Botanical name: Caryota mitis
Common names: Fishtail Palm, Clustering Fishtail Palm
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.
Fishtail Palm gets its name from the shape of the leaflets which look-like fish tails. The leaflets are about 6 in. long and 4 in. wide while the leaves can be up to 10 ft long.
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.
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.
The fruits of Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) is toxic to both humans and pets. It 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.
If you are looking to add this palm to your collection, various Fishtail Palms are available online at Etsy. Buy Fishtail Palms (Caryota mitis) online from Etsy.
Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) thrives in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight and moderately moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.
Caryota mitis 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.
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, therefore, keep it away or shield it from too bright light.
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.
Decrease 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.
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 of the palm.
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 which can cause brown leaf tips and spots.
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 increase humidity. Check out these techniques 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.
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 reduced at this time.
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 by running 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.
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.
The best soil for Fishtail Palm should be rich in organic matter and well-drained 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 Fishtail Palm online from Etsy.
Pruning Fishtail Palm is easy. Cut away the old brown and dry fronds near the soil surface to maintain the palm neat and tidy as well as discourage pest and disease infestations.
Where the seeds are required for propagation, allow the fruits to mature and drop then cut away the spent flower stalk.
If 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.
Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) can be propagated from seeds, from offshoots or by plant division.
Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) common growing problems are yellowing, browing, brown leaf tips, leaf spots, poor growth among others. Keep reading for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.
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.
Cut down on watering during the cold season to maintain the soil moderately moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
The third reason for brown leaf tips in Clustering Fishtail Palm is cold draughts which cause sudden drops in the temperatures.
Shield or 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. Position the palm away from the line of traffic.
Incorrect watering; either underwatering or overwatering is one possible cause of yellowing leaves in Fishtail Palm.
Water the Clustering Fishtail Palm thoroughly and keep the soil moderately moist during the growing season.
Lessen watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
The second possible cause of yellowing leaves in Fishtail Palm is overfeeding (too much fertilizer).
The palm is not a heavy feeder, therefore, feed it monthly during the growing period with a balanced, liquid fertilizer but do feed during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.
There are two possible causes of brown leaf spots in Fishtail Palm. Remove the affected leaves and discard.
One possible cause of brown leaf spots in Clustering Fishtail Palm is overwatering or soggy soil (too wet soil).
Maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing season but not soggy. Allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.
In addition, ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy.
The second possible cause of brown leaf spots in 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.
The cause of growth decline in Fishtail Palm is low light but not inadequate nutrition. The palm thrives in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight.
Position the Clustering Fishtail Palm in a brighter spot and ensure it receives bright, indirect light or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate.
Magnesium, Manganese and Iron deficiency are the cause of totally discolored and spotted leaves in Fishtail Palm.
Feed the Clustering Fishtail Palm regularly with a good fertilizer which contains micro-nutrients. Provide ocassional pinches of Magnesium and chelated Iron.
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. Read on how to treat root-rot in houseplants.
Apart from root-rot disease, Fishtail Palm is also prone to Pseudomonas 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 Clustering Fishtail Palm is leaf spot disease; treat the palm with a copper-based fungicide.
Common pests in Fishtail Palm are Spider Mites, 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. Read on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.
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