Mexican Fan Palm, Skyduster
Washingtonia robusta

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Washingtonia (Washing-ton-ee-a) (Info)
Species: robusta (roh-BUS-tuh) (Info)
Synonym:Neowashingtonia robusta
Synonym:Washingtonia sonorae
View this plant in a garden

Category:

Palms

Height:

over 40 ft. (12 m)

Spacing:

over 40 ft. (12 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Danger:

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:

Evergreen

Other details:

This plant is fire-retardant

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,

Dauphin Island, Alabama

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

Orange Beach, Alabama

Pell City, Alabama

Robertsdale, Alabama

Goodyear, Arizona

Mesa, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Queen Creek, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Arkadelphia, Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Lonoke, Arkansas

Malvern, Arkansas

August, California

Canoga Park, California (2 reports)

Chowchilla, California

El Cajon, California

Encinitas, California

Fontana, California

Joshua Tree, California

Los Altos, California

Los Angeles, California

Merced, California

Palm Springs, California

Redding, California

Reseda, California

Sacramento, California

San Diego, California

San Leandro, California

San Pedro, California

San Ramon, California

Santa Barbara, California

Temecula, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Wilmington, California

Big Pine Key, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida (2 reports)

Bonita Springs, Florida

Brandon, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Homosassa, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Lecanto, Florida

Melbourne Beach, Florida

Miami, Florida

Niceville, Florida (2 reports)

Orlando, Florida

Port Charlotte, Florida

Ruskin, Florida

Trenton, Florida

Venice, Florida

Brunswick, Georgia (2 reports)

Savannah, Georgia

Kihei, Hawaii

Kurtistown, Hawaii

Denham Springs, Louisiana

Lafitte, Louisiana

Las Vegas, Nevada (3 reports)

North Las Vegas, Nevada

Deming, New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico

Emerald Isle, North Carolina

Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

Fort Gibson, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (2 reports)

Portland, Oregon (3 reports)

Beaufort, South Carolina (2 reports)

Bluffton, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina (2 reports)

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Lexington, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

North, South Carolina

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Austin, Texas (2 reports)

Belton, Texas

Boerne, Texas

Brownsville, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Cypress, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Devers, Texas

Edinburg, Texas

El Paso, Texas

Frisco, Texas

Galveston, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

Houston, Texas (2 reports)

Kerrville, Texas

La Feria, Texas

La Porte, Texas

Markham, Texas

Mcallen, Texas

Mission, Texas

Missouri City, Texas

Pearland, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

Spring, Texas

Saint George, Utah

Orchards, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Shoreline, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

25
positives
11
neutrals
9
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On May 10, 2015, opal92nwf from Niceville, FL wrote:

Vigorous, fast growing with attractive reddish leaf bases, this palm gives the signature "Hollywood Californian" look. For this reason, the Mexican fan palm tree is planted avidly throughout it's range.

I've seen other resources list zone 8 as the northern most growing range. And from my experience, I would only correct this statement to say that it is hardy in zone 8b with protection.

The fronds seem to start burning in the low 20's. Through the 8 winters I've been here, only 3 have had temps that got into the teens. With a winter this hard, unless the tree is fully mature with a full crown, there is a good chance it will be killed. Even still, I have seen fully mature trees decimated and even killed with all fronds burned off. We have just finished our sec... read more

Neutral

On May 3, 2015, IlhadoPico from Sao Roque do Pico
Portugal (Zone 11) wrote:

This is how Washingtonia most-likely-robusta does in the Azores:

http://imagizer.imageshack.com/img540/9140/yWzlH4.jpg

Some do ok, some are like this. The climate in the Azores is 50F to 75F year round and it never goes below 45F or above 80F, which includes winter nights and summer days.

Best palm for the Azores is a CIDP and some cooler tropical varieties that don't need too much heat.

Negative

On Jul 17, 2013, GardenTee from Houston, TX wrote:

We bought a house last fall because of the backyard, it is gorgeous! There were 8 palms in the yard, we removed 2 small ones because there were so many in the small area. The oldest Fan Palm is 8 years old and stands 50 feet. The palms are beautiful, they make the backyard look tropical and lush, we loved the way they look!

Spring came and the living nightmare began.

