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Winter care of Mexican Palms

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I have bought a 1 metre Mexican Palm intending to plant it outside in the garden. However, on looking at care guides it states that this plant is not hardy and needs to be brought inside during winter months. I live in the suburbs of Leeds, West Yorkshire. Has anyone else in Northern England grown this plat outdoors and what measures have you taken to protect the plant during the winter months.

On plant Washingtonia robusta



Hi Joanne. I take it you mean a Washingtonia robusta?

I'm about the same as you N-S but on the coast we are slightly cooler in summer but slightly warmer in winter. I had a small Washingtonia filifera, a very close relative with a thicker trunk a couple of years ago before my greenhouse became available and in winter moved it into the window in my office but it died. I think that as the window was west facing it did not get enough light in winter and it should have been in a south facing one.

I have now got a W. robusta, perhaps a little bit bigger (but not much) than yours. It spent the summer still in a pot outside but is now in the cold greenhouse along with my baby palms (Though this is not a real baby). Wilko's were selling this as fully hardy but I am not a great believer in their expertise and certainly whilst it is young I will be giving it some protection. Where you are (as a I say a bit colder than us in winter) I would certainly protect it well for a few years. If you have a then I would use that but I would fleece it as well. In a few years then it can probably go out but still fleeced Nov-April. If you have no glass house then I would bring it in to a cool (by house standards) room but I wouldn't make the light mistake again with the filifera of not giving it enough light.

Although I can't give you the benefit of long experience with this particular palm, I have grown others for some years (and made my fair share of mistakes) and usually find that once they get to about the size of yours they are hardier than you think. The main thing is not to shock it with a sudden change in temperature either warmer or colder.

Hope this is of some use.


14 Oct, 2008


I recently bought a Robusta from Wilkos and they indeed say its hardy down to -7 celcius. I'm not convinced though.
The only Palm i know of to be hardy at that temp is the Canary island date palm, aslo on sale at wilkos.
But only when well established ie 1-2 years in the ground.
I protect my palms with hay during frost and a large clear plastic bag around the foliage so it acts as a mini green house.
I only do this during frost and below 5C.
Above that, i found that watering every 2-3 days accompanied by slow release fertiliser and bone meal, keep it going during the winter months.
I have well drained soil around my palms and i lost only 1 during the coldest winter i have ever experienced this year.
I still see peoples dead tropical tree's even now in July as i am a gardener by trade and have made my fortunes this year by tree removal!!
The amount of Palms and Cordylines i have dug up is unbelievable.

I would say if you intend to keep your Robusta in a pot, then bring it indoors during winter. Preferably a conservatory or like John said in front of a south facing window. It also helps to keep the air humidity as high as possible during this time as palms love humidity.
Misting the leaves daily helps too.

I have been growing Palms from seed for 5 years now and my garden is looking more and more like a tropical paradise each year.

Its about trial and error with all plants and what works for some wont for others.

I hope this helps.


12 Jul, 2010


Hi Mike
i have a washingtonia robusta (COTTON THREAD PALM)bought from homebase for £20 about 3ft 6 inches tall, i have noticed the leaves at the top are going yellow, i planted it in the same hole as a altropupureum acer that i had to get up as all the leaves have curled and gone crisp, will my acer come back again, as even a new leaf that has grown is curled at the edge! also shall i take my palm and put it in a pot?also which fence shall i put it against, n,s,e, or west, my garden is south facing, please help me, i dont want to loose these plants

20 Aug, 2011

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