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What is a Lady Palm?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2016
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Those looking for either houseplants or garden plants may be interested in the lady palm, which is an elegant plant that is also known as Rhapis excelsa. It is native to China, and is known for being somewhat low maintenance, since it can thrive in either direct sunlight or partial shade. Its leaves are evergreen and glossy, with flowers that are light green or yellow, typically blooming in the spring. Most people have some degree of success growing this plant either indoors or outdoors since it is rather resilient.

This plant is often grown indoors, as it is smaller than most other palms and can offer any room an exotic appearance. When grown outdoors in the garden, it can be used as a privacy plant since placing many together can create a dense wall of foliage. The lady palm features dark green leaves when grown in partial shade outdoors, or when grown indoors. On the other hand, when it is placed in direct sunlight, the leaf color tends to fade to light green unless the plant is watered more often than usual. Leaves that no longer look green or glossy are considered old, and they should be cut off the plant.

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One can expect the lady palm to grow to a height of ten feet (about 3 m), which is considerably smaller than most other palms. Additionally, this type of plant is rather slow growing, especially when cultivated for the indoors. Keeping it in the same pot for years can restrict its growth, while buying a new pot annually that is at least twice as large as the root system can allow it to grow despite its location indoors. Whether it is grown indoors or outside, the lady palm should be watered regularly and kept in soil that includes loam, compost, and sand when possible.

Like most palms, the leaves of this shrub are shaped like a fan, with four to ten sections on each one. The fragrant flowers, which bloom in the spring, are typically yellow or light green, with a bit of pink on the stem. The lady palm also produces creamy white fruit that is rather fleshy. Palm aphids and caterpillars are often attracted to this plant, but this is not usually a major threat to the lady palm, especially when grown indoors. In fact, this plant is considered hardy and low maintenance in general, as it can moderately withstand drought, and does well in both sunlight and shade.

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