Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Lady Palm
Rhapis excelsa

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Rhapis (RAY-pis) (Info)
Species: excelsa (ek-SEL-suh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

11 members have or want this plant for trade.


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Chamma
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By palmbob
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By palmbob
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There are a total of 24 photos.
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11 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive johnny26 On Oct 22, 2013, johnny26 from Fall River, MA wrote:

this plant is not at all related to the needle palm. It may have the same characteristics as needle palm (Slow grower fiberous trunk, thick fan shaped leaves, clumping palm.) Needle palm is alot more hardier than lady palm tolerating below 0F as lady palm is only hardy to mid twentys. but one thing they are in common with each other they can tolerate slight droughts surley not liking it and they are both beautiful to look at.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Aug 15, 2012, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

They do fine in the bay area of SF. Mine thrived for years on my porch. From an expensive 8" potted plant to a 4' palm that took all the heat,some drought(as it got larger even a larger pot would dry out on occasion) that caused it to droop...just add water and it was good as new. This spring it went in ground where it got for the first time filtered mid day sun and light shade the rest of the day. That I can see now new fronds and that "rooting in" look of health is pretty good for this known to grow slow palm. And as far as that goes? in our cool summers and long spring climate,its really not a slow grower. Not in a area of the hobby that besides palms includes Cycads and tree ferns. So,don't let that old saying stop you from planting one. And lastly,they not only give a tropical look,they can't be beat for the Asian garden look also.

Positive Palm1978 On Aug 6, 2012, Palm1978 from Bonita Springs, FL wrote:

This palm is common in Southwest Florida, both inside commercial spaces and outside as an understory or by a shaded corner of a building. The summer sun cooks these palms so plant accordingly. Requires limited attention and are widely available at retail.

Neutral Shoufer On Apr 3, 2012, Shoufer from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

I have been growing this plant for more than 15 years with only moderate success. When I first got it, it did very well. Then I noticed that when a new leaf started to grow, it died even before it was finished sprouting out the top of the plant. I have it growing in pots and also planted in the ground and the same thing happens to all of them. There are no bugs visible and they receive water weekly. I live in Los Angeles so weather is not a problem. Has anybody had this happen to their rhapis excelsa? If so can anything be done about it?

Positive jskyieeyes3 On Sep 12, 2010, jskyieeyes3 from Saint Cloud, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

i had been wanting a lady palm for quite some time, but around here they tend to be really pricey. local nurseries sell them for around $50 (for a small one), and forget about it if you want a multiple or a larger lady! i was delighted though when one day a few months ago, the mower shop up the street (which also sells plants) got in a shipment of lady palms! i bought one that is 4ft tall, in excellent condition (no bugs, broken fronds, etc..) for $7!! it's in my backyard in full sun, and i've already had to repot it once because it was rooting through the pot and into the ground. it already has a new "baby lady" shooting up, and has put out 5 new fronds in the few months i have had it! that doesn't sound like slow growth to me.. ;) it's very easy to care for, and beautiful to look at! =)

Positive Dean_W On Sep 26, 2007, Dean_W from Central Texas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I'm growing from seed. It's slow growing.

Neutral harold4308 On Sep 12, 2007, harold4308 from West Palm Beach, FL wrote:

I first thought this was a variety of bamboo because of the rhizomes. We have a brick patio and the rhizomes are actively pushing the bricks up. I'd like to know how deep to put a barrier to stop the rhizomes. Our plants are about 8 feet tall and are a beautiful sight barrier.

Positive palmhijau On Nov 15, 2006, palmhijau from Surabaya
Indonesia wrote:

I am writing from Indonesia East Java.
We grow Rhapis excelsa in our nursery and we do export whole 40 feet containers to Europe.
Anybody interested in purchase of these plants:
specifications: plants average 1.20 to 1.40 meters high
average 10 stems per pot
pot size 3 gallon (25 cm)

Positive catguy On Mar 15, 2005, catguy from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have several clumps thriving in my bright but shaded garden on the north side of my home in Phoenix. They do get some direct sun for part of the day but not the intense afternoon sun. I personally don't think they are that slow to grow. Mine have tripled in size in 5 years. They give a very tropical look to any garden.

