The Q&A Archives: Repotting Washingtonia Fan Palm

Question: I bought a Washingtonia Fan Palm in Florida about 2 weeks ago and I would like to repot it. I am in Pittsburgh & I would like to know how much sun, water & the correct maintenance it will need. The fronds are turning a yellowish brown & one of the palms had to be cut off because it turned brown. When I watered it the water seemed to go straight through it so I set it in a pan of water thinking it would absorb it. I have also been putting it outside in the sun daily. Please help me with repotting & caring for it!

Answer: The yellowing may be related to overwatering and/or to moving shock. This is actually a desert type of palm and the fast draining soil is a requirement for its health. Water when the surface is dry, then empty the saucer below to avoid leaving the roots in saturated soil. It is best to place the plant in one location and leave it there so it can acclimate to it. Palms can be summered outdoors (coming from Florida it was probably accustomed to plenty of bright light) or can be kept indoors where the foliage becomes accustomed to that kind of light level. Moving them in or out for the season should be done gradually to avoid shock. Palms usually only need to be repotted every few years because they grow well with constricted roots as houseplants; repotting would add additional stress so it is probably not the thing to do right now. If you want to use a more decorative pot, simply hide the nursery pot inside it.

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