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We’re pretty sure that if Guy Harvey has a plant in his art studio, it’s a Fishtail Palm – and it’s probably a “keeper”. This unique palm, named for its oddly shaped serrated leaflets that resemble the tails and dorsal fins of saltwater gamefish, is actually the Caryota mitis and a member of the Arecaceae family of palms. While it’s native to southeast Asia and India, it’s widely used as a screening plant in outdoor landscapes in the South. Our Fishtail, however, are shade grown for display indoors but it still needs bright light to thrive so make sure you’ve got a good spot for it next to a window with good light flowing through it. So, if you’re looking for an interesting plant for a bright spot, toss your line in the water and hook one of these beauties.
|Size||3-4', 4-5', 5-6+'|
|Difficulty||Advanced Care Level|
|Light||Bright Indirect Light|
|Pet Friendly||This plant may be toxic to pets|
Have a fishing enthusiast in your home or office? Well, this could be a perfect fit – it’s our Fishtail Palm, and it’s sure to hook some interest. Here are some helpful hints for your Fishtail Palm to deliver good luck for years to come:
With pun intended, this one drinks like a fish! It should be watered thoroughly, around the entire soil surface, and watered again when the soil gets dry. We’ll add further that, if left to dry-down too much, the lead (apical) buds on the stems can be lost pretty quickly; so, do NOT let it dry down completely – this could kill any luck for your very valuable palm. Make sure you check it weekly during the first 8 weeks after you get it. See our watering guide for more information.
Compared with other palms in our collection – Bamboo Palm, Lady Palm, and the like – it requires the most light. So make sure it’s adjacent to a east-, west-, or south-facing window where sunlight will penetrate for several hours each day.
Like other plants right out of nursery production, you won’t need to feed this palm for at least 6 months after you get it. That’s because there is residual nutrients in the soil from when the palm was being propagated. After 6 months, it can be fed regularly with a complete fertilizer like our Foliage Pro liquid plant food. Please refer to our plant nutrition guide for details.
A occasional wipe down with a damp cloth will keep your Fishtail looking good. However, a big palm with multiple stems and plentiful leaves can be a challenge to clean. While we still prefer a cleaning regimen with water and a light soap solution, it would be okay to break out the feather duster on this plant. Make sure your feather duster is clean though – it’s a primary way to get bugs from one plant to another. For a deep cleaning, let the soil dry down and pop it in the shower – spray it down with a light soap solution and rinse it off. Your Fishtail will love you for it.
The older leaves on the Fishtail Palm may turn yellow and brown. No sweat…just prune off the leaf (frond) as close to the stem as possible. Remember, like many palms, the Fishtail is bipinnate and its leaves connect with the stem – they’re called fronds – and have leaflets (the parts that look like a fish tail). Usually pruning requires that you remove the entire leaf, and not individual leaflets.
Fishtail Palms can get scale and Mealy Bugs – they’re easy to control if you spot them. Just use a mild soapy solution and add some rubbing alcohol to the mix and wipe it down. Be on the lookout, too, for spider mites; which are a little more difficult to spot. They are nearly microscopic spiders that suck sap from the underside of the leaves. Look for discoloration on the top of the leaves and webbing under the leaves. Once spotted, start wiping with the soap and rubbing alcohol solution weekly until they’re gone. As noted in the “cleaning” section above, a nice shower and thorough rinsing can help alleviate spider mites too.
Give it a lot of light, keep the soil moist, watch out for spider mites, and your Fishtail Palm will catch lots of attention.