How to Grow and Care for Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) Indoors


Fishtail palm, Caryota mitis

Photo Credit: Lucid Key Server

Botanical name: Caryota mitis
Family: Arecaceae
Common names: Fishtail Palm, Clustering Fishtail Palm

Description

Caryota mitis commonly called Fishtail Palm or Clustering Fishtail Palm is a popular indoor palm on account of its spectacular ragged-edged leaflets on arching fronds.

The Fishtail Palm leaves can be up to 10 ft long. Fishtail Palms get their name from the shape of leaflets. Leaflets are about 6 in. long and 4 in. wide.

Fishtail Palm produces clustered stems which in the wild can grow to a height of 33 ft and 6 inch diameter.

Clustering Fishtail Palm bears purple flowers and the fruits are dark purple to red. The palm has the ability to grow with moderate sun exposure.

A related species is Caryota urens commonly called Wine Fishtail Palm whose leaflets are more triangular but fewer. Both palms form stems and mature at a height of 6-8 ft.

Origin

Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) is native to Tropical Asia from India to Java to Southern China and naturalized in southern Florida and in parts of Africa and Latin America.

Where to buy

If you are looking to add this plant to your collection, various Fishtail Palms are available online at Etsy. Buy Fishtail Palms (Caryota mitis) online from Etsy.

Fishtail palm

Caryota mitis Care Indoors

Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) thrives in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight, moderately moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with regular feeding.

Clustering Palm has no need for increased humidity apart from where the temperatures are very high. It requires warmth and needs to protected from cold drafts. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Light Requirements

Fishtail Palm grows best in partial shade, close to an east- or west-facing window. It can also grow under a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate.

Too much light will cause the Clustering Fishtail Palm to develop a yellowish color. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Watering

Water Fishtail Palm liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to maintain the soil moderately moist. Reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil barely moist but do not allow it to dry out completely.

Use chlorine-free water to water Clustering Fishtail Palm; like all palms, it is sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Avoid getting the base wet as it can lead to rotting and eventual death of the palm. Do not allow the palm to sit in soggy soil as it may lead to root-rot and eventual death.


Temperature

Fishtail Palm is an average warmth with a minimum of 120C to thrive. If the temperature is comfortable for you it is ideal for this palm.

Keep the Clustering Fishtail Palm away from cold draughts as it cannot tolerate cold temperatures. Check out this guide on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Fishtail Palm has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is adequate for the palm.

However, when the temperatures are very high, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Occasionally clean the mature leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestation. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Fishtail Palm with a balanced, liquid fertilizer on monthly basis during the growing period. Do not feed during the cold season as the growth is minimal.

Take care not to overfeed the palm as it can cause yellowing of the fronds.

To prevent fertilizer build up which is indicated by leaf burn and brown spots, regularly flush the soil. Run a stream of water through the soil until water comes out through the drainage hole.

Allow the stream of water to run for some time and repeat the process several times. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Fishtail Palm every 3 years when it has overgrown its current pot. Keep it crowded to prevent it from growing too fast.

Use a pot with a drainage hole and loose, free-draining soil to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the palm.

Apply a slow release fertilizer to the potting soil to promote faster establishment of the the palm. The fertilizer will be adequate for the next 3-4 months.

Take care not to damage the roots and don't try to seperate or spread out the roots. Water the palm thoroughly and gently press down the soil to get rid of air pockets.

Soil

The best soil for Fishtail Palm should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for this palm. Buy quality Potting Mix for Clustering Palm from Etsy.

Pruning

Pruning Fishtail Palm is easy. Cut away the old brown and dry fronds near the soil surface to maintain the palm neat and tidy.

Where the seeds are required for propagation, allow the fruits to mature and drop then cut away the spent flower stalk.

Where the seeds are not required, cut away the flower stalk immediately it begins to form to prevent the palm from wasting energy on developing the flowers and seeds. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

Propagation

Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) can be propagated from seeds, from offshoots or by plant division.

Fishtail palm

Photo Credit: PLNTS

Caryota mitis Problems Indoors

Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) problems indoors are caused by cultural faults in watering, feeding, humidity and temperature. The problems include yellowing, browing, brown leaf tips, leaf spots, poor growth among others. Keep reading for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.

Brown leaf tips

There are four reasons for brown leaf tips in Fishtail Palm. Trim off the brown tips with sterilized scissors.

One reason for brown leaf tips in Clustering Fishtail Palm is dry air. To raise humidity, mist it more frequently or set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

The second reason for brown leaf tips in Fishtail Palm is underwatering. Keep the soil moderately moist during the growing season.

Reduce watering during the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

The third reason for brown leaf tips in Clustering Fishtail Palm is cold draughts. Protect the palm from cold drafts like windy doors and windows, air conditioning units and others to maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 120C.

The fourth reason for brown leaf tips in Fishtail Palm is is damage by touching. Place the palm away from the line of traffic.

Yellowing leaves

Incorrect watering; either underwatering or overwatering is one cause of yellowing leaves in Fishtail Palm.

Water the palm thoroughly and keep the soil moderately moistduring the growing season. Reduce watering during the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

The second reason for yellowing leaves in Clustering Fishtail Palm is overfeeding. Feed it with a balanced, liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

Brown leaf spots

There are two possible causes of brown leaf spots in Fishtail Palm. Remove the affected leaves and discard.

One cause of brown leaf spots in Clustering Fishtail Palm is overwatering. Keep the soil moderately moist during the growing season but not soggy. Allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to avoid getting soggy soil.

The second causes of brown leaf spots in Clustering Fishtail Palm is sudden decrease of temperature due to cold drafts.

Protect the palm or keep it away from drafts to maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 120C.

Declining growth

The cause of growth decline in Fishtail Palm is low light but not inadequate nutrition. The palm thrives in bright, indirect ligh away from direct sunlight.

Move the Clustering Palm to a brighter spot and ensure it receives bright, indirect light or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Leaves totally discolored or spotted

Magnesium, Manganese and Iron deficiency are the cause of totally discolored and spotted leaves in Fishtail Palm. Feed the palm regularly with a good fertilizer which contains micro-nutrients. Provide ocassional pinches of Magnesium and chelated Iron.

Browning of the lower leaves

The lower leaves of Fishtail Palm may turn brown and droop due to age; remove by cutting and not pulling. If the browning of the leaves is general and accompanied by rotting, the reason is root-rot disease due to soggy soil.

Diseases

Pseudomonas is a common disease in Fishtail Palm which is indicated by brown and wet lesions that run parallel to the leaf vein.

Isolate the affected palm to prevent spread to other houseplants or discard the plant as no cure is effective.

The other common disease in Fishtail Palm is Leaf Spot disease; treat the palm with a copper-based fungicide.

Pests

Fishtail Palm pests are Red Spider Mite, Scales and Mealy Bugs.

Regularly check underneath the leaves for these pests. Isolate the affected palm to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Is Fishtail Palm toxic?

The fruits of Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) contains sharp, needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate.

If ingested, they can cause burning in the mouth and throat, drooling and abdominal pains. The palm can also cause damage and itching on contact with the skin.

You liked it? Share on social media.

On the Blog

You liked it? Share on social media.