Windmill Palm Trees

Asked May 2, 2020, 11:09 AM EDT

How do I care for Windmill Palm tree? Is it necessary to wrap the trunk during winter? What type of soil do they like? Fertilizer? Water needs? Any other information would be appreciated.

Washington County Oregon

8 Responses

The windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) is a hardy palm which thrives in our region.


They do well in most well-drained soils. They don't tolerate standing water. They don't need fertilizer. And they are drought-tolerant after they are established. I water my well-established 12-footer once a month through the dry months.

To help yours establish a sturdy root system, plant a moist rootball into moist soil. Plant in native soil; don't add anything to the planting hole, including compost, potting mix, and/or fertilizer.

Here's how to transplant from a container to the garden:
-Thoroughly moisten the potted rootball; submerge it in water until bubbles stop rising, or for a maximum of 20 minutes. (If a bucket isn't deep enough, use a trash can.)
- While the rootball is soaking, dig the hole, then fill it with water and allow it to drain. Repeat the fill-and-drain twice more.
- Lift the soaked rootball from the water and drain briefly.
- Set the plant in the pre-moistened planting hole.
- Fill the empty spaces around the rootball with the native soil, adding water as you go to settle the soil. Continue until all the soil is returned to the hole.

After planting, you may have to water daily. Frequency varies with the size of the plant and the prevailing weather, especially during warm weather and windy times. Before adding water, always check the soil of the original rootball with a finger or trowel.

During the first weeks, it will be particularly important to water directly on top of the rootball. And consider rigging temporary shade if temperatures soar.
Consider wrapping the trunk during the first winter. A wrap shouldn't be needed during following years unless we have an extremely low temperatures. If in doubt, do.


Wondering how large the top of windmill palm will get. So how far from house does it need to be planted?

Soil my Windmill Palm is going into is clay. Should I amend the soil? How wide should the hole be? The Palm is 6-7 foot from top of of the ball.

Thank you for the image. The palm needs to be planted as soon as possible! It's wilting.

Right now, set a drizzling hose on the rootball to get water to the roots. Drizzle in one place for about 15 minutes, then move 1/4 of the way around and do the same. Repeat twice more, moving the hose each time, so that the rootball is well moistened.

Then, when the hole is dug, fill it with water and let it drain. Repeat twice more.

The hole should be at least twice the diameter of the rootball; bigger is better. Refill the hole with the native soil, settling the soil with a drizzling hose. (Don't stomp, or otherwise compact, the backfill.)

Use the excess soil to form a 2-inch tall "berm" at the outer edge of the rootball and at the edge of the dug hole. (You now have a basin within a basin.) Doing so will make it easier to water as needed. The rootball will dry much more rapidly than the surrounding soil; you may need to water it often during the first weeks, possibly daily.

To determine if you need to water, probe the rootball, and the surrounding soil, with a trowel.


Clay soil is fine as long as it drains, even though a bit slowly. Don't amend the hole. And don't add any fertilizer.

One more thing: The palm will soon in bloom. (The yellow things at the top.) Remove the blooms to decrease stress on the palm. The flowers are insignificant; no fruits form; and bees don't visit, or use, the pollen.



My Windmill Palm has been in the ground for 2 weeks. Do you think it looks healthy? I’m watering it 1x week on top of the root ball. Thank you

This my Palm tree planted 2 weeks ago. I’m watering 1x a week on top of soil. We have bee having some rain showers too. Does it loo good to you?

To be truthful, it's too early to determine if the palm is healthy.

It's likely that some of the droopy fronds may not return to a normal position. That's just a mechanical reaction to the wilt. If they become brown and scraggly, you may want to trim them off close to the base of the stem where they branch off the trunk. Keep them as long as they are green.

You'll know the palm is fine if the new fronds emerging at the top center are upright and nicely green.

If the rootball was well watered before planting, and if the planting hole was filled with water and drained several times, the palm's rootball may still need to be watered daily, especially when temperatures rise and continuing through the summer.

Keep a watch on the moisture content of the rootball and planting hole for at least the first 2 years. Water well when needed.