Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mediterranean Fan Palms

Cold hardy to zone 8, Mediterranean Fan Palms, Chamerops humilis, are a great choice for gardeners looking to add a little tropical flair to their garden. Also known as European Fan Palm, it's a slow grower that performs well in both full sun and part shade. Its fan shaped fronds are nicely contained near the trunks. Notice I said trunks with an "s". Med Fans are a clustering palm, putting out 'pups' at the base. This gives the palm a full look and allows a gardener to use it as he would use a large shrub. You can see the multi-trunks on the palm on the left.

This family has paired it with a Magnolia Tree in this bed - kind of Southern Belle meets Mediteranean Beauty. Med Fans only grow to 15 or 20 feet.
It looks great with other tropicals, such as this Yucca and Bird of Paradise - but also looks equally at home with a traditional planting such as the hedge and oak tree above or geraniums and oleanders in the following picture.
Below is a horrible use of Med Fan Palms. Not only are they in a boring line but the gardener removes the pups regularly. I wonder if this is the look they're going for?
How much more attractive would that be if they let the pups grow and fill out the "hedge" - The photo below illustrates how lush Med Fans can be.
Med Fans are found in poor rocky soils so will do fine in dry, desert conditions. They are slow growers (growth rate of about 6 inches a year) that grow well in a variety of soil types - as long as the area is well drained. I love it as an understory tree planted under taller palms or even live oaks. Since they're small palms, you can also grow them in pots.


If you're looking to a a bit of the tropics to your garden, Mediterranean Fan Palms could be what you're looking for!

8 comments:

Shala said...

Ohhh I love those. I'm going to see what I can do to talk the hubby into one. I need one for our new tropical area by the pool!

Annie in Austin said...

Mine's in a container next to the patio, Mary Beth - sure hope the slow growing part holds true!
We've only had our Mediterranean Fan Palm for a little over a year - no pups yet but your post clued me in to watch for them.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Pam/Digging said...

What a great post about a palm I hadn't paid much attention to before. Thanks for making me rethink them. I also prefer them under live oaks. The palms with the magnolia don't please me, although on second thought it reminds me of the Hartmann Prehistoric Garden in Austin, which pairs ancient plants like these. So maybe the homeowners are going for a prehistoric look.

cindee said...

Those look so lush and green and pretty. Palms grow well here but I don't have any in my yard. I enjoyed your post(-:

Mary Beth said...

Shala - Palms and pools are made for each other, aren't they!

Annie - I haven't personally grown Med Fans in pots - but will remedy that in the next month or two.

Pam - I've never been to the Hartmann Prehistoric Garden - I'll have to check it out.

Cindee - I used to keep my tropicals together and my natives together, etc - but now I'm wanting to mix them all up! Glad you liked the post.

My Chutney Garden said...

Hi MaryBeth,
Glad that I found your site because I'm suddenly noticing all the palms around me and want to learn everything I can about them. Great post on info, growing etc. Do you know where I might be able to purchase seeds online? I don't think we have this palm in Trinidad.
Nice site, I'll be back,
sharon

Al Legatzke said...

How do you make or propagate a new plant from cuttings or pups?

Mary Beth said...

Al - We propogate our med fan palms from seed - but I understand that you can also grow them from a pup. I just don't want to remove any of the pups! The fullness of this palm adds to its beauty.