The precious fan palm: Washingtonia robusta

It abounds in gardens, avenues, and streets in areas that enjoy warm or temperate climates. The robust Washingtonia is a magnificent palm tree, very resistant, that will give us great satisfaction.

Its growth is fast, it is also said that it can grow at the rate of one meter per year, which guarantees that in a very short time we will be able to have a magnificent specimen in our garden, we just have to be patient.

Origin of Washingtonia robusta

In general , a little is already known about the robust Washingtonia, but its origin is still unknown. For this reason, we will tell you some basic aspects and what you have to know since the information of its origin or place of origin can help you with your intentions to have this species in your home.

But before starting, we must clarify r and above all note that it has two variations. The first of them is known as Mexican Washingtonia as previously mentioned. The other variation is known under the name of the Californian fan palm.

And although they are different variations of the same species, both belong to California, northwestern Mexico, much of Florida, Nevada, Arizona and multiple arid areas and those that have soils rich in salts. Since this plant is known to have great resistance to high levels of salinity in the soil.

As a curious fact, this plant receives its name in honor of one of the greatest presidents of the United States, George Washington and despite the fact that the plant is seen in much of this country, its place of origin is from Mexico, specifically the Baja and Sonora regions.

The simple fact that this specimen is seen in other areas far from its place of origin is due to its great resistance to arid climates and the ease it has to grow and spread.


Image – Wikimedia/ Spikebrennan

Its growth is fast, it is said that it can grow at a rate of one meter per year, which guarantees that in a very short time we will be able to have a magnificent specimen in our garden. Although the growth will also depend on the environmental conditions and/ or the care that is given to the plant.

If you decide to have this plant in your home, indoor or outdoor garden or any other area, you have to know that this particular species can grow up to 30 meters high. But if you give it the necessary care, you can keep it alive for a long time without having to grow so tall.

The Washingtonia robusta has fairly large fan-shaped leaves, about 50cm wide by 60-70cm long not counting the petiole that supports them. They are green in color and with some white threads or hairs that come out of each tip of the leaflet.

It should be noted that the leaves of this plant are perennial and its growth, like the plant itself, is quite fast. The petiole is rigid, green, the edges of which have thorns. They are responsible for holding the leaves. When it dies, the petiole dries up and remains attached to the trunk.

In its youth, the trunk is mainly composed of petioles that are drying out. As the palm grows taller it begins to form the smooth, grayish-brown trunk that we are so used to seeing. As for the diameter of the trunk, it is usually about 40 cm at most.

During its first years of life, the trunk of this plant basically acquires a straight shape. But as its growth increases until it reaches approximately 30 meters in height, weight and gravity do their thing and the plant tends to lean or take a curved shape.

The maintenance of the robust Washingtonia is minimal. It is a palm suitable for xero-gardening due to its resistance to drought, and weak frosts down to -5º. However, during the first year of age, and especially if we have it in a pot, it will need periodic watering and fertilization to develop a strong root system.

In previous paragraphs it was commented that this plant spreads easily thanks to its seeds. Well, as incredible as it may seem to some, this plant produces flowers. Otherwise, it would have no seeds to spread.

As for its flowers, these are grouped in axillary inflorescences. It is easy to distinguish because it tends n to be hung from the center and branched plant as such.

The fruit or the seed that these plants generate have a sphere shape and are black in color. If you take a ruler to measure its fruits or seeds, you will notice that its diameter is less than 0.6 cm.


To know how to give the necessary care to the plant, you have to know that its life and integrity will depend a lot on 4 fundamental factors, which are:

Plant location

How could you have imagined it, this plant for obvious reasons needs the sun to grow and live. Some tend to plant them in places with partial shade. But the best thing is to keep it in places where the sun hits them directly.

What is essential is that once the plant has germinated and has begun to grow, you have to plant it in a clear area where the sun shines directly once the plant has reached a height of 30 cm. It is advisable to plant it directly in the ground instead of in pots.


Obviously there will be a time when you will have this plant in a pot while it is growing. While est é here, you have to water, specifically two to three times a week during summer times and 5 to 6 times the rest of the year. Once the plant has completed its first year in the soil , you no longer need to water it.


This is not as necessary as the previous two factors. However, you can do it when spring is about to begin until summer ends. It is best to use organic waste to give the plant nutrients.

Choosing the best planting season

Basically it can be planted at any time of the year, but it is best to do so in spring as the freezing weather and continuous watering have become the least of the requirements.


To grow Washingtonia robusta, you will only need to take into account the 4 factors that were mentioned a moment ago and the seeds of the plant to begin its germination, since this species is propagated, cultivated and grows thanks to its seeds.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait too long to see this plant germinate. The time is relatively short and only about a month is enough to see a small outbreak.

But if you want the chances of growth to be favorable, we suggest you plant the seeds during spring. By the way, the compost for herbivorous animals is very good.

The good thing is that you do not have to give it a special treatment or be constantly doing maintenance since it does not require it. All you have to do is grab a small plastic container and make some wet compost.

Put the seeds in and keep it in a warm place. If conditions permit , it will not be necessary to wait 4 weeks for the plant to germinate. And then what you have to do is take the soil together with the plant that has germinated from its container and put it in a larger pot if you want to do it like that.


As can be seen throughout this article, the plant is relatively easy to plant and/ or grow. And everything is thanks to its great capacity and multiplication. Just stand under this plant and look at the ground, you will notice the large amount of seeds scattered all over the ground.

The birds along with other animals that feed on its seeds, make the plant can spread much more easily. And if you wish, you can take the seeds yourself and make the plant multiply faster than naturally.

Plagues and diseases

In general, the plant is incredibly resistant to pests, diseases, and environmental conditions. However, those plants that are in full development and have not reached their adult stage tend to be more vulnerable to fusarium, as it causes wilting.

On the other hand, while the plant is very young, it is prone to dealing with pests such as:

The red weevil

This is a weevil that is very similar to beetles. The larvae of these animals tend to enter the galleries of the plant, which causes its central leaf to be affected. Although it is also common to see holes in the trunk which indicates that the animal is inside.

Related article:Red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus)


The robust Washingtonia resists frosts down to -7ºC.

Do you want one in your garden? Click here and get seeds.

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