Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) is native to the subtropical regions of Asia. The palm is a slow grower reaching heights of 20 feet to 40 feet at maturity. Windmill palms have fan-shaped fronds that stand upright and a slender trunk covered in brown, hairy fibers resembling burlap. They grow well in USDA planting zones 8, 9, 10 and 11, tolerating temperatures to 10 degrees F. The palm is well-suited for growing in containers or around patios or pool areas, or for use as a specimen in the garden. Gardeners will have few problems growing windmill palms, because they are relatively problem-free.
Select a location in your landscape situated in partial sun to shade for best growth of the windmill palm. Consider the palm's mature size when selecting a site.
Choose a location where the soil drains well. Though windmill palms will tolerate moist soils, it will not live in soils that are consistently saturated.
Clear an area of approximately 3 to 4 feet in diameter of any weeds, grasses or other unwanted vegetation. Keep the area vegetation-free for the duration of the life of the windmill palm. Excess vegetation in the planting site robs moisture and nutrition from the palm and lawn equipment can damage the trunk.
Dig a hole that is approximately two to three times wider than the windmill palm's root ball and as deep as the palm is presently growing inside its container. Planting a palm deeper than it is growing will put undue stress on it and can weaken it. There is no requirement to amend the planting site with organic material and it is not recommended by the University of Florida. The palm's roots will stop growing once it grows out of the amended soil and reaches the native soil.
Remove the windmill palm from its container and place it into the planting hole. Backfill the hole one-third to one-half full of soil. Water the hole thoroughly, releasing any air pockets remaining inside of it. Tap down on the site with your foot to firm the area up. Backfill the remainder of the planting hole with soil and firm up with your foot again.
Water the windmill palm after planting, thoroughly saturating its roots. Continue watering one to two times per week depending on your local weather conditions. Windmill palms are drought-tolerant but will grow quicker if given regular water.
Apply a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the planting site. Keep the mulch approximately 3 to 4 inches from windmill palm's trunk. This will help the soil retain moisture and cut down on weeds.
Fertilize the palm with a palm special fertilizer in three to four equally divided applications throughout the year. Spread the fertilizer under the palm's canopy and water in well.
Prune only to remove brown, dead fronds that no longer have any green on them. As long as the frond has green on it, the palm is getting nutrients from it.