Rhapis excelsa, the Lady Palm, is grown in the garden and used indoors in a house or condo and offices around the world. Rhapis adapts to a wide range of climates, soils, and environments, making the “lady Palm” popular for many applications. Rhapis excelsa is the most well-known and widely cultivated species, easily adapting to most interiors, and used in both tropical and subtropical landscapes throughout the world. Another popular species is Rhapis humilis. One distinction of Rhapis Excelsa is that it has a multitude of named varieties in green and variegated forms.
Along with the “slender lady palm” the Rhapis also gets called by many other different common names like – bamboo palm, fan palm, finger palm, parlor palm. I’m not much on common names but I’ll stick with the “lady palm.” Many of these named varieties would be considered collector’s items with quite a few of the varieties being selected dwarf types. The “Lady Palm tree” believed to originate from southern China can grow to a height of more than 14′ foot tall with clumps reaching enormous width, often having a diameter as wide as their height.
Large thick leaves with blunt tips and wide segments, gives Rhapis excelsa its occasional name “broadleaf lady palm”. Sturdy canes or stems find themselves covered with a fibrous sheath or coarse, dark brown fiber. Exclesa is fairly cold hardy and can tolerate tropical and subtropical temperatures from 20 to 100 degrees F and handles both humid and dry climates. A prolific producer of rhizome offshoots adds fullness and provides an easy method to increase numbers by division. In addition, seed is occasionally available.
Growth Rates of Rhapis Excelsa
Growth rates of Rhapis excelsa vary with culture and environment. In commercial production the Lady Palm usually grows 8″ – 12″ inches in height per year. When grown indoors as houseplants, the growth rate decreases considerably.
Find a plant that fits an area indoors and you won’t have to worry about the Rhapis outgrowing its space and it can work as a natural air cleaner.
Generally speaking growers would classify Rhapis as a slow grower. A typical 6 – 8″ potted plant has been growing in the nursery for minimum of 2 years.
It is not unusual for the larger sizes to be nursery grown for 4 – 7 years. This is one reason you find Rhapis being more expensive then other ornamental plants and palms. Believe me, they are worth the expense.
You will find two styles of “Lady Palms” in your nurseries and garden centers. One I would call a “butterball”.
These plants, grown from seed, have lots of canes and a 3 – 4′ foot plant can be 3 – 3-1/2′ wide. Full of leaves top to bottom and you usually find these in pot sizes from 6″ up to 14″.
The other style is a more upright and open plant. These plants have been dug from the field, are thinner in appearance but have more height.
You usually find these in pot sizes from 14″ up to 28″ in heights ranging from 5 – 14′. They are more of a specimen plant with each one having its own unique look.
Rhapis Excelsa Easy To Grow And Care For
Rhapis are some of the easiest palms to grow and care for, but each species has its own particular environment and culture requirements.
This makes Rhapis very versatile. Both 6″ and 8″ pots can be used as table top and accent plants, while 10″ and up are free standing specimens. Wherever you may live, Rhapis is one plant that will thrive in your house or landscape.
- 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 excelsasometimes known as Rhapis
- A miniature Japanese rhapis, as yet unidentified, matures at 18 inches.
The Lady palm grows slowly particularly as potted plants. If you start with a young, small one, it may take years before it attains any size. You will enjoy the pleasure of watching it grow into a showy palm, and your initial investment will be small. If you desire a larger Rhapis 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.