Fan palms are among the most beautiful of all, with their sturdy, hardwood trunks, architectural leaves, and ability to turn any area into a paradise.
There are many kinds to choose from, all of which make a great impact, whether you’re wanting a variety you can grow indoors or a species that will look perfect in your garden.
Here are some of the most beautiful fan palm types you can grow, and how to look after them.
Archontophoenix alexandrae ‘Alexandra Palm’
Also known as the king palm or the feather palm, this particular palm is only native to Queensland in Australia.
The name honors Princess Alexandra of Denmark, though the plant is often referred to as the Alexander palm.
It can reach nearly 100 feet tall in its native habitat, with the trunk reaching 30cm wide. The fronds can reach 15 feet long on a mature palm, making a stunning impact in any garden.
In cultivation, it’s more likely to reach between 20 and 25 feet tall. This plant loves full sunlight, but it will grow without any problems in partial shade.
It also helps that this plant produces white panicles of flowers, followed by fruit. It will tolerate colder areas as long as there are no frosts, and will grow quickly, so it’s perfect for filling a large, empty space with color.
The Alexandra palm is best for USDA zones 10A and 10B, where the weather is warmer, preferably in a sheltered position.
Brahea armata ‘Mexican Blue Palm’
If you live somewhere that gets scorching hot summers, and you’re looking for a palm that will cope with no problems, the Mexican blue palm is a great option, as it withstands prolonged dry spells as well as blistering temperatures.
It helps that this plant is very beautiful, making a statement in any garden with silvery fronds that fan outward from the trunk.
In its native conditions, it can reach just under 50 feet tall, and the leaves can reach between 3 and 6 feet wide.
You can also grow this palm in a pot if you prefer, where it will stay a more manageable size. It’s worth noting that this plant can be expensive to source, but it is definitely worth it.
The Mexican blue palm is hardy in USDA zones 8b through 11, and will survive temperatures as low as 15°F.
Butia capitata ‘Jelly Palm’
Jelly palms are perfect for coastal or hot areas, as they can withstand salt and high temperatures without a problem.
The jelly palm is hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11, and will tolerate prolonged dry spells, making it perfect for xeriscaping.
They are more suitable for gardens that need a plant that spreads out width ways rather than upwards, and the palms tend to point toward the floor, making a great sight in any garden that stays above 14°F.
You will need to place the jelly palm in full sunlight, in well-draining soil. If you prefer, you can also plant this palm up in a large container.
Caryota mitis ‘Fishtail Palm’
The main attraction of this particular palm is its bi-pinnate leaves, each leaf looking like the tail of a fish, with irregular, feathered ends.
If you have a garden that doesn’t get full sunlight, the fishtail palm is ideal, as it loves partial or dappled shade, rather than direct sunlight.
It also has a clustered growth habit, which means that it will produce multiple trunks instead of a single one.
You can grow this plant indoors or outdoors, and outside it is capable of reaching 15 feet tall in the right conditions.
It’s suitable for outdoors in USDA zones 10B through 11, otherwise you can grow it as a houseplant.
Chamaedorea elegans ‘Parlor Palm’
If you’re looking for a palm that will do well in pretty much any space indoors, the parlor palm is for you.
One of the most popular houseplants around, the parlor palm, comes from Mexico. It grows very slowly and is easy to care for, tolerating a range of light conditions.
Give it well-draining soil, and at least partial sunlight, and it will eventually reach 4 feet tall.
If you want to grow it outdoors, it will thrive in the ground in USDA zones 10 to 10b.
Chamareops humilis ‘Mediterranean Dwarf Palm’
The Mediterranean dwarf palm can be grown indoors or outdoors. If you plan on growing it outdoors, you’ll need to give it winter protection unless you live in USDA zones 8b to 11.
Outdoors, it will reach between 10 and 20 feet tall, growing multiple stems. The leaves can reach 5 feet long, and they are covered in spines, so you may want to put this plant away from any paths.
It’s also slow-growing, so it won’t take over your garden in a hurry.
One very attractive aspect of growing this plant is that it’s one of the hardiest plants that will tolerate cold snaps, so it’s perfect for colder climates.
Cyrtostachys renda ‘Lipstick Palm’
Also known as the sealing wax palm, the lipstick palm is famous for its crimson stems, producing multiple trunks that will catch anyone’s attention.
It can live outdoors or inside, and it’s often sold as a houseplant to introduce plenty of color into any room.
Outdoors, it can reach a maximum of 50 feet tall, and needs to be in USDA zones 10 to 11 to survive winter. If you keep it in a container, it will be fairly easy to bring it indoors for the winter,
The lipstick palm prefers dappled shade rather than full sunlight, and well-draining soil.
Dypsis decaryi ‘Triangle Palm’
The triangle palm comes from the rainforests of Madagascar, where it reaches about 50 feet tall, each leaf capable of reaching 8 feet long.
In gardens, however, the triangle palm is likely to reach much less than this, which will be good news if you have a small garden!
The triangle palm is suitable for USDA zones 10a to 11, and if you can let the soil dry out between watering, this will help the plant to thrive.
