Botanical Name: Caryota mitis
Origin: The Fishtail Palm originates from Malaysia and Burma.
Height: Kept as an indoor house plant, Caryota mitis will grow to a height of approximately 1.8 m (6 ft).
Soil: Any quality potting mix is suitable, although adding some horticultural sand (1 part of sand to 3 parts of potting mix) will assist speedy drainage.
Light: Caryota mitis needs plenty of bright light.
Humidity: This house plant prefers levels of humidity to be average to moderate. Should levels drop to under 50 per cent, it may be necessary to use a room humidifier or stand the plant on a wet pebble tray.
Temperatures: Fishtail Palm Trees can be kept in temperatures between 18 and 29 degrees C (65 to 85 degrees F).
Water: The Fishtail Palm should be watered thoroughly after allowing the soil to dry slightly. As chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals contained within tap water may damage this plant, it is best to use distilled or filtered water. When the plant's growth slows naturally during the winter, watering should be reduced.
Fertiliser: Caryota mitis should be fed once with a slow-release fertiliser at the beginning of summer. Indoor palm food spikes are perfect, as they supply all the necessary nutrients to keep this plant green and lush.
Propagation: Fishtail Palms can be propagated from seeds or offsets. Seeds should be sown in spring/ early summer. The soil should then be kept moist and warm until seedlings appear.
Description and Care Tips
Caryota mitis owes its common name of Fishtail Palm to its unique triangular leaflets. Featuring a ribbed texture and ragged edges, these dark-green leaflets grow on the plant's upright stems and will gradually and naturally develop split ends similar to the tail of a fish.
This plant grows in a clump, from the base of which several upright stems bearing the leaflets will rise. Requiring comparatively little care, Fishtail Palms are among the easiest palms to grow indoors.
When watering, it pays to remember that this palm will tolerate slightly dry soil better than over-watering. Drainage holes in the pot, adding sand to the potting mix and allowing the soil to dry a little between watering session will prevent the soil becoming too soggy.
Should the plant be allowed to get too dry, leaf tips may start to turn brown, although dropping humidity levels are even more likely to be the cause of this. To prevent or remedy this problem, humidity needs to be raised to adequate levels. While a wet pebble tray may work, room humidifiers usually prove to be the best solution.
Palms should not be pruned, as they grow from branch tips. Pruning or pinching off new fronds from where they are attached to the stems will effectively stop any new growth. Naturally, an older branch that has died off can be removed through pruning.
Caryota mitis prefers to be slightly root-bound, and should only be repotted when the roots start growing out through the pot's drainage holes.