Great palms: Your guide to small varieties

Palms look great with other Mediterranean plants. Here's a guide to using them in your landscape

Small (10 to 35 feet)

Mediterranean fan palms complement a blue-green Agave attenuata in Sue and John Major's Rancho Santa Fe, CA, garden.

Steven Gunther

Small palms (10 to 35 feet):

Use them singly as accents or in clusters. Good near pools or in patios, and in large garden beds with succulents or Mediterranean plants.

Chinese fountain palm (Livistona chinensis). Wide-spreading crown. Bright green, fan-shaped leaves with drooping tips. Best with regular watering. Grows very slowly to 25-30 ft. Hardy to 22°. Sunset Western Garden Book climate zones 13-17, 19-24, H1, H2.

Foxtail palm (Wodyetia bifurcata). Narrow trunk, luxurious plumelike leaves, and gray-green crownshaft (a smooth pillar of leaf bases at the top of the trunk). Beautiful solo specimen or small street tree. Needs good drainage. Grows slowly to 25 ft. Hardy to 30°. Zones 21-24.

Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis). Produces multiple trunks, which are covered with a dense mat of old leaf bases. Foliage varies from dark green to silvery gray. Grows slowly to 20 ft. Hardy to 0°. Zones 4-24, H1, H2.

Mexican blue palm (Brahea armata). Striking silvery blue, fan-shaped leaves. Grows slowly to 35 ft. Hardy to 18°. Zones 10, 12-17, 19-24, H1.

Pindo palm (Butia capitata). Stout trunked, with arching, gray-green, feather-shaped leaves. Grows slowly to 10-20 ft. Hardy to 15°. Zones 8, 9, 12-24, H1, H2.

Pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii). Fine-textured, feather-shaped leaves. Somewhat resembles a tree fern. Often planted in multiples. Best with regular watering; appreciates light shade away from coast. Grows slowly to 10 ft. Hardy to 26°. Zones 13, 23, 24, H2.

Shaving brush palm (Rhopalostylis sapida). Feather-shaped leaves stand upright from crownshaft, making it a good accent plant. Best with regular watering. Grows slowly to 30 ft. Hardy to 27°. Zones 17, 23, 24, H1, H2.

Triangle palm (Dypsis decaryi). Leaf bases form a triangular trunk. Long (to 15 feet) feather-shaped leaves are gray-green to blue-green. Sun or light shade; drought tolerant. Grows slowly to 20 ft. Hardy to 28°. Zones 20-24, H2.

Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei). Dark green, fan-shaped leaves atop stiff-looking trunk covered with brown, hairy fiber. Moderate to fast growth to 35 ft. Hardy to 10° or lower. Zones 4-24.

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