Mexican Fan Palm Trees: A Celebrity of the Palm Kingdom

If you’re looking to add palm trees to your landscape without going broke, we’ve got a palm for you to check out. Enter the Mexican Fan palm.

This low-cost, drought-tolerant, and versatile palm tree has been a chosen staple in many yards and commercial areas for decades.

From Florida to California and many areas in between, the Mexican Fan palm has proven to be one of the most adaptable palms out there and can thrive in a variety of climates.

Let’s find out why Mexican Fan palms are so popular and if you should consider growing one of these cold hardy palm trees for yourself.

What is a Mexican Fan Palm?

The Mexican Fan palm, scientifically known as Washingtonia Robusta, is a slender, towering palm tree that is native to the desert regions of Mexico and California.

This palm tree has a simple yet unique and recognizable presence making it a distinctive feature in any landscape.

It boasts a tall, slender trunk and a robust crown of palmate leaves.

Where Is the Mexican Fan Palm Native?

Mexican Fan Palm Native - rbelshee, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
rbelshee, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mexican Fan palms originated from the dry, desert regions of Mexico and California, giving them a strong tolerance for prolonged dry heat and drought.

Today, horticulturists worldwide cultivate and hybridize it with its sibling the California Fan Palm (Washingtonia Filifera), increasing its versatility and resistance to pests.

Top Benefits of Mexican Fan Palms

  1. Height and Structure: One of the significant benefits of Mexican Fan palms is their height. The Mexican Fan palm grows up to 100 feet, making it a perfect choice for landscapes requiring a tall element to the architectural landscape.
  2. Adaptability: Mexican Fan palms grow in many types of well-drained soil and weather conditions. It can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit (possibly lower) and thrive in both dry and humid climates preferably in full sun. Compared to the California Fan palm, the Mexican Fan palm performs better in higher humidity but is less cold tolerant.
  3. Low Maintenance: Once established, Mexican Fan palms require little to no maintenance. It’s also resistant to most pests, ensuring a healthy and vibrant presence. Full sun, good drainage, and some minor upkeep and trimming will keep your Mexican Fan palm looking happy and healthy.

Best Features of the Mexican Fan Palm

By Pere López Brosa, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By Pere López Brosa, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Mexican Fan palm is much more than a tropical beauty; its unique features make it a versatile addition to any landscape.

Tall, Slender Trunk

The slender, light gray trunks on Mexican Fan palms can soar up to 100 feet tall while maintaining a slender, graceful look. This feature creates a strong visual impact that can be seen for several miles in any direction.

Palmate Leaves

The fan-shaped leaves of the Mexican Fan palm tree give it its common name.

These large, vibrant green leaves create a nice dense canopy, providing shade and adding a tropical look anywhere.

As the fronds die off they create a dense skirt at the base of the crown commonly called the “petticoat”. While unique in appearance, the dead fronds can create a fire hazard during hot dry periods.

Heat Resistance

Being a native of the desert, this palm can withstand high temperatures and prolonged dry conditions, making it an excellent choice for hot, dry climates.

Mexican Fan Palm Pricing

The price of a Mexican Fan palm can vary depending on the size and age and location of the tree.

Generally, expect to pay up to $100 for young Mexican Fan palms, on up to several hundred dollars for a mature specimen.

Mexican Fan Palm Pros

  1. Vertical Appeal: It brings an architectural element to your landscape making for an appealing landmark!
  2. Heat and Cold Resistance: It can withstand a wide range of temperatures and conditions, from cold & wet to dry & hot.
  3. Low Maintenance: Once established, it requires very little care.

Mexican Fan Palm Cons

  1. Size: Due to its height, it may not be suitable for small landscapes.
  2. Litter: It can produce a significant amount of litter from falling leaves and seeds.
  3. Weedy: These palms are considered an invasive species in some areas.

Mexican Fan Palm Alternatives

Here are a few alternatives to the Mexican Fan palm tree that you may want to consider if living in hardiness zone 8+:

My Experience Growing Mexican Fan Palms

I’ve personally grown quite a few Mexican Fan palms over the years.

The first few died when I was a kid as a result of not knowing how to properly care for these palms.

Surprisingly enough, had I left them alone, they probably would have survived!

At the present time, I have several seedlings that I’ve personally started from seed and a Robusta that has been pot grown for over 25 years!

TIP: If you want to keep your Mexican Fan palm tree small, keep it in a pot, slowly increasing the size over the following years. These palms work quite well as a potted palm tree and can also be protected indoors through the winter in a well-lit area.

Growing Mexican Fan Palms From Seed

By Omar hoftun - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
By Omar hoftun – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

If you are looking to save some money and grow your own Mexican Fan palm from seed instead of purchasing one, then you are in for a treat!

Mexican Fan palm seeds are extremely easy to find and collect, plus they are easy to start.

During colder months you can start these seeds in a plastic ziploc back with some lightly moistened peat moss and perlite. Keep the bag in a warm area where you should see some roots sprouting in a few weeks!

If you are in a warm climate or you want to start these seeds during the warm season, then throw a few seeds in a pot with some sunlight and lightly moistened soil. You will have seedlings in no time!

Mexican Fan palm seeds need little maintenance to start, so if you are a beginner with palms and you want something easy to start with little effort, then growing Mexican Fan palms from seed might be a good option for you.

The Wrap-Up: Should You Buy a Mexican Fan Palm?

CC BY-SA 3.0,
CC BY-SA 3.0,

Considering its unique features, benefits, and my personal experience with Mexican Fan palms, it is indeed a worthwhile investment if you’re looking to add an easy and inexpensive collection of palm trees to your yard.

However, it’s essential to consider the size of your landscape and your willingness to manage clean-up from falling fronds and seeds.

If these factors aren’t an issue, the Mexican Fan Palm tree could be the missing element in your garden or landscape project.


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