How to Grow and Care for Rhapis Palm (Lady Palm)

Updated on February 6, 2020
thoughthole profile image

I have experience in plant maintenance and love giving tips to others on how to take care of their garden.

This guide will show you how to grow and care for the beautiful rhapis palm.
This guide will show you how to grow and care for the beautiful rhapis palm. | Source

Rhapis palm is one of the most popular interior palm trees available. This plant has fan-shaped fronds with protruding separated ends that look like fingers on a large hand. This characteristic has earned it the common name of Ladyfinger palm.

The stems are brown with a sheath of brown fibers that resemble cocoa fiber, protruding from the soil at multiple points from the horizontally growing rhizome roots.

This palm makes a great addition to a large space that needs some greenery, since it has dense, wide-spanning foliage.

This elegant creature requires consistent care and monitoring and is definitely not a houseplant for anyone who intends to leave it unattended for long periods of time.

Where to Place Your Rhapis

Rhapis is a palm that is a bit more tolerant of lower light conditions, unlike triangle, fan, and sego palms. This tolerance makes them more adaptable to indoor conditions, but attention still must be paid to placement.

Ideally, a moderately natural lit space, with comfortable indoor temperatures, are best for long-term health and vitality. This type of environment will help a rhapis to maintain a consistent moisture level while receiving all of the light energy needed to maintain existing and grow new foliage.

Rhapis can be adapted to low-light conditions, but they have a tendency to decline in health overtime. In lower lighting, they will often begin to display a significant amount of brown-tipped leaves commonly associated with overwatering. This phenomenon is a result of not enough light being available to allow the palm to be productive at a healthy level. When the productivity level is taken to an incredibly slow point for a generally active plant, even small amounts of moisture can cause big problems. Thus, low light is not recommended for long-term health of a rhapis.

A high-light environment can work, remembering that a highly productive palm in high light will become even more productive, using more water and increasing growth. This will require you to water more frequently, or leave more excess water in a liner.

Here is a look at the roots and stems of the rhapis palm.
Here is a look at the roots and stems of the rhapis palm.

Watering Your Rhapis

The trickiest part of being a caretaker for an indoor rhapis is definitely watering. Rhapis are most commonly potted in lava rock as their soil medium. When watering into lava rock, little of the moisture is bound in the rock itself, and much of it runs right through the pot into the drip liner.

To compound things, rhapis require a great deal of water, wilting severely once they become the least bit dry. This combination of characteristics makes the incidents of water flowing out of pots onto the floor very high for this particular plant in interior settings.

The best watering practice for a rhapis that has been placed in a temperate and moderately light-exposed space is to water it thoroughly, carefully watching for water to begin to seep out into the drip liner. This can help to ensure that the water does not overfill the liner and flow out onto the surrounding floor. It is usually best to leave excess water in the drip liner and wait until it has been used before watering again. Believe it or not, the water will usually get used in a week's time.

In high-light situations, it may be necessary to use and oversized drip liner to accommodate additional water to get the plant through a week's time. The other option is to water more frequently, possibly bi-weekly.

Low light will require less water on a consistent basis, however. In spite of water reduction, the palm may still exhibit signs of distress in low light.

Rhapis palm is one of the most common houseplants associated with overwatering.
Rhapis palm is one of the most common houseplants associated with overwatering. | Source

General Rhapis Palm Maintenance

Rhapis have a few general maintenance requirements needed to keep them in great condition.

  • Brown leaf tipping: This is natural in small amounts on rhapis. But if the tips become excessive and increasingly unsightly, they must be removed. Tipping rhapis leaves is simple: just rip the the browned area away with your fingers. This will leave a natural-looking jagged edge on the leaf, as opposed to cutting. Also, evaluate your watering technique if tipping becomes too extreme. On a rhapis, tips and very upright leaves are good indicators that the plant is staying overly moist.
  • Mealybugs: These are the most common houseplant pest found on rhapis. Mealybugs can be difficult to treat on this plant, since they generally nestle themselves down under the fibrous stem material. The best treatment for a mealybug infestation is a full and thorough spray down, followed by an application of a systemic pesticide. The usual methods of hand wiping are not very effective on rhapis, due to the difficulty of cleaning mealies out from beneath the fibrous stem sheaths.
  • Water damage: This plant is the most common houseplant associated with overwatering accidents. Every precaution should be taken to make sure that the drip liner, or pots, are secure, free of cracks and holes, and just plain and simply watertight. Nothing is worse than finding rotted carpet or warped hardwood floor under your favorite houseplant. Good preparation during placement and close attention to water application can keep you clear of unpleasant water issues.
  • Dusting: Be sure to dust the wide fronds to keep your palm looking vibrant and healthy all around.
  • Removing dead leaves: Do this by cutting leaves off where they connect to the central brown fibrous stem. Excessive amounts of completely dead brown leaves on a rhapis may be an indicator of under-watering, as is consistent and obvious wilting. Your watering regiment should be evaluated and increased in such a case.
  • Removing blooms: If they appear, blooms on most interior foliage plants only serve to make a mess and rob the plant of vital energy that could be used for more productive purposes.

Check your rhapis frequently and be sure to be prompt and consistent with watering. Following these tips will provide a happy, healthy palm for years to come.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Comments Welcome!!!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)