Trachycarpus fortunei [multi]

windmill palm
Iconic furry trunked palm takes cold. Showy yellow flowers in spring.
Trachycarpus fortunei [multi]Trachycarpus fortunei [multi]Trachycarpus fortunei [multi]
height 20–30ft
width 3–6ft
tolerates Cold, Cool Summers, Fog, Wind
Low – Moderate
Windmill palms are surprisingly drought tolerant once established, even inland where it can be quite hot, and for this reason they are sometimes planted as street trees. They can look a little sad during the dry season if water is withheld completely, so they should be watered deeply every couple of weeks to keep them looking fresh. They also thrive with regular water, provided drainage is adequate.

Trachycarpus prefer well drained soil, but are quite adaptable. If planted in loamy or clay soil watering should be less frequent.
exposure Full Shade – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing Palm Fertilizer
origin SC China
4–11, 14–24

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

This palm is from the Himalayas and has adapted to have a furry trunk that insulates the palm from extreme cold. It’s the most cold hardy of the upright trunking palms. The furry trunks are great for mounting epiphytes, but Trachycarpus can also be “skinned” by removing the lingering furry leaf bases. This transforms the palm, giving it a slender, beautifully ringed trunk. The trunk will be light green at first, fading to black and then gray over time. To skin your palm start with the lowest leaf and use a serrated knife or hori hori to cut around the base of the old leaf where it connects to the trunk. Cut from one side to the other, pulling on the leaf and cutting through the leaf base, but not into the trunk. Getting started is a little tricky, but once you have part of the trunk skinned it’s easy going. If you live in a hot humid climate the fuzzy trunk will shed naturally, leaving a clean ringed trunk.
These palms grow well in the sun or shade, but present in shade with long bouncy leaves. In sun the leaves are stiffer with shorter petioles (leaf stems).
If planted at an angle, trachycarpus develop a pleasing upward bend as they grow towards the light.
Avoid planting in a high wind area; they’ll grow fine in the wind but won’t look as lush, with brown tipped leaves.

Special Interest

You might think of palms as warm-weather plants, but many trachycarpus are from the Himalayas, making them some of the most cold-hardy palms, thriving in areas as cold as -4F. So much for that tropical stereotype!