Bob Benaim's Nursery

Home Bromeliads
Palms Ferns
Plants Orchids
Trees Hanging Baskets
Planning your Landscaping Hummingbird Garden

Lady Palm

The Lady Palm Tree, scientific name Rhapis excelsa, is very popular indoor and outdoor palm because of its 
easy maintenance and cold hardiness which makes it a great choice for landscape in USDA zones 8-11. 
It will happily live under low light conditions or bright filtered light. The Lady Palm is also known 
R. flabelliformis and Aristocratic Lady Palm. It is native to the Southeast area of China. 

Growth Rate: Slow
Height: up to 5 10ft
Light Requirement: full sun to partial shade
Water Requirement: moderate
Cold Tolerance: down to 15 20F

 
Description

Rhapis excelsa grows to a maximum height of about 10 ft and a spread of less than 3 ft. It self-propagates 
via underground rhizome offshoots, forming multi-stemmed clumps that can reach enormous width, spreading 
as wide as its height or more. Stem are covered with dark woven palm fibers, which is actually the outer base 
of the leaf sheaths. Each stem, or cane, is about 1 inch wide, and has leaf scar pattern resembling bamboo canes.
The Lady Palm has palmate, or fan-shaped, leaves that grow on unarmed petioles up to 1-2ft long. Leaves are 
deeply divided into 4-10 segments, never overlap but are slightly offset. The fronds are dark green 
when grown in shade to a light green when grown with more sunlight. As the lower leaves grow old, they turn 
from glossy and green to dull and discolored. You should trim them off for an attractive appearance. It has less 
than 8 to 10 leaflets per leaf with saw-toothed ends.
During spring months the Lady Palm produces light green to yellow flowers that are held by spectacular pinkish 
inflorescence at the top of the stem. The Lady Palm is dioecious, male and female flowers grow on different plants. 
Flowers are fragrant, spirally-arranged, and fleshy. The female flowers have a 3 part pistil. The male flowers are 
born on 2ft branched inflorescence, growing from among the leaves and extending much longer than the leaves 
toward the top of the plant. Flowers are followed by round, fleshy, creamy fruits.


Growing Lady Palm

Lady Palms adapt to a wide range of climates, soils, and environments. Easy care is one reason for their 
widespread popularity for use indoors. The growth rates of this palm vary with culture and environment. If 
you want to grow Lady Palm indoors keep in mind that the growth rate decreases considerably. Generally 
speaking growers would classify Lady Palm as being slow growers. A typical 6 8″ potted plant has been 
growing in the nursery for minimum of 2 years. Not fussy for soil, moderately drought tolerant, Lady Palm 
is very easy and totally appropriate in shady spots or indoors.