How to Care for Palm House Plants


Although there is some variation among palm varieties, most palms that grow as potted house plants are plants that, in nature, would grow under the protective cover of a taller forest canopy. Palms are usually tropical plants, so they will not do well outdoors in colder climates. With proper care, however, your indoor palms should do very well. Potted palms can range in size from small bonsai-style sago palms to much larger palm trees that can sometimes work well as an accent plant in a large entryway or foyer.

Step 1

Place your palm in a northern window. Although some palms need a lot of light, most only require low to moderate light levels.

Step 2

Keep your palm away from single-pane windows where nighttime temperatures may drop unusually low. Although not as sensitive to cold as some other plants, many palms will begin to suffer if the temperature near the window drops below 45 degrees F.

Step 3

Clean your palm's leaves with a damp cloth if they begin to look dusty.

Step 4

Plan for your ceiling height when buying a palm. Unlike other plants, you cannot prune most palms if they begin to outgrow your room. Although many potted palms will only grow to 2 to 4 feet tall, others can grow much taller.

Step 5

Remove the tree every two years or so and prune back the roots to limit the growth of your tree.

Step 6

Keep your palm watered. If the top 1/4 of soil feels dry, water your plant. The amount of water your palm will need and how often it will need water will depend on your climate. In drier climates, you may need to water your palm every few days. In more humid climates, you may only need to water your palm once a week. Water your plant until the water drains through the bottom hole of the pot.

Things You'll Need

  • Indoor palm
  • Window
  • Fertilizer


  • Purdue University: Indoor Plant Care
  • North Carolina State University: Houseplants
  • North Dakota State University: nterior Plantscaping with Large Houseplants
  • Oklahoma State University: Houseplant Care
  • University of Arkansas: Care of Houseplants

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida: Container Production of Palms
Keywords: potted palms, palm care, houseplant care

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.