Individual Mediterranean fan palm leaves range in color from blue-green, yellow-green or medium green.

How to Plant a Mediterranean Fan Palm

by Jessica Westover

The Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis), or European fan palm, grows in a clumping habit due to its multiple trunks. This large shrub palm makes an attractive focal point, border, screen or foundation planting. Its sharply toothed leaves may cause injury when you handle or brush against them. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, the Mediterranean fan palm thrives in full to partial sunlight and a wide range of fast-draining soils. New specimens establish best when planted during the late spring or early summer, once soil temperatures reach 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pull weeds and clear debris from a planting site that receives full to partial sunlight, contains fast-draining soil and sports at least 15 to 20 feet of open vertical space. Dig a hole in the site with a shovel, making it twice as wide and equal in depth to the Mediterranean fan palm's root ball. Space the hole 15 to 20 feet away from other trees, plants and buildings.

Tip the palm to a 45-degree angle and carefully slide the root ball from the container. Remove any wrappings covering the root ball. Cut off any mushy, black or shriveled roots with a pair of clean pruning shears.

Place the palm in the bottom center of the hole, spreading its roots outward. Add or remove soil to the hole as needed to position the point where the roots meet the trunk, also known as the root-shoot interface, 1 inch below the encircling ground's surface. Adjust the palm until it sits at a straight, vertical angle.

Fill one-half of the hole with soil, breaking up any large clods. Tamp the soil firmly around the root ball to secure the palm in place.

Fill the hole with water from a garden hose. Wait for the water to soak completely into the soil to settle the particles further around the roots.

Add additional soil to the hole, filling it full. Tamp the soil down around the roots. Do not overfill the hole or bury the palm deeper than it was previously growing.

Apply 1 1/3 teaspoons of 8-2-12-4 slow-release granular fertilizer -- the numbers indicate the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium the product contains -- per square foot of ground located underneath the palm's canopy. Spread the fertilizer over the top of the root ball and 12 inches past its perimeter, beginning at least 6 inches away from the trunk. Mix the fertilizer into the top 3 inches of soil with a rake.

Build a 3-inch-tall mound of soil in a ring outside the perimeter of the Mediterranean fan palm's buried root ball, at least 24 inches away from the trunk. Pack the soil in place.

Fill the interior of the soil ring completely full of water. Water the any ground outside the ring that contains fertilizer. Allow time for the water to drain into the soil.

Spread a 2-to-4-inch-deep layer of mulch over the planting site with a rake. Cover the at least the first 24 inches of ground around the trunk. Keep the mulch 3 inches away from the palm's trunk to allow for proper air circulation.

Fill the soil ring with water once per day for the first two weeks after planting. Reduce watering to once per week for the remainder of the first growing season. Moisten the soil to a depth of 24 inches by applying 3 to 4 inches of water on loamy soils and 2 inches of water on sandy soils. Never over water the palm to the point that the soil becomes soggy or develops standing water.

Items you will need

  • Shovel
  • Pruning shears
  • Garden hose
  • 8-2-12-4 slow-release granular fertilizer
  • Rake
  • Mulch


  • Do not plant the Mediterranean fan palm near children's play areas, walkways, driveways or other sites with high foot traffic, as the sharp, spiny leaves can cause injury.

Photo Credits

  • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images