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growing mexican palm trees

Growing Mexican Fan Palm Trees

Growing Mexican fan palm trees ranks as the most planted palm tree of all the palm species.   Specifically, its leaves resemble the shape of a handheld fan which is how it got its name, Mexican Fan Palm.  Furthermore, It’s one of the tallest palm trees on the planet growing anywhere from 70 – 100 feet tall.   In addition, this palm tree grows pretty fast, averaging about 3 – 5 feet of growth a year.  

While trees of this magnitude are picturesque on a road side, it may prove to be too much for a yard.  For that reason, we’ve planted ours in pots.  Pots will limit how large they will grow so they’re more manageable.  

Growing Mexican fan palm trees are great for providing shade.  Once they reach maturity, two palm trunks will easily accommodate a hammock.  Just imagine, swinging from a hammock on a lazy afternoon sipping a nice cold ice tea or lemonade.  #mykindofchillaxing!

growing mexican palm trees

Mexican Fan Palm: aka Mexican washingtonia, Washington fan palm, Thread palm, priest palm, Mexican Washington palm, Southern washingtonia and Skyduster

Botanical Name & Family: Washingtonia Robusta from the Arecaceae or palm family

Other Palm Species: There are about 2600 palm tree species and the following are fast growing like the Mexican Palm.  Washingtonia filifera (California Fan Palm), Caryota Urens (Giant Fishtail Palm), Chamaedorea plumosa (baby queen palm), and Rhapis excelsa (lady palm) to name a few.

How To Grow A Mexican Fan Palm Tree

Light: Full sun and partial shade

Benefits: The palm tree is viewed as a symbol for eternal life, and the fronds have been used to create masks, baskets and roofs for huts.

Soil: Loam well draining soil with a pH balance that is slightly acidic to moderately alkaline ranging between 5.5 -7.5. 

Watering: In the summer water once every 5-10 days.  In the spring and fall once every 7 – 10 days and in the winter once every 14 – 21 days.

Fertilizer: A general rule of thumb is to use 1 ½ pounds of 8-1-10-4 palm tree fertilizer every three months.

Repotting: Repotting depends on the age of your palm.  Younger trees under 7 years old re-pot once in two years.  Trees 7 – 15 years old re-pot once in three years.  Keep in mind, a pot bound palm will grow slower which makes it work if you need to keep it below a certain height indoors.  Of course, if it’s growing past ceiling height, that might be a good time to transfer it outside or put it into the ground.

Toxicity: This palm contains a toxic chemical called cycasin.  When any part of the tree gets ingested it can harm the liver and cause damage to the neurological system permanently.  Additionally, symptoms like diarrhea, dizziness, bleeding from orifices, paralysis in the hind legs and seizures could also occur. 

How big will it grow: They can grow up to 5 feet a year.  As well as reach a maximum growth of 70 – 100 feet high and 3 – 5 feet wide. 

Propagating: Use the seed method keeping the seeds in moist soil at temperatures between 85°- 95°F/29°-35°C.  You should see the seeds germinate in about two weeks.

Temperature: It can survive 20°F/6°C temperatures but ideally prefers temps in hardiness zones 8b – 11.

Handling: Once your tree reaches maturity it’s best to hire a professional company to trim your palm.  The weight of multiple fronds sliding down a tree can render you immobile and result in suffocation if you get buried underneath them.

Check out my post on mandevilla for more outdoor plant inspiration