A palm is a perennial plant from the Arecaceae family (derived from the word “areca,” referring to a series of palm species) that grows naturally in climates with high temperatures and humidity levels. The tropical plant commonly grows in the form of trees, shrubs, and climbing plants, and are known for their large green fronds, which are either fan-like or feather-like.
5 Types of Indoor Palm Plants
Here are a few different kinds of palms you can grow as houseplants:
- Bamboo palm: With their bright-green bushy leaves, bamboo palms can grow anywhere from three to 12 feet. They require a rich, organic potting mix but are more tolerant to dry air and lower light conditions.
- Chinese fan palm: Livistona Chinensis, the Chinese fan palm or fountain palm, is a palm native to east Asia. They prefer bright, indirect light and can reach heights between six and eight feet, sprouting large fronds that resemble a folded, paper fan.
- Date palm: Also known as Phoenix palms, these plants prefer indirect natural light and are quite sensitive to overwatering. The pygmy date palm is the most commonly cultivated version of indoor palm.
- Majesty palm: Majesty palms are slow-growing palm plants that love humidity and bright light. These palms can help purify the air in your home and make extravagant additions to your indoor foliage with the proper care and environment.
- Parlor palm: One of the most popular houseplant palms on the market is the parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans). Parlor palms are indoor plants that can thrive in low-light conditions—direct sunlight can damage them. Growers often harvest their fronds to use for floral arrangements or décor. Keep this palm in high humidity, and ensure the soil stays evenly moist.
How to Plant an Indoor Palm
While many indoor growers will purchase a sprouted young palm to start, it is possible to plant indoor palms from seed. To plant your own indoor palm, see the steps below:
- Germinate your seeds. Place your palm seeds beneath a thin layer of potting soil and place them in a warm, humid location. Germination times will vary depending on the species of palm you want to plant—some types take only two months, while others can take up to six. Once they’ve sprouted, move to a location with high humidity that’s at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove your seedlings. After your palm seedling sprouts a few sets of leaves, prepare to transplant it into your new container. Gently remove your palm seedling from its original container, taking care not to rip the root ball or damage the palm’s heart in the process, as it can be very sensitive to repotting.
- Transplant. Choose a large container with drainage holes and fill it with porous potting material, like peat moss or a special palm soil mix. Make a hole for the root ball, keeping it about an inch below the topsoil layer. Lightly fill in the gaps around the root ball with soil but be careful not to pack the soil firmly.
- Water. Water thoroughly to help establish the soil.
How to Care for a Palm Plant
Although palm plants are relatively low maintenance, they do require a certain level of care to thrive.
- Avoid direct sun. Full, direct sunlight can burn the leaves of your palm and cause curling or brown leaf tips. Keep your palm in partial shade or in an area indoors that receives indirect sunlight.
- Be wary of pests. Palms are prone to mealybugs and spider mites but can be treated with insecticidal soaps to keep these pests at bay.
- Keep the soil moist. Palm plants need a delicate balance of moisture and humidity. Keep your palm plant moist by misting the leaves or placing them in a room with a humidifier. However, palm plants are susceptible to root rot when exposed to too much moisture, indicated by yellowing leaves. Keep your containers adequately drained of excess water to ensure healthy growth. Avoid letting the soil get too dry—the leaves will develop brown tips if you wait too long to water.
- Prune occasionally. Pruning off dead brown leaves can help keep your palm thriving. Be careful not to over prune your palm because the fronds are among the plant’s main source of nutrition—they also offer protection from the elements. Additionally, avoid cutting the top off of your plant because it will cease to grow.
- Use fertilizer. General houseplant fertilizer or specialized palm fertilizer can help provide proper nutrients to your plant like iron, potassium, and magnesium. Use fertilizer a few times a year to keep your plant properly fed.