This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

April 14, 2017

Why a palm tree is growing in your yard, where you never planted one

If you live in the Phoenix, Arizona area (or Los Angeles, or in a similar climate) you may be surprised to see a palm tree growing in your yard where you never planted it. If it's in a good position on your property, like this one is at a friend of mine's house, you're in luck. You just got a nice healthy palm tree, which is planted in exactly the right place for it, and you will never need to water it. The type of palm tree, in case you want to Google it, is a Washingtonia robusta, or you can just call it a Mexican Fan Palm. They're the ones you see along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Washingtonia robustas grow well. In fact, they grow like weeds. They love places like Phoenix, and they grow readily from seed (that's why you see them everywhere, they're, uh, planted by birds who poop them out). Many times you'll see them growing in the cracks of sidewalks, and sprouting up between other plants like, well, weeds.

Of course there's really no such thing as a weed, just a plant out of place, so if you've been fortunate enough to have a palm tree just plant itself in your yard, you can officially say that "it's not a weed", and keep it. They're called "volunteers".

Personally, I don't care for Washingtonia robustas. I find them to be too big for my tiny suburban lot, but they look great as a skyline tree (just drive along Rodeo Drive!). So consider that the tree will get 80 feet tall, and will do it in less than twenty years. That means that you'll be able to trim it yourself for a few years (the one in the photo up there is about five years old), but then you're gonna need professional help to keep it looking neat (and safe - you don't want dead fronds hanging down, they attract wasp nests and can be a fire hazard!).

So there you go, congratulations on the planting of your tropical paradise palm tree! It looks great, it's been planted perfectly, it's in the perfect spot, and you don't need to do anything now except trim it every once in a while.
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