Learn how to Develop and Look after Mexican Fan Palms

Washingtonia robusta

Belonging to a bunch of vegetation often known as the fan palms, Washingtonia robusta, aka Mexican fan palm, is the most important of all of them.

Because the identify suggests, this titanic tree is native to Baja, California and west into the Mexican state of Sonora.

Regardless of its comparatively slender native vary, this beloved behemoth is grown the world over in arid, sunny climes from San Diego to Dubai to the Cote d’Azur in France.

A vertical image of a large Mexican fan palm (Washingtonia robusta) growing in the middle of a dry lawn. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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All fan palms love heat climate and W. robusta is not any completely different. This species is raring to develop and is able to placing on 4 toes of progress in a single 12 months.

You may study extra about find out how to develop fan palms in our information.

If you happen to stay someplace with ample solar and minimal chilly climate, learn on to search out out extra about rising your personal Mexican fan palm.

And for these of you with a brightly lit nook indoors, by no means concern! You may take a crack at rising this lovely specimen inside as properly.

Right here’s what we’ll cowl:

Cultivation and Historical past

Native to the Sonoran desert and Baja, Mexico, this drought-resistant palm can develop to 100 toes tall.

The crown bears a dense cluster of shiny, inexperienced leaves, every about 5 toes broad and formed, because the identify suggests, like a pleated fan.

A horizontal image of a view of a group of tall Washingtonia robusta trees pictured on a blue sky background.

The foliage is organized in a tuft on the prime of a tall, unbranched trunk, making it appear like a large the other way up mop. It’s this considerably comical look that gave it its frequent identify, “skyduster.”

The genus identify, Washingtonia, is a dedication to Basic George Washington. Dr. H Wendland, a distinguished botanist within the late 1800s, bestowed this identify on the genus and needed to struggle to carry onto it.

The well-known moniker was in excessive demand and the group of timber often known as sequoias nearly laid declare to it.

Mexican fan palm is cultivated within the heat soils of Australia, Hawaii, the Center East and past. It’s straightforward to develop, drought tolerant as soon as established, and reliably bears clusters of enticing, darkish coloured fruit.

Hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11, this species can tolerate temperatures down to twenty° F, however not for prolonged intervals. Persistent chilly climate, particularly chilly moist climate, will injury foliage and invite illness.

A close up horizontal image of two Washingtonia robusta aka Mexican fan palms growing in the garden pictured in bright sunshine on a blue sky background.

In its native habitat, Mexican fan palm offers nesting and shelter websites for birds, mammals, and bugs.

Exterior of its endemic vary, W. robusta is listed as an invasive species in some locations, resembling California.

The California Invasive Plant Council has additionally labeled this tree a hearth hazard, as a result of its tendency to build up lifeless, dry fronds alongside its trunk.

A preferred houseplant gracing the well-lit confines of many an workplace, ready room and residential, Mexican fan palm does properly indoors too.

Though it hails from the enviably sun-drenched coast of Mexico, it’s a tricky cookie, and might handle situations inside, too.

So that you see, you’ve bought choices. Learn on to discover ways to begin rising now.

Mexican Fan Palm Propagation

Like all true palms, W. robusta is grouped right into a class of vegetation referred to as “monocots.”

Monocots have parallel leaf veins, just one seed leaf as an alternative of two, and produce flowers with petals in multiples of three.

This class of vegetation by and huge don’t develop lateral stems – they solely develop upwards. Because of this, they received’t develop from cuttings.

To propagate W. robusta, you’ll have to begin from seed or buy a transplant.

From Seed

Happily, W. robusta is fairly straightforward to begin from seed. If you happen to’re a novice germinator, this species is a enjoyable and rewarding one to strive.

Seeds may be bought on-line or harvested straight from the tree as soon as fruits flip darkish purple to black, indicating ripeness.

A close up horizontal image of a wicker basket filled with stalks and berries from a Washingtonia robusta.

Attempt to take away all pulp from across the seed earlier than you sow. Scrape off the fruit along with your fingernails or the tough facet with a sponge. This cleansing course of helps preserve undesirable fungal spores out of the planting substrate.

As soon as they’re clear, soak the seeds in heat water for 2 to a few days. This can assist soften the seed coat and pace up germination. Change the water each day.

The cup containing the seeds ought to be positioned on a warmth mat or in shiny solar to keep up a lukewarm water temperature. You don’t need to be too exact, simply make certain it’s comfortably heat to the contact.

