Fishtail Palm Tree is a tropical and easy-to-care-for plant. Its diverse appearance and feel make it a top pick among plant enthusiasts.
In this detailed guide, we’ll talk about everything you need to know to care for your Fishtail Palm Tree confidently. Continue reading to find out more about Caryota’s attractive attributes!
Table of Contents
- 2 What Is Fishtail Palm Tree?
- 3 Where To Buy
- 4 Fishtail Palm Tree Plant Size
- 5 Fishtail Palm Tree Care Needs
- 5.1 Fishtail Palm Tree Care Difficulty
- 5.2 Fishtail Palm Tree Growth Rate
- 5.3 Fishtail Palm Tree Potting
- 5.5 Fishtail Palm Tree Repotting
- 5.6 Fishtail Palm Tree Soil
- 5.7 Fishtail Palm Tree pH
- 5.8 Fishtail Palm Tree Water
- 5.9 Fishtail Palm Tree Light
- 5.11 Fishtail Palm Tree Fertilizer
- 5.12 Propagating Fishtail Palm Tree
- 5.13 Humidity And Aeration for Fishtail Palm Tree
- 5.14 Fishtail Palm Tree Temperature
- 5.16 Flowers
- 5.17 Toxic
- 5.18 Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Fishtail Palm Tree
- 7 Similar Plants to Fishtail Palm Tree
- 8 Conclusion
What Is Fishtail Palm Tree?
The Fishtail Palm Tree (Caryota Mitis) is sometimes called Burmese Fishtail Palm and Clustering Fishtail Palm. This palm tree is famous for its uniquely-shaped green leaves; fishtail-like (others say it looks more fan-like), rough and ragged-edged, and somewhat waxy.
As a perennial in the Arecaceae family, this tropical plant thrives well near an east or west-facing window when grown as a houseplant. They are excellent plants in atriums or foyers due to their size.
A word of caution: This plant’s suckering growth habit enabled it to spread to the point of becoming invasive. Do thorough research first if you plan to cultivate it outdoors. Potted as an indoor plant, you don’t have to worry too much about its invasiveness.
Outdoors, the Fishtail Palm Tree has a high survivability rate in hardiness zones 8-11.
Fishtail Palm Tree Origin And Family
Burmese Fishtail Palm belongs to the Caryota genus in the Arecaceae family. Natively, it’s from the forests of tropical regions of Asia such as the Philippines, India, and Southern China. It has been naturalized in low areas worldwide, including parts of North and Latin America and Africa. This plant has been considered invasive in Australia, Hawaii, and Florida.
First identified in 1790 by João de Loureiro, this tropical plant has gained popularity among indoor growers in recent years.
Where To Buy
There are several ways to find a Fishtail Palm Tree for sale. You could buy a cutting or seedling at the nursery and order fully grown plants online. One option is to purchase on Etsy.
For expensive prices, you can buy a Fishtail Palm Tree for about $15 for small rooted cuttings and up to $120+ for larger or more mature plants.
Fishtail Palm Tree Plant Size
As a houseplant, the Fishtail Palm Tree’s ultimate size reaches between 6-10 feet (40-50 feet outdoors) tall and 3-6 feet (10-30 feet outdoors) wide when mature. They can live up to 25-30 years. This plant will look good near an east or west-facing window.
Fishtail Palm Tree Care Needs
Your Fishtail Palm Tree will thrive beautifully when it’s properly cared for. It likes to grow in relatively dry soil and bright indirect light.
In most situations, you’ll want to water your Caryota when the top 1-2 inches of the soil is dry. Heavily drench the soil until you see water seeping out from the bottom of the pot. As a humidity-loving plant, it will be in its best health when provided abundantly with this requirement.
We’re making it easier for you to care for your Fishtail Palm Tree with the extensive list of tips below.
Fishtail Palm Tree Care Difficulty
The Clustering Fishtail Palm is typically considered easy to care for in most circles. For growing conditions, the primary considerations are the amount of light and the well-draining soil that this plant has.
