How to Plant, Grow, and Care for a Fishtail Palm?

The fishtail palm, also known as the parlor palm, was first discovered in Borneo in 1858, and it’s since been grown all over the world due to its exotic look and ease of maintenance. However, despite the name fishtail palm, it’s not technically a palm—it’s actually part of the cycad family! These plants are known for their intricate fronds, which are similar to fishtails when they’re young but will eventually droop down to form lush skirts around their trunks.

Fishtail palm
Fishtail palm

Choosing the right location

One of the most important things you need to consider when planting your fishtail palm is where in your garden you want it to grow. A south-facing slope is best because these plants are solar-loving plants that do well in full sun. You also want to avoid places near air conditioners or trees that will shade the plant as this will interfere with photosynthesis.

When planning how large your space should be, remember that palms are actually some of the fastest-growing plants on earth! They can grow 6 feet high in just a few years (a normal tree takes 30-50 years). Finally, make sure there is enough room around the perimeter of your space so you don’t crowd out other plants.

Choosing the right pot

The most important step in choosing a pot is size. The pot needs to have enough space for the root ball and its height should be about 1/3 the total height of the plant. To help get an idea of the size you need, measure from the bottom of your root ball up to where you want your topmost fronds to be.

Once you know your measurement, it’s time to decide on a style of pot. A few things worth considering are what color will look best in your home or office, what material will stand up best over time (ceramic pots can get heavy), and how much soil you need. These questions all come into play when choosing which type of pot will work best for you.

Plastic pots are lightweight and easy to move around but may not stand up well over time. Ceramic pots often cost more but they don’t dent as easily as plastic ones, meaning they can last longer. Metal pots tend to be expensive because they’re heavier than other materials, but many people choose them because they hold heat better than other types of materials so plants stay warmer longer in the winter months.

Stone pots may seem like a good choice because they often don’t break like ceramic ones do, but beware that stone doesn’t let water through easily so these plants may require more watering than those in other types of containers. As long as you follow these guidelines, your fishtail palm will thrive!

Preparing your Fishtail Palm

Palm tree near a river
Palm tree near a river

The first step to planting your new Fishtail Palm is choosing the right location. While you could plant it in any well-drained soil area of your property, these trees prefer sunny locations with plenty of moisture. If you’re planting near power lines or underground cables, remember that they’ll grow close to them because their roots are used as a way of climbing up from the ground level.

Finally, before planting make sure the hole you’ve dug is twice as wide as the diameter of the root ball so it can gradually spread out once planted in its new home. Then carefully place your tree in the hole and lightly tamp down around its base until there’s no more visible soil. Water generously at this point too before covering with topsoil if desired.

Applying Fertilizer

Fishtail palms do best when they are fertilized. Fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer mixed into the soil around the plant or applied to the foliage as a foliar spray once every two weeks during active growth periods in spring and summer. Some plants also need an acidifying agent mixed in with their fertilizers.

If that is the case with your fishtail palm, add 1 tablespoon of sulfur or hydrochloric acid per 10 gallons of water before you add any fertilizer. This helps the plant extract nutrients more effectively. It will also lower the pH of alkaline soils. Too much fertilizer can cause leaves to fall off or can burn them if sprayed on them. You should never apply anything but regular tap water to this plant’s leaves. Avoid getting runoff from watering onto the leaves because it can be damaging too.

Preparing the Soil

The fishtail palm thrives in the soil conditions of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones 8 through 10 or warm temperate climates with high humidity. The recommended soil mixture is a blend of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam-peat-sand mix or 2 parts loam to 1 part coarse sand. The fishtail palm does not grow well in alkaline soils that are naturally above pH 7.0; it requires acidity below pH 7.0 and a nutrient balance slightly more acidic than lime.

Fertilizer needs vary based on the climate zone; those living in USDA zones 9 through 11 fertilize the palms every six months while those living in USDA zones 8 through 10 fertilize annually or twice per year as needed. After planting, water thoroughly and cover the root ball with moist sawdust or soil. When watering outside use only an inch of water at one time then wait until the surface is dry before adding more water. Be sure to keep the soil moist during periods of drought but never let it become soggy. If you see leaves drooping from over-watering take care not to overwater next time

Watering Your Fishtail Palm

A fishtail palm can be watered by submerging the whole pot in water once every five days or watering it with a hose once every five hours. The soil should stay moist but not wet as this will cause the roots to rot. The pot should be watered from below to avoid getting water onto the leaves. The soil should only be allowed to dry out slightly before it is re-watered. As the plant matures its root system will decrease in size and require less frequent watering.

To keep your fishtail palm healthy you need to make sure that it gets plenty of light but not direct sunlight as this will burn the leaves. You should also ensure that there is enough room between the tree and any walls or furniture to allow air circulation so the leaves don’t become overheated. If you have a smaller fishtail palm you may want to put it outside during warmer months as they do best when temperatures are 70°F – 80°F (21°C – 27°C). Your indoor fishtail palm should also receive at least four hours of indirect sunlight per day.

Feeding Your Fishtail Palm

Palm trees
Palm trees

The fishtail palm is an awesome plant that not only looks great but it’s also really easy to care for. Placing it outdoors in your yard is going to depend on your climate as it can survive in many regions. When planting your fish foot palm, place the tree in full sun with slightly moist soil. Make sure that the trunk of the tree is straight up and down so it will receive enough water without you having to constantly water or move it around the yard.

Do not fertilize your plant unless a professional tells you otherwise. It will be necessary from time to time to check over the area under where the trunk touches the ground because this is where ants might set up their nests which could potentially harm the root system and cause your tree’s demise. To help stop the ants, put some sticky ant bait right next to where the trunk meets the ground. You can get this product at any hardware store. If the ants don’t go away, contact a certified arborist who has experience dealing with these types of problems.

Indoor vs Outdoor Plants

It is important to know that the fishtail palm is an indoor plant. If you plan on growing your fishtail palm outside, it is advised that you research climate conditions in your area so you know if the plant will survive outside. However, it can be done but be warned that this may not last long or grow too much.

As with all indoor plants, when planting your new fishtail palm indoors you want to make sure that it has plenty of room because these plants do grow larger over time. And make sure you don’t overwater as they are very sensitive to having too much water around their roots as this will cause them to rot and die. They also prefer cooler temperatures and indirect sunlight.

If you follow these guidelines then hopefully your fishtail palm will flourish.


Fishtail palms are easy to care for; they thrive in most climates with little tending necessary. They can be planted indoors or outdoors and will thrive when watered regularly.

One of the best things about this plant is its suitability for almost any location—it’s tolerant of full sun, partial shade, dry soil, as well as heavy soil. It can withstand cold weather down to 25° F (-4° C), but thrives at warmer temperatures.

Also, check out the latest articles “Flowering maple” and “Golden trumpet tree

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