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Mexican Fan Palm Tree

Mexican Fan Palm tree in the landscape

The Mexican Fan Palm Tree, scientific name Washingtonia robusta, is a very popular indoor and outdoor palm because of its striking appearance and cold hardiness which makes it a great choice for landscape in USDA zones 8b-11. This is a cold-hardy, drought-resistant, and inexpensive palm that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Washingtonia robusta can be grown in states like Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas.

Mexican Fan Palm Tree Info


Scientific name: Washingtonia robusta

Common names: The Mexican Fan Palm is also known as Washington Palm and Skyduster.

Family: Arecaceae

Origin: It is native to desert regions of Mexico.

Appearance: It has a single gray trunk ringed by old leaf bases, about 13 inches in diameter. The Mexican Fan Palm requires some maintenance to keep its attractive look.

Old leaves need to be trimmed, otherwise, the trunk will be sheathed in dead leaves, that form a brown, shaggy covering, also called a “hula skirt”, that extends nearly to the ground. The trunk is straight, a little swollen at the base, has no crownshaft, topped with a crown of 20-25 large fronds.

Leaves are rich glossy green, palmate, or fan-shaped, about 5ft long and 4ft wide. They have lance-shaped leaflets with elegant drooping tips that provide a very tropical appearance to the landscape. The petioles of mature palms are armed with short, sharp thorns. Be careful when trimming.

Flowers/Fruits: In the late spring, the Mexican Fan Palm produces small creamy flowers. Flowers grow in clusters on the branched inflorescence 8-10ft long that extends past the leaves. Flowers are followed by black berry-like drupes, about 1/2 inches in diameter. Fruits are edible, though thin-fleshed. They are sweet and taste like dates can be dried or made into jelly.

Growth Rate: Moderate to Fast. Washingtonia robusta is a fast-growing palm that can get up to 50 – 60 ft tall and 5-10ft wide, but usually is not taller than 40ft.

Outdoor/Indoor Use: Both.

Cold Tolerance: Mexican Fan Palm is cold hardy and can tolerate cold down to 15F but temperature lower than 23F might damage leaves. It is great for growing in USDA Zones 8b (15 to 20 F) to 11 (above 40 F).

Light Req: Full sun to partial shade. The Mexican Fan Palm needs growth best in full sun but will tolerate some shade while young.

Water Req: Moderate. It can also tolerate drought but grows much faster when receiving plenty of water. It likes moist well-drained soil.

Maintenance: Easy. It doesn’t require much maintenance and can be pruned annually. To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during the growing season.

Propagation: Propagated by seeds. Best to sow seeds fresh in the spring. It will take around 4 weeks for germination to occur. Seedlings grow fast having 4 little leaves only after 6 months.

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