Licuala cordata: Learn how to take proper care of the “princess” among palms!

by Snezhana Besarabova

The origin of Licuala cordata is far away in Malaysian tropical forests, where it is a rare and even endemic species. This “princess” among palms, called the fan palm, is loved for its glossy dark green fan-like heart-shaped or nearly circle-like leaves. The beautiful and exciting Licuala cordata is one of the most sought after by plant lovers and collectors. Do you want to grow this fantastic fan palm in your home or office? If you’re up for it, the advices from gardeners presented on this page will help you to grow a healthy and bright palm indoor.

The fan palm requires patience and attention

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In its natural habitats the fan palm grows up to 10 feet (3 m) height, however grown at home it can reach up to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and 6 feet (1.8 m) wide. The leaves are corrugated, which makes the palm look so special, and their diameter varies between 11-24 inches (30-60 cm). It has a narrow 10 cm gray-brown “trunk” with typical leaf scars.

Due to its origin in the rainforests where it grows in sheltered spots under the tropical trees, the palm requires high humidity and heat. The room temperature should not fall below  68°F (20°C), if you wish it to grow well and reveal all its charm.

Licuala cordata is a palm that will really test the patience of people who are palm lovers and want to propagate it. Sometimes it takes months before the young plant sprouts above the soil.
But please, be patient, you’ll need only a little knowledge and a skilled hand to meet the needs of this striking plant.

Although this palm is so demanding, people often choose it to add some tropical flair to their homes. And sometimes they complain that their beautiful plants suffer from frost or pests, and they don’t know what to do. That’s the reason they need the next advice from gardeners.

Licuala cordata palm will feel good in your bathroom

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It is a rare and exciting case to see a Licuala cordata’s white flower or brown fruit indoors, but if this happens that certainly means that you have provided the plant with an optimal tropical climate.

If someone wishes to provide the fan palm the best comfort, the room temperature should be kept in the range of 77-86°F (25-30°C), and the plant must never be exposed to draughts. Humidity should be between 70 and 80%. It is evident that these values are possible to be reached in the bathroom, which is the most suitable place for the palm. Be careful, there must be enough light in the room as well. If this is impossible and the fan palm needs to be placed in a lighter room, take care to mist the leaves regularly. Even better solution is to buy a humidifier.

The light and the soil that Licuala cordata plant requires

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Fan palms grow well in bright, but indirect light, just like the conditions of the rainforests where they originated. If you have a garden, it would be a good idea to move the plant there during summer.

It is important to remember that when potted, Licuala cordata palm has to be planted in a nutrient-rich substrate. The soil should be well-drained, with a slightly acidic reaction. This could be reached easily if you mix the soil with 10% of loosening ingredients like pumice gravel or perlite.

Because of its slow growth, Licuala cordata plant should be repotted rarely – every 2 to 4 years, the suitable season could be spring or summer. The size of the pot depends on the plant’s height, and a 4 feet (1.2 m) plant should be placed in a 10-inch (25 cm) pot in diameter. A deep pot is preferable, as Licuala cordata indoor plant must have space for the root to grow downwards.

The fan palm should be watered deeply, but at the same time the liquid should be drained from the pot so that the roots do not become submerged in water.

Fertilizing and pruning the Licuala cordata plant

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The soil of tropical forests from which our Licuala cordata plant originates, is rich in nutrients, so in a pot, it can be substituted with fertilizers which you can buy from florists. It is recommended to use this artificial food once a week from spring through to autumn.

Licuala cordata indoor plant should be pruned rarely, because frequent pruning would weaken it. It’s vital for the palm not to remove parts from the center, where there is a growing tip.

Home-made remedy against pests and diseases

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Licuala cordata plant is vulnerable to some pests and diseases like scale insects (Coccoidea) and spider mites (Tetranychidae), which attack the underside of leaves, stems and shoots. The regular rinsing and misting of the palm helps the plant protect itself from these infestations.

Pest can be removed with a mild soap solution. For this purpose, mix liquid soap and water at a ratio of 1:5 and spray this solution onto the infested leaves. Keep treating once a day until the plant is clean.

Propagation of Licuala cordata palm from seeds

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  1. Fill the pots with pumice gravel or perlite and spread the palm seeds evenly.
  2. Cover the seeds with 5-10 mm of the substrate and put in transparent plastic bags.
  3. Fill the bag with water – the pot should be in few millimeters of the liquid and seal airtight.
  4. Place on the windowsill.
  5. Maintain temperature between 77-95°F (25-35°C) for 40-60 days.

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