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Chinese Fan Palm Care – Step By Step

Chinese Fan Palm Care – Step By Step

The Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona chinensis) is one of the subtropical evergreen palm trees originating from East Asia. 

It grows to heights of up to 30-50 feet (9-15 meters) and a width of around 12 feet (4 m) and gets its name from its strikingly long and slender leaves which form a pattern similar to a Chinese fan and droop in linear segments.

It is a slow-growing plant with a single, upright trunk and its bright green leaves can span up to 6 feet (2 meters) in length.

It is highly decorative and can also be grown in pots where it likes to spread. In summer it displays panicles of cream-colored flowers which are followed by fruits that are either blue-green or pink.



Chinese Fan Palm care

The Chinese Fan Palm loves the heat but needs to be protected from bright, direct sunlight which can cause it to burn. It will cope well during dry spells but will benefit from regular watering throughout the growing season. The ideal temperature range for this plant is between 65°F-85°F (18°C-29°C) and it enjoys a normal, comfortable humidity range within a domestic setting. As with its watering regime, when it comes to fertilizing a Chinese Fan Palm, less is more. Chinese Fan Palms are easy to propagate and this can be done from seed or from cuttings.


Where to grow your Chinese Fan Palm

Your Chinese Fan Palm should ideally be placed in bright indirect or dappled sunlight. It requires heat and light but if you place it in direct sunlight, it can cause burning of the leaves. 

It will cope fine in medium light but will struggle in areas of low light. If you’re having trouble figuring the proper light levels, better read about it in this website.

When grown in pots it is ideally suited to growing under glass so a conservatory or greenhouse is usually a prime location for this plant.

Chinese Fan Palms grown containers will not attain the same height and width as those planted directly in the ground



Chinese Fan Palm is quite drought-tolerant but will appreciate a good dose of water – particularly during dry spells. Whether grown indoors or outdoors, it is vital that it is in well-drained soil. 

As a guide, during the summer you should water once a week to once a fortnight depending on the weather.

If there is sufficient rainfall to keep the soil moist then you will not need to add any additional water, but if the soil dries out to around 2 inches, a good soaking will do your plant the world of good.

During the winter it is very unlikely that you will need to water outdoor plants but should apply the same principle to indoor plants of watering when the soil is dry to a depth of around 2 inches.



The Chinese Fan Palm grows best in temperatures of between 65°F-85°F (18°C-29°C). 

This is generally consistent with the temperature of a suburban home, making the Chinese Fan Palm an ideal houseplant.



Chinese Fan Palms will enjoy a normal residential humidity level between 30-60%. 

Kept indoors, it’s recommended that you mist your plant 2-3 times per week to complement the humidity of the environment. 

After misting, be sure to wipe down the leaves as excess moisture or standing water can cause rot or fungal infections.



The Chinese Fan Palm is a slow-growing plant so you don’t want to fertilize it too regularly. 

A slow-release palm fertilizer (8-2-12 ) will help make sure it gets a balanced dose of potassium and other nutrients necessary throughout the growing season.

After applying fertilizer, be sure to give the soil a thorough soaking to help disperse it and to allow it to soak in fully and encourage your plant to reach down, thus strengthening its root base.


Air circulation

Chinese Fan Palms won’t appreciate cold breezes so should not be kept near open doors or windows. HVAC systems are also to be avoided. 

During spring and summer, particularly on hot, dry days, you should try to take any indoor Chinese Fan Palms outside to allow the fresh air to get to them. 

If they are too large for you to move, opening a nearby door or window should suffice.



Chinese Fan Palms can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.

If you decide to try reproducing this plant by seed, sow the seeds in springtime. Place them in rich soil but leave the top of the seed sticking out slightly. Cover the seeds over with sand and water. 

The soil must be kept warm and moist for germination to take place.

Propagating from cuttings is a far easier and faster method of propagation. 