Sow seeds slightly below the floor of the soil in freely draining potting soil in four-inch pots. This species wants somewhat gentle to germinate, so make certain to not cowl the seeds too deeply.

Sow a 3 or 4 seeds in every four-inch pot, you may separate out the strongest and greatest seedlings as soon as they’ve germinated.

There are soil mixes formulated particularly for palms and it’s best to make use of considered one of these.

Do this one, from Soil Dawn, obtainable on Amazon in eight-quart luggage.

Soil Dawn Potting Soil

Put the pots in shiny gentle, on a heat sunny windowsill, or on a warmth mat. Keep a temperature of someplace round 80 to 90°F.

Maintain the soil persistently moist, however not soaking, till germination happens. This could take every week or two.

To take correct care of newly germinated seedlings, make certain the soil stays moist however not soaking moist in between waterings.

As soon as your vegetation have produced true leaves, pot them into bigger containers and decelerate the watering somewhat bit. Attending to this stage will take a number of weeks.

Usually talking, you need younger vegetation to be in containers which are simply giant sufficient to offer them somewhat additional room to develop. Potting your younger palms into particular person four-inch pots at this stage will suffice.

At this level, you may let the floor of the soil dry out somewhat earlier than watering once more.

You may study extra about find out how to begin palms from seed in our rising information.


If you happen to’re transplanting the infants you grew from seed, make certain they’ve no less than two true leaves earlier than shifting them.

True leaves will resemble the mature plant’s leaves, however be a bit smaller. If you happen to’re planning to develop your vegetation outdoors, expose your infants to the solar and wind step by step, growing their publicity every day by hour lengthy increments.

A close up horizontal image of small seedlings in a gray pot indoors.

The identical goes for any plant you bought at a nursery. Ensure it’s correctly hardened off earlier than planting outdoors.

Within the backyard, select a spot in full solar with freely draining soil. This species likes comparatively impartial soil, so preserve the pH degree someplace round 6.0 to 7.0. In case your website has somewhat afternoon shade, don’t fear, that may work too.

Attempt to not disturb your plant’s root ball an excessive amount of while you dislodge it from the pot. This can give your new tree a greater probability at survival.

Dig a gap somewhat wider than the basis ball and set the plant so the highest of the basis ball is degree with the bottom.

Water completely, no less than as soon as every week, till your palm exhibits indicators of firm, such because the emergence of recent progress. This may take a number of weeks to some months.

As soon as these vegetation are established they’re usually drought resistant however will want supplemental irrigation throughout dry spells.

If you happen to’re transplanting right into a pot, use a ceramic one with drainage holes within the backside. You may choose to make use of plastic however you need your pot to be heavy sufficient to assist the palm because it grows and never topple over simply.

Fill your container with palm tree potting soil as much as the bottom of your transplant’s stem and water properly. Pots dry out in a short time, and ensuring new transplants have loads to drink is vital to their success.

Maintain the soil moist till your vegetation start to develop new leaves. Permit the floor of the soil to dry out a bit, whereas the inside soil maintains some moisture.

Discovering this candy spot will give your new plant the hydration it wants whereas it grows, however forestall it from affected by root rot.

W. robusta grows fairly quickly so make certain to pot up into bigger containers as wanted, at all times taking care to disturb the roots as little as doable.

Select a brand new container that has about two inches of additional area across the current root ball so it has loads of room to develop.

Learn how to Develop Mexican Fan Palms

The Mexican fan palm comes from heat, sunny climes and it expects no much less when rising in your backyard or gracing your house.

A horizontal image of a group of mature Mexican fan palms growing outdoors pictured on a blue sky background.

Maintain this species in freely draining soils, give it ample daylight, and loads of area to develop, and it’ll not disappoint. Even for those who’re beginning with seedlings, this tree will want as much as 25 toes of area between it and its neighbor when planted outdoors.

Ensure to decide on a location the place your full grown tree is not going to be uncovered to excessive winds. As you may think about, these tall timber, as soon as full grown, may be toppled fairly simply in robust winds.

Hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11 W. robusta can really tolerate dry chilly fairly properly.

At 20°F, this species will survive, however could undergo injury to the foliage. Persistently chilly, moist climate is way more damaging to this tree and can inevitably trigger fungal infections.

Though these timber will tolerate all kinds of soil varieties from loam to sand to clay, the substrate have to be free draining. This species can be reasonably salt tolerant, so for those who occur to be inside strolling distance to the ocean, that salty sea air received’t pose an issue.