Fishtail Palm Tree Growth Rate
The growth rate of a Fishtail Palm Tree is slow. Indoors, it will reach a mature height of about 6-10 feet (40-50 feet outdoors).
Fishtail Palm Tree Potting
With its massive growth, this Mitis plant wants good drainage, and a large clay or terracotta pot works best to give this plant enough room.
With its need to be watered when the top 1-2 inches of the soil is dry, a porous drainage material is a must for Burmese Fishtail Palm.
Variegated fishtail palm – Caryota mitis 'Variegata' 😍. A rare plant but it comes true from seeds so it’s definitely on my wishlist 😇 pic.twitter.com/XRTyH9RIoc— Kҽɳɳҽƚԋ IɳɠҽႦɾҽƚʂҽɳ (@gartnerkenneth) December 28, 2022
Fishtail Palm Tree Repotting
Fishtail Palm Tree typically needs to be repotted every 1-2 years, or you see roots pushing out the drainage holes. When this happens, carefully remove the plant from its pot and do not disrupt the main root ball. You can then transfer the plant into a bigger pot. The roots will adapt quicker when planted on the same substrate that it’s used to.
Fishtail Palm Tree Soil
This large houseplant thrives well when grown in standard commercial potting soil. If you want to make your own, add cactus mix with sand instead of purchasing a medium. This plant likes its soil to stay relatively dry.
Additionally, adequate drainage is critical to avoid fungal diseases, root rot, and other issues.
These are some soil options we recommend:
Fishtail Palm Tree pH
You’ll want to aim for a neutral to acidic pH between 6.0 and 7.5. A standard commercial potting soil will have a pH level close to this range, so you shouldn’t worry too much.
If you see some problems with your plant, you could do a pH test on the soil to see if this is the culprit.
Fishtail Palm Tree Water
The watering frequency will vary based on the temperature and humidity in your plant’s surroundings. Generally speaking, your Burmese Fishtail Palm prefers a relatively dry growing medium.
Avoid overwatering your Burmese Fishtail Palm. When the top 1-2 inches of the soil is dry, it’s time to give your plant a drink. Water directly on the soil and take care not to wet the foliage so you can avoid fungal diseases.
Allow the water to flow through the bottom of the pot. Remember to empty the collection tray if your plant is sitting in one.
Fishtail Palm Tree Light
You’ll want to simulate the natural environment of Fishtail Palm Tree, which would be the warmer regions of Asia, such as the Philippines, India, and Southern China. Give your Mitis bright indirect light. You can also place this plant near an east or west-facing window.
You’ll know your giant Fishtail Palm Tree is getting too much light when its unique leaves will get burned. On the contrary, if this plant doesn’t get enough light, its leaves will droop.
Avoid putting your Fishtail Palm Tree in direct sunlight, as this could severely damage or even kill it.
Fishtail Palm Tree Fertilizer
Plants, like people, need more food when they are actively growing because they are using up a lot of their energy. This growth spurt usually happens in spring and summer for the Clustering Fishtail Palm. During this time, occasional fertilizing is necessary. You can apply a water-soluble fertilizer once a month or a slow-release fertilizer every other month for the most consistent growth.
In the winter, you don’t need to fertilize because plants’ roots usually go dormant in the cold. This means they won’t need extra food for growth.
Propagating Fishtail Palm Tree
Reproducing your Fishtail Palm Tree can be done with the right propagation method. Below are some options to choose from, along with detailed instructions to help you out.
For the Fishtail Palm Tree propagation method known as division, you separate the tropical plant at the roots – making two Clustering Fishtail Palm plants.
You can divide the stem clusters of your Fishtail Palm Tree by following these steps:
1. Dig it up. Take the plant from its container. The natural divisions are pretty straightforward.
2. Pull apart. With your fingers, gently separate the Fishtail Palm Tree at the root. You may need to use pruners or shears to cut any tangled roots.
3. Repot. Plant each section of the Burmese Fishtail Palm in new pots filled with the same soil they’re used to for new growth to thrive.
You can also propagate by seed, but keep it in warm and moist soil for 6-8 months to sprout one.
