Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chinese Fan Palm, Fountain Palm
Livistona chinensis

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Livistona (liv-iss-TOH-nuh) (Info)
Species: chinensis (chi-NEN-sis) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

17 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
4.5 or below (very acidic)
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)
8.6 to 9.0 (strongly alkaline)
over 9.1 (very alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 53 photos.
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17 positives
No neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive longjonsilverz On May 1, 2014, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:

These palms can survive here in Eastern Maryland (zone 7) if mulched at the base each fall. They completely defoliate but re-grow as a perennial each spring. They will never grow a trunk this way, but can be a nice under story palm. It takes a long time (most of the summer) to completely recover a decent looking form, but its definitely fun to have another palm to grow in Maryland. I recommend using some kind of palm food if trying this method so the growth is fast enough to be worth the effort.

If you're looking for a REAL cold hardy palm, you may want to try the Needle palm (Rhapidophyllum Hystrix), Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal Minor) or the Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus Fortunei). Each will also survive in this area.

Negative NorthSC On Feb 20, 2014, NorthSC from North, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Hard to survive and thrive in zone 9A long term, let alone zone 8. Best for zone 9B and warmer.

Positive storkgarden On Sep 14, 2012, storkgarden from Mobile, AL wrote:

Bought this plant at a locale HD about five years ago. It was a combination of about 5 plants in one container (cost $10.00) separated the plants and planted in semi-shade locations. Two of the plants survived making beautiful 15 foot palm that can take 15 degree winter temperature with almost no freeze damage. Leaves are about 4 to 5 feet, with a developed two foot trunk. Better than the Sabal palm that is grown here in Mobile. Leaves are larger and have a florescent green color with large green leaves. One of the few palms that grow well in shady area in zone 8B.

Positive LeesWorld On Mar 27, 2012, LeesWorld from Saint Clair, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

I found a beautiful specimen in the garbage right after I prayed for one! I put it in the shade, and it did pretty well. Sadly I put it in a low lying spot which can get very cold in the winter. I only covered it with a little bit of mulch. It was my first year doing cold hardy tropicals, what can I say? ;) In spring, the spear leaf pulled right out, so I sprayed it with some anti-fungus spray and waited. A while afterwards I despaired and dug it out, but to my surprise it was growing new roots!! I planted it back into the ground and took good care of it. Sadly it died from a slug infestation. :( If I find this palm again I will certainly try again, but have better protection next time!

Positive SuburbanNinja80 On Mar 23, 2011, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

I Must say, when I bought this at Walmart. I Thought it was a Chinese windmill Palm. When I looked at it it has Thorns that confused for two days until I looked at the Tag, I love Fan palms. I love them more than the Normal ones you see. This was a great buy for my self. Happy I did it now am Hoping to put it outside in the Ground. I Hope it does well. If any wants a Cool looking palm with Thorns this would be the Type to buy next to Needle palm. A Very Good Alternate Palm to Mexican Fan Palm and Californian Fan palm. This can withstand More Humidity in the East than the Mexican Fan Palm and Californian Fan palm can.

Well, I desired to plant it in the Ground. its doing Very well. I know in my winters will the defoliate this palm but, Our winters are not that Cold anymore. It still gets into the negatives but, the wind is the Largest Danger to this Palm in the winter This is going to be For sure protected.

Well a update aug. 23,2012
Well last winter it defoliate i thought it was dead so i took it out of the ground and put it back into the woods and got another. About to months later i was cleaning up the gradrn and i looked over when i was bringing some leafs to my area. To notice green on the palm. I left it there for a month. So it lived and recovering in a ten gallon pot.

Positive palmbrad On Aug 3, 2010, palmbrad from Summerville, SC wrote:

Overwintered in Summerville, SC perfectly. Retained a deeper green color than my dwarf palmetto's and needle palms.

Positive Mah_Boi941 On Apr 6, 2010, Mah_Boi941 from Cinncinati, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Although the palms foliage cant overwinter up here in ohio, they can still act as a perennial. You just cut the fronds off after the first frost, and cover the rest with a pile of mulch.

