Windmill palm tree, Trachycarpus fortunei, also called Chinese windmill palm or Chusan palms. Planting, growing and pruning windmill palm plants.
Photos of windmill palms used in different landscape garden designs.
A pair of windmill palm trees planted outside a library in coastal Georgia.
The 15-20 bright green, circular fronds of the Chusan palm spiral out from the top of the tree's trunk forming a symmetrical crown. The fronds are approximately 3 feet in diameter and are held on the ends of saw-toothed petioles.
Each frond consists of about 30 deeply divided leaf segments which are sometimes yellow at the pointed tips. They vibrate in the wind and look as if they are spinning. This makes the plant look like a palm tree windmill.
The palm's single trunk is gray-brown and hairy. It will often be narrower at the base than the top. As the tree matures, the mat of hairy-looking fibers will fall off leaving the trunk smooth.
Trachycarpus fortunei can reach a height of 40 feet with a spread of 8 feet.
The windmill palm tree is dioecious.
Male and female flowers are borne on different plants.
The 3 foot long, yellow inflorescences emerge from the crown in the spring.
On female plants, half inch, oblong, blue fruits will develop in the fall.
Chusan palms flourish in a Moroccan-style courtyard garden in Great Britain.
This native of southeastern China, Taiwan, and the Chusan islands, is grown from central Florida to Vancouver, British Columbia. It is often covered in snow in its native range.
Cold hardy windmill palm trees will survive temperatures as low as 5 degrees F. and can be safely planted outdoors in zones 7b-10.
For best results plant the Chusan palm tree in well draining, nutritious soil in part shade. It has some salt tolerance but should be shielded from direct salt spray.
A planting site in full sun can be used if more water is supplied.
This palm is especially stunning when planted in multiples.
The growth of windmill palms will be rapid if regular water is supplied. Trachycarpus fortunei is very drought tolerant but growth will nearly cease under dry conditions.
Chinese windmill palms may grow 2 feet per year with proper care. They do not care for tropical heat and so are best used in temperate or subtropical climates.
Protect the tree from strong winds as these will shred the fronds.
Pruning windmill palms is easy. Just remove dead fronds close to the trunk. Do not cut or in any way injure the trunk.
These palms perform well when given monthly feedings of any complete palm fertilizer. Add extra nitrogen by using fish emulsion every two weeks during warm weather.
Top dress the soil around the tree with composted manure every spring.
This palm variety is not as picky as most about the type of food it gets. It doesn't have as much need for all the micro nutrients as some other palm tree types.
Ripe windmill palm seed germination will occur within 2 months. No special handling is required.
Sow seed indoors before the last winter frost.
Windmill Palm - Seeds - $10.95
Palm Seeds - Freshly Harvested by Season
Trachycarpus fortunei makes a wonderful potted palm if given sufficient food and water. Its shade tolerance makes it a good indoor palm tree.
Growing windmill palms in containers will allow you to take them outside earlier in the spring and bring them in later in the fall than you could if you were cultivating a more tender variety.
Mulch one-year-old windmill palms and cover them with a sheet or blanket on frosty nights to protect the growing tip. Some growers wrap the trunk in fiberglass insulation and then top that with bubble wrap.
Water potted palms very sparingly in the winter. If the tree is outdoors in the ground, you may need to protect it from excess water with a plastic mulch.
Snow cover will not damage the tree unless the weather warms enough to melt the snow and soak the soil. The windmill palm tree will not accept soggy soil.
The tree's first winter in the ground is the most critical. If you can get it through the first winter, subsequent freezes probably won't harm it as it will develop greater cold resistance as it ages.
The palms listed here are top quality plants in rare larger sizes. Buying these will save you years of waiting and make an instant impact on your planting scheme.