Rhapis humilis, or Slender Lady Palm, is native to China. Rhapis palms have been cultivated for centuries and are very easy to grow. They form bamboo-like clumps and trunks are covered with a net of dark, fibrous leaf sheaths. The fan-like leaves are dark green. Even though Rhapis palms will reach 18 feet (nearly 6 meters) in nature, their size is easily controlled by pot size. Ours in the greenhouse is in a 10-gallon (44 liter) pot and is only 12 feet (nearly 4 meters) tall by 4 foot (1.2 meters) wide. They are very slow growers, which make them well suited for the home.
Blooming Time: In late winter, inconspicuous, very small white flowers appear.
Culture: Rhapis humilis need partial shade to bright-diffused light and intermediate temperatures. We grow ours under 52% shade all year long. If grown in too much sun, the leaves tend to turn yellow and are sometimes off green. We use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The plants are allowed to dry slightly in between waterings. Plants are fertilized only once during the growing season using a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, the temperature are dropped to 50° F (10° C) and are grown on the dry side. Since they are slow growing, container plants should be divided every 3-5 years or they will break ceramic or clay pots with their spreading root system.
Propagation: Rhapis humilis are propagated by division in spring.
Rhapis humilis was featured as Plant of the Week August 9-15, 2002.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.