It has become a full time job to clean the beds, the pool filters and skimmers at least twice a day, vacuum the walkways, cracks and outdoor furniture and pull seeds from every surface imaginable. I totally agree with GardenSox - these palms are horrible! The casings from literally millions of seeds on one 'flower' finally stops snowing and the pea size seeds themselves start dropping. Each tree ... read more

Negative

On Jun 27, 2013, Skarpa08 from Cypress, TX wrote:

Can someone help me? I planted two of these palms about a week ago by my pool in Houston, TX.... They now look dead and the leaves are hanging down instead of up. What could I have done wrong?? Are they in shock after being transported?? Are they already dead?? So frustrating to spend this money, and I even bought Palm Feed. What do I do???

Neutral

On Jun 14, 2013, Mojave_Sun from Saint George, UT wrote:

This palm, along with the hybrid variety (Mexican/California Fan mix) are very common in St. George, Utah,
the climate here is very similar to Las Vegas, NV, as both cities are in the Mojave Desert. The only real negative is since we're slightly higher in elevation (2700-2800 ft.), there tends to be more nights at or below freezing in December and January causing the fronds to severely brown which makes for a couple short months of unsightly palms and also requiring trimming/cleaning in the spring that can be costly if using a commercial contractor.
However, the climate is obviously warm enough that people rarely wrap them with burlap as it's really not needed here, but I'd recommend wrapping the young and newly planted ones just incase.

Most Mexican Fan pal... read more

Negative

On Nov 19, 2012, Melthyme from Modesto, CA wrote:

I agree with GardenSox. I have a friend who has one of these palms in her yard. Last spring she planted a new lawn, and now there are hundreds of palm seedlings sprouting up all throughout the yard. I've also seen them in the neighbor's yard. The seeds are also spread by birds.

Negative

On Oct 8, 2012, GardenSox from Sacramento, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

My next door neighbor has a mature Washingtonia robusta right next to our property line. It is probably 50 or 60 feet tall at this point and I suppose it looks just fine now that they've cleaned up the rat-infested fronds that "adorn" this terrible tree.

Am I being harsh? You tell me - the Washingtonia robusta drops thousands of seedlings which sprout everywhere. They grow in cracks in the sidewalk, they grow in your gutters if you haven't cleaned them out recently, they grow in your flower beds, they grow in your lawn, they grow in gravel pathways . . . they grow and grow. I spend about 30 minutes each weekend, almost all year round, plucking out seedlings just to stay on top of the chore.

When it gets windy out, the fronds (which have sharp spikes on t... read more

Positive

On Aug 6, 2012, Palm1978 from Bonita Springs, FL wrote:

This palm is common in Southwest Florida, becoming increasingly so as you head north up the coast. Does well here but lightning, humidity and hurricanes keep it from reaching the heights that they do out west.

My strong personal preference is that this palm looks best when the boots and petticoat are removed. Most are not maintained this way in Southwest Florida.

Neutral

On May 11, 2012, debchrus from Homosassa, FL wrote:

About ten years ago, my husband and I purchased a goodly-sized double Washingtonia palm and had it placed by heavy equipment into our back yard. It was a splurge purchase, but having just moved to Florida, I wanted palm trees. We had one (different variety) in the front yard, but wanted one in the back yard, as well. I learned that palm trees are very slow-growing and Washingtonia are one of the fastest growing palms, so that is how we decided to go with this variety!

Not being botany-savvy, I don't know if one palm grew into two trunks or two palms grew so close together that their root balls became one.

All was well until this year, when it appeared that one of the trunks on the double palm had died - the other side is very healthy and has new foliage. We ... read more

Positive

On Jan 8, 2012, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

Anybody who doesn't like these palms should be banned from all garden boards!-kidding. But,they are truly misunderstood palms,giving a tropical look on almost no care. Locally,they do naturalize around water sources. Not commonly being this is the cool SF bay area,but as they build into a grove mixed with CIDP,Acacia's,even citrus and native Oaks and Sycamores, its a natural oasis growing as if planted by ma nature's perfectness.

Negative

On Dec 6, 2011, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

winter 2010 killed my beautiful 15 year specimen . Now all i have is a fat dead trunk . My california fan palm sailed through last winter with minimal leaf burn great alternative to this tree.

Negative

On Sep 14, 2011, GreatUnstopbLee from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

Can be invasive and hard to get rid of. Every summer I am always digging up dozens of these because they can break through walls and foundations. Also very loud in the wind. In my opinion they only look nice when they are trimmed, the stem is filed, and they reach over 100 ft. tall.

Negative

On Apr 29, 2011, D3VNT from Round Rock, TX wrote:

I don't know who is growing this plant in Dallas without a electric blanket wrapped around it. I mistakenly bought 4 last year to add a little bit of the "tropical" feel to my yard, and after the freeze we had I dug the dead plants up to add a little big of "barren" feel to my yard.

