Also known as the desert fan palm, the California fan palm is a grand and beautiful tree that is perfect for dry climates. It is native to the Southwest U.S. but is used in landscaping as far north as Oregon. If you live in an arid or semiarid climate, consider using one of these tall trees to anchor your landscape.
California Fan Palm Information
The California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) is a tall palm tree native to southern Nevada and California, western Arizona, and the Baja in Mexico. Although its native range is limited, this grand tree will thrive in any dry to semi-dry climate, and even at elevations up to 4,000 feet. It naturally grows near springs and rivers in the desert and will tolerate an occasional frost or snow.
California fan palm care and growing is easy once the tree is established, and it can make a stunning centerpiece for a large space. It is important to keep in mind that this tree is big and not meant for small yards or gardens. It is most often used in parks and open landscapes, and in larger yards. Expect your fan palm to grow to a final height of anywhere between 30 and 80 feet (9 to 24 meters).
How to Grow a California Fan Palm
If you do have space for a California fan palm, and the right climate, you couldn’t ask for a more majestic landscaping tree. And caring for California fan palms is mostly hands off.
It needs a spot with full sun, but it will tolerate a variety of soils and salt along the ocean coast. As a desert palm, of course, it will tolerate drought fairly well. Water your palm until it is established and then only water occasionally, but deeply, especially during very dry conditions.
The round, fan-shaped leaves of the tree, which give it its name, will turn brown each year and remain as a shaggy layer along the trunk as it grows. Some of these dead leaves will drop off, but to get a clean trunk, you will need to prune them off annually. As your palm grows to its full height, you may want to call in a tree service to do this chore. Otherwise, your California fan palm will continue to grow at up to three feet (1 meter) per year and give you a tall, beautiful addition to the landscape.