Washingtonia robusta, the Skyduster Palm, is a fast-growing palm from the USA with a thick reddish brown trunk topped by large palmate dark green leaves. A common sight in the mediterranean where it is planted widely along pavements and promenades to dramatic effect. Washingtonia palms are incredibly tolerant of disturbance with fully grown plant often coping with being dug up and relocated seemingly without apparent stress. For us gardeners in the U.K Washingtonia were for most of us considered tender, not coping with our chilly often wet winters however in recent years Washingtonia are becoming a regular sight in many milder spots. Given their fast growth especially when young and the resulting low purchase price these palms are plentiful even appearing in low cost supermarkets many are bought as houseplants and unknowingly planted when they ultimately outgrow the living room.Hence the recent appearance of Washingtonia all over the place, their survival down to a succession of recent mild winters. A Big Plant Nursery we tend to stock and grow larger specimens better suited to growing here and recommend planting them in mild areas particularly coastal locations. Here in West Sussex there are some fine specimens with trunks over 3 metres tall flourishing in gardens along the coastal belt. In cold winters Washingtonia can easily be protected by wrapping the trunk and leaves with hessian or fleece. They are tolerant of remaining like this for several months if need be. One characteristic of this palm is its rapid growth able to regenerate from winter cold and wind damage rapidly once conditions warm producing beautiful new leaves faster than any other palm we grow here.
Being such a fast growing palm Washingtonia are hunger and thirsty growers needing adequate water and feed during the summer months. Plant in fertile moisture retentive soil adding organic matter to the substrate. If you wish to grow in a container please repot regularly and feed at least once a fortnight during the growing period never letting the compost dry out. They may be desert palms in the U.S.A are always found near underground water where their roots can tap into the moisture.
So in essence a fast growing easy to care for palm that can be very rewarding to grow especially if you are an impatient gardener that is not terribly hardy but worth a try if you have a mild garden.
- Position:Full sun and a sheltered position should be wrapped in colder areas.
- Soil:All soils, but avoid waterlogged areas drought tolerant once established.
- Eventual Size:Up to 5 metres in height.
- Habit:Fast growing palm with a reddish trunk and big fan leaves.
- Common Names:Skyduster Palm.