How to grow and care for Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) Indoors

Some links in this post may be affiliate links

Fishtail palm Care

Photo Credit: Lucid Key Server

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

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.

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.

Fishtail Palm Origin

Fishtail 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.

Fishtail palm Care

Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) Care Indoors

Light for Fishtail Palm

Fishtail Palm prefers partial shade, close to an east- or west-facing window.

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

How to water Fishtail Palm

Water Fishtail Palm liberally and maintain the soil moderately moist at all times. Reduce watering for Fishtail Palm during the cold season and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

Use chlorine-free water to water your Fishtail Palm; like all palms Fishtail Palm is sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water.

Avoid getting the base of your Fishtail Palm wet as it can lead to rotting and eventual death of your Fishtail Palm. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Do not allow your Fishtail Palm to sit in soggy soil as it may lead to root-rot and eventual death of your Fishtail Palm.


Temperature for Fishtail Palm

Average warmth with a minimum of 120C is ideal for your Fishtail Palm. If the temperature is comfortable for you it is suitable for your Fishtail Palm.

Protect your Fishtail Palm from cold draughts. Check out this guide on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Fishtail Palm

Mist the leaves during hot weather or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity for your Fishtail Palm. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Occasionally clean the mature leaves of your Fishtail Palm 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) for Fishtail Palm

Feed Fishtail Palm with a water-soluble fertilizer rich in micronutrients on monthly basis during the growing period.

Take care not to overfeed your Fishtail Palm as it can lead to yellowing of your Fishtail Palm.

Withhold feeding for your Fishtail Palm during the cold season as the growth is minimal.

To prevent fertilizer build up for your Fishtail Palm which is indicated by leaf burn and brown spots, water thoroughly until water comes out through the drainage hole. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

How to repot Fishtail Palm

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 free-draining sandy soil to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot.

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

Take care not to damage the roots of your Fishtail Palm and don't try to seperate or spread out the roots.

Water your Fishtail Palm thoroughly and gently press down the soil to get rid of air pockets.

How to prune Fishtail Palm

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

Where Fishtail Palm 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.

Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) Propagation

Fishtail Palm can be propagated from seeds, offshoots or splits. Seed germination is difficult and may take up to 4-6 months and requires keeping the soil moist through out the period.

How to propagate Fishtail Palm from seeds

Seed germination of Fishtail Palm may take up to 4-6 months.

Sow the Fishtail Palm seeds in moist soil and place in a warm place, about 300C.

Keep the soil moist through out the period until germination of Fishtail Palm seeds takes place.

Lower the temperature slightly after germination and maintain the soil moist until the new Fishtail Palms are well established.

How to propagate Fishtail Palm from offshoots

With a sharp sterilized knife or scissors, carefully cut the Fishtail Palm offshoot from the mother plant. Ensure the offshoot has adequate roots before seperating it from the mother.

Pot the Fishtail Palm offshoot in its own pot, place in a cool shaded place and maintain the soil moist through out.

Allow the Fishtail Palm offshoot to be well established before transplanting.

How to propagate Fishtail Palm from splits

During repotting, divide your Fishtail Palm into sections and plant the sections in individual pots.

Place in a cool, shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges and the new Fishtail Palm is well established.

Fishtail palm Care

Photo Credit: PLNTS

Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) Problems Indoors

Fishtail Palm 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 your Fishtail Palm is dry air. Raise humidity for your Fishtail Palm by more frequent misting 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 your Fishtail Palm is underwatering. Keep the soil moderately moist at all times for your Fishtail Palm during the growing season.

Reduce watering for your Fishtail Palm during the cold season and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

The third reason for brown leaf tips in your Fishtail Palm is cold draughts. Protect your Fishtail Palm from draughts to maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 120C.

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

Fishtail Palm yellowing

Underwatering is the cause of yellowing fronds in Fishtail Palm. Keep the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing season and do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Fishtail Palm brown leaf spots

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

One cause of brown leaf spots in your Fishtail Palm is overwatering. Keep the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing season but not soggy.

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

The second causes of brown leaf spots on your Fishtail Palm is sudden decrease of temperature due to cold draughts.

Protect your Fishtail Palm from draughts to maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 120C.

Fishtail Palm leaves totally discolored or spotted

Magnesium, Manganese and Iron deficiency are the cause of totally discolored and spotted leaves in your Fishtail Palm.

Feed your Fishtail Palm regularly with a good fertilizer whic contains micro-nutrients. Provide ocassional pinches of Magnesium and chelated Iron for your Fishtail Palm.

Fishtail Palm growth declining

The cause of growth decline in your Fishtail Palm is low light but not inadequate nutrition.

Fishtail Palm prefers partial shade away from direct sunlight. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Fishtail Palm lower leaves browning

The lower leaves of your Fishtail Palm may turn brown and droop due to age; remove by cutting and not pulling.

If the browning of the leaves of your Fishtail Palm is general and accompanied by rotting, the reason is root-rot disease due to soggy soil.

Fishtail Palm 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 Fishtail 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.

Fishtail Palm Pests

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

Regularly check underneath the leaves of your Fishtail Palm for these pests. Isolate the affected Fishtail Palm to prevent spread to the other houseplants.

Is Fishtail Palm toxic?

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

If ingested, Fishtail Palm causes burning in the mouth and throat, drooling and abdominal pains. Fishtail 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.