NOT growing in Round Rock, TX

Positive

On Jul 13, 2010, DisHammerhand from Fontana, CA wrote:

There are always several of these poking up on the horizon in So Cal. They are at their most spectacular lining streets in rows 100 feet tall.

For shorter trees I like them best with their 'beards' (dry fronds) still on..

Negative

On May 27, 2010, NorthSC from North, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I am in a Zone 8A (Orangeburg county, SC) perhaps ~50 miles south of the old USDA Zone 7B border.

I planted a 8 ft. tall Washingtonia Robusta in August 2009 in a sheltered sunny location on a south side of my house about 2-3 ft. from the wall. It had beautiful foliage, which browned and broke during the winter in December and January. I wrapped it with burlap a lot during the most cold weather for a couple weeks in January. Some time in January there was a unusual snow storm with LOTS of snow which lasted for 2 days although temperatures stayed normal. I was told it will be growing like crazy in May and it did grow a little bit during May (today is 27th of May). It grew a green stem of about 12" inches and another stem of about 5" inches both holding the browned foliage. Tha... read more

Neutral

On Feb 1, 2010, Ray_Woodlands from Spring, TX wrote:

Our palms have grown like mad over the past 7 years in the Houston area, but we had a 4 day freeze this year where temps got down to the high teens. All the fronds are brown. Should we just wait it out, or cut the dead ones off now?

Neutral

On Oct 25, 2009, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Mexican fan palms in central SC struggle with our cold frosty winters. Fronds are usually dead and unsightly by Dec, and they grow slowly. The tallest MFP I've seen locally is only about 14 ft tall. I think the Ca. fan palm would perform better around here, but I've yet to come across a nursery that stocks them.
update:4/29/29 after 2 warmer than normal winters, my 2 Washingtonias are growing, well, robustly. They seem to attract fire ants, which killed one of mine several yrs ago. I've also had to treat mine with copper fungicide and insecticide, but only during colder than normal winters. Washingtonia filibusta hybrids are a great choice, but I don't know anyone who has this palm, and most growers in Fl grow the W. robusta.

Positive

On Oct 15, 2009, walkingthefrog wrote:

A very popular palm tree in Houston-area. It grows quite quickly, I see that many people have expressed doubt against that -- this palm needs plenty of hot weather to facilitate its growth. So, with that stated, it does best in blazing hot sun! I have dozens of these palms planted, they are by far the easiet palms to grow...but once they have matured, routine pruning is required to rid them of their dead leaves.

Positive

On Oct 11, 2009, JoyfulSeason from Kerrville, TX wrote:

Three years ago, I purchased a three-foot Mexican palm at Walmart for $13. Planted it in the ground about six feet from a stone wall. Our 7b climate here in Kerrville, TX only offers alkaline limestone soil, but this palm doesn't seem to mind. Specimens in town seem to get only about 8 feet or so, and tend to be more shrub-shaped than tall. We get about 30-40 freezes a year, but they seldom last more than about 2 to 4 hours. The freezes cause the tips of the fans to turn brown, but by mid-May those fans become the lower fans and can be cut off, so the tree looks marvelous by summer. My palm doesn't get sun before noon, so it tolerates going from cool to 100-degree furnace-hot each day in the summer. In three years, it has grown to about 7 feet tall and is almost as wide. Give this ... read more

Neutral

On Jul 5, 2008, cstanton from Flower Mound, TX wrote:

I just planted a young mexican fan plant a few feet from my pool. I have been hearing all sides to this tree (very easy, non-invasive roots, easy maintenance, etc) and also negative points. I don't know what to believe.

Anybody have real experience with this tree next to a pool? I live in the Dallas area.

Thanks.

Positive

On May 12, 2008, cazieman2 from Seattle, WA wrote:

Bought one from flowerworld in maltby, wa and didnt realize it had a fungal infection. the trunk bent at the side and shriveled slightly and the fronds turned yellow and a few died. really odd never seen this before. have another that is doing great. not the best looking during the winters here but perk back up in the summers. under used in the seattle area.
hardier than many give credit to. Seattle Times recently had and article on them in seattle/PNW gardens.

Neutral

On Apr 13, 2008, MichaelLV from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

I have six Mexican Fan Palms in my yard in Las Vegas, NV. They have been in the ground about three years and all but one are doing well. The problem one gets new green fronds but they fail to open. All are on an irrigation system and receive the same amount of water and sun. Has anyone had this problem? Any idea what causes it? Thanks for any information.

