Lady Palm Tree – Rhapis excelsa

The Lady Palm Tree, scientific name Rhapis excelsa, is very popular indoor and outdoor palm because of its easy maintenance and cold hardiness which makes it a great choice for landscape in USDA zones 8b-11.

Lady Palms adapt to a wide range of climates, soils, and environments. It will happily live under low light conditions or bright filtered light. This palm can be grown in states like Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon and Texas.

Lady Palm Tree Profile

Scientific name: Rhapis excelsa

Common names: The Lady Palm is also known R. flabelliformis and Aristocratic Lady Palm.

Family: Arecaceae

Origin: It is native to the Southeast area of China.

Appearance: Rhapis excelsa self-propagates via underground rhizome offshoots, forming multi-stemmed clumps that can reach enormous width, spreading as wide as its height or more. Stem are covered with dark woven palm fibers, which is actually the outer base of the leaf sheaths. Each stem, or cane, is about 1 inch wide, and has leaf scar pattern resembling bamboo canes.

The Lady Palm has palmate, or fan-shaped, leaves that grow on unarmed petioles up to 1-2ft long. Leaves are deeply divided into 4-10 segments, never overlap but are slightly offset. The Lady Palm fronds are dark green when grown in shade to a light green when grown with more sunlight.

As the lower leaves grow old, they turn from glossy and green to dull and discolored. You should trim them off for an attractive appearance. The Lady Palm has less than 8 to 10 leaflets per leaf with saw-toothed ends.

Flowers/Fruits: During spring months the Lady Palm produces light green to yellow flowers that are held by spectacular pinkish inflorescence at the top of the stem. The Lady Palm is dioecious, male and female flowers grow on different plants.

Flowers are fragrant, spirally-arranged, and fleshy.The female flowers have a 3 part pistil. The male flowers are born on 2ft branched inflorescence, growing from among the leaves and extending much longer than the leaves toward the top of the plant. Flowers are followed by round, fleshy, creamy fruits.

Growth Rate: Slow. Rhapis excelsa grows to a maximum height of about 5-10 ft and 1- 5 ft wide. If you want to grow Lady Palm indoors keep in mind that the growth rate decreases considerably.

Generally speaking growers would classify Lady Palm as being slow growers. A typical 6 – 8″ potted plant has been growing in the nursery for minimum of 2 years.

Outdoor/Indoor Use: Both.

Cold Tolerance: Lady Palm Tree is very cold hardy and can tolerate cold down to 15F. It is great for growing in USDA Zones 8b (15 to 20 F) to 11 (above 40 F).

Light Req: Shade to Partial shade.

Water Req: Moderate.

Maintenance: Easy care is one reason for their widespread popularity for use indoors. To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during growing season.

Propagation: Propagation can be difficult from seeds requiring added heat and patience. Most often plant division is much easier. This is a very expensive palm as propagation is limited and costly because initial growth is slow.

Lady Palm Pictures

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Lady Palm Tree 

5 thoughts on “Lady Palm Tree – Rhapis excelsa”

  1. I have three fan type palms that need to be removed as they are too close to our septic. Do you need any mature palms at this time?

  2. Can you tell me how to properly transplant a small lady palm? I live in the Tampa Bay area about a mile from the Gulf. There are two small lady palms that are growing under our boat, and I would like to save them before they get run over by the trailer. They are offshoots of a nearby tree on my neighbor’s property, Thanks for any help you can pass along!

  3. My lady palms are very healthy with lots of new growth but most of the old fronds were damaged by the hurricane last year. How should I handle the damage fronds? If I cut the off the clump they will be long leggy stalks. Will fronds grow back from where they were cut or only from the top? If I cut the stalks back to about knee height will they grow back?

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