Rhapis excelsa

Rhapis excelsa

Rhapis excelsa or Lady Palm is native to southern China.

It no longer occurs in the wild but is cultivated all over the world for its elegance and the fact that it thrives in partial shade.

It can be grown in pot as well as in full ground in the garden.

Description:

Rhapis excelsa measures about 3-4 m high but is a slow grower. It forms a tight group of plant from suckers sprouting from the rhizome.

The leaf sheaths remain on the trunk for a long time and give it a fibrous appearance. When they drop, they leave a scar in the form of a dark ring which gives the plant a look similar to bamboo.

Young leaves are not much incised, older leaves have 12 segments which are incised down to the petiole. The end of the segments shows sawtooth cuts.

The plant is dioecious. It produces a small inflorescence at the top with small fleshy flowers. Ripe fruit is white and fleshy and produces seeds but Rhapis excelsa is generally multiplied by division.

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Bamboo Palm, Broad-Leaved Slender Lady Palm, Fern Rhapis, Ground Rattan, Lady Palm, Miniature Fan Palm, Slender Lady Palm

Synonyms:

Chamaerops excelsa, Rhapis aspera, Rhapis cordata, Rhapis divaricata, Rhapis flabelliformis, Rhapis kwamwonzick, Rhapis major, Trachycarpus excelsus

Etymology:

Rhapis: Latin for needle
Excelsa: from the Latin excelsus (tall)

Origin:

Southern China

Hardiness:

USDA zone 9-10, damaged at -3 °C, dies at -5 °C



Care:

Soil:

Well drained, any type of substrate

Exposure:

Prefers shade or partial shade, ideally diffused light

Water:

Keep substrate moist

Fertilizer:

Fertilize once a year in spring with slow release fertilizer

Repotting:

Repot every 3-5 years to prevent developing root system from breaking the pot

Temperature:

Overwinter frost-free, preferably at least 10 °C

Propagation:

Seed, suckers in spring, when repotting

Sowing instructions:

  • scarify the seeds
  • soak the seeds for 1 day
  • sow in moist sand
  • 25-35 °C
  • germination: 2-4 months

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