How to Care for Ruffled Fan Palm (Licuala Grandis)?
An unusual palm with large, ruffled leaves, the Ruffled Fan Palm grows tall and produces sizable leaves. It can be grown outdoors, but also indoors in a pot.
The plant is native to the Vanuata islands off the coast of Australia and grows taller when planted outdoors.
If you’re weary about starting out with the Licuala grandis, don’t be. My plant care guide below will help you successfully meet the needs of your Ruffled Fan Palm.
Size & Growth
While outdoors it can grow to around 10 or more feet tall, indoors or when grown in pots, the Ruffled Fan Palm usually stands at 6 feet in height.
The leaves of this upright growing palm are circular, glossy and medium green with a pleated pattern that resembles a fan.
The leaf edges are sharp, so take precautions when handling the plant. Even the petioles contain spines, so be careful when touching these parts of the plant.
In terms of size, the leaves of the Licuala grandis are 22 inches in diameter. The notched ends coupled with the gorgeous, ruffled leaves create a striking look that will stand out in any environment.
Because of its height this is a floor-standing plant, so make sure you have enough space to accommodate it, even though it’s a slow-growing plant.
A great advantage of this palm is that it doesn’t have high light requirements. In fact, it prefers partial shade to complete shade, so you don’t need to worry about ensuring optimum levels of light for this plant.
Until it becomes established, direct light exposure should be avoided. The plant doesn’t tolerate full sun, and while it can build up a better tolerance as it matures, it will still prefer a shady location to a sunny one.
Strong, direct light coupled with dry and excessively warm conditions will damage the beautiful leaves of the ruffled fan palm.
The Lucuala grandis doesn’t need too much water. Its watering needs can be characterized as average and you can make sure the plant is well-hydrated if you water it whenever the surface of the potting mix dries out.
Don’t overwater and also don’t allow the plant to go without any water for prolonged periods of time.
In winter, the growth of the plant slows down, therefore, its watering needs will also be lower.
The Licuala grandis is not picky about its soil type, however, for best results you should consider sandy soil amended with lots of humus.
Clay or loam soil will also work. Don’t bother testing soil pH levels, the plant is fine with either acidic, neutral or alkaline soil as long as it drains properly.
You don’t want this plant to sit in too much water. As most houseplants, this too can be susceptible to root rot.
Let the top layer of the soil dry between watering sessions, and your ruffled fan palm should be ok. A bit of moisture or dampness of the soil is fine with the palm.
Temperature & Humidity
Although a plant that enjoys tropical and subtropical environments, it will tolerate slightly cooler temperatures.
You can grow the Licuala grandis in any region where the temperatures don’t fall below 32 °F or 0 degrees Celsius.
Anything lower than that, however, will not be tolerated. If you’re growing this palm in a container outdoors and winters in your region are cool or frosty, you must move this plant indoors for the winter.
Move the plant back outdoors in spring only if there’s no more risk of frost.
Although these are slow-growing plants, a bit of fertilizer can help sustain steady growth and the production of beautiful and healthy foliage.
You can apply a slow release fertilizer 2-3 times during the growing season, or a liquid fertilizer once a month. A fertilizer formulation of 15-5-10 will work best.
Don’t fertilize during the winter seasons when the plant is no longer doing any growing. Also, don’t use too much fertilizer or in high concentrations (always dilute the fertilizer), because you can cause fertilizer burn.
Over time, minerals from fertilizer can build up in the potting mix, so flushing the soil occasionally will help dilute excess fertilizer.
Potting & Repotting
Repotting can help the plant’s root system to develop better and aid the growth of the palm as well. Also, repotting is a good time to replace the old potting mix with fresh potting mix.
Because of the plant’s slow growth, you won’t have to worry about replacing the pot for this plant too often.
If the plant does indeed get too big for its pot or there’s a risk of it falling over because the pot can no longer support its weight, then you should get a pot that’s a size bigger.
Repotting is recommended every 2-3 years also to replace the old potting soil. Repot in early spring to prevent any risks associated with transplant shock.
How to Propagate Ruffled Fan Palm?
A mature Ruffled Fan palm will produce suckers that you can remove when repotting the palm and transfer to separate pots where you should care for them as you do for the parent plant.
Another option is to propagate the Licuala grandis from seeds, which can take a lot to germinate. If you go by this route, expect an average germination time of 3 to 6 months.
Seeds should be sowed in spring, when temperatures hit 75 °F. For best results, use a mixture of moist peat and perlite for the germination.
Or simply transplant suckers when available. Either way, there’s a waiting time when it comes to propagating this palm.
If you want an exotic looking palm for your indoor living spaces, patio or your garden, you can try your hand at growing the Ruffled Fan palm.
It’s a slow-growing species, yet it produces splendid leaves when the plant matures, so they’re well worth the wait.
Help the plant along with a bit of fertilizing, optimal temperature and watering conditions. Don’t expose to strong direct light, because the plant enjoys partial shade to full shade, making it a good option for indoor growing as well.