The fronds of the palm grow upward and outward, and when cultivated as a garden plant, the trunk will stay relatively short.
It also produces cheery yellow flowers and can be capable of blooming all year round if the weather conditions are warm enough. These are soon followed by fruit.
Once the plant has established itself in the soil and has matured, it is very undemanding. As long as you place it in full sunlight or partial shade, and give it well-draining soil, it will be a staple plant in any garden.
Licuala grandis ‘Ruffled Fan Palm’
Another stunning option for a houseplant palm is Licuala grandis or the ruffled fan palm. It stays on the small side, producing the most fabulous emerald green fan-shaped leaves.
While it prefers shade outdoors, it will prefer a bright and indirect position indoors. It does grow very slowly, and has a shallow root system that needs soil with decent drainage and plenty of nutrients.
It does require more attention than other palms, especially when kept as a houseplant, but it is absolutely worth the effort.
You can grow it outside in USDA zones 10b through 11.
Livistona chinensis ‘Chinese Fan Palm’
The Chinese fan palm is a single-trunk palm and can reach anywhere between 15 and 20 feet tall at maturity. It’s a lovely fan palm that features a smooth grayish trunk, a fuzzy crown, and beautiful palms.
You can grow it indoors or outdoors, but it’s worth knowing that a young Chinese fan palm prefers some shade, while a mature plant can withstand full sunlight with no problem.
If you do choose to grow it indoors, it’s likely that it won’t reach more than a couple of feet tall, keeping it to a manageable size.
This palm also flowers, producing creamy yellow blooms, soon followed by seed pendants that can reach 3 feet long.
The Chinese fan palm is suitable for outdoors in zones 9A through 11.
Phoenix roebelenii ‘Pygmy Date Palm’
A striking palm that you can grow indoors or outdoors, the pygmy date palm hails from the rainforests of Asia, in particular the southeast.
Outdoors it will reach a maximum height of 15 feet, spreading to 8 feet wide if it is planted in the ground. It’s considered hardy in USDA zone 10A, but many gardeners find that it can grow in zone 9B, too.
If you’d like a more compact version, you could plant it in a container on your patio, or even keep this palm indoors.
You can recognize it by its slim pinnate leaves with spiny petioles, and its single trunk which can sometimes be clustered instead. The trunk features the scars of old leaves, which only adds to this plant’s beauty.
The pygmy date palm also has flowers, too. It produces a white inflorescence which drapes down from the palm’s crown.
It’s worth noting that this lovely palm will not tolerate salt.
Ravenea rivularis ‘Majestic Palm’
Hailing from Madagascar, the majestic palm will do well in either full sunlight or dappled shade. It’s a single-trunk palm, which grows wider at the bottom than the top.
Like many palms, the trunk forms leaf scars where the old leaves have been, but the trunk is smooth rather than rough.
The palm tree itself is capable of reaching 60 feet tall, but this will be much less in colder climates or smaller gardens.
Each individual frond can reach more than 18 feet long, spreading to 25 feet wide in conditions that mimic its natural environment.
The majestic palm also produces white flowers. It’s suitable for USDA zones 9 to 11.
Sabal minor ‘Dwarf Palmetto’
If you’re looking for a much smaller dwarf fan palm, the dwarf palmetto is a good choice. At the most, it will reach 5 feet tall, but it may be as compact as 2 feet tall, depending on the growing conditions and the age of the palm.
The majority of the palm actually forms below ground, and the foliage gets larger than the tree itself.
Native to the southeastern parts of the US, the dwarf palmetto is a great option if you live somewhere cold, as it has decent resistance to frost. It will grow perfectly well in zones 7 through 10.
Serenoa repens ‘Silver Saw Palmetto’
Usually found in Florida, the ‘Silver Saw Palmetto’ is another good choice for a cooler climate.
This particular species won’t get very tall for a palm, around 8 feet or so, but it can reach 20 feet wide, so make sure you have plenty of room!
It helps that this palm can withstand the cold, salty soil, and deer, too, making it suitable for a range of conditions.
You could even grow this palm in a container if you prefer. It’s hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10.
Veitchia merrillii ‘Adonidia’
For a small palm that will thrive in warmer climates, ‘Adonidia’ is one to consider. If you live somewhere that doesn’t drop below 32°F in winter, you will be able to grow this palm without having to give it any winter protection.
It will thrive in USDA zones 10b to 11.
It’s a slow-growing plant, so best for a space that doesn’t need immediate and large impact, but it will eventually reach over 15 feet high.
‘Adonidia’ can also be grown in a container if you prefer, in which case it’s likely to reach less than 10 feet tall, and it’s pretty undemanding, too.
Fan palms are some of the most beautiful plants that give your garden some architectural beauty with their height and fronds, giving your garden some shade, while not being difficult to take care of.
The key to getting a palm to thrive in your garden is to choose one suitable not only for your zone, but also for the conditions within your garden.
Some fan palms won’t tolerate salt or cold temperatures, so make sure you pick the right one.