Chinese Fan Palm Care

Livistona chinensis care

The symmetrical fronds of the Chinese Fan Palm are what make this easy-care houseplant stand out. Palms always set a tropical tone, but this one has a quiet luxury vibe. The Chinese Fan Palm is somewhat rare and more likely to turn up at a local plant shop than at a big box store. Find out what sets this palm apart and everything you need to know about Chinese Fan Palm care.

Plant Basics

It’s pretty easy to decipher the common name of this plant because the medium green costapalmate leaves grow in a semi-circle and look like a handheld fan. The Chinese Fan Palm is also known as the Fountain Palm because the blade-like foliage gently arches or droops on mature trees. The botanical name is Livistona chinensis, and this is a subtropical palm tree found throughout East Asia, mainly in southern Japan, Taiwan, and southeastern China.

Landscape trees can stand 30 feet tall, while houseplants can reach up to 8 feet high. Trees grown outdoors have full trunks with stems that support the fronds emerging from the top of the trunk. Plants grown inside sometimes have a short trunk or don’t have much of a trunk at all, with the stems emerging almost directly from the potting mix. The impressive fronds can stretch up to two feet across.

The Livistona chinensis is often found as a houseplant, but it can grow outside in zones 9 through 11. This plant is considered invasive in some areas, so keep this beauty as a houseplant, especially if you live in Florida or Hawaii. 

Livistona chinensis

Chinese Fan Palm Light Needs

This beauty needs bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves, so select a spot set back from a south-facing window. East- or west-facing windows offer plenty of sunlight. Rotate the pot a quarter turn every couple of weeks so each side receives even and consistent sunlight.

How Often to Water Fan Palm

Let the top few inches of potting mix dry before watering this palm. The Chinese Fan Palm likes somewhat damp conditions, but it doesn’t like soggy soil. The Fan Palm is forgiving if you are a day or two late with water, so it’s always best to wait if you’re unsure about when to water. Get the potting mix wet when watering the plant, but try to keep the trunk dry, if applicable.

Always keep the plant in a container with drainage and remove excess water to protect against root rot. Unglazed ceramic is a good pick for a container because it will allow excess water to evaporate. Water less in winter when the tree is not actively growing.

Best Soil for Livistona chinensis

Use a rich, well-drained potting mix. Drainage is vital because palms do not like overly damp conditions. A neutral to slightly acidic mix will provide added support. There are potting mixes intended for palms, or create your own using sphagnum moss or coco coir, sand or perlite, chipped bark, and organic matter.

Temperature for Chinese Fan Palm

Warm household temperatures are suitable for Fan Palm care. Generally, temperatures between 60° and 80° F are ideal. Drafts from exterior doors and windows, particularly in winter, can be damaging. Temperature fluctuations caused by heating and cooling are also trouble, so position the plant away from forced air vents and window air conditioners.

fan palm costapalmate

Chinese Fan Palm Humidity Needs

Despite its tropical origins, average humidity is best for the Fan Palm. Humidity around 40-50% will keep this plant lush. The foliage will turn brown, starting along the edges, if the air is too dry. Group several plants nearby or use a humidifier to increase the dampness if the plant shows signs of dry air.

Livistona chinensis Fertilizer Tips

Regular feedings keep the Chinese Fan Palm happy and healthy. Fertilize this easy-care houseplant using a balanced plant food in early spring and again during mid-summer. Avoid water-soluble plant foods which are not as effective for palms. Consider using a product formulated for palm trees or a general, slow-release fertilizer.

Does Chinese Fan Palm Bloom?

The Chinese Fan Palm boasts whitish-yellow inflorescences; however, houseplants seldom bloom. Landscape plants can set flowers and grow fruit, but inside, that is not likely to happen.

Chinese Fan Palm

Livistona chinensis Pruning Tips

All the leafy fronds grow from the terminal tip of the trunk, and trimming the top of the trunk puts an end to new growth. Whatever you do, do not trim the top of the trunk. Fronds naturally age and turn brown. Wait until the fronds are dead and completely brown before removing them because they continue to support the plant until the very end. Remove dead fronds by trimming near the trunk without cutting the actual trunk. Resist the urge to tug dead growth and use clean, sharp shears to prune the plant.

When to Repot Chinese Fan Palm 

This palm is a slow-growing houseplant, so expect to repot your Fan Palm every three years. Wait until the plant is rootbound to repot. A rootbound plant will have roots curled in the bottom of the pot or poking through the drainage holes. Repot at the start of the growing season. Always be gentle when handling roots, but exercise extra caution because the roots of the Chinese Fan Palm are particularly delicate.

Livistona chinensis Propagation

Chinese Fan Palm propagation is best done through cuttings. Remove the plant from the pot and look for a sucker stem near the trunk or base. Remove the sucker using clean, sharp shears. Place the cutting in a well-draining potting mix and tent the container with plastic to create a mini greenhouse. Place the potted cutting in a sunny spot and keep the soil moist. The new plant should have its own root system in several weeks, and you can slowly transition to the type of care you would provide an established plant.

Chinese Fan Palm care

Is Chinese Fan Palm Pet Safe?

The Chinese Fan Palm is non-toxic, making it safe to have in homes with pets and young children. With that said, the stems do have sharp barbs, so keep this plant away from pets or youngsters with a history of touching, handling, or nibbling on houseplants.

Chinese Fan Palm Styling Tips

The large fan-like foliage of the Fan Palm provides effortless style and some leafy drama. Place this plant directly on the floor or give it a plant stand to make a leafy statement. An unglazed or terracotta pot provides ideal care and looks wonderful alongside the large fronds.

Chinese Fan Palm Care Tips

Chinese Fan Palm care is straightforward, making this a good plant for just about anyone, including first-time plant owners. Sunlight and water are the main parts of the care regime to master, but once you have that down, this adaptable plant will thrive.