A small palm species, of Asian origin, the Rhapis excelsa is also very common in Europe; it has thin, erect, dark-coloured stems, carrying a rough layer, formed by the remains of the now withered leaves; the leaves are carried by thin, elongated petioles, fan-shaped, and are formed by ribbon-like segments, of a dark green colour, glossy and papyrus-like. These palms produce a lot of suckers at the base, giving origin to tufts, which, in the wild, become roundish.
Much appreciated since centuries in Japan and China, hundreds of varieties have been selected, particularly contained in size, or even with variegated foliage or of very pale colour to be easily cultivated in apartment.
Before buying a plant and growing it in the garden or in your own home, you should know what are the specific needs of the species that we want to grow. This is because a wrong location of the plant could cause growth difficulties, rottenness, yellowing of the leaves or dryness and, in the most extreme cases, the very death of the plant. As for the exposure, let’s see together what are the real needs of our Rhapis excelsa.
These are plants that are grown in apartments, with minimum temperatures not below 10-12 ° C, if properly acclimatized can also find room in the garden, in areas where the winters are particularly mild. They prefer semi-shady or shady positions, because direct sunlight tends to ruin the leaves or make them yellowish in colour.
To best grow our Rhapis excelsa, from March to October we should water frequently, keeping the soil slightly moist; with the arrival of the cold we should thin the watering, trying not to leave the plant dry for long The “elderly” specimens can bear short periods of drought, without any particular problems. Let’s remember to spray the canopy frequently, to increase the ambient humidity.
The choice of soil is fundamental for the growth of our plants. Each variety of plant or flower has specific characteristics and defined needs. This is why it is important to carefully assess which soil to choose for each species. The rhapis should be grown in a good soft and rich soil; it is advisable to use universal soil, mixed with crushed bark and coconut fibre; every 3-4 years repot the plants, providing them with a larger container.
If we are to multiply the plant, it is opportune to know that the reproduction happens by seed in spring; in autumn it is possible to divide the tufts of leaves, detaching the basal suckers, which can be repotted individually without particular difficulties.
Rhapis excelsa: Parasites and diseases
These plants are not particularly prone to the development of diseases. However, they fear the attack of certain parasites such as cochineals and mites, especially in very dry climates. The foliage tends to dry up especially on the tips if the plant is grown in a very sunny or very dry place; remove the damaged foliage and transfer the plant in a place more appropriate to the cultivation to avoid that during growth runs into these problems.