Lady Palm – How to divide clumps
Rhapis Excelsa is more commonly called Lady Palm, and two related palms, Rhapis multifida and Rhapis subtilis, can be divided using the same methods.
Although they are slow-growing palms, they can still outgrow a space over time. In this case we are preparing to paint the home within a few months and needed to regain clearance.
FIRST STEP – TRIM THE PALM
Trimming the Palm serves two purposes:
1) Reducing canopy size will ease transplant shock.
2) Providing a visible space where a cutting strategy can be made
NEXT STEP – CUTTING THE ROOTS
Some people use a sharp handsaw or machete, and either will work as well as an electric saw with a pruning blade. Decide the size of the divided clumps. If planting into a container to root out as I will here, try to cut sections of root mass that are about half the surface area of the new container. This will allow room for growth after the palm roots emerge and new shoots fill the container.
FINAL STEP – PLANTING THE DIVISIONS
Whether the divisions will be planted into the ground or into a container, a space should be selected to allow for a bit of future growth once the palm division establishes.
– Soil should be a well draining mix and slightly acidic for best uptake of needed micronutrients. Care should be taken to not pile soil on top of existing root mass as this area need to ‘ breathe’.
– Use staking material if needed to maintain these tall narrow clumps upright while they properly root into the new soil.
I recommend a little extra iron and magnesium to keep Lady Palm looking best. It can tolerate full sun, but it definitely prefers shade to look best. — Pete