Broadleaf Lady Palm Care at Home: Your Complete Guide

If you’re looking to add an elegant and exotic-looking indoor palm tree to your home, don’t pass by the broadleaf lady palm (Rhapis excelsa). Also known as the bamboo palm, Rhapis excelsa is a fan palm with stems that resemble bamboo stalks. These plants easily thrive as houseplants if you provide the proper environment and some basic ongoing care. In this guide, I’ll share my essential tips on Broadleaf Lady Palm plant care at home.

Broadleaf Lady Palm Care at Home_ Your Complete Guide

Broadleaf Lady Palm Plant Care – The Essentials:

Common Name:Broadleaf Lady Palm, Bamboo Palm
Scientific Name:Rhapis excelsa.
Native Range:Southern China and Taiwan.
Soil:Well-draining, fertile potting mix with organic matter; slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.0-7.0).
Light:Bright, indirect light; tolerates lower light conditions and some shade.
Watering:Water when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch – every 7 to 10 days on average in spring and summer.
Temperature:An ideal range is between 55-75°F (14-26°C); can tolerate temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C).
Fertilizing:Fertilize with a water-soluble houseplant feed once a month from April through to September each year.
Pruning:Prune dead or yellowing fronds to maintain appearance; use sharp, sanitized shears.
Pests:Common pests include spider mites and scale insects; they can be managed with regular cleaning, appropriate watering, and the use of insecticidal soaps or neem oil.
Toxicity:Non-toxic to pets and humans; however, it’s always best to keep plants out of reach from pets and small children.

How to Grow Broadleaf Lady Palms at Home

How to Grow Broadleaf Lady Palms (Rhapis excelsa) Indoors at Home

Broadleaf lady palms can grow over 15 feet tall outdoors, but they rarely grow over six feet tall indoors. They grow about one foot per year in the proper conditions. Here are my essential tips to successfully grow a Lady Palm at home.

What To Do Before Planting

Before you plant your broadleaf lady palm, you’ll need to complete a few steps.

  1. Find a suitable location. Before you add a new plant to your house, it’s a good idea to know where you will put it. Find a space that can handle this palm’s size.
  2. Obtain a container. If you are transferring your palm from a nursery pot to a nicer container, choose one just a bit bigger than the original. Make sure the pot has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

How to Plant and Planting Options

Follow these steps to plant your broadleaf lady palm:

  1. Fill your container 1/4 full with a proper soil mix.
  2. Add the palm to the container.
  3. Fill in the rest of the pot with soil mix.
  4. Water in your plant.

When it comes to planting your palm, it’s best to choose a container with at least two gallons. Since these plants can grow up to six feet tall indoors, place the pot on the ground or on a low plant stand.

What’s the Best Soil Mix?

Broadleaf lady palms prefer a well-draining soil mix that also has water-holding capacity. The goal is never to let the soil dry out but not have it be soaking wet, either.

If you can’t find a soil mix designated for palms, an African violet potting mix will work well.

If you prefer to make your own potting soil, you can mix the following.

  • 2 parts peat moss
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part pine bark fines

Simply mix the ingredients well and add in a dash of water before proceeding with planting.

Light Preferences

Broadleaf Lady Palm Light Preferences

This houseplant prefers partial shade or bright, indirect light. The most important thing to remember is to keep it out of direct sunlight. If your plant is exposed to direct rays, its leaves will burn, and its health will decline.

The following places are great locations for a broadleaf lady palm:

  • A few feet away from a west, east, or north-facing window
  • In the middle of a bright room
  • In a hallway with a small window

Temperature & Humidity Preferences

Fortunately, this plant can handle quite a wide range of temperatures. Plants have been known to survive temperatures down to 40ºF and up to 90ºF. However, to keep plants happiest, keep the air temperature between 55-75ºF.

Broadleaf lady palms prefer moderate humidity. If your home is very dry, I’d recommend misting the plant with a water bottle every few days.

Broadleaf Lady Palm Care

Broadleaf Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) Care

When and How to Water

Fortunately, this houseplant isn’t too difficult to water. When you’re watering your palm, keep the following in mind.

When to Water

There isn’t one perfect time of day to water your palm. Feel free to water in the morning, afternoon, or evening.

How Often to Water

Like many other houseplants, you want to allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. However, you don’t want the soil to dry out completely.

You should water your palm when the top one to two inches of soil is dry. Stick your finger into the soil near the base of the plant to check the moisture level.

Factors That Impact Your Watering Schedule

Be aware that various factors impact how often you’ll need to water.

  • Time of year: Plants need less water in the winter and more water in the summer.
  • Temperature: The higher the temperature, the more often you’ll need to water.
  • Humidity: As the humidity increases, evaporation and transpiration decrease. That means you’ll need to water less often with high humidity.

Important Watering Considerations

When you water your palm, avoid getting water onto the leaves or splashing soil onto the plant. Both of these can lead to disease.

Instead, gently water your plant at its base.

Fertilizing

While your broadleaf lady palm won’t require a lot of fertilizer, it will benefit from regular feedings.

Look for a liquid fertilizer designed for houseplants. Dilute the product to half the recommended strength and fertilize once a month from April to September.