Contemplate the truth that for those who preserve your palm tree joyful, it may develop a number of toes in a 12 months. Ensure it lives someplace that received’t cramp its high-flying type.

A horizontal image of the top of two enormous Washingtonia robusta trees pictured on a blue sky background.

If you’re rising it as a houseplant, the situations ought to be shiny, heat, and never humid. 

It may be difficult to make your home as comfy for this species because the sandy hills of Baja, California.

Because of this, W. robusta usually does higher on a heat, sunny patio from late spring via early fall, after which in a greenhouse or shiny bay window during winter.

Even when grown in a pot this species can develop fairly giant, so make certain to get some assist when shifting the container back and forth.

Wherever you situate your plant, make certain it will get no less than six hours of shiny daylight per day. Use a ceramic pot to encourage good drainage and aeration of the soil. Water completely, however permit the soil to dry out to an inch down earlier than watering once more.

A close up vertical image of a potted Mexican fan palm set outdoors on a patio.
Caption: Editorial credit score: Gaia Conventi / Shutterstock.com

Throughout winter, like many vegetation, this species enters a interval of dormancy and slower progress.

Lower watering right now to keep away from root rot and different fungal issues. It’s possible you’ll solely have to water as soon as each three weeks although the winter, however it will rely upon the location of your tree and its particular person wants.

Rising Ideas

  • Plant in freely draining soil.
  • Website in a location with ample daylight.
  • Present loads of area to develop.
  • Keep away from cramped or humid situations which is able to invite fungal issues.
  • Water as soon as every week in the course of the first six months after planting within the absence of rain after which solely in dry spells.


Upkeep for an indoor W. robusta is a bit more concerned than for specimens dwelling outdoors.

Within the backyard, you may principally be blissfully hands-off as soon as your Mexican fan palm is established.

In case your plant is located in freely draining soil, has loads of area to stretch out, and is basking in ample solar, simply stand again and revel in!

A horizontal image of a small Mexican fan palm (Washingtonia robusta) growing in the garden.

Indoor Mexican fan palms profit from month-to-month doses of fertilizer in the course of the rising season.

For greatest outcomes, use a particular palm tree meals for month-to-month purposes and ensure to water deeply after including any type of fertilizer to assist vitamins trickle all the way down to the roots.

Miracle-Gro Shake’N’Feed

If you happen to want a suggestion, Miracle-Gro has a palm-specific components, obtainable by way of Amazon.

In case your out of doors tree is rising properly with out fertilization, be at liberty to depart it’s – you may apply a prime dressing of compost, a number of inches thick, as soon as in spring and summer season.

It’s not strictly essential except you see indicators of nutrient deficiency resembling sparse foliage or discolored blotches on the leaf ideas.

As soon as this species prepares to enter dormancy in late fall, cease fertilization to keep away from encouraging leggy progress.

Pruning Mexican fan palm fronds will rob this species of the enduring shaggy skirt that makes them so eye-catching.

Nonetheless, for those who’ve planted your tree outside in a excessive visitors space, prune lifeless fronds to cease them flying off in excessive winds and injuring passersby.

A close up horizontal image of an arborist pruning the top of a Mexican fan palm (Washingtonia robusta) specimen.

To chop off a lifeless frond, use a pointy pruning noticed and take away it as near the bottom as doable, with out damaging the tree’s trunk.

If you’re rising your specimen as a houseplant, it’s greatest to take away lifeless fronds as they wither.

Lifeless or diseased foliage in indoor situations can create the proper atmosphere for pests to prosper. The identical goes for any spent flowers or fruit.

The place to Purchase Mexican Fan Palms

Mexican fan palm is accessible at many backyard nurseries that carry a big selection of indoor, or tropical vegetation.

A square image of a subtropical garden with a variety of plantings including large Washingtonia robusta specimens.

Mexican Fan Palm

If you happen to can’t discover one close to you, Quick Rising Bushes has them on the market on-line in three- and seven-gallon containers.

Managing Pests and Illness

Happily, the Mexican fan palm is as powerful as they arrive.

Indoor specimens could undergo from an infestation of mealybugs or whiteflies if they’re stored in cramped, poorly lit, or overly humid situations. Exterior, there’s not rather a lot to be apprehensive about.


Right here’s a common overview of some pests you may encounter outside:

Palm Leaf Skeletonizer

The larvae of the palm leaf skeletonizer moth (Homaledra sabalella) create giant translucent blotches on W. robusta leaves and might trigger leaves to die and drop off.

