Raising Arizona

Mediterranean Fan Palm

This is not Arizona, actually, in more ways than one.  When selecting plants for the garden it is important to consider context as well as climate.  Palms are definitely out of context in the Northwest garden.  Nevertheless, they had some down at the Ace Hardware Nursery, so I thought I would give one a try.  This is the Mediterranean Fan Palm, Chamaerops humilis.  According to Sunset, it is hardy to 0° F/-18° C for short periods, in climate zones 4-24.  Fidalgo Island sits in zone 5.  Ironically, parts of Arizona are not suitable.

Normal winter low temperatures here range in the 30's and 40's F (0-9° C).  Occasionally, our version of a Nor'easter roars down the Fraser River Valley.  These bring lows in the teens or less to northern Puget Sound.  Record low in Anacortes is 4° F (-15.5° C), but this is rare.

I have a small patio in the sunny end of the shade garden.  My potted palm looks nice there and adds some contrast to the Rhododendrons.  It seems to be thriving and has put out some new growth.  Winter will be the true test of its suitability.  I am counting on the shade garden's microclimate to protect it from our coldest temperatures.


  1. Very interesting. We have a I believe a Mexican or California fan palm. My hubby started it by seed about 5 years ago. It is now about 3 feet tall now is in such a big pot we couldn't take to friends for the winter as everything is shut down at our ranch when we leave for the winter south. Anyway last winter we left it in the greenhouse with some row cover to give a little more insulation. Low and behold it survived. Mind you it wasn't a very cold winter. But it can get to -10c in the greenhouse when it gets down to -30c outside. For the summer I plant nasturtiums in the pot and put it on the deck. Makes a beautiful plant for outside in the summer. Would love to try this little guy you have here. thanks for sharing this info and the tons more you share.


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