Washingtonia robusta, the fan-leaved palm

View of a young Washingtonia robusta

La Robust Washingtonia it is one of the most common palm trees in the temperate and warm regions of the world. It grows very quickly, to the point that if the conditions are suitable it can reach one meter in height in its first year of life. In addition, the seeds germinate with extraordinary ease and, if that were not enough, it is reasonably well resistant to drought.

So why not have one at home? It has it all, well, almost. Its fruits are not edible, but ... its maintenance is so simple that you would almost say that you see movement from one day to the next. Find out all about the Robust Washingtonia.

Origin and characteristics of Washingtonia robusta

Place your Washingtonia robusta in full sun so it can grow well

The Mexican fan palm, Mexican palm or Wachintonia, whose scientific name is Robust Washingtonia, is a plant native to the south of the Baja California peninsula, in Mexico. It reaches a height of up to 35 meters, with a slender and simple trunk with a diameter not exceeding 35-40 centimeters. Its leaves are costapalmate, that is, they are fan-shaped, with some white threads. The petioles are long and armed with thick spines.

The flowers are grouped in axillary inflorescences. They are highly branched and hanging. The fruit has a spherical shape, is black in color and measures about 0,5cm in diameter..

How do you take care of yourself?

Watch out for the thorns of Washingtonia robusta

If you have just purchased a copy, do not hesitate to provide the following care:

Location

La Robust Washingtonia it is a palm tree that It must be located outside, in full sun. Due to its characteristics, it is best to plant it in the ground as soon as it is about 30cm high, since in a pot it has trouble looking pretty.

Irrigation

As long as it is in a pot and during the first year it is in the ground, it must be watered often: 2-3 times a week in summer and every 5-6 days the rest of the year. From the second year of planting we will not have to water.

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Not very necessary, but it can be paid from the beginning of spring to the end of summer with specific fertilizers for palm trees. We can also add egg and banana peels, vegetables that are no longer edible, herbivorous animal manure o bat guano.

Planting or transplanting time

The best time to plant it in the garden it's in spring, when the risk of frost has passed.

Multiplication

La Robust Washingtonia it multiplies only by seeds in spring or summer. The step by step to follow is the following:

  1. The first thing to do is put the seeds in a glass of water for 24 hours. The next day we will discard those that have remained floating, as they will not germinate.
  2. Then, we fill a seedbed (pots, milk containers, glasses of yogurt, ...) with universal culture substrate mixed with 30% perlite.
  3. Next, we water and place the seeds in the seedbed so that they are a little bit buried. It is important not to put many in the same container, since it is most likely that they will all germinate and, as a consequence, we will have problems later to separate them. It is best not to put more than 2 in a 10,5cm diameter pot.
  4. Finally, we will water again and place the seedbed outside, in full sun.

The first seedlings will come out soon, after 1-2 weeks, but we will have to keep them in their pots until they have at least two leaves.

Plagues and diseases

In general, they are very resistant plants, but especially in recent times their population is decreasing a lot due to insects, which are:

  • Red weevil: its scientific name is Rhynchophorus ferrugineus. It is a weevil (it is similar to a beetle, only thinner) whose larvae excavate galleries in the heart of the palm tree. In doing so, from the outside what we see is the deviation of the central sheet. Perforations are also sometimes seen in the trunk, but what is most striking are the amount of fibers that the insect can remove from the interior of the plant.
    The most effective treatment so far is preventive. Chlorpyrifos 48% insecticide applied during all warm months is the only really useful life saver out there. However, there are other home remedies that could work, which are those described in this article.
  • paysandisia archon: it is a moth that is very reminiscent of a butterfly whose larvae cause many problems for the palm tree. The symptoms it causes are similar to those of the weevil: weakening of the plant, arching of the eye (guide-leaf), perforations in the trunk, and also holes in the leaves that form a fan when they open.
    The treatment is the same as in the previous case.

If we talk about diseases, overwatering or not using disinfected pruning tools could be affected by Phytophthora or pink fungus (Nalanthamala vermoesenii). In both cases, the leaves appear apparently fine, but if you pull them it is easy to remove them since the trunk or stem is rotten. To prevent them, you have to control the risks and disinfect the tools before and after using them.

Pruning

Dry leaves can be removed in autumn. I do not advise doing it in spring, much less in summer due to the high risk of the plant being attacked by weevil or paysandisia. If you live in an area with a mild or warm climate, you have to wait for the temperatures to drop and remember to seal the wound with healing paste.

Rusticity

Resists cold and frost up to -7ºC.

Young specimen of Washingtonia robusta

What did you think of Robust Washingtonia? Pretty, right?


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  1.   Griselda said

    Hello Monica,
    A couple of months ago I asked you about the yellow leaves of my washingtonia and you advised me to reduce it with watering. I did, but then I began to observe some tiny bugs that produce like an orange dust in the folds, and again it lost two leaves. Now he only has one left, and the one that is being born is full of those little bugs. I threw soapy water on him but I don't know if it helps. Is it stinky? Is there a way to heal her and help her grow up healthy? Its trunk is already large (80cm x 20cm in diameter) to have only one leaf… thank you!

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Grisela.
      Look to get diatomaceous earth, which is a powerful natural insecticide. The dose is about 35g for each liter of water.

      Another option, which requires more patience, is to clean it with a brush soaked in pharmacy alcohol.

      A greeting.

    2.    Martha Reyes said

      Good afternoon I have a Washingtonia palm tree in my garden, and it adjoins my neighbor's fence, it is 3 meters high, but I am afraid that its root or trunk will break his fence, could that be feasible? Or do you recommend that I remove it from there?

      1.    Monica Sanchez said

        Hi Martha.
        If that wall is securely attached to the ground, nothing should happen. If the materials with which it is made are of good quality, do not worry.
        Greetings.

  2.   Griselda said

    Thank you very much Monica, for your prompt response, and your useful advice. I will apply both.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Thank you. All the best.

  3.   Angie Martinez said

    Hello, I have a question ... my neighbor had the idea of ​​reaching into my washingtonia and mutilated it to the point that I did not leave any leaves and at the top it only looks white what her little trunk is ... she thinks it will grow again ? and in case yes.
    : what can I do to make it grow better?

    ps: i'm completely new to gardening

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Angie.

      Ugh, if you don't have any blades, unfortunately you will have a hard time getting over it. Palm trees only have to remove the dry leaves, since they are not plants that tolerate pruning well.

      But hey, what's done ... done is as they say. You can add a little fertilizer for palm trees, which they sell in any nursery, but following the instructions on the container.

      If it sprouts, it will not need much care: sun and occasionally water. Better if it is on the ground, because the pot over time becomes too small.

      Regards!