Positive

On Sep 1, 2007, Lodewijkp from Zwolle
Netherlands (Zone 7a) wrote:

The Netherlands , Province Overijssel Zone 6B to 8a

The Robusta is more resistent to high humidity cold and is a very fast grower.

however i found out that in our kind of weather with almost everyday a cloudy day it does better in alkaline soils, it also seems more resistent to fungus in semi shade with this soil type.

It can recover very fast from leaf spot disease when you cut off the infected area's

and it can recover very fast after frost damage.


description added 27 Dec 07.

It has survived a terrible wet frost which had run into 8- celsius at night. Most tropical plants die in holland because we have a misty wet frost .

howerever just with a small board above it against moi... read more

Neutral

On Aug 4, 2007, Taylor1987 from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I bought a Mexican Fan Palm last summer, and it lasted through the winter, but it hasn't grown as fast as people are saying they grow. I took really good care of it last winter and the fronds are growing like crazy, but the trunk isn't growing at all.

Positive

On Jul 26, 2006, YankeeCracker from Vancouver, WA wrote:

I have two so far in Vancouver, Washongton. They are growing fast and seem to like it here. I'll keep yall updated on how things go

Positive

On Apr 23, 2006, Kvickr from Fruita, CO (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have had a Mexican Fan Palm growing in a pot here in Colorado for about 5 years. So far it is still small (under 5 feet) and does not seem to be growing very fast at all. I bring it into the house in the winter.

Positive

On Sep 19, 2005, growing_N_E_Ok from Fort Gibson, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

We have grown this one in a container and moved indoors during the winters, but it had grown to big to move. I decided to just get another and start over. It was left on our patio with NO protection in its container, In november 2004 the temp. dropped to NINE degrees!!! the pot was frozen solid as a rock. There was several nights of that cold in a row, and then the weather warmed, and the fronds were almost black, and in a few days were fine. On Christmas eve we planted on the south wall of the house, and called it the Christmas Palm, it is still fine, and we have lots of nights of 5-10 degree temps, because of living in a low valley, and in Oklahoma you have the most extreme and strange weather, one day 90 degrees in Jan. and next day, 10 with snow! A horticulture prof. at my university ... read more

Positive

On Jun 5, 2005, dcugm from Hialeah, FL wrote:

Contrary to what Palm Bob has written Mexican Fans do grow very tall in Miami and the rest of Florida (I have seen some SoCal sized Robustas in Sarasota and all along the west coast of Florida). I will say the rarity of seeing these guys grow so tall in South Florida is because of a few things: 1) The aforementioned storms, we get lots of rain with very strong winds and lightening. It is not uncommon to see Robusta's busted. 2) It seems they were not planted very often a long time ago. This has changed as they are planted all along I95, near most schools and malls. Way back when people mostly seemed to want to plant Jamaican tall Coconut Palms, but the Coconut Palms have not been planted like they were due to leathal yellowing. 3) There are so many palm choices here. In SoCal it is commo... read more

Positive

On Apr 5, 2005, CATSLARSON from Miami, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I have two in my yard in addition to many many other palms. Here in Miami, they grow like crazy even if you neglect them. I LOVE plants that can be neglected and still thrive well. Mine are 9 years old and over 40 feet tall. Both are covered with flowering vines all the way to the crown. I find that leaving the "skirt" gives them extra character -- my personal preference over making them into "sprout heads". However, since we have some of the most violent lightening storms anywhere in the world, I would never plant them close to my house making for a nice target and a fire ball with the dried skirt.

Positive

On Apr 4, 2005, washingtonia from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

I recently purchased three young Mexican fan pallms at a nursery here in zone 7b Oklahoma City and planted them in my front yard in mid-March. So far they are thriving! I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see how big they would get in a single season and if they might even survive a mild winter here. I love their bright green foliage!

Positive

On Feb 9, 2005, BROforest from Brownsville, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

In Brownsville, Texas these palms seed readily and naturally. They are also valuable to our area as cavity sites for Red-Crowned Parrots and Green Parakeets. In the late winter/early spring they come in large flocks to these Palm groves along the Rio Grande around Brownsville. I'll try to provide some pics of these birds in our Washingtonias later this spring.

Positive

On Aug 9, 2004, larryy8 from Carlsbad, NM wrote:

My young palms died back last winter and I thought that I had lost them but in the spring, they started turning green again. Mine are only 1 1/2 years old so they are quite young.

