Care of the Fishtail Palm
Fishtail Palm Care
Someone who grows houseplants knows that some of them may require very specific conditions to grow well. The Fishtail Palm (Caryota Urens) is one of those plants. The reason for its appeal are its leaves that look like the tails of fish. The thick clumps and the quantity of leaves it produces are what make this a very beautiful plant and it can act as a focus point in any indoor space.
The Fishtail Palm has its origins in many places. It’s found to grow in South East Asia as well as in Australia. It is naturally grown in rainforests, and thrives in bright sunlight and moist air.
No matter what variety of Fishtail Palm you look at, chances are the plants will be tall. On average at maximum height, a Fishtail Palm will grow from 20-25 feet tall.
The Caryota Maxima is a type of the Fishtail Palm that grows up to a whopping 100 ft. of height, while the Caryota Cumingii will grow to somewhere around 36 feet high. The most commonly found varieties, however, grow up to 20 feet high, which means that not all interior spaces are suitable for keeping this plant. They are not all giants though, Fishtails can commonly be found 3-4Ft tall in 10 inch pots and 6-7ft tall in 14 inch pots that are suitable for the household or office.
Growing the Fishtail Palm
These plants, while beautiful to look at, are not very easy to grow indoors. That is not because they need a lot of care, but because of the conditions they require. Most indoor spaces don’t have bright sunlight pouring inside, nor is the air quality inside them humid. This is the kind of plant that requires just the right space or a professional to maintain it.
Here is the breakdown of all the growing conditions a Fishtail Palm requires:
A Fishtail Palm normally requires bright sunlight, be it direct or indirect, to grow well. However, you can find certain species that can grow in moderate light as well. These indoor species need to be taken out once in a while as well to be exposed to fresh air and direct sunlight though.
Try to keep this plant in a brightly lit spot. Sun rooms work well, as do foyers of large buildings. The strongest and longest lasting Fishtails are those which are given a healthy dose of sunlight every day.
This is not a plant for cool areas, as it can’t survive temperatures lower than 7 degrees Celsius. The optimum temperature during the day for the Fishtail Palm is around 21-27 degrees Celsius, and during the night it can go down to 15 degrees.
During the winters, the plant takes a little break before going into full throttle again in the growing season, and does well in 10-15 degrees Celsius. In the North Eastern United States or anywhere else cold – these palms need to be brought inside long before the winter begins.
One of the most important things to remember while growing this plant is to not let its soil get dry. If that happens, the plant will start to shed leaves. A healthy supply of water is important for its growth, especially in warmer climates.
The Fishtail Palm also likes humid environments, being a plant of the rainforests. Most indoor spaces do not have those levels of humidity. The best way is to create a simulation of humidity for the plant by sprinkling its leaves with water or by using a humidifier. A lack in humidity will cause the yellowing of leaves and will hinder the plant’s growth.
Any standard potting soil works with the Fishtail Palm, granted you add a good amount of drainage material to it. Adding pine bark or perlite to the potting medium will ensure that the palm lives for a longer period of time.
Your palm will need to be fed with an all-purpose and weak liquid fertilizer once every month. Applying a strong fertilizer directly to the plant can cause root burn, which will kill the plant. It is advisable to feed the plant right after you have watered it to dilute the fertilizer.
Do not overfeed the plant if you don’t want the leaves to be withered, or for the plant to die early. If you see leaves been withered, stop fertilizing and remove all affected leaves. Wait two months before continuing with light fertilization. A good time release fertilizer is also an option. That way forgetful people can rest their minds for three months at a time.
Pruning a Fishtail Palm has more to do with keeping its height in check rather than ensuring its health as it does not require a lot of it. If you need to prune it to control its height, do so very lightly by cutting off the vertical stalks from the top.
Potential Diseases and Solutions
The most common pests that affect the Fishtail Palm are spider mites. If you spot any webs on your plant, and find some spider mites lurking around, you should hose them off right away with pressured water. Alternatively, you can use an insecticidal spray.
One common disease among the plant is Pseudomonas. This causes wet, brown lesions running parallel to the veins of the leaves. The only way to get rid of this disease is to cut off the affected parts.
Fishtails are often affected by a deficiency in minerals like magnesium and iron. Try adding pinches of the minerals along with fertilizer if you start noticing discolored leaves.
How to Propagate Fishtail Plants
The plant has flowers that contain both male and female parts, which leads to seeds that can be used to propagate. Keep the seeds warm and moist for about 6 to 8 months in a pot, and they will sprout.
Another way to propagate Fishtail Plants is to use the suckers that are found at the mother plant’s base. You can remove them along with a little bit of the root attached and pot them until they grow into healthy plants over a period of several months.
Fishtail Palms are a great way to bring a dead space to life. Some people might be turned off by their height, but if you have enough space to grow one, you definitely should. Just be careful to give it enough light and moisture, and you’ll have a tall and healthy plant that attracts the eye and makes your spaces look alive.