The handsome Chusan palm is a single-stemmed evergreen palm with wonderful, fan-shaped, dark green leaves grow from a hairy, matted trunk. A native of China, Its hardiness against cold is legendary. It is easy to grow and adapts well to most situations, providing the soil is not prone to water logging.
They make beautiful container plants and make a great accent which fits well into small areas like courtyards and entries. In the garden it is very attractive planted in groves and groupings, or can serve as a centre piece in a tropical setting. Ideally, grow in a sheltered position so that the large, fan-shaped leaves are not torn by the wind. The leaves eventually grow up to 75cm (30in) long and 120cm (4ft) across.
Palms make attractive garden focal points, complement them with other exotic plants such as Cordyline australis, the New Zealand cabbage palm and the banana, Musa. Large-leafed plants such as cannas or bamboos also work well.
Commonly called 'The Windmill Palm' it is at its absolute best when well fed, watered and sheltered from the strongest winds.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Trachycarpus fortunei has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: Sow indoors at any time of year.
Soak the seed in warm water for two to three days; change the water each 24 hours.
The seeds can be started by either of these two methods:
1. The 'Baggie' method, Place seeds in a plastic bag together with the moist sowing medium.
2. Sow into trays containing the sowing medium, Sow ¼in (6mm) deep uncover the medium to view the roots.
The best sowing medium is a sterile one. Perlite and vermiculite work well, as does coir otherwise a sterile peat/sand mix can be used. The medium should be barely damp but not wet. Be sure not to add too much water or the seeds will rot. More people kill seeds with water than anything else.
These seeds germinate at room temperature only 18 to 21°C (64 to 70°F). Do not use tropical greenhouses or heated propagator!
Check from time to time. They usually produce a long root some time before the shoot appears, it helps to examine seeds regularly, any of which have produced a root can be potted into 3in (7.5cm) pots of peat/sand mix and the remainder re-sown.
Some seedlings may appear within 8 to 12 weeks others may take longer.
Transplant to deep pots (essential as they put down deep root systems) Pot either into small individual pots or group a few in one large pot to grow on.
Palms need warmth to grow well, if you don't provide warmth the roots struggle to take up nutrients and you more often that not get a sickly seedling that dies or turn yellow. Water only when they get dry. Keep at room temperature.
For the first few months of its life the seedling gets all the nutrients and minerals it needs from the seed itself to help it establish a root system so that it can fend for itself. For seedlings the simplest method is to use 12 month release granules.
Initially growth is quite slow, once it reaches trunking size, growth is quite rapid, capable of growing up to 0.5 metre of trunk per year. Usually 60 to 180cm (2 to 6ft) in medium-sized gardens but ultimately 10 to 12m (33 to 40ft), after a century or so in a good climate.
Windmill Palms have a rather slender single stem that is 8 to 10 inches in diameter and is typically a bit narrower at the base than at the top. Trunks are usually covered with a loose mat of coarse gray or brown fibre. In older individuals the fibre sloughs away to reveal a smooth ringed surface.
This palms prefers cooler, temperate areas, and struggles in the tropics.
Lower tolerance limits of −15 to −20°C (-26 to -29°F) are cited for mature plants.
Young plants are less hardy, and can by damaged by only −8°C (17°F)
Protect young specimens grown in cold areas with a warm, winter wrap.
Robert Fortune, the famous 19th-century plant collector, discovered T. fortunei growing on the island of Chusan (now Zhoushan), south of Shanghai. Brought to Europe over 150 years ago it has long been a feature of Europe’s parks and gardens.
Trachycarpus fortunei has been cultivated in China and Japan for thousands of years, grown for its coarse but very strong leaf sheath fibre, used for making ropes, sacks, and other coarse cloth where great strength is important.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Packet Size 20 Seeds Family Arecaceae Genus Trachycarpus Species fortunei Synonym Trachycarpus excelsus, Chamaerops excelsa Common Name Chinese Windmill Palm, Chusan Palm, Other Common Names Hemp Palm, Butchers Palm. Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy To −15 to −20°C (-26 to -29°F) are cited for mature plants. Height Usually 60 to 180cm (2 to 6ft) in medium-sized gardens.