Lady Palm Tree: Broad Fan-Shaped Leaves

Lady palm trees (Rhapis excelsa) are native to China, and are known for their fan shaped leaves with finger-like segments. These palm trees prefer shady locations.

A lady palm tree adds tropical beauty indoors as an exotic house plant, as well as outdoors in the garden or landscape.

Rhapis excelsa (commonly known as Lady Palm) belongs to the Palmae family, and can be planted year round in USDA hardiness zones 8B through 11.If you live in a cool climate, this palm tree can be displayed outdoors in a container during the warm months, and then brought indoors during the winter.

Lady palms reach a height of six to twelve feet tall, with a spread of three to twelve feet wide. These palm trees form thick clumps of bamboo-like stalks. The stalks are brown in color with hair-like fibers running up and down the stalk. The bamboo looking stalks are topped with fan-shaped leaves that are dark green in color. The thick, evergreen leaflets are 8 to 12 inches in length, with wide segments and blunt tips.

These shrub-like palms are versatile, and can be grown indoors as house plants, as well as planted outdoors as a focal point or border in the garden or landscape.

Lady Palm Tree (Rhapis excelsa). Photo by David J. Stang, Wiki Commons

Lady Palm Tree Care - Indoors

Lady palm trees are the perfect indoor palm to accent an entryway, or display in an elegant room of the house that receives little sunlight. They are easy to grow indoors, and thrive with minimal care.

Lighting - Choose a location that receives bright, indirect light. Too much sunlight will cause the leaves to turn yellow-green in color.

Temperature – The ideal daytime temperature ranges from 65°-75° F. Evening temperature should not fall below 55° F. Keep palm away from areas near hot or cold drafts.

Humidity – Lady palm trees require moderate to high humidity. To provide adequate humidity, spray palms with water several times a week, or place plant container on a saucer filled with pebbles and water (water should be just below the pebble level). You might consider placing a room humidifier near the plant.

Soil & Fertilizer – You can use a regular potting soil with coarse sand or peat added into the mix. This is a slow growing plant, requiring minimal fertilizer. During growing period, fertilize every one to three months with a liquid fertilizer diluted to ½ strength and mixed into water. Do not fertilize during slow growing periods (Fall & Winter months).

Watering – Lady palms require moderate watering. Keep soil evenly moist during growing period (spring through fall). During winter the best time to water this plant is when soil becomes dry to a depth of two inches down from the surface.

Tip: Clean leaves with a damp cloth every two to three weeks to keep them dust-free.

Lady Palm Care - Outdoors

Lady palms thrive in tropical climates, and can be planted year round in hardiness zones 8B-11. They can be planted outdoors in a container or above-ground planter, as well as in the garden or landscape.

Tips for Planting, Care, and Maintenance

  • Be sure you choose a location with partial to full shade.
  • If planted in a container, this palm can be brought indoors for overwintering (necessary if you live in a cold climate).
  • Plant in a location with fertile, well-draining soil.
  • Fertilize once a year during the growing period with a slow-release fertilizer.
  • Keep soil evenly moist during the growing period. During winter, water when top two inches of soil is dry.
  • This plant will tolerate dry conditions, however, lady palms prefer moderate to high humidity.
  • Propagated by seed or by dividing the clumps.