Thanks, Larry

Positive

On Jul 31, 2004, Gareimah from Houma, LA wrote:

We planted a Mexican Fan Palm about 7 years ago. It is now about 50' tall and we have had no problem with seeds or seedlings does need another palm to pollenate? We live in south Louisiana (Houma) south of New Orleans and there is a lot of rain , long hot days and mild winters this climate is perfect for this plant.....and the dead frawns make a perfect nesting place for many birds and an occasional bat .

Positive

On Jun 21, 2004, moe_29 from Clearwater, FL wrote:

In Clearwater, Florida the Washingtonia grows quite well. I grew up on Palmview Ave. Contrary to what Palmbob writes there are over a dozen examples of this palm reaching well over 80 feet, viwable from our driveway! In my neighborhood they are planted all along the roads, 5 to 6 feet apart. These palms are all over 40 years old at least - and in quite good condition. Can anyone comment on their longevity?
A spectacular palm, fully living up to it's robusta tag! :)

Neutral

On Jun 2, 2004, DaraMV wrote:

If you go to Riverside, California, you can see that these palms get very tall. And are actually beautiful when planted along streets, especially the tall old ones. Back in the early days, these palms were planted in the orange groves here as landmarks. And now after maybe a hundred years there are lots of these giant majestic looking palms. The talls ones look so beautiful. But the little ones are so ugly. Fan palms are messy. The fronds do not fall off, so you have to have them pruned. The seeds fall to ground and sprout everywhere. The only good thing about these palms are that they are fast growing, though that might be a bad thing if you have hundreds of seedlings to pull out every year.

Neutral

On Apr 17, 2004, nobule wrote:

These palms do great in central California where the summers are hot (100+ degrees F.) and winters moderate (occasional freezing at night). I tried growing some very young palms in Albuquerque, and they did not survive the winter. These were young palms that I think froze clear through. There is one yard in Albuquergue with larger fan palms that lose their fronds in the winter but rebound in the spring. I think these palms are tough, and can even live in some freezing conditions if they are larger. I belieive Albuquerque is zone 8a-8b.

Positive

On Mar 8, 2004, amorning1 from Islamorada, FL wrote:

Clipping the dried out ends will not harm the plant.
This Palm is a Full Sun Creature, You would need overhead lighting, if not already available, or the fronds will become "leggy".

Negative

On Jan 5, 2004, smashedcricket from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

They drop black seeds everywhere..and whatever you do..never plant near a swimming pool....

Positive

On Oct 29, 2003, nipajo from Dallas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is the third year for my Mexican Fan Palm. I have never protected it here in Dallas, Texas and it always comes back. It is doing great so far. It is over 5 ft. and continuing to grow. It would be nice to think that it would grow to 40 feet.

Positive

On Oct 27, 2003, mungoj from Murfreesboro, TN wrote:

This is my first time with this plant in Murfreesboro, TN I have outdoor heat floodlamps on each plant, they stand four feet tall. I'll also wrap with burlap with colder weather settles in - wish me luck!

Positive

On Oct 20, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I know these are common palms in southern California, but when they get really tall like in the picture of them at the pond in the Los Angeles arboretum, they looks so great. Some of the palms in this garden are nearly 100' tall. Nowhere in Florida do these palms get that tall because of Florida's thunderstorms... the lightning doesn't allow any palms to get very tall for very long there (guess I have to edit that statement a bit as there are obviously some tall ones in Florida... not as many perhaps as in California, though, where we just don't get lightning).

These are weeds in many areas of southern California, showing up in just about every single garden in Los Angeles at one time or another. My garden had hundreds of these pulled up as weeds in just an eight-year p... read more

Positive

On Jul 24, 2003, wnstarr from Puyallup, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Have several of these in my yard in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. Started out as gallon can size, now tall enough that you can walk under them. More and more are being planted in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Gives wonderful tropical look along with Japanese banana growing by koi pond. Love them, will plant more and incourage others to give them serious consideration.

Positive

On Mar 8, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Also popular in southwest Florida (U.S.), where it's one of our more popular large landscape palms, partly because it's fast growing and inexpensive, making it ideal for shopping malls and office buildings. There are several that are more attractive, such as Livistona decipens and L. chinensis.

Neutral

On Mar 7, 2003, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Self-sows to the point of being a weed, but nothing says "southern California" like a Mexican fan palm.

Positive

On Sep 14, 2002, azpunk wrote:

This is one of the hardier and faster growing palms. I believe the picture of California Fan Palm is actualy a Mexican Fan Palm because of the proportions.