One of only two species of washingtonia, this palm is a tall, handsome plant with spiny leafstalks some 18in/46cm long supporting grayish green fan-shaped leaves up to 2ft/60cm wide.
The leaves are split about halfway down into many narrow segments, from the tips of which hang fine, dry, brown fibers.
In the wild, the tapered red-brown trunk is densely clothed in dead foliage, which is generally cut away on cultivated plants.
This fringe of dead leaves gives the plant its name of petticoat palm.
In their arid natural habitat, these palms are a sure sign of subterranean water, into which they send down long, deep roots. Since they thrive in hot, dry regions, the palms do well in centrally heated homes.
ORIGIN USA (California; Arizona).
HEIGHT To 10ft/3m; to 80ft/24m in the wild.
POTTING MIX Soil-based with added peat moss or leaf mold in a ratio of 2:1.
REPOTTING Move into a pot one size larger when roots appear on the surface of the soil— every 2 or 3 years—and then only when the plant is in active growth.
Plant the palm firmly, but be very careful not to damage the brittle roots, especially the larger, thicker ones.
PROPAGATION From seed in considerable heat; this is generally not practicable for the home gardener.
KEEPING PLANTS The palm will benefit from a spell outdoors in a sheltered spot during the summer. Bring it indoors again in the fall before the first frost.
Washingtonia Filifera Palmae Desert fan Palm PLANT CARE
- Bright light with plenty of direct sun.
- Warm or hot rooms, with a minimum of 50°F/10°C.
- Water plentifully in the growing period, more sparingly in winter.
- Stand the pot on a tray of damp pebbles in very dry conditions.
- Apply a standard liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks in the growing period.