Washington Palm

Washington palm tree
Washington palm (Washingtonia robusta).
Photo: UF/IFAS Ft. Lauderdale Research & Education Center.

One of the more unusual looking palms that can be grown in Florida is the Washington palm, also called the Mexican fan palm.

The canopies of these tall palms have bright green, fan-shaped leaves that can reach 3 feet wide. But when the leaves die they typically stay attached to the trunk, giving the tree a unique appearance, almost like it’s wearing a hula skirt.

Because Washington palms are quick growers and can soar to 100 feet or more, they’re best suited for public spaces and large residential landscapes.

They do best in full sun and a moderately rich soil. Washington palms are most commonly planted in South and Central Florida, but they can be planted further north. Just be aware that the fronds may suffer some damage if the mercury drops to 20°F or colder.

Another Washingtonia species, W. filifera, is more cold hardy, but prefers a drier climate than Florida’s. Not surprisingly, its common names include desert palm and California Washingtonia palm.

UF/IFAS Publications