Positive northfront On Mar 26, 2010, northfront from Valrico, FL wrote:

I planted my Chinese Fan Palm about 9 years ago in the corner of my back yard in Valrico, Florida (East Tampa Bay area). It is approx. 15 feet tall at present including the leaves, The trunks (2) are about 5 foot and 3 foot tall. It is a handsome plant, slow growing compared to many other palms, so it stays a manageable height for a long time. The leave are large, shiny and look great with the night time yard lights. This Winter ( 2009 - 2010 ) was the coldest in history here, my thermometer got to 24.4F one night. Only the tips of the leaves frosted at that temp. They have never been frost damaged before ( zone 9b ). They are growing in sandy soil, getting lots of water in summer, and almost none during the winter dry season. The palm provides cover and some frost protection for shade loving plants beneath. The Chinese Fan Palms do have spines on the stalks, but not as dangerous as many other palms grown here. They have not yet bloomed, one less thing to clean up!

Positive hoitider On Dec 28, 2009, hoitider from Emerald Isle, NC wrote:

being in zone 8 my experice with a 8 ft plant three of them was ok lost one the other two lost there leaves but came back with more leaves or fans then they had when i planted them,this will be there second winter they were purchased from home depo 135,00 and the refunded my purchase price on the one i lost,happy days

Positive ArchAngeL01 On Mar 15, 2009, ArchAngeL01 from Myrtle Beach, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

i love this plant:) it grows here with some defoliation but regrows rapidly in spring , i use too live in zone 6b and it grew as a perrenial up close too house :) tough as nails

Positive tropicsofohio On Dec 17, 2007, tropicsofohio from Hilliard, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

very experemental. i bought a clump from walmart in spring. it contained about 20 plants. after i split them up, and they defoliated. i set them in the ground and only about 6 survived. only one added a complete new leaf. they are in full sun. so far they haved survived 7F with a milk jug over them. on the cold nights, i turn the christmas lights on that suround them on the ground. with no protection, they have cold dammage at 22F. all still have strap leaves.

update spring 08
all spears are green and healthy, though palms are completly defoliated. hope faster growth returns later this spring.

Positive Edward9B On Mar 6, 2007, Edward9B from Bradenton, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Palmate leaf with unique hanging leaf segment. Large gray-blue grape like seeds add to charm. Low maintenance and cold hardy. Slow growing, slightly faster with fertilizer. I have seen this palm misused as ground cover. Allow 4-5' radius of space around palm. This palm should be planted more frequently if planted properly. It is well worth the wait.

Positive artcons On May 2, 2005, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

When I planted my "fan palm" about ten years ago, I really wanted it to stay small, since where I was planting it, I didn't have room for it to get big. It has not dissapointed. A very slow grower in my yard. It has done exactly what I expected it to do. I love it. My only negative is how sharp and how many dangerous spines there are on this plant. Use caution when near the stalks. I plant bromilead and ferns in the boot jacks. The Ruellia growing underneath my palm in the picture have been there for probably five or more years, so there is enough light to grow plants that will tollerate shade under a fan palm.

Positive Airmandelt On Sep 28, 2004, Airmandelt from Hampton, GA wrote:

Hello all.I live 1 mile north of atlanta motor speedway in Hampton Ga [zone 8]. I started with 4 chinese fans last december that I bought really cheap from Lowes. Not knowing much about palms, I thought that if I planted them that they would grow here. After doing my homework a week later I assumed they would die before january. I just left them to their own devices and didn't bother to mulch them or cover them. After 9 months , 3 hurricanes and an ice storm with 3 inches of snow the next day they are still going strong.These were tiny 5 gal plants also.After reading up on them and asking about other peoples chinese fans I got really lucky with mine.I hope all of you have the same luck!

