Cataractarum plants are a type of palm belonging to the group Chamaedorea. Native to southeastern Mexico, these trees can grow up to 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide in the wild, but are often limited to much smaller growth when they're planted in a container. These attractive, hardy, easy-care plants are popular as outdoor houseplants. The cat palm's susceptibility to spider mites, combined with its slow growth, make it a poor choice as an indoor plant.
Cat palms thrive in temperatures that remain consistently in the 70s Fahrenheit, and cannot tolerate temperatures below freezing for very long. Plant this palm outdoors in USDA hardiness growing zones 10 and 11 for best results.
The cat prefers filtered sunlight rather than direct sun, especially in the hotter growing zones. The palm can be placed where it will be exposed to morning sun followed by protective afternoon shade, or in a location where it will receive a full day's worth of dappled shade. Too much hot sun can cause the margins of the leaves to turn brown (sun scorched).
Soil and Water
The cat palm is often found growing in the wild along streams and marshes. It prefers very moist soil. Water it so that the soil remains moist at all times, or plant it near a body of water. It's an excellent addition to a tropical garden.
Palms in general need supplemental feeding. Feed the tree a fertilizer formulated for palms. These are often sold as "palm spikes." Water before and after you apply the fertilizer, and follow the directions on the label as per the size and age of your plant.
Pruning and Maintenence
Prune your cat palm as needed to remove broken, diseased or wilting fronds, but remember that this plant grows slowly, so prune sparingly. Monitor the plant often for spider mites and other pests, and treat the plant with an insecticidal spray or oil as soon as insect activity is noticed.