Maintain your eyes peeled for the droppings of the caterpillars, which appear like teeny black or inexperienced balls.

If you happen to discover them, wash the leaves vigorously with a powerful stream of water from the hose and take away any that stay by hand.

Palm Weevils

Palm weevils within the Rhynchophorus genus may cause main injury to palms.

The grownup weevils lay eggs within the crown of the palm and the larvae feed on comfortable, juicy bud tissue. As a result of these timber can solely produce shoots that develop up, and never laterally, injury to the plant’s sole level of progress is usually deadly. 

If you happen to handle to catch the infestation early, take away and destroy the bugs and/or apply neem oil.

Many different sorts of palm weevils feed on the crown of those timber, nevertheless, none are as damaging because the invasive R. palmarum and R. ferrugineus.


A lot of the frequent points affecting Mexican fan palms are associated to an overabundance of moisture.

Butt Rot

Butt rot is brought on by the fungus Ganoderma zonatum, and because it progresses the trunk decays and step by step turns hole.

Among the many first indicators of an infection are drooping or yellowing leaves. Sadly, there isn’t a treatment for butt rot.

G. zonatum is usually present in soils, and sadly, the one method to management this situation is to destroy all diseased vegetation and keep away from planting palms in the identical location.

This fungus can have an effect on each indoor and out of doors specimens.

Fusarium wilt

The simplest to determine symptom of this illness, brought on by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum, is the fast dying of older leaves.

At first, leaves look like affected solely on one facet of the midrib, however the fungus finally spreads throughout your entire leaf, killing it.

In the end, this illness will kill the tree. At present, there isn’t a treatment for fusarium wilt and it could actually have an effect on each indoor and out of doors timber.

Phytophthora Bud Rot

Phytophthora palmivora is a water mould (oomycete) that kills tender, creating tissues in new leaves and buds. The primary indicators of infestation are discolored, wilting leaves.

This pathogen usually beneficial properties a foothold when timber are broken by chilly or bodily trauma.

Sadly, there isn’t a treatment for this illness. Any affected vegetation and their soil ought to be destroyed, and never composted, to stop additional unfold.

Younger specimens are typically extra inclined than these which are properly established.

Greatest Makes use of for Mexican Fan Palms

If you happen to’re fortunate sufficient to stay someplace the place sunshine and heat climate is fixed, use considered one of these quick-growing timber to essentially make an announcement in your backyard.

A close up horizontal image of a Mexican fan palm (Washingtonia robusta) in bloom pictured in bright sunshine on a blue sky background.

W. robusta is a hardy, unfussy, and throughout wonderful selection for a panorama tree of epic proportions.

Simply keep in mind it is going to develop tall – very, very tall – and may be toppled extra simply than smaller timber in excessive winds.

A close up vertical image of a Mexican fan palm in a small white pot indoors.

If you happen to stay within the colder climes however are eager for the heat of Baja, do that adaptable tree in a pot, both indoors as a houseplant or a patio specimen with winter safety.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Sort: Evergreen monocotyledonous perennial Flower/Foliage Coloration: Cream; gentle to darkish inexperienced
Native to: Mexico Upkeep: Low
Hardiness (USDA Zones): September 11 Tolerance: Drought, half shade, salt, soil compaction
Bloom Time: Summer time Soil Sort: Free, sandy to loamy
Publicity: Full solar Soil pH: 6.0-7.0
Spacing: 25 toes or extra Soil Drainage: Properly-draining
Planting Depth: Slightly below floor (seeds), depth of root system (transplants) Makes use of: Specimen tree, potted indoors or outside
Peak: As much as 100 toes Order: Arecales
Unfold: 15 toes Household: Arecaceae
Water Wants: Low Genera: Washingtonia
Widespread Pests and Illness: Palm leaf skeletonizer, palm weevils, tessellated scale; Bud rot, butt rot, false smut, leaf rot Species Robusta

Mexican Fan Palm Fan Membership

Nothing evokes the nice and cozy solar so vividly because the sight of palm fronds swaying within the breeze. Do this big amongst palms in your backyard or patio and let it transport you to someplace tropical.

A close up horizontal image of a Mexican fan palm (Washingtonia robusta) pictured on a blue sky background.

Are you a part of the Mexican fan palm fan membership? Tell us within the feedback! And in case you have any questions, we’re joyful to assist.

If you wish to study extra about rising and caring for palm timber, we have now extra data so that you can learn proper right here:

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