Rhapis Palm Care : How to Grow and Care for the Lady Palm Plant

Rhapis Palm Care : How to Grow and Care for the Lady Palm Plant

Lady Palm- Rhapis

Ladyfinger palm is grown as evergreen ornamental plant and some species are cold tolerant plants and at outdoors in subtropical or warm climatic conditions.  A palm variety Rhapis Excelsa was listed as one of the best plants for removing toxins in the air by NASA.

Lady palm or Rhapis is a plant that is native to Asia, Japan and China. They are often called as fan palms or broadleaf lady palms because the leaves with bare petioles terminate in around fan of numerous leaflets. Some varieties can grow to a height of 3-4 meters tall with male and female flowers separately.

If you are unable to receive fresh air in your home then plant lady palm plants that purify air near its surrounding and makes the indoor garden look beautiful. But you need a lot of patience and care to grow palms in your home.

Here in this article, we shared the complete information regarding lady palm plants and its growth factors.  These plants can be damaged easily if you do not maintain properly. We also discussed the plant problems such as pests, lack of water & sunlight, nutrient deficiency issues and how to overcome these problems with certain techniques.

Companion Plants

Plants that do well in full sun to partial shade can be considered as good companions such as jasmine, heliconia, cordylines, pentas, grass and variegated arboricola.  These companion plants help to improve the plant growth by deterring pests and diseases, improve soil fertility and also matures quickly.

Lady Palm Varieties

There are almost 10 species of lady palm plants that are originated from Vietnam and Japan. Out of which only a few varieties can be grown as indoor palm plants for the air-purification purpose at home and offices.

S. No Variety Origin
1 Rhapis cochinchinesis Vietnam
2 Rhapis excelsa Japan
3 Rhapis gracilis Vietnam
4 Rhapis humilis Japan
5 Rhapis multifida Yunnan
6 Rhapis robusta Vietnam
7 Rhapis vidalii Vietnam
8 Rhapis subtilis Sumatra
9 Rhapis micrantha Vietnam
10 Rhapis puhuongensis Vietnam

How to Grow Lady Palm from Seeds?

To grow raphis palm plant starting from seeds is a simple and easy process, but takes much time for the plant to mature. They require moderate temperatures and proper care for the plant to thrive. Given below is the list of ideal growing conditions of lady palm indoors.

Choose Variety

Choose a lady palm variety to grow them from seed indoors.  Mostly all palm varieties are well suited to grow them at indoors under right growing conditions.

Pot & Soil

Size of the pot can be small as the plant cannot grow much longer. So the pot size can be 6-8 inches tall. Use a well-drain rich potting mix soil to grow palm plants in pots. Also, fill the pot with pebbles and sand for proper drainage. Soil pH should be between 5.5 and 7.0 for palm trees.

Water & Sunlight

Water the ladyfinger palms when the soil is about to dry to a depth of 1 inch in both spring and summer seasons. Whereas in winter and fall supply water to the plants in small quantities. Place the palm plant near window location away from direct sunlight. They can grow indoors comfortably if you maintain the temperature between 60-80 F to a height of 3-5 feet tall.

Nutrient Deficiency

S. No Element Deficiency Symptom
1 Nitrogen Light green color older leaves, golden color petioles
2 Phosphorus Slow growth and dull yellow foliage
3 Potassium Browning at the leaf edges
4 Magnesium Yellow Leaf veins, reddish brown tints
5 Manganese Necrotic leaves, curling of leaflets

Pests & Diseases

Pests Diseases
Scales Fusarium wilt
Spider Mites Penicillium
Aphids Pythium
Thrips Root rot
Caterpillar Powdery mildew
Whiteflies Damping off


Pruning is done to keep the palm plant healthy. Remove old, brown leaves using cutters or shears from the trunk. It helps to supply water and nutrients to each section of the plant. Cutting very close to the trunk can damage the plant. Your cutting should be smooth so that the plant wound can heal quickly.

If you find the plant with brown tips then immediately water the plant.  Give more water than normal for few more weeks until the brown tips on leaves may disappear.

