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Fishtail Palm

Caryota mitis


The Fishtail Palm got its name from the palm’s unusual leaves that are shaped like a jagged fish's tail which form thick, swirled layers of ruffled fronds.  


Fishtails are clustering palms that grow dense and full. They can be used as privacy screens - especially while young - and create mass of deep green leaves among their large trunks as they age.




Fishtail Palms grow at a moderate rate to a height of about 20 to 25 feet. They are moderately cold tolerant but work best in warmer areas of Zone 9B and southward.


Fishtail Palms can be grown in full sun to part shade. Their mature stems will eventually flower and produce inedible fruits and then die. These matured dead stems can be cut back and the new growth sprouting up from the bottom will fill in.




When planting a Fishtail Palm add top soil or peat humus to the hole. Fertilize with a granular palm fertilizer three times a year in the spring, summer, and fall.


Trim off browned leaf stems as needed. The Fishtail Palm is a moderate growing palm so trimming should only be necessary occasionally. Because it's a clustering palm, the palm's stems/trunks can be cut off at or close to ground level without hurting the plant. This kind of trimming can be done to get rid of old fronds, to thin out the plant, or to remove too-tall trunks.


Plant Fishtail Palms in a well-drained area that doesn't stay wet and water them regularly.




Because it is a clustering palm you need to plan enough room for the palm to spread out and fill in. Plant Fishtail Palms at least 6 or more feet from any house or other tall structure.


If planting in a row, locate Fishtail Palms about 5 or 6 feet (or more) apart. Or you can plant them as close as 4 feet apart if you want faster filling in as a privacy screen.


Keep Fishtails 8 feet or more away from walks and driveways so the fronds have room to spread out and they won't eventually be in the way.


Fishtails work well in containers while they're young, and can even be acclimated to grow indoors.


Landscaping with Fishtail Palms


• use as an accent for the corner of a house

• use as a privacy screen near the pool or patio

• for a tall "hedge" along the property line

• use as a backdrop for other tropical plantings

• in a yard as a single specimen palm


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