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How to Grow Chinese Fan Palm — Livistona

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Livistona–commonly called Chinese fan palm–is a tropical palm with fan-shaped leaves that are borne in dense, terminal heads. Livistona is grown as a specimen tree in tropical regions; in temperate regions, it is grown as a houseplant.

Livistona has fan-shaped, glossy, rich green leaves with short spiny leaf stalks; the leaves are divided into pendent segments. The fronds are deeply cleft into long, narrow leaf segments that droop at the tips.

Livistona is a genus of about 28 species of single-stemmed palms. Livistona is native to tropical woodland and rainforest in Asia and Australia.

Get to know Livistona

  • Plant type: Palm
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 11-15
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Height and width: 6 to 8 feet (1.8-1.4m) tall grown indoors; outdoors in tropical regions to 40 feet (12m) tall and 15 feet (5m) wide
  • Foliage: Fronds artr fan-shaped and deeply cleft into long, narrow leaf segments that droop at the tips.
  • Flowers: 3-petaled fleors are produced in panicles
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Houseplant, grow as a specimen tree in tropical regions
  • Common name: Chinese fan palm
  • Botanical name: Livistona
  • Family name: Arecaceae
  • Origin: Asia and Australasia
Livistona rotundifolia, Chinese fan palm
Livistona rotundifolia, Chinese fan palm

Where to plant Livistona

  • Light indoors: Grow Livistona indoors in full or bright indirect light.
  • Light outdoors: Grow Livistona outdoors in full sun or partial shade.
  • Soil indoors: Grow Livistona in a soil-based pitting mix.
  • Soil outdoors: Plant Livistona in humus-rich, well-drained soil.

When to plant Livistona

  • Set container-grown Livistona outdoors in tropical or subtropical region any time of the year.

Planting and spacing Livistona

  • Space Liviston planted outdoors 15 to 25 feet (5-8m) apart.

How to water and feed Livistona

  • Water Livistona freely during the growing season; in winter, water Livistona sparingly.
  • Fertilize Liviston with a balanced liquied fertilizer montly during the growing season.

Livistona care

  • Water Livistona sparingly in winter and do not apply fertilizer.

Growing Livistona as a houseplant

  • Livistona thrives in bright light, average room temperature, and medium humidity.
  • The soil can be allowed to dry between waterings.
  • Fertilizer should be applied regularly in spring and summer.
  • Repotting can be done once every two to three years; use an all-purpose soil mix.

Livistona pests and diseases

  • Livistona are susceptible to mealybugs, nematodes, scale insects, and spider mites.

Livistona propagation

  • Livistona is best started from seed in a greenhouse; it is very slow growing.

Livistona varieties to grow

  • Livistona australis, Australian fan palm. Large palm with erect, robust trunk; long spiny leaf stalks; lustrous deep green fronds often arching at the tips; grows to 80 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
  • L. chinensis, Chinese fan palm. Grows to 6 feet tall indoors; leafstalks are 15 inches in length and have sharp spines along the edges; fronds are glossy green, 2 feet land and 2 feet wide; outdoors grows to 40 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
  • L. mariae, red fan palm. Grows to 100 feet tall in tropical regions; slimbrunk; spiny leaf stalks.
  • L. rotundifolia. Medium to large palm with slim trunk; rounded, lustrous deep green blades, rigid and shallowly notched; grows to 80 feet tall in tropical regions.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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