Ease of parlor palm care, great statement piece, and overall forgiving plant, this is one of the top indoor plants. Beginner plant enthusiasts and seasoned plant owners alike love chamaedorea elegans.
Native to the rainforests of Guatemala and Mexico and widely distributed in other tropical countries, the Chamaedorea elegans or more commonly known as the Parlor palm, is a fairly slow-growing evergreen plant. This palm can grow up to 5t to 8ft tall in large containers when grown indoors.
Because these plants are relatively slow-growing, most gardens sell these specimens with two to three plants in one pot. This makes for a very attractive plant.
Parlor palms have become known for their ability to clean the surrounding air in an enclosed area, in addition to their pleasing aesthetics. Despite being more popular as an indoor plant, this palm can also grow well and even faster outdoors (where its conditions are met).
Despite being a low-maintenance plant, you always want what is best for your new Parlor palm. Read on to learn all about chamaedorea elegans care.
How To Care For Parlor palm
- Bringing the plant home
- Light conditions
- Toxicity Information
- Pests and other common issues
Plant name: Chamaedorea elegans
Common names: Parlor palm or Neanthe bella palm
Native to: Rainforests of Mexico and Guatemala
Lighting: Prefers bright, indirect light, but will thrive well in medium to low light.
Care: Allow soil to dry out or at least half of the pot before watering. Overwatering can cause root rot. Do not pot in a very big pot as roots and the plant itself grows very slow. Too much soil may maintain too much moisture. Keep away from draft and cold air.
Common problems: Insect pests such as mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids. Fungal and bacterial pathogen such as leaf spot and stem cankers.
Toxicity: Parlor palms are not toxic.
Bringing the plant home
Inspect the soil if it has been recently watered. If the soil is damp, leave it as is; if it’s dry water the plant.
Carefully inspect the underside of the leaves as parlor palms, as other palms are very susceptible to pests such as spider mites. Treat your plant with the proper solutions before bringing it inside if you spot any. Even if you gave your plant the “all clear,” isolate it from other plants in your home for a couple of weeks if there are any hidden pests (or pests in the larval or egg stage).
Parlor Palm Light requirements
One of the many great things about this plant is how it can thrive in low to medium light. This plant will not mind being in a generally shaded area inside your house at all. The perfect plant to fill up all those areas your other plants don’t tolerate well.
Despite being able to tolerate low light conditions, expect to see slower growth. Like all other plants, Parlor palms will grow faster with adequate light. They benefit from bright and indirect light.
Outdoors, this plant can benefit from the abundance of light but can scorch if placed directly under the sun without any shade. The amount and kind of light will also determine the frequency of watering this plant; more on this later.
An artificial grow light can be used too, to help it thrive indoors.
Watering needs of Parlor palm
Although native to rainforests, Parlor palms do not require constant attention in terms of watering. While they need thorough watering, they can tolerate dry soil for extended periods. The main sign that these plants need watering is that their leaves start to droop.
Allow at least half of the soil to dry out before giving this plant a good soak. These plants are susceptible to dying because of overwatering more than underwatering.
When it is time to water the parlor palm, give it a good drench. Place the pot outside or provide a catch basin and flood the soil with water until the excess water runs down the pot.
The frequency of watering can vary greatly, depending on the soil you use, the plant’s size, conditions of your home… Observe the plant and check the soil to see if it is ready for watering.
What kind of humidity does parlor palm need?
High humidity levels will make this plant happy but is not a requirement. Indoors, this plant will thrive well even with less than 50% humidity.
Keep it away from cold drafts near windows as the plant cannot survive very low temperatures, especially in winter.
Consistently low humidity can cause browning tips. Help your plant by raising the humidity around it, something you can achieve by grouping it with other plants.
Protect your plant from frost during winter and keep it warm. It will tolerate lower than average toom temperature without issues.
Cleaning and Pruning Chamaedorea elegans
Carefully wiping the leaves with a soft, damp cloth will keep the leaves clean and dust-free. You can also mix a small amount of dish soap in water, making a cleaning solution, and use that – also taking care of any potential pest problems.
Generally, most palms are self-pruning. That is, old leaves tend to fall on their own and shed along the bottom of the plant.
Maintain the vibrance of this plant by removing dried tips and cleaning the soil from falling leaves.
Encourage growth by fertilizing your Parlor palm
Palms are susceptible to nutrient deficiencies. This can cause the yellowing of the leaves. Feed your Parlor palm with balanced liquid fertilizers every three weeks during the growing season and cutting back during winter. Use the fertilizer according to the instructions on the box/bottle.
When is it the right time to repot?
Since they are slow growers, you would only have to repot if the plant is outgrowing the pot in terms of plant foliage to pot ratio.
You will also need to repot the plant if it becomes rootbound. At this point, choose a pot that is only a size or two larger than your current pot.
What kind of soil?
To ensure that the water will drain well at the bottom, you can line your pots with pebbles or pumice stones before adding your soil.
The all-purpose potting mix works well with parlor palms. You can also add coarse sand to the mix. Many stores already carry soil mixes specialized for palms.
Propagating Parlor palm
Most palms produce seeds from their flowers and are used for propagation, but because of the restricting conditions indoors, your Parlor palm will have a hard time producing these seeds.
Growing through seeds is the main propagation method used by gardeners.
Propagation by division is possible.
Are Parlor palms toxic?
Parlor palms are considered non-toxic to pets and humans.
Be advised, though, due to thin leaves and dangly foliage, these can be magnets for cats to play with. Ingesting any plant in larger quantities, even if non-toxic, can cause problems – to cat and plant.
* There have been no negative health issues reported with parlor palms. Keep in mind toxicity information on plants can change. This is something that is best talked about with your veterinarian. Even with non-toxic plants, nibbling plants should be avoided, and keeping plants away from pets, especially if they like to eat them, is best.
Pests and diseases to look out for
Although generally low maintenance, Parlor palms are susceptible to pest infestations such as mealy bugs, spider mites, leaf scales, and aphids.
Most of these insects will consume the moisture and nutrients from the stems and leaves of your parlor palm and cause it to turn yellow and eventually die off. These insects are easy to spot for small plants, but since the Parlor palm is quite bushy, you may have to spend a bit more time looking out for them.
These pests are detrimental to the health of your plant especially if your Parlor palm is still small. Watch out for webbings as this may suggest the presence of spider mites. Similar to mealy bugs, these pests absorb the nutrients from the stems of the plant. Mealybugs on the other hand are observed in groups and present themselves as white fuzzy insects.
Other pests, including aphids and whiteflies, are small insects that crawl along the stems and the plant’s soil. All of these insects cannot tolerate too much humidity around the plant, but since your Parlor palm does not require heavy loads of humidity, they may become a problem.
You can choose to use Neem oil as a preventive solution. This solution also acts as a repellent for insects.
In addition to pests, this plant can also become a victim of fungal pathogens. Some of the most common fungal pathogens include leaf spots and stem cankers. These pathogens usually enter the plant from open cuts caused by pruning or removing a partially dead stem. Diseases such as stem cankers prevent the plant from absorbing nutrients and hinder the plant’s growth. On the other hand, leaf spots spread as small concentric circles that eventually turn black and consume the whole leaf.
Prevention of some of these pathogens include using clean pruning shears or knife when cleaning the plant. Remove infected leaves to prevent further spread and isolate the plant until it has been properly treated.
Parlor palm leaves turning brown?
This is most likely due to the plant not getting enough light or enough water if the tips are dry.