Chamaerops humilis is more commonly known as the Mediterranean dwarf palm or European fan palm. It belongs to the family Arecaceae and is currently the only completely accepted species of the genus Chamaerops.
One of the reasons people grow them is for landscaping. Its evergreen fan-shaped leaves provide an exotic focal point in the garden.
Chamaerops humilis photograph by Jacinta lluch valero.
It is known to be a cold-hardy palm, which means that it can tolerate temperature dips of down to 20°F (-7°C) during winter, making it ideal for temperate climates. These plants thrive in moist well-drained soils. Grow in a warm, sheltered area, for best results.
The European Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis) is a small palm tree or sub-shrub that is grown in the garden for ornamental and landscaping purposes. As it is tolerant of the cold it can be grown in many areas where palm trees would otherwise be an oddity. It's small size means that it can be grown in containers and brought indoors over winter in colder areas.
These palms are considered a medium maintenance plant. They should be watered regulary during their growing season, but do not let the soil get saturated - once they are established they are fairly drought tolerant. Ideally situate in a sunny area that has a climate similar to its native Mediterranean.
Plants grown in the shade will require pruning to help them maintain a compact shape.
Difficult. Seed germination is poor. Following imbibing of seed it is best to stratify the seeds in the warm for about 12 weeks. This will help to soften the seed coat. Sow the seeds at a depth of about 1/4 inch (6 mm). Finally add a mulch. Propagation from suckers or division is possible, but often unsuccessful.
It may be best to purchase plants. Plant them outdoors in a sunny position after the last frost. In colder areas grow in containers and bring indoors from autumn to spring.
They bloom from the end of spring and into summer. Flowers are a bright yellow.
Plants can reach heights of about 15 feet (4.5 m). Trunks are usually about 10 to 12 inches wide (25 to 30 cm).
Some palm trees are known to be over 100 years old. This species of fan palm may take up to 50 years to reach its full height.
The preferred time for planting/sowing is during spring. If possible, soak the seeds for 24 hours before sowing them and warm imbibe them too.
Chamaerops humilis can be grown in open soil in the garden, and because of their drought tolerance, they can also be grown in pots.
In open soil, choose a warm, drained, fresh spot sheltered from the wind and with semi-shade or full sunlight. Dig a hole that is thrice the size of the root ball and plant it without burying the base of the stem. Fill the soil well as you place it back in the earth. Don't mix the layers of the soil, and water it with at least two watering cans.
When growing in pots, place the root ball in a mixture of potting soil and loam with gravel at the bottom for proper drainage. Choose a large pot. The palm should be re-potted every two to three years. During this time, cut a third of the roots and replace a third of the soil. Use new potting soil or some compost to replace the top layer of soil.
Container grown Mediterranean Fan Palm photograph by Maja Dumat, CC.
Water the palms regularly during the first year after planting if planted directly in the garden. For the potted ones, do this as soon as the soil dries up since the previous watering, without soaking.
Pruning dead and damaged leaves may help to boost its growth rate and help to maintain shape if the plant is grown in a more shady area. Make sure you are fully prepared and wear protective gloves when you prune the plant, as the sharp thorns on its stalks can cause injury.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Chamaerops humilis. You may also enjoy the following growing guides:
How to grow Desert Fan Palm and How to grow dagger plant.