This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

June 26, 2014

How to trim a Mediterranean fan palm

Mediterranean fan palms do well here in the Phoenix area. But they need to be trimmed differently from an ordinary fan palm. If you, or your landscape people, don't know the difference, there can be an awful mess, and a lot of frustration.

The most important difference between a Mediterranean fan palm and an ordinary fan palm is the way that these plants want to grow. Mediterranean palms want to grow in a clump, with multiple heads, fan palms want to grow as a single stalk.

So, cutting away of the multiple heads on a Mediterranean palm is an exercise in frustration, they will just grow back. So the best way to trim them is to embrace their growth habit, which is clumping.

When they're tiny, Mediterranean palms and common fan palms look very similar. If you've planted a Mediterranean palm thinking that it was a common fan palm, and you are struggling to keep the multiple suckers from growing back, you're gonna have a bad time. You could, of course, dig it up and replace it with a fan palm, but I have a different suggestion - keep it.

To me a beautiful Mediterranean palm should look like an explosion of fireworks. The one that I have here in the corner of The Tropical Paradise has only been there for a few years, but it is doing well. And I have trimmed it, just a bit, only once since I planted it, and that was just to clean up towards the bottom, and get rid of some brown fronds.

Obviously, you need to have allowed some width for a plant like this. If you planted it thinking that it would be a narrow tree, it really won't fit in the space. But if you have a corner that needs to be filled in, it's perfect. These are beautiful, and tough, plants that aren't harmed by the hottest Phoenix sun and the coldest Phoenix frosts.

By the way, since this post is about how to trim a Mediterranean fan palm, I would advise doing it very sparingly, if at all. Let it grow!
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