How to Transplant a Mexican Fan Palm

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Mexican fan palms need plenty of room to grow.

The Mexican fan palm (​Washingtonia robusta​) is relatively easy to care for and is inexpensive. In addition, it is salt-resistant and drought-resistant, and it can survive in colder temperatures. Are you wondering how to transplant a Mexican fan palm? The process is surprisingly straightforward.


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Mexican Fan Palm Basics

The Mexican fan palm is a tall and beautiful tree that can be grown outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 to 11. They can grow as high as 60 to 100 feet, so they are suitable for the outdoors only and ideally in large, open spaces rather than in gardens and smaller backyards.

Also called skydusters and Washington palms, these breathtaking trees have thin, tapered, reddish-brown trunks that fade to gray as they age. The trunks can be about 2 feet wide in diameter. The dark-green, glossy, fan-shaped leaves grow 3 to 5 feet wide, but the leaf stems can be sharp, so be careful when touching them.


Mexican fan palms produce small flowers in late spring, which grow in clusters and extend out past the leaves. After the flowers die, thin-fleshed, black-colored, berrylike fruits appear that are about 1/2 inch in size and taste similar to dates.

​These trees do best when they are planted in full sun to partial shade, but they thrive in full sun. A regular watering schedule can also help them to grow faster. They like moist, well-drained soil. You can trim off the old leaves to prevent a brown covering (called a hula skirt) from forming, but some people prefer the look of a skirted Mexican palm.


Transplanting Mexican Fan Palms

If you have a young Mexican fan palm in a pot, you can try transplanting it outside when the weather is warm. Be sure to choose an area where there is enough room for the tree to spread and grow and dig a hole for the plant that measures twice the size of the tree's root ball. Dig the hole to the same depth or a little deeper than the palm's container.

When settled, the part of the tree that is between the roots and trunk should be 1 inch under the soil's surface. Place the palm in the hole (you will likely need someone to help you with this part) and shovel the dirt back in, tamping it down to remove air pockets. Add a small mound of dirt at the root ball's edge to hold water.


Caring for Your Palm

Once the Mexican fan palm is successfully planted, it will need a thorough watering. Water it deeply, making sure that the soil is thoroughly soaked. During the first four to six months, keep the soil around the root ball moist. Do not overwater because if the soil is too soggy, the palm will have a hard time taking root properly.

Once it is established, this tree only needs to be watered occasionally. You will need to fertilize it, however, so get a slow-release, granular palm fertilizer and apply it three to four months after transplanting. Look for new leaves, as these are an indication that the transplant was successful.



Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity.