Care of a Windmill Palm Tree


A windmill palm tree (Trachycarpus fortunei) can add a tropical look to yards in climate zones that are far from the tropics because this plant tolerates temperatures as low as 10 degrees F. The windmill palm grows slowly and can reach 40 feet in height during its long lifetime. It serves well as a potted plant but also does well when you plant it in the ground. The windmill palm will tolerate partly shady areas as well, so it is a good choice for shrub borders and entryways.

Step 1

Plant your windmill palm tree in a shady or partly shady area that has rich, well-drained soil. If your soil is clay or sand, add about a 1-gallon bucket of compost to the soil you dig from your planting area. Alternatively, plant your windmill palm in a large container with a drainage hole, using standard potting soil.

Step 2

Water your windmill palm tree thoroughly once a week, which should suffice. Check the soil moisture during hot weather and water more frequently if necessary.

Step 3

Fertilize your windmill palm, whether it's in a pot or in the ground, with a slow-release plant food specially formulated for palm trees. Use this type of plant food once in early spring and again, no later than midsummer. Avoid fertilizing after midsummer because the fertilizer might cause rapid new growth, which will be susceptible to frost damage when fall arrives.

Step 4

Control aphids and scale insects. Spray your windmill palm with insecticidal soap when you first notice signs of these insects. Repeat your application of this natural pest control product every other day until all signs of the insects have disappeared.

Step 5

Prune your windmill palm tree sparingly. If you do prune off yellowing fronds, be careful not to damage the roots or lower portion of the trunk.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not overfertilize--it can cause the tips of leaves to turn brown and die.

Things You'll Need

  • Partly shady location
  • Well-drained, rich soil
  • Compost
  • Large pot with drainage hole
  • Potting soil
  • Palm fertilizer
  • Insecticidal soap (optional)


  • Sun Palm Trees: Windmill Palms
  • South Hill Palms: Care & Maintenance of Your Palm Tree
  • Florida Palm Trees: Windmill Palm Tree
Keywords: windmill palm, tropical trees, cold hardy

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.