Parlor Palm Care and Propagation

Parlor Palm Care and Propagation

Parlor palms, with the scientific name Chamaedorea elegans, are highly favored indoor ornamental plants native native to the tropical and subtropical regions of  America. Although they can grow as tall as, or higher than, six feet, they can easily adapt to indoor conditions. Keep reading for a detailed discussion on parlor palm plant care and how to propagate these plants successfully. 

Parlor palm care and propagation 

Parlor palm care

Unlike some other plants, parlor palms are easy to care for and are one of the more forgiving houseplants.  

These plants thrive best in areas with bright, indirect light. If they cast a shadow where they stand, it is an indication that the light is sufficient, regardless of whether it is artificial or natural. Do not place the plants where there is direct light, as they will dry out. North-facing windows provide the ideal light for them.

Parlor palms’ water requirements will depend on how much light they receive. In lower light or in colder weather, they will need less water. Brighter light and summer months mean more frequent watering is required. The soil’s surface should dry out before you water smaller palms, while the soil should be dry to at least one inch below the surface when watering large palms. 

These plants should be watered at the base to avoid dry spots. They are native to rainforests, so they like their soil moist and humid, but not boggy. Water the soil until water seeps through the drainage holes, and get rid of excess water to prevent root rot. Go for well-draining soil to keep the roots healthy. 

Parlor palms should be fed no more than monthly with a houseplant fertilizer during spring and summer. During wintertime, hold off on the fertilizer or reduce the feeding to every two or three months. These plants grow slowly, so they will not need to be repotted often. They prefer close quarters in their pots and do not require larger pots until roots start to appear from the drainage holes.

Pruning is not recommended for these plants, and they may stop growing if they are pruned often. However, feel free to trim them during dormancy if there are any dead fronds. 

Parlor palm propagation

Parlor palms are propagated by division.

  1. Make sure that your parlor palm has several healthy stems. Select a pot that is the right size to hold a single stem from the main plant. Fill the pot with a soilless mix containing equal parts peat moss and vermiculite or perlite.
  2. Remove the main or mother plant from the container and loosen the soil around the root ball to expose the roots. 
  3. Choose a healthy, established stem with a decent root system and cut away any roots that connect it to the main plant using a sharp blade.
  4. Plant the new stem in the prepared pot, making sure the roots and stem are well-covered with the soilless mix. Return the mother plant to its original container and fill it with fresh soil. Make sure that both the mother plant and the new plant are in a shady spot and not exposed to direct sunlight as they recover. 

 Common varieties of parlor palm

  • Bamboo palm – A multi-trunked palm that is a popular houseplant. It is small and slow-growing, and thrives in zones 9-11. 
  • Bella parlor palm – This variety usually grows no more than four feet tall. 
  • Cat palm – This variety can grow up to six feet tall and has dark green, arching fronds. It can tolerate moist soil and thrives in zones 9-11. 

Common pests and diseases of parlor palm plants 

Pests 

  • Spider mites – Your parlor palms may be infested with these pests if you see little webs on the undersides of the leaves. Eradicate them with neem oil or insecticidal soap and check the plants regularly for reinfestation. 
  • Scale insects – These insects produce honeydew that attracts moldy fungus. If the leaves are yellowed and withered, it may be an indication that these pests are thriving on your parlor palms. Remove them manually and use insecticidal sprays to keep them away. 

Diseases 

  • Root rot – This disease develops due to overwatering. Avoid this by making sure your plants have well-draining soil so that the roots never sit in stagnant water. 
  • Cankers – The usual causes of cankers include frost, fungi or bacteria. Basic care and regular monitoring can prevent this.
  • Leaf spots – Freckle-like spots may appear on the leaves and merge into larger blights over time. The usual causes include fungi or bacteria. Remove the infected plant parts to increase air circulation around the foliage, and avoid watering from overhead so that the leaves remain dry. Apply fungicide as needed. 

Conclusion 

Parlor palms adapt easily to indoor conditions, making them a popular choice as indoor ornamental plants. They thrive in bright, indirect light and prefer their soil to be evenly moist. To propagate parlor palms, divide the mother plant and transfer one healthy stem to another pot, using a soilless potting mix of peat moss and vermiculite or perlite. 

Image: istockphoto.com / ELENA PETRUNEVA