Humidity And Aeration for Fishtail Palm Tree
Fishtail Palm Tree is an attractive perennial that loves high humidity. We recommend keeping the air humidity levels around 50% or higher for the best results.
Aside from absorbing water through its roots, your plant will also need nourishment from the moisture in the air. You can keep bowls of water to evaporate nearby, or you can invest in a humidifier that is more consistent in improving humidity for your plant.
Caryota mitis.— Edward Elderman (@edwereddie) May 24, 2022
Fishtail Palm pic.twitter.com/eMdDGdB2t3
Fishtail Palm Tree Temperature
Like most Caryota plants, your Fishtail Palm Tree will do best in a warm location. Keep the temperature between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Houseplants can be sensitive to drastic temperature shifts, so keep your Fishtail Palm Tree away from heat sources such as vents, hand dryers, furnaces, and other appliances. In the same way, don’t expose your plant to chilly drafts and frost spells during the winter.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to witness your Burmese Fishtail Palm bloom and produce berries. Fishtail Palms bear both male and female blossoms making fruit production possible. Each small red fruit contains a single seed that is edible ONLY if you can completely clean off the stinging outer flesh. However, this doesn’t typically happen in an indoor growing location.
Plants in this genus are monocarpic, meaning the entire trunk of the tree dies after blooming. This specific cultivar, Mitis, is a suckering variety, which continues to produce suckers, so you will still have a plant after it blooms. However, some varieties only produce a single trunk; the whole tree dies after blooming.
You should be responsible when handling this plant if you have small children or pets. It contains oxalic acid crystals which are toxic to humans and animals alike. The Clustering Fishtail Palm is potentially dangerous if consumed or even touched without proper skin protection. The following are possible side effects if eaten: oral irritation, swelling of the tongue and mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin irritation. In most cases, this plant is considered non-life-threatening.
|Toxic To Pets?||Care Specifics|
|Botanical Name||Fishtail Palm Tree|
|Common Name||Burmese Fishtail Palm, Clustering Fishtail Palm, Fishtail Palm Tree|
|Origin||tropical regions of Asia such as the Philippines, India, and Southern China|
|Recommended Home Placement||near an east or west-facing window|
|Light||bright indirect light|
|Soil||standard commercial potting soil|
|When To Water||Water when the top 1-2 inches of the soil is dry.|
|When To Fertilize||once a month during growing season|
|Humidity Range||50% and higher|
|Toxic To Pets?||Yes – symptoms include oral irritation, swelling of the tongue and mouth, vomiting, and diarrhea|
|Common Pests & Diseases||spider mites, brown tips, scale insects, yellow leabes, root rot, mealy bugs, drooping leaves|
Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Fishtail Palm Tree
Overall, I would say that the Fishtail Palm Tree is a disease and pest-resistant plant. Here are some quick tips for curing common ailments and general suggestions to keep this plant healthy.
Unfortunately, spider mites are a widespread problem, particularly for plant collectors with a Fishtail Palm Tree. You will know your plant has spider mites if there are brown or yellow patches on its leaves, silky webbing in between branches, and leaves that take a long time to unfurl.
To fight a spider mite infestation, bring your infected plant to the sink, the tub, or outdoors and thoroughly wash all the leaves with a strong spray. Repeated application of neem oil, horticultural oil, and insecticidal soap can also help you eliminate spider mites.
Ladybugs, lacewings, and minute pirate bugs can help control your spider mite population if you want a non-chemical approach.
Scale insects might appear as lumps on the stems or leaves of your Fishtail Palm Tree. These small bugs, which may be green, gray, brown, or black, usually remain sedentary once they’ve latched onto a plant.
If the infestation isn’t too severe, you can use a teaspoon of neem oil diluted in four cups of water to discourage scale insects from attacking your plant. Take a spray bottle and vigorously spritz the plant.
Neem oil and horticultural oils may not kill the pests but will undoubtedly cause some damage to them. Numerous insecticide sprays against scales are considered safe to use indoors.
