Guest Author - Lisa Beth Voldeck
The Lady Palm, or Rhapis excelsa, is one of the most popular palms for use in homes and interiorscaping and with good reason. They have a wide range of tolerance for light, humidity and temperature and they were some of the most sought after plants for botanical gardens and collectors in the 1800s. Many cultivars have been selected all over the world for around 200 years, resulting in some very different looking plants that all go by the same name.
Standard, or Large Lady Palms can grow to be quite tall. Some varieties can get up to 14 feet tall and others, the Dwarf varieties, donít grow larger than 8 feet. Either way, the plants grow pretty slowly and you will not see their maximum height for decades. Select a plant that is near to the height you desire as it will not quickly get much larger.
Lady Palms prefer bright, diffuse light. This can be provided in a room with a southern exposure (or northern exposure in the southern hemisphere) if the plant is positioned away from the window a ways. Another option is to place your plant in an eastern window or near to but away from a western window. Northern windows are good if they are large and rooms with skylights are great.
Water your Lady Palm regularly, allowing the potting mix to dry out quite well before watering again. If the plant is snug in its container, approximately once a week is about right. Lady Palms can be repotted annually in the spring, moving up one pot size if desired.
All ranges of humidity are well-tolerated by Lady Palms. If you like to mist your plants, go ahead and include your Lady Palm. If misting is not something you like to take the time to do, you can still have success with this plant. It is really helpful, though, to wash the leaves of this plant regularly. This will help the plant breathe better and whether you mist or not, will make for a healthier plant.
Potential pests of your Lady Palm are scale and aphids, but a thorough inspection of the health of the plant before bringing it home should be enough to prevent any major problems. If pests are found, treat the plant with a spray or horticultural oil, depending on your preference. Check back often to be sure youíve eliminated the pests.