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How to Grow Fishtail Palm — Caryota

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Caryota–commonly called fishtail palm–is a palm grown for its broad, divided, deep green leaves that resemble the tail of a fish. The finely divided leaves have leaflets that are flattened and split at the tips like fish tails.

Cayota is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia. It is often grown as a houseplant in temperate regions. Caryota is grown as a specimen tree in tropical regions.

Caryota is a genus of 12 species of single and cluster-stemmed palms.

Get to know Caryota

  • Plant type: Palm
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 10-12
  • Optimal growing temperature: day 68° to 75°F (20°-24°C), night 58° to 65°F (14°-18°C)
  • Height and width: 10 to 40 feet (3-12m) tall and 10 to 22 feet (3-7m) wide depending on the variety.
  • Foliage: Finely divided leaves, the leaflets are flattened and split at the tips like fish tails.
  • Flowers: Green or purple flowers appear when the plant is mature.
  • Uses: Specimen tree, houseplant
  • Common name: Fishtail palm
  • Botanical name: Caryota
  • Family name: Arecaceae
  • Origin: Southeast Asia

Where to plant Caryota

  • Grow Caryota in full sun with midday shade outdoors.
  • Indoors grow Caryota in bright filtered light and high humidity.
  • Outdoors grow Caryota in humus-rich, moist, but well-drained soil.
  • Indoors grow Caryota in a soil-based potting mix.

When to plant Caryota

  • Set Caryota outdoors any time of the year in tropical and subtropical regions.
Caryota mitis, fishtail palm
Caryota mitis, fishtail palm

Planting and spacing Caryota

  • Outdoors space Caryota 10 to 22 feet (3-7m) apart depending on the variety.

How to water and feed Caryota

  • Water Caryota freely during the growing season. Water Caryota sparingly in winter.
  • Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthy.

Caryota care

  • Where Caryota is not hardy, grow it in a war greenhouse or use young specimens as houseplants.
  • Caryota prefers to be potbound; repot when roots occupy 3/4 of pot space.
  • Caryota rests in winter; keep the soil barely moist, withhold fertilizer.

Growing Caryota as a houseplant

  • Grow Caryota in bright light and medium to high humidity.
  • Keep the temperature warm.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.
  • Fertilize Caryota regularly from spring to fall.

Caryota pests and diseases

  • Caryota is susceptible to attack by mealybugs, mites, and scale insects.

Caryota propagation

  • Propagate Caryota from offsets.
  • Sow seed at 81℉ in spring.

Caryota varieties to grow

  • Caryota mitis, clustered fishtail palm. Slow growing from 20 to 25 feet tall; basal offshoots form clustered trunk with fibrous leaf base; light green leaves. Commonly grown as houseplant.
  • C. ochlandra, Canton fishtail palm. Grows to 25 feet tall; medium dark green leaves; hardy to 26℉ /-3℃.
  • C. urens, fishtail wine palm. Grows 15 to 20 feet tall; dark green leaves; hardy to 32℉ /0℃.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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