Washingtonia Species, California Fan Palm, Desert Fan Palm

Washingtonia filifera

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Washingtonia (Washing-ton-ee-a) (Info)
Species: filifera (fil-LIF-er-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Neowashingtonia filifera
Synonym:Pritchardia filifera
Synonym:Washingtonia filamentosa
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


over 40 ft. (12 m)


USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


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

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama

Phoenix, Arizona

Surprise, Arizona

Elk Grove, California

Fresno, California

Hayward, California

Menifee, California

Oceanside, California

Rancho Mirage, California

Redding, California

Redlands, California

San Diego, California

San Marino, California

Santa Barbara, California

Spring Valley, California

Travis Afb, California

Meriden, Connecticut

Niceville, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Trenton, Florida

Brunswick, Georgia

Kurtistown, Hawaii

Chicago, Illinois

Plainfield, Indiana

Thibodaux, Louisiana

Vacherie, Louisiana

Youngsville, Louisiana

Las Vegas, Nevada

Albuquerque, New Mexico(3 reports)

Deming, New Mexico

Elephant Butte, New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Massillon, Ohio

Ashland, Oregon

Bend, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Redmond, Oregon

Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania

Beaufort, South Carolina

Bluffton, South Carolina

Cayce, South Carolina

Hardeeville, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Islandton, South Carolina

Lexington, South Carolina

North, South Carolina

Austin, Texas

Copperas Cove, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Frisco, Texas

Galveston, Texas

Houston, Texas(2 reports)

San Antonio, Texas

Orem, Utah

Saint George, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Shoreline, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 1, 2015, IlhadoPico from Sao Roque do Pico,
Portugal (Zone 11) wrote:

Since 1998 there has been massive chemtrails (persistant chemical trails) spraying in the sky and thus not only WaFi, but any other plants suffer greater damage from the noxious aerosols, plus the soil is getting overloaded with aluminium, barium etc. to the point of no return. I would say WaFi is one of the most beautiful palms out there.


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

This may prove to be a good replacement on northern fringe zones where Mexican fan palms just don't quite make it through a harder zone 8 winter. However, after reading through here, I've seen it does have problems if the soil is too wet, although I dare say that in areas along the Gulf Coast where the soil is basically pure sand, this may not be as much of a problem.

There is a planting of primarily Mexican fan palms (W. robusta) out in front of the Northwest Florida Regional Airport. One of the fan palms has a much thicker trunk than the rest as well as different looking leaves (to me, it actually looks like a pure W. filifera- the trunk is just massive!). After these last two winters, this tree has shown virtually no damage while the true Mexican fan palms around it have ... read more


On Jun 15, 2013, Mojave_Sun from Saint George, UT wrote:

This palm is very common in and around St. George, Utah. It has adapted well to the high desert climate of this southwestern Utah city in the northern Mojave Desert. This palm has easily endured record low temps., last winter of about 12 degrees F. for a brief period 2 nights in a row, without even suffering frost damage!

Mostly low maintenance, but will require some trimming and cleaning up in spring as some fronds will brown from freezing temps.


On Feb 7, 2013, NorthSC from North, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

It's a matter of luck growing Washingtonia filifera (California Fan Palm) in the South East of the U.S. both in the ground and in pots. They get constantly killed by too much rain even in summer. Cold does not bother them even if it is 20F and small 2 ft. plants survive outside all winter as long as temps do not go below 20F but too much rain will eventually kill most of them. Yet some survive the rain, this is why I am growing a few, to make sure that one survives and becomes rain-tolerant.

Washingtonia filifera struggles to grow in pots, often dying for unknown reasons; perhaps slight overwatering or certain deficiencies kill them most easily. Those that survive to the height of 2-3 feet are doing quite well, but even those sometimes develop some deficiencies and take a ve... read more


On Mar 30, 2012, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:

These Palms are great for their fast growth rate compared to some other cold hardy palms. Highly tolerant of dry heat, drought and looks great. Unfortunately, these palms are very difficult to grow in the Eastern US north of Florida. They tolerate a dry cold very well down to at least zone 8 temperatures, but with a wet cold, its hardiness is very limited. Many palms will survive for a number of years before a wet winter kills them off, but to many growers in the Southeast, this is worth the risk because the fast growth rate usually means it will become larger than the typical slow growing eastern palms in a very short amount of time, and is therefore easy to replace if it dies. (If you can find one for sale)


On Feb 19, 2012, kinderegg from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

Although it can be pretty, this plant is a literal pain. I have shredded myself multiple times cleaning out these plants skirt. The skirt has wildlife benefits, but is a flammable nightmare. This plant is also invasive in the warmer areas of the Mojave like Moapa valley where it has displaced natives by changing the fire regime. Grows like a weed here in Las Vegas.


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

Have a 15 year old specimen . A lot of older ones around town they stay rather squat here and they are the only palms left after last winter killed all the mexican fan palms . Only other palms left after winter 2010 are these ,trachys, sabals and needle palms that is .


On Oct 11, 2011, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

I Just got one today. Very sweet palm, Yea it does have shark like Thorns but, its from a Desert it will have Thorns to Protect its self Less its the Mazari palm. That one has Balls of steel. Moving onto the Native Palm of coolness(if that is a word) Am Very happy about this Palm.

Well... this insanity fast growing palm i may put it in the ground where it out grows its pot. Which should be next August lest i hope so. I have ways to protect this palm. Thank god for "palms can't grow here" and other myths" book.


On May 25, 2007, lsbillj from Lake Station, IN wrote:

I live in Chicago, and have had this Palm for 15 years, and of course, bring it in the house in the winter.(Gets -10 to- 15F here!) It's been repotted 3 times over the years, but it really is only about 7 feet tall, and about as wide even after 15 years.We use a dolly to move the pot! Usually it has 6 to 7 large fans in the summer. I noticed that the leaf tips get brown when it's out in the summer. I have read that our rain is acidic, and this could be the problem. But I wonder if I over water the palm. Overall, the palm looks very healthy, and people often comment about it. Can anyone comment about over watering, or the acid problem. Thanks


On May 2, 2005, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a very commonly grown palm in California, from the coast to far inland. It is native to the more inland areas, and the more inland it is grown, the better it tends to look. Those palms grown on the coast, where they get a lot more moisture than they should, often have pinched trunks and very small, sad looking crowns. Those growing in the desert have huge, beautiful crowns and nice, thick trunks.

Commonly confused with the even more common Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta), this one can be distinguished by the thicker, nearly always straight trunk-- the crown is also larger and relatively sparser. The leaves a more sea green, as opposed to the deep green of the Mexican fan palm. The petioles are always green--no red or brown in the petioles as there always... read more


On Apr 30, 2005, angele wrote:

Several of these are doing very well in a park across from my home. Zone 7b. These trees were brought in as huge $1,000 specimens many years ago.


On Dec 6, 2004, WalterT from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

The California Fan Palm is native to the desert canyons of the southernmost part of the state. Palm Springs, the famous desert resort town, derives it name from this tree. Said plant is very invasive here and the stems of the fronds are covered with very sharp, tough, shark-like teeth on both edges. See my image posted elsewhere of a "leaf" from one of many CFP plants that have invaded my garden from next door.