How to Grow and Care for Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) Indoors


Lady Palm, Rhapis excelsa

Botanical name: Rhapis excelsa
Family: Arecaceae

Description

Rhapis excelsa (Lady palm) is a small palm which grows in multi-stemmed clumps with glossy, evergreen leaves divided into broad, ribbed segments.

Lady Palm belongs to the group of palms (called fan palms) which produce fronds which are split into numerous segments radiating from a point at the base (fan-like segments like ladies fan), the segments may be entirely or only partly divided.

The Lady Palm's leaf stalks are long, up to 2 ft or more and are generally toothed. The new foliage arises from a fibrous sheath which remains attached to the base.

As it ages, the sheath falls, revealing bamboo-like trunks. Its low light and humidity requirements make it a popular houseplant.

Origin

Rhapis excelsa is native to tropical and sub-tropical India and Asia. It was first culltivated in China.

The Japanese collected Lady Palm for their palaces in the 1600s, then the popularity spread to Europe and later to America and the rest of the world.

Air Cleaning

According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Rhapis excelsa was found to be a good indoor air cleaner in removing common VOCs like xylene, toulene, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloethylene and ammonia.

Where to Buy

If you are looking to own this magnificent Lady Palm, it is readily available online at Etsy. Buy Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) online from Etsy.

Lady Palm, Rhapis excelsa

Rhapis excelsa Care Indoors

Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) thrives in bright to medium light, warm and moderately humid conditions and moderately moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter coupled with monthly feeding.

Rhapis excelsa requires regular pruning to keep it neat as well as discourage pest and disease infestations. Repotting is needed every 3 years when it has outgrown its current pot. Keep on reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Light Requirements

Lady Palm grows best in bright to medium light. Keep it away from direct sunlight as it may scorch the leaves. It can also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is inadeqaute.

Rotate the pot regularly to ensure that the palm receives light on all sides for uniform growth.

Watering

Water Lady Palm thoroughly while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing season.

Cut down on watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Water Rhapis excelsa with chlorine-free water; 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 disease and eventual death of the palm.


Temperature

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

Protect Rhapis excelsa from cold draughts to avoid sudden drops in temperature as they may cause reduced growth.

Humidity

Lady Palm does not require a humid environment to thrive. Average room humidity is ideal for the palm.

However, where the temperatures are very high, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity for your Lady Palm.

Occasionally clean the leaves by splashing water from a hose pipe to get rid of dust and also discourage pest infestations.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Lady Palm with a balanced, liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing period. Do not feed during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

Take care not to overfeed as it can lead to yellowing of the leaves. 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.

Repotting

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

Use a pot one size larger than the current one and one that has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease.

Apply a slow release fertilizer to the potting soil to promote faster establishment. 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 Lady 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. Purchase quality Potting Mix for Rhapis excelsa from Etsy.

Pruning

Pruning Lady 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 Lady 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.

Lady Palm, Rhapis excelsa

Photo Credit: Bamboo South Coast

Propagation

Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) can be propagated from offshoots, by division or from seeds.

Rhapis excelsa Problems Indoors

Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) problems indoors are brought about by cultural faults in watering, feeding, humidity and temperature among others. They include brown leaf tips, yellowing, browning, leaf spots, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.

Brown leaf tips

Lady Palm brown leaf tips are due to four possible reasons. Trim off the brown tips with sterilized scissors. One reason for brown leaf tips is dry air (too little humidity).

To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

The second reason for Lady Palm brown leaf tips is underwatering. Water the palm liberally and keep the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing season.

Lessen watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

The third reason for Rhapis excelsa brown leaf tips is cold draughts. Protect it from draughts to maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 120C as it cannot tolerate cold temperatures.

The fourth reason for Lady Palm brown leaf tips is damage by touching. Place the palm away from the line of traffic to avoid brushing against it.

Yellowing leaves

Lady Palm yellowing leaves are caused by two possible reasons. One possible reason for yellowing leaves is watering issues; either underwatering or overwatering.

Water Rhapis excelsa thoroughly and keep the soil moderately moist at all times during 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 Lady Palm is overfeeding. Feed it with a balanced, liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing period and stop feeding it during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

Brown leaf spots

Lady Palm brown leaf spots are due to two possible causes. Remove the affected leaves and discard, carry out corrective measures as follows.

One cause of brown leaf spots in Lady Palm is overwatering. Water thoroughly and keep the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing season but not soggy. Reduce watering during the cold season.

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 Rhapis excelsa is sudden decrease of temperature due to cold draughts. Protect it from draughts to maintain an average warmth with a minimum of 120C as it cannot tolerate cold temperatures.

Browning leaves

Lady Palm browning leaves is due to age. The lower leaves may turn brown and droop at it ages; 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.

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

Also, reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Read more on how to treat root-rot in houseplants.

Pests

Common pests in Lady Palm are spider mites, scale insects and mealy bugs. Regularly check underneath the leaves of the palm for these pests.

Isolate the affected palm to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat it appropriately for these pests. Read more on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.

Is Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) toxic?

Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) is non-toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA. It is safe to grow indoors.

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