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Home » Broadleaf Lady Palm

Broadleaf Lady Palm

by Elyssa Goins
This article was fact checked.
Helpful: 100%

The broadleaf lady palm tree is a popular indoor plant species which looks elegant standing in offices, hotels, living rooms and conservatories.

This hardy little plant is perfect for indoor growing and does well in the typical household environment. It has even been shown to make an active difference in removing hazards from indoor air.


Native to regions of China and Taiwan, the Broadleaf Lady Palm is a multi-stemmed palm plant that has become increasingly popular around the world. The plant has proven successful in removing airborne toxins within the home, including ammonia, formaldehyde, xylene, and carbon dioxide. Unlike other plants, who simply make oxygen, Rhapis excelsa will actually make the air in your home cleaner and safer to breathe.

It is widely known as one of the easiest house plants to grow in the world. Distinct in nature, this palm survives in households around the world, and has been grown as a house plant for over 500 years in Japan. Indoor plants are kept in check through pruning.

How it looks: The Lady Palm grows as multiple shoots from the soil, which are each topped with their own palm frond. Indoor growth rates for each frond are between 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) a year. If left un-pruned and wild, this plant will grow to more than 14 feet (4 meters) tall. As each frond ages, it will increase in size and gain additional leaves.

Each new shoot will be originally encased in a tubular green leaf. As the shoot hardens into its permanent woody exterior, the tubular leaf will peel away on its own. Young fronds will have only one or two leaves, while older ones can grow ten or more. Each frond contains multiple leaves, each with a ribbed edge. These remain slender, but will grow to 8-24 inches (20-60 cm) long each. The ends of leaves have a saw-toothed appearance.

Flowering: Rhapis excelsa requires both a male and female plant in order to produce viable seeds. As there are no distinguishing features between the two genders, the white flowers that each produce from the center of a mature frond are a waste of energy for the plant and may be pruned.

The flowers are spiraling in appearance, with petals spreading out from the base. If successfully fertilized, white, fleshy fruit will grow. This hardy plant will produce flowers without the need for human assistance.


Origin:China and Taiwan.
Names:Broadleaf lady or little lady palm (common). Rhapis excelsa (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx):Height 14 feet (4 meters). Must be pruned to keep the tree at a manageable size indoors.
Poisionous for pets:Non toxic for cats, dogs

Broadleaf Lady Palm Care

Temperature:It is almost impossible to upset the temperature of the Broadleaf Lady Palm. It will happily tolerate temperatures from 20-100°F (-6-37°C), and can survive short stays outside of this temperature zone.
Light:This palm enjoys indirect sunlight. Full sunlight will injure the leaves.
Watering:Rhapis excelsa demands soil that is constantly moist, but never soggy. Do not permit standing water to collect, as it will rot the root system.
Soil:Although tolerant of many soil types, this plant’s standing favorite is African Violet potting soil mix.
Fertilizer:This plant rarely requires fertilizer. You may use a balanced 10-10-10 mixture, but it is very easy to over-fertilize and injure the plant.
Re-Potting:This plant rarely requires fertilizer. You may use a balanced 10-10-10 mixture, but it is very easy to over-fertilize and injure the plant.
Humidity:The Broadleaf Lady Palm is tolerant of any humidity offering. Misting regularly is advised during warmer months.
Propagation:When propagating from seeds, this plant will require 7 years of care before it reaches house plant size. Propagation usually takes place from the rhizome root system. You may dig down and break off several stems from the existing root system at any time without fear of harming the plant.

Common Problems

  • Never prematurely peel off the tubular green leaf encasing young shoots. This will cause permanent damage to the woody shoot underneath.
  • As the tree ages, lower leaves will become discolored. These should be pruned for the plants health.
  • Brown leafs are caused by extreme heat or lack of watering. Fix the problem and trim the brown leaves from the plant.
  • Black leaf tips are associated with over watering or over fertilizing. Fix the problem and trim the black leaves from the plant.
  • Any time that new growth dies, that entire shoot has become ill. It must be removed at soil level immediately to prevent poisoning of the entire plant.

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