Plant Profile: Washingtonia robusta - The Skyduster


Washingtonia robusta is a widely grown street palm 
in many parts of America and the Mediterranean.

Origin: North Mexico 

Height: 30 metres (ah, if only the streets of London, Bradford and Bideford were fringed with Washingtonias!)

Requirements: Full sun. Good drainage.

Washingtonia robusta is one of the most popular 'street palms' in America. It is fast growing, elegant and, given good drainage and protection from the wind, it is moderately cold hardy. Most palm books claim that its relative, Washingtonia filifera, is hardier than W. robusta. In fact, it has been our experience that W. robusta is the hardier species and it can withstand freezing even as a very small plant.

Note: Both species of Washingtonia dislike wet, humid conditions. If they are grown outside, be sure to give them really good drainage and as much shelter as possible from the wind and rain. Even with protection, they are only 'half-hardy' in the UK climate. As garden plants, they are best left to experienced palm growers. They do, however, make good plants for a brightly lit conservatory or as tub-grown specimens for the patio (which can be brought indoors during the worst of the winter weather).

If grown indoors, make sure the air does not become too moist in winter as this will surely cause the leaf-tips to go moldy. Incidentally, you may sometimes see 'multi-trunked' Washingtonias for sale. Don't be fooled. These palms have one trunk and one trunk only. Those with additional trunks are really several plants grown in a single pot for effect. These won't live to a ripe old age when grown this way and the individual trunks tend to grow distorted when cramped. So we would recommend that you buy single-trunk plants, one to a pot (which, by a curious coincidence, is precisely the way we grow them!)

Washingtonia palms are attractive even when small. 
But they are only borderline hardy.

Information and photos on this page are
courtesy and copyright Huw Collingbourne
Rosedown Mill Palms & Exotics

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