Repotting Broad Leaf Lady Palm 

Increase the size of the pot every year to ensure the plant growth at outdoors. Re-pot a palm tree only when the roots emerge out of the small pot. Now you can shift it to bigger pots of 4 inches bigger than previous pot. Use potting mix soil with slow-release fertilizers into the bigger pot.  Using this method you can easily transfer the plant to outdoors.

Fertilizing Golden Palm Plant

Rhapis are slow growing plants as they require fertilizers in small amounts. Fertilizers such as N-P-K (10-10-10), compost, manure, Epsom salt, Baking soda, and Eggshells can be used to boost the plant growth. These fertilizers supply enough nutrients when applied at the base of the plant. Make sure you do not apply fertilizers in the winter season.

Some of these plant varieties are sensitive to boron, chlorine, and fluorides in water content which result in blacktip burn, so use only pure water until the problem solves.

Can you Propagate Lady Palm from Cuttings?

Lady palms are hardy in the USDA region of 8-12. They need full sun to partial shade to grow. Though they grow in a variety of soils, performs best in well-drained soil with organic content in it.  Plants can even tolerate in moderate drought conditions and can grow up to a height of 3-4 feet tall. These plants also produce fragrant yellow flowers in the spring season.

Propagating lady palm tree from stem cuttings or baby plants is easy than growing from seeds which take much time to germinate, mature and to grow vigorously. Here is the step by step procedure to propagate lady palm from stem cuttings…

  • Take a lady palm stem cutting of size 6- 8 inches tall to propagate.
  • Trim off the lower leaves of the stem using a sharp knife or blade.
  • Now place the stem cutting in a jar of water to establish roots completely.
  • Change the water in the jar for every 2-3 days and place the entire setup in sunlight to thrive quickly.
  • Within 2 weeks root develops and you can transplant it to outdoors for better and healthy growth.

How do you Care for Lady Palm?

  • Use a palm fertilizer once in a year as per the instructions.
  • The pot has enough holes at the bottom for proper drainage.
  • Go with a Neem oil or insecticidal soaps to deter pest problems.
  • Follow instructions & warning labels on fertilizers before applying them.
  • For lady palm plants repotting is done in the spring season of every year.
  • Avoid usage of fluorides and chlorides as the plants may die due to overfeeding.
  • Make sure the plant receives sunlight for a minimum of  6-8 hours a day to thrive.
  • Spacing should be 15-20 inches apart between each plant when you prefer outdoors.
  • Avoid overwatering palm plants as it may result in root rot, other diseases and may even die.
  • Wear gloves, face masks and shoes if you are dealing with heavy gardening tools and fertilizers outdoors.
  • Keep children away from the plants as they can’t tolerate the harmful toxins and may cause severe health problems.
  • If your palm plant is too weak,  add mulches like dead leaves or ripen fruits-vegetables at the base of the plant to retain soil moisture levels.

How often do you water a lady palm?

Water the plant daily once during noon times to keep the soil moist from becoming dry. Do not water the plant during the winter season and overwatering may result from the plant to root rot.

How fast do lady palms grow?

Place the plant near window location away from direct sunlight. These plants thrive when you maintain the temperature between 60-80F. Within months time the plant matures and produces yellow fragrant flowers.

Is lady palm safe for your pets?

Lady palm trees are safe unless your pets like cats and dogs do not consume the palm leaves. Your pets may suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, skin irritations and be crawling when consumed lady palm trees in excess amounts.

Why are palm tree leaves turning yellow?

If your palm tree leaves turn yellow and brown, then it could be a sign of water scarcity. Beware of water drainage levels as too much of water can cause the roots to rot. It can also be due to the nutrient deficiency (especially nitrogen element) that prevents the plant from growing properly i.e. turns crown of the plant to yellow.

For more information refer:  Why are my plants turning yellow?

Rhapis Palm Care : How to Grow and Care for the Lady Palm Plant

Start growing Rhapis palm plants in pots or outdoors that monitors your health by purifying the surrounding atmosphere. If you have amazing ideas about growing lady palm in your home, please share your experience with us.

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