Growing a Potted Ruffled Palm Tree

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The ruffled fan palm or Licuala grandis is a beautiful, unique palm with attractive ruffled leaves that add fashionable flair to any interior or exterior design. These palms can stay in a pot indoors or will survive outdoors all year long if you live in a mild climate. Though the ruffled palm can grow up to 10 tall feet when planted, it will usually only reach about six feet if given a large enough container, which makes it the perfect statement piece for your living room. Keep in mind; this is a slow grower, so patience is a must! Though it is usually seen outdoors in tropical environments, the ruffled palm makes an exquisite houseplant that requires minimal care. Here are a few tips to help you get started!

Container size

As with most plants, the more room you give them, the more they’ll grow. To keep your palm from becoming root-bound and experiencing stunted growth, place it in a pot that is at least a few inches larger in diameter than it’s nursery pot. This will save you from having to repot it right away and will ensure that your palm stays happy, healthy, and keeps growing tall. 

Sunlight requirements

Palms aren’t picky about the sun, which makes them an excellent choice for indoor gardening where precious sunlight can be limited. Keep them away from direct sunlight, however, as the intense UV rays can burn the leaves and cause them to turn brown. The ideal sunlight for a ruffled palm is partial, filtered sun. 

Water needs

Ruffled palms have average water needs, which means that they’re not like succulents in that you should let them dry out forever, but they’re also not like other tropical plants that require constantly moist soil and increased humidity levels. Though they may be happy with a little mist here and there to keep the leaves clean and shiny, these palms only need to be watered when the top of the soil (to about 1 inch down) is dry. Water until it drips out of the drainage holes. Ease up on watering a little in the winter to help imitate the natural growth and rest cycles of the ruffled palm.

Drainage holes

As mentioned above, your pot should have adequate drainage. This will help avoid certain pest issues and root rot. Make sure that you drill holes in the bottom of the pot if it doesn’t have any or place a layer of pebbles in the bottom to give the excess water somewhere to go. Use a rich, organic, well-draining potting soil.

Outdoor growth 

Ruffled palms don’t need to be indoors all year. In fact, they may experience a growth boost and end the summer healthier if you give them some time outside while the weather is warm. Keep your pot in a sheltered area against the house or on the porch to protect the leaves from damage. 

Temperature needs

Unlike other palms, this hardy plant will actually survive in temperatures down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the ideal temperature is usually between 60-75 degrees indoors. 

Fertilize regularly

Without fertilizer, it may feel like this palm isn’t growing at all. Give it the nutrients it needs to produce new growth by applying a low time release 15-5-10 fertilizer at least three times each year. 

Pests and disease 

Unfortunately, indoor plants are not protected from pests and diseases. In fact, it is often harder to control specific issues because houseplants are usually close to one another. Licuala grandis, is particularly subject to fungal leaf spots, spider mites, scale insects, and mealybugs when grown indoors, so keep an eye out for these issues and treat as needed.


Though these plants aren’t toxic, the fronds have sharp edges that can easily cut skin. Take care when handling them, and avoid growing these in your home if you have small children. 

Have you ever grown a ruffled palm tree? Let us know in the comments below!

-Susan Patterson

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