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Different Types of Palm Plants

palm image by CPO from

Palm plants give a tropical, jungle-like feel to the garden. Their fan-shaped leaves grow in a wide range of sizes and shapes to fit into small or large areas of the landscape. Typically palm plants have cup-shaped flowers that grow in varying colors from white and pink to brown and purple. They are ideal plants to grow within a courtyard for a focal point to the landscape or within a container as a specimen plant.

Chinese Windmill Palm

Chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), also called the Chausan palm, is an evergreen palm variety that is native to the mountains of subtropical Asia. It grows over 30 feet tall and 6- to 10-feet wide, creating a commanding landscape presence. Chinese windmill palm has a single stem that is made up of 4-foot wide fans that are sword-like and bright green. Beginning in summer, they produce large plumes of yellow flowers that light up the garden with color. As an evergreen, the Chinese windmill palm retains its foliage color year-round for a source of warmth to a winter garden. It grows best in full sun to light shade and well-drained soil that is nutrient-rich. Chinese windmill palms tolerate clay soil but must be protected from strong winds.According to Fine Gardening Magazine online, “Chinese windmill palms may be shoot-hardy to Zone 6 if protected with 10 inches of mulch.” Plant Chinese windmill palms in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11.

Needle Palm

Needle palm (Rhapidiophyllum hystrix) is an evergreen shrub with coarse texture and a spreading, clumping form. The trunkless shrub grows 6 feet tall and has glossy deep green leaves that reach up to 4 feet long. Fan-shaped, each leaf has a dull silver to white on the underneath side. Each leaflet on the needle palm grows 1 to 2 inches long with a sharp and deeply indented form. The compact purple to yellow flowers on needle palms grow 6 to 12 inches long to light up the shrub with color. They grow best in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil that is nutrient-laden. Drought-tolerant, needle palm is also the most cold-hardy palm variety that grows. Plant in USDA zones 7b to 10.

Cabbage Palm

Cabbage Palm (Sabal palmetto) is an evergreen tree with a moderate growth rate and medium to course texture. Growing 20 to 60 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide, cabbage palm trees have a columnar shape. The fan-shaped leaves of cabbage palm grow 5 feet long on stems that range from 2 to 7 feet long. Beginning in June, the fragrant, white 2-inch wide clusters of flowers emerge. Cabbage palm trees require full sun to partial shade and tolerate a range of soil varieties including, wet or dry soils. Plant in USDA zones 8 to 10.

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