically will grow to be 30′ feet high and has a spread of between 10′ and 12′ feet.

The trunk of the Chinese fan palm is single and straight. Its fronds are approximately 6′ feet long.

Individual leaves on the fronds are fountain-like and tapered, coming to a graceful, curved point at the ends.

The leaves droop from the crown and are the cause of the plants’ common name, Fountain Palm.

Fountain Palms’ leaves form a circular, fan-like formation. Coloring may range from very deep green to dark, blue green.

Flowering & Fragrance

The white flowers of these fan palms are small and inconspicuous. They are usually hidden among the leaves and are not visible. They transition into small, bluish-black fruits that are rather like black olives.

Light & Temperature

Protect young Chinese Fan Palms from harsh sunlight until they are well established. Once mature, these trees do very well in full sun.

Fountain Palm is fairly cold hardy palm and can thrive outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11.

This frost-resistant palm tree is cold hardy and can survive temperatures down to 20° degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering & Feeding

The sturdy Chinese Fan Palm tree is moderately drought tolerant. It does quite well in semi-desert areas such as New Mexico and Texas.

Water your Chinese Fan Palm deeply, on occasion during times of drought. Surround the tree with mulch to help retain moisture. 

Generally speaking, keep the plant well watered throughout the growing season. Reduce watering during the autumn and winter. This is especially important if you’re keeping your Fountain Palm as a houseplant. 

Fertilize twice annually, once early in the springtime and again in mid-summer. Be sure to use a formulated palm fertilizer. The recommended NPK ratio is 8 – 2 – 12.

Soil & Transplanting

These compact palms like slightly alkaline, fertile, well-draining soil. Sand, loam, and clay are all tolerated.

When kept as a houseplant, you will not need to repot your Chinese Fan Palm frequently. Start out with a pot that is lightly larger than the plants’ root ball. 

The palm has a slow growth habit. When your tree depletes the soil or stresses the pot, it’s time to repot. Do so carefully because palm roots are quite fragile.

Grooming & Maintenance

Chinese Fan Palms are virtually maintenance-free. Just prune to remove dead or damaged fronds. Once annually, prune off the dead leaves at the base of the crown.

How To Propagate Livistona

You can propagate palm trees from seed, but this takes a very long time. You are really better off to buy a sapling from your local nursery or online. 

Keep them in a sheltered, warm area with bright, indirect sunlight. Keep the rooting medium slightly moist until roots develop.

Livistona Chinensis Pests or Diseases

Lethal yellowing disease can be a problem for this palm tree. 

If kept as a houseplant, your palm tree is subject the problems common to houseplants, such as fungal diseases, scales and spider mites. 

If you notice that the leaves are yellowing, this may be a sign of a deficiency of potassium.

Is The Chinese Fan Palm Considered Toxic or Poisonous?

Leaves of Livistona are non-toxic. Its fruits are edible. 

Is The Chinese Fan Palm Livistona Considered Invasive?

These resilient palm trees thrive in any tropical setting. They have been introduced in many areas worldwide, where they have escaped cultivation and become invasive.

Currently, Chinese Fan Palm is listed as a Category II invasive plant in the state of Florida. It is also listed as invasive in: 

  • New Caledonia
  • Mauritius
  • Bermuda
  • Reunion
  • Hawaii

The palm Livistona makes itself at home on cleared or disturbed soil and in established woodlands. It tends to grow in dense thickets that block the sun and smother native plants. [source]

Suggested Uses For Chinese Fan Palm 

These rather compact palms can be grown in containers indoors. In tropical and semi-tropical settings, they make an attractive full sun palm. A single specimen can make an attractive addition to your patio or deck. 

These palms are often used to landscape parking lot islands and the buffer strips surrounding parking lots. In tropical locales, they are frequently seen as median strip plantings.

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