Trachycarpus - Arecaceae - Cultivation and care of Trachycarpus plants

Trachycarpus - Arecaceae - Cultivation and care of Trachycarpus plants



The Trachycarpus they are delightful palm trees, native to various Asian countries spread all over the world.






: Angiosperms


: Monocotyledons


: Commelinoids






Arecaceae (Palmae)





: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Trachycarpus belongs to family of Arecaceae (palm family) and includes plants native to the temperate and mountain forests of subtropical Asia.

These are palms characterized by a trunk covered with dense brown fibers (the old sheaths of the leaves) from which develop long petioles that carry large fan leaves, half segmented, glossy, up to one meter wide.

The flowers are grouped in panicle, hanging, yellow inflorescences. The fruits are dark blue and each contains only one seed inside. The dispersion of seeds in nature occurs both by birds that eat the berries and by fall.

The Trachycarpus they are dioecious plants (rarely hermaphrodite) which means that there are "female plants" and "male plants" that is plants that bear only male flowers and plants that bear only female flowers.

They are slow growing plants.


There are eight species of Trachycarpus among which we remember:


There Trachycarpus fortunei, the most widespread of the genus, also known asChamaerops excelsa (as, when it was introduced in Europe from Japan, it was identified with this name) it is a plant that can be grown both in pots and outdoors, where climatic conditions allow it. In pot it does not exceed 180 cm in height while in the open ground it can reach 3.5 m in height.

It is characterized by fan-shaped leaves of light green color, carried by long petioles that develop in the upper part of the trunk and the tips normally become pendulous with age.

The yellow flowers are gathered in very voluminous panicles that produce dark colored berries.

There are several cultivars among which we remember the Trachycarpus fortunei'Nanus' with a short or almost non-existent trunk with rigid leaves up to 30 cm long.


There Trachycarpus wagnerianus it is very debatable because according to various botanists it is only a variety of T. fortunei. In any case, it is very similar to the previous one, only more rustic and more resistant to cold and wind, with more robust and rigid fronds, much more erect and remains smaller and more compact. It is very difficult to find.


These are particular plants that need precise climatic conditions, in particular the Trachycarpus fortunei, the most widespread and cultivated, is a plant that can be grown outdoors in areas with cool summers and mild winters where winter temperatures do not drop below -10 ° C. Conversely, in regions with a Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot and arid summers, this palm is not suitable. Ultimately it can be said that it is a plant that fears the heat more than the cold and cannot stand strong wind.

If planting in pots, keep them in an area of ​​the house where it is not too hot and protected from drafts.

In consideration of the fact that the leaves are large, simply use a soft damp cloth to clean them. Never use foliar polishes that clog the stomata of plants preventing them from transpiration.


There Trachycarpus it should be watered in order to keep the soil just moist.


Plants of Trachycarpus they are repotted in spring using a good fertile soil by adding coarse sand to increase the drainage of the irrigation water. It is not necessary to repot every year but only when you realize that the pot has become too small to contain the roots.

For years in which no repotting is done, simply remove the first few inches of soil and replace them with a fresh one.


If planted in pots, once a month you can administer a liquid fertilizer to be diluted in the irrigation water, halving the doses compared to what is reported in the package. During the other periods the fertilizations must be suspended.

Use a good complete fertilizer that is to say that in addition to having the so-called "macroelements" such as Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) which also has "microelements" such as Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Boron (B), Molybdenum (Mo) all important for balanced plant growth.


They bloom in summer, producing very large panicle inflorescences. In areas where the Trachycarpus it grows well it has no difficulty in flowering even if this may not happen every year.

Being a dioecious plant to bear fruit and produce seeds, it needs pollination to take place so that male plants bearing male flowers are close to plants bearing female flowers.

Pollination occurs by insects.


The plant of Trachycarpus it cannot be pruned. Only the leaves that dry up should be removed, especially those located further down, to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases and must be cut at the point where they start from the stem.

It may happen that the tips of the leaves dry out due to low ambient humidity. In this case it is not necessary to remove the leaves but simply cut the tip, taking care that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.


The multiplication of the Trachycarpus it happens simply through the suckers that are formed at the base of the plant or by seed even if very long and laborious to be implemented at home.


In spring the suckers that form at the base of the plant can be removed by planting them in individual pots using a compost as indicated for adult plants.

The jars should be kept at a temperature of 10 ° C and with moist soil. Keep them in this condition for at least two months, until the roots are well formed.

It is preferable that the plants are kept in a cold greenhouse in the first winter and if the suckers taken were small, keep them for a couple of years before planting them outdoors.


No particular pathologies are reported for these plants.


There Trachycarpus nana (or Trachycarpusnanus or Trachycarpus fortunei 'Nanus') native to the south-western areas of China, it grows in the mountains at about 6000 m of altitude, which, as the name itself implies, is the smallest representative of this genus. It has very dark green fronds and the inflorescences, unlike the other species, remain erect and this allows the flowers not to touch the ground, given the small size of the plant. In its natural habitat it is one endangered species as, due to its small stature, the animals willingly eat the inflorescences and the not yet ripe berries for which there is no production of the seed. It is in fact classified in the IUNC Red List among the species at very high risk of extinction in nature (Endangeres - EN).

On the contrary, it was recently reported that the Trachycarpus fortunei, the most widespread, is becoming one invasive species. In fact, where it is present, it forms real meadows covering all the surrounding soil both in the woods or even in more open areas, forming real oases.

In China, ropes, mats, brooms and other artifacts are obtained from the old leaf sheaths that wrap around the trunk.

The high costs of these plants are justified by the fact that they are slow growing.

Online bibliographic sources

(it) Municipality of Milan
(en) IUNC Red List

Video: Trachycarpus Palms grow well in cooler conditions