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.
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.