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Growing The Broadleaf Palm Indoors 

The broadleaf palm (Rhapis excelsa) is also known as the broadleaf lady palm and the lady palm. Broadleaf palms are native to China and Taiwan but are extinct in the wild. These palms are easy to grow and can give years of pleasure. 

Rhapis excelsa
Treeworld Wholesale


The leaves of the broadleaf palm are dark green and form a fan shape on the stem. The older stems are brown and fibrous. This palm has small yellow flowers in the spring. The fruit of the palm is white and fleshy. Broadleaf palms grow up to 15 feet high and 15 feet wide outdoors but stay much smaller indoors

How to Care for the Broadleaf Palm 

Broadleaf palms are low-maintenance palms that are not too picky about their light requirements. This guide will tell you how to keep your broadleaf palm looking great. 


Any pot must have drainage holes and a saucer. Large palm trees need a heavy pot to avoid turning over. Because these trees get heavy, it is wise to put the pot and saucer on wheels so you can turn the pot and inspect the palm when needed. 


Broadleaf palms should be placed where they get indirect light, such as near an east-facing window. They prefer partial shade and do well in low light conditions. However, direct sunlight will burn the leaves. 


The Spruce

Use a potting mix made for palm trees. You can substitute African violet potting mix if palm potting mix is not available. Both types of potting mix drain well. 


During the spring and summer, water this palm when the top inch of soil is dry. The broadleaf palm needs less water in the fall and winter, so let the top two inches of soil get dry before watering it. Water the palm until water comes out of the drainage holes. Wait 15 minutes and empty the water out of the saucer. If the tree is too big to empty the saucer, put pebbles in it and set the pot on top of the pebbles so the soil isn’t soggy at the bottom of the pot. 


Unlike many palms, the broadleaf palm is happy with the lower humidity often found in homes. If the humidity falls below 50 percent, use a pebble tray to keep the leaf tips from drying out and browning. Put pebbles in a large saucer. Fill the saucer until just the tops of the pebbles are dry. Place the saucer under the palm pot on top of the pebbles. As the water evaporates, it will make the air around the tree more humid. Don’t forget to refill the water in the pebble tray when it gets low.  


Broadleaf palms do well in temperatures of 60-80 degrees. Place the tree out of drafts and away from radiators or heater vents. If the palm gets below 35 degrees, it will get cold injuries and may die. 


During the spring and summer, feed your palm tree monthly with a water-soluble fertilizer mixed to half strength. Do not fertilize in the fall and winter. 

Weekly Maintenance 

Weekly Maintenance 
Plant World London

Wipe the fronds with a clean, soft cloth once a week. Inspect the tree carefully for pests and diseases. Turn the tree a quarter turn to keep the trunk from bending towards the light. 


Broadleaf palms do not need much pruning. However, you can cut the top few inches of the tree off to control the height of the palm. Do this in the early spring. Dead, diseased, and broken stems should be removed when they occur. 


Repot your broadleaf palm every other year in the early spring. While the palm is still growing, the new pot should be two inches larger in diameter than the old pot. Use fresh potting soil each time you repot the palm. 

When the palm tree is as large as you want, replace the potting soil every two years with fresh potting soil but do not increase in pot size. If the palm tree is too large to repot, replace the top two inches of potting soil with fresh potting soil every two years. 

Propagating the Broadleaf Palm 

The easiest way to propagate the broadleaf palm is by division. When repotting the palm tree, cut the shoots at the base away from the mother tree. Be sure to include some roots with each shoot. Pot in potting soil and water well, then keep the soil moist but not soggy until the palm is established. 

You can grow broadleaf palms from seed if you keep the seeds warm enough. Use a soilless seed starting mix and place a germination mat set at 80 degrees under the tray or pot. Sprinkle the seeds on the starting mix and water them in well. Keep the soil moist but not wet. After about three weeks, your seeds will start to germinate. You can move them to regular pots when they are several inches tall. 

Diseases of the Broadleaf Palm 

Diseases are rare when growing the broadleaf palm indoors.  

Diseases of the Broadleaf Palm
Noah Garden Centre

Root Rot 

The most common disease is root rot. This disease is almost always caused by overwatering. Let the top inch of the soil dry out before watering. 

Leaf Spot 

Broadleaf palms occasionally get yellow or yellow streaks on the leaves. Remove the affected fronds promptly. When new fronds grow, they are usually disease free. 

Pests of the Broadleaf Palm 

Broadleaf palms get several common indoor pests. They all suck the sap out of cells on the palm’s leaves. As a result, they leave behind empty cells which appear silver. If there are a lot of such pests, they can stunt growth and make the plant look bad. With the exception of spider mites, all of the pests excrete honeydew, which is a sweet, sticky liquid. Sooty mold likes to grow on honeydew, covering the leaf and preventing photosynthesis. 

Spider Mites 

Spider mites are hard to see without a magnifying glass. They are usually red and have eight legs. The first sign your palm has spider mites is often the webbing they spin on the underside of leaves. Spider mites like hot, dry climates. Putting a pebble tray around your palm and watering it a bit more can often eliminate the spider mites without resorting to chemical controls. 


Mealybugs are small white bugs with a cottony look. They have a white wax on them, have white filaments sticking out, and generally look unusual. 


Scale insects are also small with a hard or soft shell over them. The shell has wax on it which prevents most pesticides from penetrating. 


Aphids are small green insects. They are soft-bodied, pear-shaped, and have six long legs. Some species have wings, but most do not. 


All of these pests can be eliminated by insecticidal soap or neem oil. You need to choose a product formulated for indoor plants. To use, you must wet everything above ground, including the backs of the leaves. Treat the palm each week for at least three weeks to eliminate all the pests as they hatch from previously laid eggs. Be sure and follow the directions on the label. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is the broadleaf palm toxic? 

It is not considered toxic. 

Where can I buy the broadleaf palm? 

Small broadleaf palms are relatively common at big box stores, nurseries, and online. However, if you want a large tree, you will probably have to buy it from a nursery. 

Can I grow the broadleaf palm from seed? 

Yes, if you use a germination mat. 

How fast does the broadleaf palm grow? 

The broadleaf palm grows at a moderate pace and is mature at five years old. 

Why won’t my broadleaf palm bloom? 

Typically, broadleaf palms fail to bloom because the conditions are not just right. Check the light, water level, temperature, and humidity. The palm won’t bloom until it is at least five years old.