Rhapis excelsa – Lady Palm Outstanding for container culture. Bamboo-like canes and fan-shaped leaves. Temperature range of 50-70 degrees. Partial sunlight to shade. Moist soil. Older plants will stand 18 degrees. Rhapis excelsa is sometimes known as R. flabelliformis. A miniature Japanese rhapis, as yet unidentified, matures at 18 inches.
Quick Culture Tips
How To Start Indoor Palms
Palms are slow-growing, particularly as potted plants. If you start with a young and small one, it may be years before it attains any size. You will have the pleasure of seeing it grow into a showy palm, and your initial investment will be small.
If you desire a larger palm for an immediate decorative effect, age, size and species will determine its price. The older the palm, the more time its grower will have invested in it.
Light and Your Indoor Palm
Some palms prefer a location that receives bright light, but no direct sun. Others need full sunlight. Pay attention to specific requirements for individual species, visit our indoor palm section here for more information.
Whether sun or shade-loving, turn your indoor palm a ¼ turn from time to time so that each side receives the stronger light. This helps it to be symmetrical and straight in stature.
Indoor Palms: Heat and Cold
Palms are tolerant of a wide range of cold and heat. Specific preferences vary by palm species. However, indoors most palm do well with a 70-75 degree day and a 10 degree drop at night. The closer you can come to meeting the ideal for a species, the better it will grow.
Soil and Potting Palms Indoors
When a palm is potted, the soil should be firmed well about its roots. If you repot one that has roots wound around and around the old root ball, loosen these and surround them with new soil. Replant in a container not much larger than the original. Use a porous soil mixture that is rich in humus and well drained. It should be light enough to allow water to drain quickly. Repot as needed in the spring or summer.
Watering Indoor Palm Plants
For most indoor palm plants, keep the soil moist at all times. Moist not wet. I prefer sub-irrigation for plants grown indoors. Frequency of watering is determined by the season, size of palm and pot, temperatures and the moisture content of the air.
Palms will tolerate drought, but it kills the small feeder roots, and thus delays new growth. If you use a good soil mixture like an African violet mix drainage should be rapid enough.
Fertilizing and Feeding Indoor Palms
Because palms grow slowly, they require fertilizer infrequently – especially indoors. A general rule for feeding them: When the season is sunny, temperatures warm and humidity high, fertilize (lightly). When weather is sunless and cool, don’t. Any well-balanced house plant fertilizer is satisfactory.
Insects On Indoor Palm Trees
In hot, dry conditions, red spider mites may cause a palm to have a dull appearance, including yellowish mottling of the foliage and tiny, tell-tale webs.
In warm weather, a good control measure is to spray the leaves, above and below, with a forceful stream of water from the garden hose. During the winter it may be necessary to apply a miticide. (If it is oil-based, use at half strength.) Mealybugs and brown scale sometimes infest palms.
As a side note, I do not recommend the Majesty Palm as an indoor palm. On top of that red spider mites find the palm a “majestic” place to live. This makes Majesty palm care that much more difficult indoors.
Maintenance Of Palm Trees Indoors
Keep palms sparkling clean by sponging off leaves of larger plants; showering those that can be moved to a sink or tub. When old leaves turn yellow, cut (do not pull) them from the trunk.
During warm weather, enjoy container-grown palms in your garden and on your patio or porch, but take into consideration the light preference of each species.