The broadleaf lady palm (Rhapis excelsa,) or fan palm is a species from the genus Rhapis, that probably originated in southern China and Taiwan.
It doesn’t grow in the wild and all known plants are from cultivated groups in China.
After it was first collected by the Japanese for Tokugawa shogunate palaces, it spread in Europe and then in America.
There, thanks to its low light and humidity needs, it’s a commonly seen plant in offices and malls.
They’re a loved house and office plant because they have great air-purifying properties. They clean the space from formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and xylene.
They add an elegant vibe to the room with their deep green foliage, aren’t demanding in terms of care, and come in various types.
This multi-stemmed plant grows from the ground in dense bamboo-like stalks. It has broad and fanned leaves that form a wide palm shrub.
The stems can grow up to 8 feet in height whereas the leaves can reach a height up to 14 feet.
This is a strong plant which is great for beginners as it doesn’t ask for too much. But, it does need proper care to thrive.
And, it’s a perfect choice for people with pets– the plant isn’t toxic to dogs and cats.
When it matures, the plant may produce white blossom and even white, fleshy fruit. Usually, this depends on the growing environment or the species.
The plant’s common name is partly inspired by its large and thick leaves that have wide sections and blunt tips.
How to Care for a Broadleaf Lady Palm
Although it can do well in shadier areas or fuller sunlight, the best condition for this plant is bright, yet indirect sun. The higher the shade, the darker the leaves will be.
This is why if you move it to fuller sunlight you may notice the leaves going yellow and the tips getting burned.
As soon as the plant adjusts to the new light conditions, the burning will disappear.
This plant can grow happy at a wide range of temperatures, from 20 to 100 degrees F.
Plus, it can survive short periods of temperatures higher or lower than this range.
Water & Humidity
One thing’s for sure- broadleaf lady palm doesn’t like being overwatered!
Standing in water can contribute to root rot. However, although it can tolerate dry soil well, keep these periods short.
This plant, similarly to other palms, can be sensitive to some of the chemicals in water supplies like chlorine and fluoride, and thus, lead to tip burn.
So, use purified water or rainwater. Ensure the soil is moist all the time, but not soggy.
When it comes to the humidity, the plant can tolerate any level pretty well. In the warmer months during late spring and summer, it’s advised to mist the foliage regularly.
This plant will grow happy in almost any well-drained soil type, although the best pick is African violet soil mix.
The soil should be very firm and enable the slow release of water through it.
Being slow growers, broadleaf lady palms need low amounts of fertilizer. How to know when your broadleaf lady palm needs additional feeding?
If the foliage has a rich green color, it doesn’t need it. If the color is paler and more towards a lighter color, feed it.
A standard liquid fertilizer will do just fine.
A broadleaf lady palm should be repotted around once per two years. Make sure you place them in pots that seem a bit small for them.
When it’s time for repotting, pick a pot that’s not much bigger than the current one. Gently take it out from the current pot, remove the surplus soil around it and place it fresh soil.
Water it and place it in the planned area.
Broadleaf Lady Palm Propagation
If you want to multiply your broadleaf lady palms, do it with the stem cuttings shooting from the base of the plant in spring.
Cut a 6 to 8 inches tall stem and remove the lower leaves. Then, put the stem in a vessel with water to grow roots.
Keep it in a bright area and replace the water every 2 days. In a period of two weeks, the roots will be visible and now you can transplant it in soil.
Best Broadleaf Lady Palm Species
Zuiko Nishiki or Winter Daphne
This variety has yellow marks on the green foliage and it grows below 24 inches in height. It’s also known for its distinctive deep pink flower buds that release a stunning scent.
This dwarf cultivar grows only 2 inches per year, yet releases a lot of offshoots.
It’s also commonly called the ‘bush baby’ and it’s an awesome choice for people who love bonsai or collect dwarf specimens.
This is the smallest variety and known for a quite slow growth. But, it does produce a lot of pups in width.
To boost its growth, a good to prune is recommended, regularly.
Cut off the lower leaves as they age- it’s best to cut them when they lose their color.
If new growth is dead, you’ll have to cut the whole trunk. This is because it’s probably rotten and the leaves will eventually become brown and die.
From time to time, dust the foliage with a rag and water to defend it from pests.
Trouble Shooting- Common Issues
Problem: Leaves turning yellow
Cause: It’s probably because of excessive light- although they will adapt eventually, the change can cause yellowing.
Solution: Pick the most suitable place from the start so that you don’t have to constantly move it around.
Problem: Wilting & drying leaves
Cause: Underwatering or outgrowing the current container.
Solution: Opt for a well-draining soil which you’ll keep moist, but never soaked. If this is already the case with the soil, it may be that the plant needs repotting.
Problem: Leaf tips going black
Cause: Too much fertilizer or too much water.
Solution: Cut off the black leaves from the plant and then resolve the issue, i.e. reduce the feeding or the watering.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article on the broadleaf lady palm.
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