Palm Care

Family: Arecaceae
Common Name: Cat Palm, Parlor Palm, Bamboo Palm, Chinese Fan Palm, Lady Palm, Spindle Palm
Botanical Name: Chamaedorea cataractarum, Chamaedorea elegans, Chamaedorea seifrizii, Hyophorbe verschaffeltii, Rhapis excelsa, 

Palm trees inside your home not only soften any interior, but they cast a sense of calm and relaxation unlike any other indoor plant – think leisurely vacations at the beach! You might not be sure if you have the right conditions to bring the tropics into your living space, but you might be surprised to learn that quite a few palms will thrive indoors! Remember that specific species will have slightly different care requirements, so it's essential to properly research each type to care for them. Short on time? Here are some universal care requirements that will help you keep them thriving!

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Light

Shower your palms with as much indirect light as possible! They will grow faster and stay green and vibrant when they have access to at least 6 hours of very bright indirect sunlight each day. Pygmy Date Palm loves bright light and can be acclimated to direct sunlight over a few days!  Some palms like the Parlor Palm and Kentia Palm can live in areas with low light, but all palms prefer as much as they can get! Avoid placing them in the sun's direct rays, especially in the summer when the sun's rays are intense. You can still have palms in your home if you have a light-challenged space. The caveat is that they will not grow fast or large, but the good news is that you won't have to water them as much!

Water

Palms are thirsty plants! They have a lot of leaf surface area, and they transpire moisture throughout the day; and they also have fibrous roots that are constantly absorbing moisture from the soil. High temperatures can also cause the soil to dry out fast. A good rule of thumb is to water your palms when the soil is dry ½ way down the root ball. Depending on the environment, you might need to water once a week or every other day. Keep an eye out for dry soil and water the soil slowly to give the soil time to absorb the moisture. Soak all soil areas evenly and ensure that all the water drains from the pot. The roots should never sit in a puddle of water as this will cause root rot.

Soil

Palms. like Cat Palms, love good drainage and a soil mixture containing pumice, perlite, or wood chips to provide the drainage they need! Most bagged potting soils will be adequate for transplanting your palms. Consider mixing in cactus potting soil to help with drainage. If you decide to transplant your palms (we do not recommend transplanting your new plants for at least 3-6 months after receiving them), make sure you do not damage the roots. 

Temperature

The ideal temperatures for your palms are between 70-80°F – they like it hot! The warmer it is, the more likely they will continue to grow but beware of extreme periods of heat as this can dry out the soil very quickly! It is good to move it to a shady spot during heat waves to prevent excessive moisture loss! If you keep your palms (or are considering) outside, make sure you bring it back inside before the nighttime temperatures drop below 50°F. If you keep it inside and the temperatures are over 75°F, ensure good air circulation around your plant. Stagnant air can be a breeding ground for bacteria and pests.

Humidity

Palms love moist air. If you can keep the humidity levels over 50% in the air space around it, all should be fine! Leaves that look brown around the edges are a good (or not so good) indication that your humidity levels are low! Learn how to increase the humidity for your indoor plants!

Fertilizer

Yes, you should fertilize your Palms! Feed them a complete liquid fertilizer diluted to ¼ strength once a week. We recommend watering them first before you use a diluted liquid fertilizer. You can apply slow-release fertilizers or nutrient-rich compost at the beginning of the growing season! If you use a granular or compost fertilizer, water the plant after fertilizing it. Palms need extra potassium, and micro-nutrients when they are actively growing. There are special fertilizers for palms in the market, and you may need to use fertilizers with these added nutrients if you notice browning on the frond tips!

Growth Rate

Palms are fast-growing, and some can get quite large if grown in favorable environments (see above instructions!). They can reach 12’+ indoors depending on the light they receive. You cannot cut the top portion of the palms off as they grow from the tippy top. The best way to keep your palms from getting too tall is to keep them root-bound and move them away from very bright indirect light!

Pet Friend or Foe

The palms in this article are non-toxic to pets! Friend (Sago, Formosa, Fishtail, and Cardboard Palms are toxic.)

Pro Tips

1. Rotate your palms to give all sides equal access to the light.

2. Keep your palms away from walkways, door, or heavily trafficked areas as the leaves can be damaged when they are brushed against.

3. If your plant isn't thriving, try to flush the soil of possible salt and mineral build-up. Place the potted plant under running water for a few minutes as this will help leach out the excess minerals and salts!

4. Transplant your palm every year to freshen up the soil and encourage it to grow larger. This is a great time to add any needed soil amendments.

5. Palms rarely flower indoors, sorry!

6. Palms will naturally shed leaves. Remove any brown lower leaves by pulling them off when loose!

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