If you are looking for a cold-hardy palm, you can’t go wrong with the windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei). Not only is it tolerant of the cold (hardy to USDA zone 7b), it does well in just about any soil, except waterlogged. Easy to grow and to care for, the windmill palm makes an attractive accent in the home landscape.
Plant the tree in a partially shady location. Northern gardeners can plant the tree in full sun.
Test the soil to see how well it drains. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill it with water. Allow the water to drain and then fill it again. If it takes less than two hours to drain, your soil drains too quickly and you must add organic matter, such as a mixture of compost and sphagnum peat moss (use 1 inch of peat and 4 inches of compost). If it takes more than six hours to drain, find another place to plant the windmill palm.
Amend the soil in the planting location by digging it up to a depth of 12 inches. Remove any debris that turns up, such as rocks or roots. Lay down a 3-inch layer of compost and mix it in with the existing soil. The compost will provide nutrients to the windmill palm’s roots and aids in aerating the soil.
Dig a planting hole three times the diameter and the same depth as the pot in which the windmill palm is being grown.
Remove the windmill palm from its pot and place the roots into the hole. Backfill the hole halfway with soil and then fill the hole with water. When the water drains completely, finish filling the hole with soil. Tamp around the base of the windmill palm with your hands or feet.
Pour a 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the palm, keeping it 2 inches from the trunk. Do not allow the mulch to touch any part of the windmill palm’s bark.
Water the palm until the water puddles.