The Chinese Fan Palm – A Comprehensive Guide

One of the easiest palms to grow in a variety of climate types would have to be the Chinese Fan palm.

If you aren’t familiar with this palm or you have always wanted to grow one, you will find that this is one of the more versatile cold hardy palms out there.

Whether growing outdoors, indoors, or even as a die-back perennial, the Chinese Fan palm is ideal for many environments.

Let’s find out more about this incredible palm.


  • Overview of Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona Chinensis):
    • Native to eastern Asia, China, Japan, and Taiwan.
    • Ideal for a variety of climates, both indoor and outdoor.
    • Features glossy emerald green fan-shaped fronds with a “fountain” appearance.
    • Slow-growing and drought-tolerant.
    • Can reach up to 30 feet in height outdoors, with fronds up to 6 feet long.
  • Growth Conditions:
    • Suitable for zones 8 and above.
    • Tolerates temperatures as low as 15°F, but frond damage may occur.
    • Thrives in subtropical to tropical areas, are also adaptable to temperate and semi-arid climates.
    • Requires regular watering in hot and dry conditions, and becomes more drought-tolerant when mature.
    • Prefers well-draining soil, part to full sun exposure.
  • Indoor Cultivation:
    • Makes an excellent indoor plant.
    • Keep in a bright area away from direct sunlight.
    • Prefers humidity levels of 50-60% and temperatures around 70-80°F.
    • Water regularly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
    • Slow growth minimizes the need for frequent repotting.
  • Growing as a Die-Back Perennial:
    • Can be grown without developing a trunk in colder regions.
    • Requires cutting back fronds and heavy mulching in winter.
    • New fronds emerge in spring as temperatures rise.
  • Ideal For:
    • Beginners in palm cultivation, especially in zone 8 or above.
    • Adding tropical appearance to landscapes, suitable for small yards.
    • Use in entryways and around pools.
  • Potential Drawbacks:
    • Vulnerable to Lethal Yellowing Disease in tropical regions.
    • Risk of spider mites and fungus gnats when grown indoors.
  • Conclusion:
    • A versatile, low-maintenance choice for both indoor and outdoor settings.
    • Suitable for a wide range of climates and easy for beginners.

What Is a Chinese Fan Palm?

Chinese Fan Palm In a Park Setting
Chinese Fan Palm In a Park Setting

Known by its species name Livistona Chinensis, Chinese Fan palms are native to eastern Asia, China, Japan, and Taiwan.

They are slow-growing, drought-tolerant, and an ideal choice for indoors or out.

Chinese Fan palms are a single trunking specimen with glossy emerald green costapalmate fan fronds with a classic tropical appearance.

They have leaf tips that droop down in older specimens which gives it a unique “fountain” look, hence the alternate common label of Chinese Fountain palm.

Fronds will get up to about 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. Petioles contain spines that smooth out as the palm

When grown outdoors in their native climates, these palms can get approximately 30 feet in height or taller. When mature they max out around 15-20 feet, with the crown getting about 10-15 feet wide.

The trunk is grey and smooth seldom retaining older petiole boots. Pruning of old fronds should only be done once they are mostly dead and at the lower part of the crown.

The yellow, cream-colored flowers give way to dark blue fruit once ripe and is consumed by birds and other wildlife that disperse the seed.

This has made it an invasive species in many areas where germination rates are high.

Young Chinese Fan Palm With Glossy Green Fronds
Young Chinese Fan Palm With Glossy Green Fronds

Where Will Chinese Fan Palms Grow?

Where do I begin?

The Chinese Fan palm is a great choice for zones 8 and above in a variety of climate types.

They will survive temperatures down to approximately 15F and possibly lower. However, frond damage can be severe at these temps.

They thrive their best in subtropical to tropical areas such as Florida, Hawaii, Bermuda, and much of eastern Asia where they are native.

They will also thrive in temperate and semi-arid climates with ample water.

In the U.S. you will find many of these palms growing successfully in parts of the southwest, the Gulf Coast, and spreading east toward the Atlantic.

In moderately hot and dry landscapes, regular watering with part to full sun is best. Chinese fan palms will become quite drought-tolerant once mature and established.


One of the best features of the Chinese Fan palm is that it makes a great indoor specimen!

This is incredibly convenient if you live in a climate much colder than where it will normally survive outdoors year-round.

For indoor situations, keep the palm in a bright area away from direct sunlight.

Chinese Fan palms will tolerate a variety of soils as long as it is well-draining. Water regularly, but allow the soil to dry out briefly before watering again.

Keep away from drafty areas, such as heat and air vents. This can dry out the palm and damage the fronds.

If humidity levels in your house are at lower levels, you can mist the fronds occasionally to keep them looking their best.

For indoors, 50-60% is an ideal humidity range for these palms with temperatures averaging 70-80F.

Since they are slow growing, repotting Chinese Fan palms will not be an ongoing issue. Overall, these palms are quite carefree for indoor use.


The Chinese Fan palm can make an ideal die-back perennial when young before it develops a trunk.

There are a couple of things to consider if you want to try this method.

When growing as a die-back perennial, one thing to keep in mind is that the palm will never be able to develop a trunk.

The fronds will need to be completely cut back and heavy mulching will be required to keep it protected from severe cold.

In the spring, remove the mulch and the palm should start growing new fronds as the weather warms up!

Folks in areas such as Michigan and Illinois are having success using this as a way to grow the Chinese Fan palm in their garden.

This is an ideal method for anyone who doesn’t mind having a small palm as an understory beneath taller trees.

Remember, this palm is slow to grow, so it can take toward the end of the summer months for it to start looking satisfactory.

Mature Chinese Fan Palm Fronds
Mature Chinese Fan Palm Fronds

Who Are Chinese Fan Palms For?

If you live in zone 8 or above, the Chinese Fan palm is a great one to start with if you are new to growing palms.

They are for anyone who wants a maintenance-free palm for growing indoors or outdoors to achieve that tropical look and add ornamental value to just about any landscape.

Since the Chinese Fan palm is a slow grower and more medium-sized, this palm is one to consider as a staple for entryways and around pools.

They are also PERFECT for smaller yards where larger palms may cause a problem.

Any Drawbacks To the Chinese Fan Palm?

While fairly easy to grow and maintain, the Chinese Fan palm can be susceptible to Lethal Yellowing Disease in certain tropical regions.

Areas of Florida, the Caribbean, and South America are common, but usually only present in open fields and park-like settings.

Something to consider if you live in an area where this disease is a regular occurrence with other palms.

When growing indoors, these palms can be subject to the usual risks of developing spider mites and fungus gnats.

This can be prevented and maintained with common products like neem oil or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water.

These methods are effective for killing any larvae left behind by these pests.

Changing out old soil or letting the soil dry out a bit can also be a solution to avoid these insects.

The Wrap Up

If you are a beginner at growing palms, the Chinese Fan palm is an excellent choice to start with.

Their versatility for being a great indoor or outdoor palm along with their tolerance of many types of climate ranges, this palm is worth considering!

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