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Fishtail Palm Plant Bio: Podcast Ep#54

The funky Fishtail Palm is an amazing plant to add to any growing collection. Although it isn't the easiest houseplant, the foliage and growth is so unique it is truly incomparable.

Botanical Name:

  • Caryota 'mitis': The variety is mostly used as a houseplant since it stays a bit shorter. This is a multi-stem or clumping grower as well.

  • Caryota 'maxima': Very large grower in nature with single trunk

  • Caryota 'obtusa': Even larger grower in nature with single trunk

Common Name: Fishtail Palm

Sun Requirements:

Fishtail Palm prefer bright, indirect light for the fullest and healthiest growth. Direct sunlight could cause some damage, so it is best to avoid it if possible.

Water Requirement

These palms need a little bit more moisture than other houseplants, so I would say they need medium moisture. Allow the top layer of soil to dry out in-between waterings.

Keeping your Fishtail Palm in medium to high humidity is the best environment the greatest success. The leaves' tip may turn yellow or brown, if underwatered, or with low humidity.


As I always say, there are LOTS of ways to fertilize plants. Unless you are extremely over-fertilizing your plant, there isn't necessarily a wrong way to do this. I currently use Fox Farm's Grow Big Liquid Fertilizer and I fertilize every 2 weeks when I water my plants, starting around the end of February through October. I honestly probably only fertilize once or twice in winter because the plant isn't as active! I use about 1/2 to 3/4 the recommended amount of fertilizer because I would rather under-fertilize than over-fertilize my plants. Based on the below info from Fox Farm it looks like I could increase my fertilizing a bit if needed!

Practical Houseplant Book: "Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly from spring to fall."

There are MANY ways to fertilize and it is completely up to you! There are tons of products out there you can try but an overall rule of thumb for houseplants is that it is best to under-fertilize, rather than over-fertilize. Always use the recommended amount, or less, when applying your fertilizer to houseplants.

Other Facts

  • Part of the Arecaceae family.

  • Native to Asia, Northern Australia, and the South Pacific.

  • It has bright green, fishtail shaped leaves, with bunching branches shooting out from one main truck, with suckers usually coming out near the base.

  • This palm gets upwards of 40ft in nature and other varities get above 100ft tall (see North Carolina Extension for some great images).

  • These do have a red berry in nature and large clumped blooms.

  • The San Diego Zoo said "A fishtail palm is known botanically as a monocarpic plant. This means that after it finishes flowering, the entire trunk dies. This varies from most other palms, which start flowering while young and continue to do so. However, the flowering period of a fishtail palm can span five to seven years."

  • These are considered invasive in parts of Florida, USA.

  • This is poisonous to pets and humans. Check out Podcast Ep#31 for more info or the corresponding blog post!

Instagram Q&A

I asked followers if they had any specific plant questions I could address in this podcast and blog. Here are the questions and answers for the Fishtail Palm...

"Low maintenance houseplant?"

  • I wouldn't call it low maintenance but it is definitely between medium to high maintenance based on the bright light needed, higher humidity, and medium moisture.

"It it solely called Fishtail Palm because it looks like a fish tail?"

  • Yes! This is why it is called Fishtail Palm! It has a triangular shape, with jagged edges, which makes it look JUST like a fish tail.



Go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and more! Search for Houseplant Homebody to hear this episode and MANY more! You can also listen directly on my website under the Podcast page!


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Always written with extreme plant passion!

Love, Holly (Owner & Creator of Houseplant Homebody LLC)


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