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A European Palm that Feels at Home in Florida

September 17, 2021

With so many varieties, choosing the right palm tree for your landscape can be a difficult decision. The gardening adage, “right plant, right place” also applies when choosing a palm for your garden, therefore it is important to be aware of future growth habits, cold hardiness, and disease susceptibility when choosing palms.

One palm that is slow growing, cold hardy, durable, compact in growth, and clustering is the European fan palm, Chamaerops humilis. The European fan palm, sometimes called Mediterranean fan palm, can grow up to 8 to 10  feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide, but takes years to get that large. The spread depends on the number of individual trunks the palm has. One of the most appealing attributes of the palm is its durability. Established European fan palms can survive temperatures of ten degrees Fahrenheit or even lower and could handle any temperature mother nature brings to the Treasure Coast. The foliage of the palm may be damaged at these temperatures, but the trunk will survive, and new growth will eventually push out.

The physical attributes are what make this palm so appealing to our design team. We like to use the palm as an accent piece because it provides a very Florida feel to a garden. The palm fronds are held on short, curved trunks that produce small clusters of yellow flowering seed pods in the spring. The palm fronds do have spiny thorns, so thought should be given to the location of this palm in the garden. It is recommended to keep this palm a good distance from walkways or heavy foot traffic.

Another benefit of this palm is its adaptability to locations in the garden. It can handle full sun environments or shadier areas. It also performs well in large planters. European fan palms can be a great choice for container gardens whether they are kept indoors as a houseplant or outdoors in a container garden. When planting in a container, make sure to have lightweight soil and good drainage. With proper irrigation and care, these palms are very slow growing and can last quite a long time in a large planter. In colder regions, they can be kept outside during the warm summer months and indoors in winter. Young or mature, this palm makes a stunning structural element in any garden.

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