Mealybugs may infest your Fishtail Palm Tree. These tiny parasites weaken your plant by sucking on the sap. The honeydew that they secrete can also invite fungal diseases.
Mealybugs are visibly oval bugs that appear as cottony masses on all parts of plants. They will either stay immobile or crawl slowly.
To fight against a mealybug invasion, take a cotton swab, soak it in rubbing alcohol, and rub it over the fishtail-like-shaped leaves or any affected areas of the pant. I also recommend neem oil mixed with water as a preventive spray.
Caryota mitis – fishtail #palmtrees – South Florida 2019 pic.twitter.com/z8H9NX2W6M— Palm Trees (@palm_trees254) December 29, 2019
Brown Leaf Tips
Brown leaf tips on your Burmese Fishtail Palm can be caused by low humidity, underwatering, root damage, and soil compactness.
Occasionally, you may need to flush out excess minerals, salts, fertilizers, and chemicals in the soil by letting the water flow through for a few minutes. You shouldn’t worry about accidentally drowning your plant’s roots if you have a fast-draining substrate and a pot with drainage holes.
If you notice drooping leaves on your Fishtail Palm Tree, it might be thirsty or need more moisture in the air. Plant leaves will usually remain fresh and perky for a more extended period if you keep a humidifier nearby.
Another cause of downward-curling leaves is overexposure to bright light. In this case, you can move your plant away from the nearest source of light and heat.
If you notice that your Clustering Fishtail Palm leaves are turning yellow, you will need to trace any recent adjustments in your usual care practices or in the weather.
Overwatering, underwatering, overfertilizing, under-fertilizing, too much light, lack of light, root damage, temperature swings, and pests can cause yellowing leaves.
An overabundance of water leads to root rot and is often fatal for the Fishtail Palm Tree. Once decay starts to set in, it is difficult to control. Your best chance is to completely cut off the root system and restart your plant when propagating a cutting.
Of course, you can always take certain precautions to prevent root rot. Start by giving your plant a fast-draining, well-aerated soil mix. You can add chunky materials to create air pockets and allow the roots to breathe.
Next, make sure you choose a pot for functionality, not just for aesthetics. The most important requirement for houseplants is drainage. If there are no drainage holes in your chosen pot, don’t be afraid to use your driller!
Finally, hold off on giving your plant a drink until you are entirely sure that the soil is no longer wet from your last watering. Stick your finger into the soil, or use the classic wooden skewer trick to check for moisture.
Similar Plants to Fishtail Palm Tree
Love Burmese Fishtail Palm? Here are some real and pseudo trees but equally fascinating palm trees you should try:
Ponytail Palm – Borrowing the palm identity, this plant, with a single trunk and a collection of strap-like leaves, is really succulent. Its foliage gracefully cascades like a fountain, making it resemble a palm tree. Either way, this is a vision of a plant to have indoors.
Parlor Palm – This plant is a genuine palm and a beautifully attractive interior ornament that’s simple to cultivate and maintain. This type of palm, which has been grown since the Victorian era, is appreciated for its ability to withstand interior circumstances and reliable growth habits.
Areca Palm – These palms have smooth, occasionally golden trunks resembling bamboo bundles. Their fronds are slim and full, like the leaves of a bamboo plant. When grown outside, they are widely used as a privacy screen.
Philodendron Mayoi – This Philo plant, which has fronds that resemble palm leaves, is an excellent place to begin your indoor garden or collection of palm-like plants. It requires very little maintenance and quickly adjusts to the circumstances of its indoor growth environment.
Dracaena Marginata – Due to its lush, green spikes, this plant is another entry often mistaken for palm trees. This plant is a favorite since it is beautiful and simple to maintain. To top it all off, this plant helps purify the air, making it an ultimate choice.
With its exotic foliage, the Fishtail Palm Tree is the perfect plant to give you a sense of a tropical getaway, even indoors.
Whether you’re just starting as an indoor gardener or a long-time hobbyist learning more about this particular plant, we hope you’ve learned some helpful tips from us to grow your Fishtail Palm Tree successfully!
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