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In The Garden: Fishtail palm is perfect for island living

August 22, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The fishtail palm (Caryota mitis) is originally from Southeast Asia and does well in our warm climate and it will even withstand some of the cold snaps that occur in Southwest Florida. It's an easy care palm, versatile and pretty popular in tropical landscapes either as a specimen or to create a privacy hedge.

The palm got its name because of the unusual, jagged flat fishtail look that develops when the leaves open up. No other palm has this leaf design. Used as a background plant with other tropical plants in front, it will create a lush, layered tropical look.

The fishtail palm does very well in a sunny area, but can also survive indoors as long as it is near a window receiving indirect light. When considering this palm as part of your landscape plan, consider spacing them out about 6 feet away from the house or structure.

Article Photos

Fishtail palm

If you like to use them as a privacy screen they should be planted at least 5 to 6 feet apart. The palm can be a slow growing, but it can reach heights of about 20 feet to 25 feet, making it a good choice as a buffer between taller buildings and residences.

For something different, try mixing in a few fishtail palms in your buffer and enjoy the variety it brings to any landscape planting.

In The Garden is a joint effort by all at the local garden center, at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel. For information, contact 239-395-5859 or visit



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