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How to Grow Lady Palm — Rhapis

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Rhapis–commonly called lady palm–is a reedlike palm whose stems appear in clusters. Rhapis has fronds that are fan-shaped and divided lengthwise into narrow green leaves that can be blunt-edged or pointed. The shiny bright green fronds are divided into five to eight leaves up to 9 inches long and 2 inches wide. Indoors.

Rhapis grows best in bright filtered light indoors. Outdoors in frost-free tropical regions, it should be grown in dappled shade. Rhapis is a small palm; it grows 5 to 15 feet (1.5-5m) tall and wide.

Rhapis is a genus of 12 species of small, cluster-stemmed palms. Rhapis is native to shady tropical and subtropical forests from South China to Southeast Asia.

Get to know Rhapis

  • Plant type: Palm
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 14-1
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Height and width: 5 to 15 feet (1.5-5m) tall and wide.
  • Foliage: Bamboo-like stems; long stalked, deeply lobed, lustrous, dark green leaves 8 to 12 inches
  • Flowers: Bowl-shaped, 3-petal flowers in short panicles between leaves
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Shady border plant in tropical regions, houseplant
  • Common name: Lady palm, miniature fan palm
  • Botanical name: Rhapis
  • Family name: Arecaceae
  • Origin: Tropical and subtropical forests from South China to Southeast Asia
Lady palm, Rhapis excelsa
Lady palm, Rhapis excelsa

Where to plant Rhapis

  • Light outdoors: Grow Rahpis outdoors in dappled shade.
  • Light indoors: Grow Rhapis indoors in bright filtered light.
  • Soil outdoors: Plant Rhapis outdoors in moderately fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Soil indoors: Pot Rhapis in an all-purpose potting mix or a peat-based soilless mix.

When to plant Rhapis

  • Set container-grown Rhapis outdoors in tropical and subtropical regions any time of the year.

Planting and spacing Rhapis

  • Space Rhapis 5 to 15 feet (1.5-5m) apart.

How to water and feed Rhapis

  • Water Rhapis thoroughly; allow trhe soil to dry moderately between waterings.
  • Fertilize Rhapis once a month during spring and summer with an all-purpose fertilizer.

Rhapis care

  • Keep Rhapis out of drying winds.

Rhapis pests and diseases

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

Rhapis propagation

  • Rhapis can be propagated by division or from offsets. Repot offsets in a peat-based soilless mix.

Rhapis varieties to grow

  • Rhapis excelsa, lady palm, miniature fan palm. Small, clump-forming palm with slender erect bamboo-like stems; long stalked, deeply lobed, lustrous, dark green leaves 8 to 12 inches long; grows 5 to 15 feet (1.5-5m) tall and wide.

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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