How To Grow California Fan Palm Tree (Washingtonia filifera)

California Fan Palm Tree (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Wiki Commons.

The California Fan Palm Tree, scientific name Washingtonia filifera, is one of the most popular palms in subtropical climates because of its beautiful appearance and low maintenance. 

This is a large tree that can tolerate cold down to 15F making it perfect for growing in zone 8b. This palm can be grown in states like Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon and Texas.

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Quick Facts:

Scientific name:Washingtonia filifera
Common names:California Fan Palm, Desert Fan Palm, American Cotton palm, Arizona Fan Palm, Petticoat Palm
Origin:Native to North America.
Growth Rate: Moderate. Up to 50 ft tall and 15 ft wide.
Cold Tolerance:USDA Zones 8a (10 – 15 F) to 11 (above 40 F).
Light Req:Full sun
Water Req:Moderate. High drought tolerance
Soil Req:Widely adaptable
Fruit:Brownish black
Propagation:Seed, germinating in 6 weeks – 2 months

California Fan Palm Identifying Characteristics

The California Fan Palm has heavy grey trunk ringed with old leaf scars. When the leaves die they bend downwards and form a skirt around the trunk.

Trunk is a little swollen at the base and can get up to 3ft in diameter at its widest point. Palmate, or fan shaped, leaves emerge from the trunk forming a loose and open crown.

Leaves are grey-green, about 4-6ft across with tips of fronds arching down. The leaf stems of mature palms have curved thorns. The leaflet edges have fibrous white cotton-like threads.

California Fan Palm Flowers and Fruits

In the early summer, the California Fan Palm produces creamy flowers that hang in clusters from the crown. Flowers are small held by stalks that extend beyond foliage.

The California Fan Palm has male and female flowers on the same inflorescent. The flowers are followed by black fleshy berry-like fruit, ½ inch in diameter with a single seed inside that mature sometime in September.

How to Care For California Fan Palm

In the wild Washingtonia filifera is known to grow up to 70ft tall, but in cultivation it is usually not more than 40-50 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide.

It is cold hardy to about 10 F and can tolerate frost. It also recovers pretty quickly from the damage. Great for USDA Zones 8a (10 to 15 F) to 11 (above 40 F).

It likes full sun but can also grow in partial shade.

It can also tolerate drought but does best in moist well drained soil. It can tolerate alkaline soil. To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during growing season.

This pest and disease resistant palm is very easy to maintain. Rarely it might have some problems with Phytophthora bud rot, pestalotiopsis, diamond scale fungus.

California Fan Palm Pictures

California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Wiki Commons.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Wiki Commons.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Wiki Commons.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Wiki Commons.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Wiki Commons.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Wiki Commons.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Flickr.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Flickr.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Flickr.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Flickr.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palms (Washingtonia filifera) with black trunks from the fire. Photo by Flickr.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Flickr.
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Flickr.
California Fan Palm Tree (Washingtonia filifera) stems with teeth
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Flickr.
Newly planted California Fan Palm Tree (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Flickr.
California Fan Palm Tree (Washingtonia filifera)
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera). Photo by Flickr.

More information can be found on EDIS and Floridata sites.

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2 thoughts on “How To Grow California Fan Palm Tree (Washingtonia filifera)”

  1. I live in coastal virginia. I recently bought a house on the Elizabeth River that has a California fan Palm in the back yard. it is about six feet tall and apparantly is in good health. Can someone tell me when i need to trim the dead fans off. What time of the year do you need to feed this guy as well.
    Thank you in advance.
    Bon

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