What is a Washington Palm?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2020
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Those seeking large landscaping palms should learn more about the Washington Palm, which is one of the fastest growing palm trees available. It is also sometimes referred to as the Mexican Fan Palm, as it grows naturally in the desert areas of Mexico. This tall palm tree is hardy enough to survive in nearly any kind of soil, and is considered both drought tolerant and low maintenance. It should be noted, however, that the Washington Palm is quite an invasive and large plant, and is often best when planted in commercial areas rather than residential.

A palm tree this size is hard to miss, as it can grow up to about 100 feet (30.5 m), and frequently spreads out to about 15 feet (4.6 m). Its leaves are about 3 feet long (0.91 m), and one of the most unique traits of the Washington Palm is the skirt of dead leaves just under the top of the tree. Not surprisingly for a palm, this type of tree has only one trunk from which leaves sprout, and no branches.


This palm is often seen in areas like California, Florida, and Arizona, as it does well with little water, full sunlight, and temperatures above freezing. It thrives in just about any type of soil, whether it is acidic, alkaline, sandy, or contains lots of clay. Of course, adding some palm fertilizer to the soil occasionally can help it thrive, but it is not required. When first planted, it is best to water it twice per week to soak the soil, but its resistance to drought means that it will likely still survive when rarely watered. Additionally, the Washington Palm rarely needs to be pruned, making it quite low maintenance.

The fact that so little maintenance is required may make the Washington Palm attractive to homeowners looking to add a fast-growing tree to their yard, but this palm is generally considered best for commercial areas. Not only is it too tall to fit in well with most other residential landscaping, but it is also known for being invasive, sometimes spreading out and overtaking other plants. In addition, the skirt of the palm tree can harbor pests, so some counties require it to be removed. Therefore, despite its few requirements for survival, the Washington Palm may be too overwhelming for many homeowners, who may be better off with smaller palm trees in their yard.



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