Positive aviator8188 On Aug 22, 2004, aviator8188 from Murphysboro, IL (Zone 7a) wrote:

Surprise!Surprise!...Livistona chinensis will grow here in southern Illinois! I purchased a L. chinensis from Lowe's in May of 03', to serve as a nice tropical for the summer. I bought the palm, which was 9 gallon sized. I planted it in the ground and fertilized it heavily with nitrogen and phosphorus. When weather began to carry the "Banners of Fall," I knew I was going to miss my beautiful L. chinensis when winter came. I figured I would experiment with it, by trying to keep it alive through our zone 7a winter. I built a wire cage around the palm and lined it with a 1/8" thick polycarbonate covering. I placed dried Oak Leaves around the base of the palm, over the top of the growth bud. When December came, weather was still mild with highs in the low 50's and lows in the low 30's to upper 20's. L. chinensis looked great through Christmas and into January. During the 1st week of January, my region recieved 6 inches of snow overnight, with lows in the upper 20's. Unfortunately, the snow caused the wire cage around the palm to collapse, crushing the palm underneath. Luckily, the snow melted throughout the day due to highs in the low 40's. Two weeks later, we experienced are lowest temperature of the winter, with a low which bottomed out at 5deg. F. L. chinensis suffered 60% leaf burn. As Febuary and March went by, weather began to moderate. By mid-April, I removed the wire cage, and to my surprise, even though the fronds suffered from 90% leaf burn, the bases of the fronds and growth bud were still green! I checked the roots and they were also alive. During the warming of April, with highs in the upper 70's and low 80's, it began producing new fronds. I sadly had to remove it later, because I had planted it in a location where I didn't want it permanently. I label this sub-tropical palm as "BULLETPROOF" for a sub-tropical, more tender palm. Its very hardy, even considering I provided protection for it.

Positive suncatcheracres On Oct 8, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I grew one of these palms for about nine years in the shade of a large laurel oak tree in my front yard in St. Petersburg, Florida, zone 9b. It was a very slow grower, but eventually became an outstanding specimen. It never grew taller, just wider. It provided some evergreen privacy for the twenty-six feet of glass that made up my living and dining room windows in my 1950's Florida "modern" house.

Positive IslandJim On Oct 7, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

The bright green fronds make this an exceptionally fetching palm. Also, the fact that it is quite slow growing has made it a staple of foundation plantings in south Florida--probably a mistake, but an attractive one in the near term.

Positive palmbob On Aug 17, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Another commonly grown avenue palm in Southern California, and throughout the subtropical and tropical world. This palm, like many Livistona, has fan leaves with very droopy leaf tips that make an attractive looking palm. It is a very common and easy to grow palm, so often is used in large numbers for landscaping. Though usually seen as a low growing, shrubby tree, it can grow quite tall. In shady conditions the leaves are stretched and the palm looks completely different. Native of Taiwan. This is probably the most cold tolerant of all the Livistona species. Actually performs quite well as an indoor plant, if you don't mine the incredibly sharp teeth along its petioles.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Dothan, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama (2 reports)
Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Hayward, California
Merced, California
Mission Viejo, California
Oceanside, California
Pasadena, California
Santa Barbara, California
Temecula, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Meriden, Connecticut
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Bonita Springs, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2 reports)
Hampton, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)
Niceville, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida (2 reports)
Port Charlotte, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Valrico, Florida
Venice, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
Brunswick, Georgia
Winterville, Georgia
Honolulu, Hawaii
Murphysboro, Illinois
Plainfield, Indiana
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Greenwell Springs, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Centreville, Maryland
Natchez, Mississippi
Las Vegas, Nevada
Clarence, New York
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Hilliard, Ohio
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Beaufort, South Carolina
Bluffton, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Hardeeville, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Islandton, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina (2 reports)
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Austin, Texas (3 reports)
Baytown, Texas
Brownsville, Texas (2 reports)
Corpus Christi, Texas
Galveston, Texas (2 reports)
Groves, Texas
Houston, Texas
Rockport, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Spring, Texas
Kent, Washington

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