How to Grow Washingtonia - Planting & Caring

By Sharon & Team   /   Trees Category   /   2023

Washingtonia, also known as desert fan palm, California fan palm, or American Cottonwood, is a palm tree native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Baja California. Washingtonia is a genus of two species of palms, the Washingtonia filifera (desert fan palm) and the Washingtonia robusta (Mexican fan palm). Washingtonia filifera is the more common of the two species and is often cultivated as an ornamental plant in warm temperate and subtropical climates.

How to Grow Washingtonia - Planting & Caring

Growing Easiness

Is it easy to grow Washingtonia plant? Eventually, it will take some time for the Washingtonia to become established. The first year or two, it is not uncommon for the palm to lose some fronds. Once it is settled in, however, it will be easy to care for with only occasional maintenance required.

Plant Size

How big can it be? The Washingtonia can get up to 4 m in height, but when kept in a pot, it is usually between 1.5 and 2 m.

Growth Rate

How fast is the growth? The average Washingtonia palm tree grows to be 20–30 m tall. The leaves are pinnate and can be up to 3 m long. The flowers are small and white, and the fruit is a black drupe. The tree typically grows in desert climates, such as in the Mojave Desert in California.

Washingtonia Basic Knowledge

Plant Form Tree
Family Aracaceae
Origin USA (Arizona, California), Mexico

Lifespan, Perennial or Annuals

How long is the lifespan? Eventually, all plants will die. Some just take much longer to do so than others. The record for the longest-lived plant is held by a member of the palm family, Washingtonia filifera, which is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. The oldest known specimen of this species was found in the White Mountains of California and is thought to be about 10,000 years old.

Ideal Temperature

What is the ideal temperature? The upper limit is 75,2 ° F. The optimum temperature is 64,4-69,8 ° F. Requires a cool winter at a temperature of 50-64,4 ° F.


What about the humidity? Sometimes, the leaves of your Washingtonia may start to turn brown and dry out. This is almost always due to the air being too dry, especially in the winter when indoor heating can strip the air of moisture. The best solution is to increase the humidity around your palm. You can do this by grouping plants together, running a humidifier, or simply placing a bowl of water near your palm. Just be sure to empty and refill the water every few days to prevent stagnant water and bacteria buildup.

Light Requirement

What amount of light this plant needed? Although Washingtonia robusta can grow in bright diffused light, it is best to place the plant in a tub near the south-west or south-east window. This will give the plant the best chance to develop strong, thick leaves.

Soil Composition

What is good soil for Washingtonia? Sometimes, we buy plants without knowing what kind of soil they need. If you have Washingtonia, don't worry, I will tell you what kind of soil it needs. Washingtonia is a plant that needs a lot of light and air, so the ideal soil for it is "palm". You can prepare the soil yourself, taking 2 parts of sod land, 2 parts of wet peat or humus (leafy earth), and 1 part of coarse sand or perlite. Remember that Washingtonia needs a pot with a hole.

Watering Time

How much I must water Washingtonia? When to water a Washingtonia? Abundant in summer, 1-2 times a week. In winter, less often – every 10-14 days, the soil in winter should be hardly damp.

Fertilizing and Nutritient

About fertilizer. Common ly called the desert fan palm, Washingtonia robusta is a fast-growing palm that can quickly reach heights of 50 feet. Despite its name, this palm is not limited to desert climates and can be grown in a variety of soil types and locations. For best results, fertilize your Washingtonia robusta regularly. From spring to autumn, feed once every two to three weeks with a soluble fertilizer for palms.


How to reproduce Washingtonia? Sometimes, it is easiest to propagate plants from seeds. Washingtonia seeds can be soaked overnight in water to help them germinate. They should then be sown in a mixture of peat and perlite, and germinated under the film at a temperature of 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit. The first sheet should appear within 2-3 months.


Why Washingtonia won't bloom? Although this plant is more commonly found in arid and semi-arid regions of the southwestern United States, it is also cultivated as an ornamental plant in other parts of the world, including in the home culture. The plant blooms extremely rarely, usually only in the summer. The inflorescences are long panicles, and the flowers are white with purple stamens.

Transfer or Repotting

How much I must water Washingtonia? The Washingtonia plant, also known as the Desert Fan Palm, is a palm that is common in North America. It is a hardy plant that can grow in many different climates, but it is most commonly found in the southwestern United States. The plant is easy to care for and does not require much maintenance. The only time that the plant needs to be transplanted is every two to three years, and this is only necessary if the roots begin to show on the surface of the soil or if the plant begins to sprout from the bottom of the pot. The Washingtonia plant is a drought-tolerant plant and can survive in dry conditions. When transplanting the plant, it is important to press the soil down around the plant, but not to damage the thin roots.

Caring The Washingtonia

How to care the plant? So, in the wild, they are often found in riparian habitats, in washes and canyons, or on slopes that catch and hold runoff after rainstorms. They also grow along roadsides and in vacant lots. Washingtonia robusta is adapted to a wide range of soils, but it grows best in deep, sandy, well-drained soils

Pests & Challenges

What is the challenge when caring Washingtonia plant? Because it is thermophilic, it is grown only in warm regions. It is affected by a spider mite, chervets, aphids and scutes. The leaves turn yellow with insufficient watering, and brown tips are formed in dry air. On the leaves appear light dry spots with an excess of light, and fade and darken the leaves begin at too low a temperature. Perhaps the development of rot of the apical bud, as well as phytophthora with too dense soil and abundant watering.

Toxic & Poisonous Type

Are Washingtonia poisonous? While the palms are not lethal if ingested by humans, they can cause significant digestive upset. All parts of the plant are toxic to dogs, cats, and other small animals if ingested. Symptoms of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling. If you suspect your pet has ingested any part of a Washingtonia plant, contact your veterinarian immediately.