Once you have a medium-sized plant, you are able to take cuttings and increase your collection of Chinese Fan Palms. 

Remove the plant from its container and find a sucker that is at least 30cm in length. Using a sharp knife or secateurs, make a clean cut and remove the sucker from its parent plant.

Place the sucker into a medium-sized pot filled with a 50/50 mix of perlite and potting compost

Compact the growing medium around the sucker to ensure it can stand up, then place a clear plastic bag over the pot. It is best to keep your new plant out of direct sunlight until it has developed roots.

If you have a Chinese Fan Palm that has produced fruit, you can harvest the seeds to grow new plants. If not, you can buy seeds relatively cheaply.

To harvest your own seeds you will first have to crack open the husk that holds them. You can do this by using a tool like a hammer or a mallet. 

Once you have cracked the outer shell remove the small brown seeds.

Seeds are best sown indoors soon after harvesting. Prior to sowing the seeds, soak them in water for 24 to 48 hours to hasten the process of germination. 

Once your seeds are soaked they can be planted in 2-inch pots containing a potting mix comprising 50% compost and 50% perlite. 

Leave a small section of the plant exposed and cover it with sand. Water immediately and allow the excess liquid to drain. 

Keep the soil moist and warm by placing the pots on a windowsill or in a greenhouse and make sure they get at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. 

Chinese Fan Palm seeds form a long taproot to begin with so be patient. 

Once your seedlings come through and are large enough to handle (which can take up to 4 months) they can be transplanted to larger 4-inch pots with fresh potting medium. 

Continue to keep the soil moist and keep your seedlings in these slightly larger pots until the following spring when they can be moved to their permanent position. 

If planting them outside, wait until the last frost has passed.


Common problems with Chinese Fan Palms

Like most palms, the Chinese Fan Palm is susceptible to common infestation if grown indoors. The most common of these are scale, mealybugs, and spider mites. 

These can be prevented by routinely inspecting and cleaning the leaves as part of your maintenance schedule. 

Small infestations can be treated with rubbing alcohol, while larger infestations may require the application of an insecticide.

Chinese Fan Palm can also be affected by lethal yellowing. This is a phytoplasma disease that is transmitted via planthoppers as they move between plants. 

As its name suggests, lethal yellowing will kill your plants if it takes root. Regularly cleaning the leaves will help prevent this disease from spreading too. 

The first sign of lethal yellowing is usually early fruit dropping. You will then see the flowers begin to die off. Once these signs appear on the plant, it’s time to remove and destroy it.


Frequently asked questions about Chinese Fan Palms


Why are the tips of my Chinese Fan Palm leaves turning brown?

This is a common problem in Chinese Fan Palms, particularly when kept indoors, and is most likely caused by low humidity or dry soil. If you find that the soil’s dry, give it a good soaking.  If the soil is still moist, try misting the plant.


Why does my Chinese Fan Palm have brown spots on the leaves?

This might be caused by too much watering, chemical burn from excessive fertilizer, or stagnant air. Try repotting the plant in fresh soil and misting it.


Why is my Chinese Fan Plant drooping?

You have probably overwatered it. Remember, Chinese Fan Palms are drought-tolerant plants that would rather have too little water than too much. 



A fully mature Chinese Fan Palm is a thing of majesty and beauty. 

In keeping with its name, there is something regal about the form it takes and this plant would not look out of place in a 5-star hotel or fine dining restaurant.

But it is not consigned just to places of great wealth and standing. It is equally at home in any residential or commercial setting and will help to elevate the area without ever looking out of place.

The Chinese Fan Palm is relatively simple to look after and will come back from many tough situations due to its hardiness.

 It doesn’t require pruning to keep its shape and all new growth comes from the terminal tip, so as long as you don’t cut off the top of the plant it should stay healthy and bring you years of enjoyment. 

Older fronds should be removed when they turn brown to ensure the plant puts all its energy towards fresh growth rather than trying to revive dead leaves.