The Washingtonia or Mexican Fan Palm is commonly seen around 40 to 50 feet but capable of reaching heights of up to 80 feet, they are striking when planted along a boulevard or in groups against high rise buildings. Washingtonias work well in open spaces where they won’t dominate the landscape or interfere with structures. They have a reddish-brown trunk, about a foot in diameter, that is ringed with closely set leaf scars. The leaves are a rich, glossy green color and are borne on orange leaf stems that are edged with sawtooth spines. During early summer, light beige, branched inflorescences appear holding clusters of small, very pale, orange flowers. Once the flowers mature, they form black berries. Washingtonias are salt and wind resistant and moderate to fast growers. They grow best in direct sun and thrive in almost any well-drained soil, including sand. They grow best, and have better color with regular, moderate watering but can, withstand prolonged dry periods. Washingtonias are not self cleaning and can get too tall to maintain easily. This palm is frequently mistaken for a Washingtonia Filifera. Filiferas are cold hardier and prefer drier conditions, while Robustas are faster growing and prefer humid conditions. The leaf stalks of a Robusta are shorter and have a red streak on their undersides and bright green fronds. Filifera leaf stalks are longer and its fronds are a light, blueish shade of dull green.
Washington Palm, Washy, Mexican Washington Palm, Mexican Fan Palm
Hardy Range: 9A – 11
Mature Height: 60 – 80’
Mature Spread: 10 – 15’
Growth Rate: Moderate to fast
Washingtonia leaves have a petiole and palmmate fan leaflets up to 3 feet long. Lower leaves persist on the tree after they die, forming a dense, shaggy covering below the leaves. The inflorescense can reach almost 10 feet long and have small pale orange flowers. The fruit is circular and blue-black. Washingtonia does best in moderately rich, well drained soil but can survive in poor soil, even sand. It is drought tolerant once established but looks better and grows faster when given sufficient moisture.
Soil: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; occasionally wet; well-drained
Drought Tolerance: High
Exposure: Full sun or partial shade