Chamaerops humilis

Mediterranean fan palm
Mediterranean fan palm is drought tolerant once established and usually suckers from the base, creating a colony of many leaning heads. Very adaptable to varying conditions. Slow growing.
Chamaerops humilisChamaerops humilis
height 12–20
width 10–15ft
tolerates Coast, Cold, Cool Summers, Drought, Deer , Fog, Heat, Pots, Rooftops, Neglect, Salt, Wind
Not all palms love water! This one is actually drought-tolerant and can live quite happily on little or no water once it’s established, though it’ll grow more slowly and may not look as lush. This is especially true in Coastal California where this palm is quite adaptive and thrives without additional water once established.

To keep your palm looking its best, be sure to water it consistently and deeply while it’s getting established, then after a few years give it a good deep soaking every couple of weeks. It will also be happy to have more water, provided the soil drainage is adequate.
exposure Full Shade – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Tolerates Heavy Soil, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing Palm Fertilizer
origin Mediterranean

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

Palms are generally heavy feeders, so if you want them growing quickly and looking their best, they should be fertilized at least three times a year. Fertilizing at spring equinox, summer solstice and fall equinox will allow for a winter rest. Be sure to feed your palm with a fertilizer that contains micronutrients, especially if you see yellowing leaves or yellow spots on the leaves. Be sure your palm fertilizer contains micronutrients, particularly magnesium.
Suckering palms like this one send out additional palm trunks from the base of the palm over time, so that you’ll end up with multiple trunks on one palm. This makes this palm incredibly useful for screening, once it is mature. If you want fewer trunks, go ahead and thin out the suckers; just be sure to do it when they are young to avoid unsightly scarring later on. Generally you’ll want to be sure to do this at least once a year. Suckering is variable, so if you prefer not to have as many be sure to choose a palm with few heads in its nursery can. If you’d like a big screen over time choose one with as many heads as possible. When palms mature they tend to sucker less and less. When leaving suckers there are three strategies, you can leave them all (this makes a dense hedge over time), allow them all to grow up at once and then remove late-comers (this will make a uniform crown of trunks of equal height) or you can allow suckers to slowly fill in over the years, only letting a new one grow every couple years (this will make a group of staggered crowns of varying levels.)
Individual trunks usually develop a slightly meandering form, which is quite handsome, especially when there are multiple heads.
This palm holds its leaves creating a beard or skirt on the trunk. If you want, you can always prune off the beard for a cleaner look. If fire retardance is a consideration the beard should be removed annually. Take care when pruning as the rachis (leaf stem) are thorned along their entire length. The leaves are easier to prune before they are fully dried and aligned with the trunk of the palm.
Fan palms have leaflets spreading from the tip of the rachis, giving the crown of the palm a rounded full look. They tend to rustle in the breeze, adding a soothing note to the garden.
About the only place this palm doesn’t grow is indoors.

Special Interest

Our favorite go-to for difficult environments, this tough palm barely notices harsh wind, direct coastal exposure, or inconsistent water. It is physically tough and impervious to getting knocked around. We use this palm for situations where other plants might be destroyed intentionally or unintentionally by late night marauders (its thorned leaves also help deter them), car doors, or general neglect. Wonderful in a pot when it is small, and great as a hedge when it gets bigger, until it eventually develops into a small tree. Even full grown this palm is a perfect garden size.

This is the most northerly growing palm on earth.

More Info

This palm contributes to the oasis-style garden, especially when it’s mixed with cactus and other drought-tolerant plants like euphorbias. It also makes an unusual and yet compelling addition to the Mediterranean garden when mixed with lavender, rosemary, and olives.