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Young Mexican fan palm trees (Washingtonia robusta) may grow up to 6 feet per year under optimal circumstances, reaching heights of 100 feet or more in a single generation. This distinctive palm is found along roads and beaches in California and Florida, where it is known for preserving its fallen leaves wrapped around its trunks like a hula skirt. The Mexican palm’s towering stature makes it an excellent option for planting in groves and vast areas, but its prickly leaves and huge size make it an unsuitable choice for planting in individual yards or gardens.
Understand that keeping a Mexican palm tree might be a difficult task before purchasing one. Dead fronds are often shed by mature trees as the tree develops and matures. In contrast, the fronds of younger trees have a tendency to hang on to their deceased counterparts. Because of the way the withering leaves collapse against the stem, they produce a shaggy skirt of dead, dried yellow or brown leaves, which is known as thatch.
Taking Care of the Mexican Fan Palm
As long as you put your Mexican fan palms in the proper circumstances, it should be pretty simple to grow them. Even though Mexican fan palm trees are native to the desert, they are only somewhat drought resilient due to the fact that they develop naturally in subterranean pockets of water.
In full sun to moderate shade, well-draining sand to loam soil is best for them. They are tolerant of soils that are slightly alkaline as well as somewhat acidic.
In one year, they will have grown at least three feet (one meter). By the time they reach a height of around 30 feet (9 meters), they often begin to spontaneously shed their dead leaves, removing the need to cut away old growth.
A lot of individuals think this thatch adds to the charm of the Mexican fan palm, while some think it should be removed. They do so because it provides a haven for rats and other vermin, as well as a fire threat, and they want to avoid this situation in the future. If a city forces tree owners to remove the thatch from their trees, this might be an overwhelming process that necessitated the hiring of a professional as the trees became bigger.
Keep dead fronds off your tree until the base of the dead leaves has fully dried out. If your tree is still young enough that you can remove the fronds manually, do so. Pruning them using a pruning knife or similar form of sharp tool is recommended after they have established themselves. Between cuts, wipe the knife down with a clean, alcohol-soaked towel to prevent the introduction or spread of any palm tree disease.
Climatological conditions and soil conditions
Mexican fan palms may be found in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, according to the USDA. It is possible to grow them in sand or low soils despite the fact that they need well-drained, somewhat rich soils. When starting out, you may grow young plants in a container to give your deck or patio a tropical appeal. However, you should not plant them in a tiny yard since they need big, open spaces.
In regions of California and Florida, the Mexican fan is considered an invasive plant. If you reside in an area where the Mexican palm (Brahea edulis) is considered an unwanted visitor, you may want to try planting a Guadalupe Palm (Brahea edulis) or Mexican Blue Palm (Brahea armata) in its place. They remain a little more manageable in size and aren’t deemed a threat to the environment.
Hydration and Fertilization
Water your Mexican fan palm thoroughly at least once a month, even though they can withstand both salt and drought. Mexican fan palms need different amounts of fertilizer depending on their soil type, but a general recommendation is to apply 1 1/2 pounds of 8-1-10-4 palm tree fertilizer every 100 square feet of space every three months. An 8-1-10-4 fertilizer includes the following components in the following weight ratios: 8 parts nitrogen, 1 part phosphorus, 10 parts potassium, and 4 parts magnesium (in that order of importance).
Pests & Diseases of the Washingtonian Palm
A soilborne fungus known as Gandoderma butt rot may infect all palm species, including Mexican palm trees, causing them to rot and die. Because of the fungus’ ability to travel upward from the soil, it may damage 80 to 90 percent of the lowest 3 to 5 feet of a tree’s trunk, resulting in the dropping of leaves and the ultimate death of the tree. For this particular fungus, there is currently no recognized treatment or preventative measure. Remove sick plants as soon as feasible, and avoid planting any more palms in the vicinity of the affected trees in the future.
There is also no known cure for Thielaviopsis trunk rot, which may cause the canopy of a tree to come off unexpectedly and cause it to collapse. You may prevent this illness by not plucking lower leaves off the tree before they are ready to fall and by avoiding harming the tree with climbing spikes or improper pruning methods. A fungal disease carried by the wind and contaminated pruning tools, Fusariam wilt, similarly has no known chemical treatment.
In general, Mexican fan palms do not have insect issues, but avoid purchasing plants that have obvious escape holes from borers.
Identify and remove any fronds that are dead, damaged, browning, or yellowing from the arrangement. But if they don’t come off easily by hand, don’t bother trying to take them off. Please seek expert advice if you believe your Mexican fan palm requires pruning. If you prune the palm incorrectly, it is quite easy to injure it, and most of the affected parts will not recover.