Since your plant will slow its growth during the winter, there’s no need to apply fertilizer.

Pruning

Pruning Broadleaf Lady Palms

Pruning your broadleaf lady palm can involve removing both healthy and dead plant tissue.

If you choose not to prune a healthy plant, its stalks and leaves will grow to form a dense shrub. However, you can also prune healthy leaves and stalks to make your plant a bit sleeker.

Use a pair of sharp and sanitized shears to remove leaves where the petiole attaches to the stalk. Avoid removing more than 10% of leaves at one time so you don’t stress the plant. You can also remove entire plant stalks by cutting the stalks at the soil surface.

While you don’t have to prune healthy tissue away, remove dead or diseased leaves and stalks. If you notice a few brown patches on your leaves, you don’t need to remove them. However, if you notice the discoloration is spreading, removing the leaves is best.

Propagating

Rhapis excelsa can be propagated from seeds, but developing a new plant takes a long time. Therefore, growers typically grow new plants from rhizomes.

You may also propagate new palms via division or stem cuttings.

When and How to Repot

These palms don’t mind being a bit snug in their containers, so you won’t have to repot them very often. Plan on repotting your broadleaf lady palm every two or three years.

When you repot, look for a few inches bigger pot than your plant’s current container. Don’t forget to check for drainage holes!

Once you have your new pot, it’s time to remove your plant from its current container. Brush off any excess soil, then add your plant to its new container. Fill the pot with new potting soil and water well.

Common Broadleaf Lady Palm Problems & How to Treat Them

Common Rhapis excelsa  Problems & How to Treat Them

Root Rot

Root rot is a term used to describe various fungi that destroy plant roots. As the fungi destroy the plant’s roots, the rest of the plant begins to decline.

Some root rot symptoms include stunted plants, yellow leaves, and wilting leaves. If you notice any of these, you should check your plant’s roots for any mushy or discolored spots.

Overwatering is one of the leading causes of root rot. Many of the types of fungi that cause root rot thrive in moist environments.

If you think your plant has root rot, decrease how often you water. Additionally, make sure you are using well-draining potting soil and a planter with drainage holes.

If your plant is suffering, remove the root ball from the planter. Trim off any infected roots and repot the plant with fresh potting soil.

Discolored Leaves

Discolored Leaves

There are various reasons why your plant’s leaves are turning yellow or brown. To figure out exactly what’s causing this discoloration, you’ll need to observe the environment and your plant’s history.

All of the following may be the cause of yellow or brown leaves.

  • Too much water. If your plant is constantly sitting in wet soil, it won’t be able to obtain the oxygen and nutrients it needs. Ensure your pot has drainage holes, use a well-draining potting mix, and water only when the top inch of soil is dry.
  • Not enough water. If you forget to water your plant for a few weeks, you may notice its leaves become yellow and dry. Make sure to water every one to two weeks during the summer.
  • Nutrient deficiency. If you notice your plant’s leaves slowly turning yellow, they may lack nutrients like nitrogen or phosphorus. Add some fertilizer and wait a few weeks to see if the color improves.

Insect Pests

Broadleaf lady palms generally don’t experience too many problems with pests, but numerous insects do attack the plants. Here are some common pests to watch out for as well as how to deal with them.

Mealybugs

If your plant is covered with a cotton-like substance, take a closer look. Mealybugs are soft-bodied insects that resemble white dust or cotton.

These insects suck the juices from your plant. Not only can this cause plant decline, but it can also lead to the introduction and spread of disease.

If you see a few mealybugs, you can wipe them off your plants with a wet, soapy towel. Alternatively, you can spray larger amounts of insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Scale

Scale insects are another type of soft-bodied insects that suck plant juices. Their appearance varies between species, but they often group to form a “scale” on top of the plant.

If you notice a small number of scale insects, you can remove them using a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. For larger infestations, it’s best to spray insecticidal soap or neem oil onto the insects.


Broadleaf Lady Palm Care FAQs:

Are lady palms toxic to cats and dogs?

Lady palms are non-toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets kept in the home.

How tall do lady palms get?

While broadleaf lady palms can grow over 15 feet tall outdoors, they rarely grow over six feet tall indoors. They grow about one foot per year in most living environments.

How do you take care of a lady palm?

Broadleaf lady palms do best in well-draining, fertile soil. Water when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch – every 7 to 10 days on average in spring and summer. Water thoroughly until excess starts to disperse from the potting container. Keep your lady palm in a location that predominantly receives indirect light and where the general ambient air temperature remains between 55F and 75F. Fertilize with a water-soluble houseplant feed once a month from April through to September each year.

How much light does a lady palm need?

Broadleaf lady palm plants prefer slightly shaded, indirect light conditions throughout the day. Avoid exposing your lady palm to extended periods of direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves.

What do Broadleaf Lady Palm symbolize?

Broadleaf Lady Palm plants are symbolic in many cultures of wealth and prosperity.

Broadleaf Lady Palm Care – Wrapping Up

Now that you know a bit more about the broadleaf lady palm, it’s time to add one of these beautiful plants to your home. These plants easily thrive as houseplants as long as you provide the proper environment and some basic ongoing care.

Contributing Editor | briana@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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