Positive thrinax01 On Feb 10, 2005, thrinax01 from Salt Spring Island
Canada wrote:

I once had a Rhapis e. survive in my garden for 5 years. I had it planted under a sundeck up close to my house. It eventually perished one Summer from lack of water. I went away on vacation for two weeks and forgot to ask my neighbor to water it. Since then I have planted another 1 gallon size specimen 3 years ago and it has flourished. I have it growing in a very sheltered L-cove close to my house. There is also a large Dicksonia antarctica that provides it with further protection from it's fronds. The peaty soil mix I have it planted in is constantly moist and the little palm just loves it. It is also growing in very dappled light, but more shade in the Winter months. Last January of 2004 the coldest temp. I recorded out in the garden was -6.1 Celsius or 21.2 F. However where the palm grows it was approx. 1 or 2 degrees milder because of the mcroclimate. This past January 2005 the lowest temp. out in the garden was -4.5 C. or 23.9 F. The leaves are perfect and the cold temps. haven't bothered it so far. They may be related to Rhapidophyllum hystrix, but they are no where near as hardy as a Needle palm. Needle palms are the Kings of the frost beaters surviving temps. well below 0 F. Rhapis excelsa is a zone 9a species even though I am living in a milder zone 8b here on the island. I suspect where I have it planted may be closer to a zone 9a. They are definately worth the risk in any zone 8b sheltered garden. As for them growing out in the open without any sort of protection in the Winter, the palm wouldn't cut it in zone 8b. It would be a perfect candidate for gardeners on the extreme south west Oregon coast. I hope this is usefull info. Cheers, Banana Joe

Positive Kylecawaza On Nov 20, 2004, Kylecawaza from Corte Madera, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This tree is very hardy. It is related to the Rhapiodyllum hystrix... and is comparably hardy.

There are few, but some of these palms dotted around Seattle and Vancouver BC and the Puget Sound in good microclimates.

Neutral amorning1 On Sep 28, 2003, amorning1 from Islamorada, FL wrote:

Man...this palm is (((((((SLOW)))))))). I've had mine for over 2 months and the frond has yet to open up and reveal new leaves! Great plant for someone with alzheimers.

Just plant it and forget about it for a couple years.

Positive palmbob On Jul 27, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

It does grow well in the shade, and in sun, too, as long as it's not too blazing hot. There are large stretches of this palm in the arboretums in Pasadena in full sun. They do tend to yellow a bit there, but grow great.

This species of Rhapis does have male and female plants available, so seed collection is not impossible. However, dividing plants is so much easier. There are a tremendous number of varieties of this species, as well as 4-5 other species of Rhapis available. Some are extremely rare and worth a LOT of money. They are slow growing, and the variegated varieties tend to be even slower growing, so fetch a good price.

Not many palms excell as indoor palms as Rhapis species. These palms seem to get greener and greener the more darkness they live in (to a point, I'm sure).

In the Southern California climate this is one of the simplest palms to grow as they require normal water, minimal fertilizer and no pruning. Just plant, water and be happy. They tend to stay pretty small, but if you live long enough, you might see your plant grow to over 10'. Also they spread by underground rhizomes very slowly, but can eventually take up your entire garden if not cut back.

Surprisingly these plants (and all the Rhapis sp.) do very well in full shade in the super hot inland deserts where many other palm species succumb to the heat... as long as given sufficient water.

And despite what you might read above, these palms are not anywhere near as hardy as a Rhapidophyllum. Rhapidophyllums (needle palms) are easily the most cold hardy of all the palms and can tolerate temps way below freezing (can live outdoors in Washington DC) while this palm cannot come close to surviving such a climate. So keep yours in a pot if you live where it snows and take it indoors in the cold months!

Positive Chamma On Dec 16, 2002, Chamma from Tennille, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

The lady palms tend to be expensive because the genus produces male and female flowers on seperate plants, which presents a real problem as there are no known female plants of Rhapis Humilis (the smaller variety) In zone 11, Rhapis survives only in shade with lots of water.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

The Lady Palms are slow growing and need little fertilizer. Check for scales and mites. Water only when the top of the pot is dry to avoid root rot.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona (3 reports)
Tucson, Arizona
Hayward, California
Irvine, California
Martinez, California
Merced, California
Rancho Cucamonga, California
Santa Barbara, California
Tarzana, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Bonita Springs, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Dade City, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fruitland Park, Florida
Green Cove Springs, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Islamorada, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Jupiter, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lake Mary, Florida
Longwood, Florida (2 reports)
Loxahatchee, Florida
Mount Dora, Florida
Niceville, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida (2 reports)
Saint Cloud, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sanford, Florida
Tampa, Florida (2 reports)
Trenton, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Zephyrhills, Florida
Brunswick, Georgia
New Orleans, Louisiana
Portland, Oregon
Canyon Lake, Texas
Cedar Park, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Portland, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
St John, Virgin Islands
Shoreline, Washington

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