Indoor palm plants add a tropical theme to any home or office, but it is important to understand that palm trees have specific needs to achieve optimum health, especially outside of their natural environment. Many palm trees are tall and fast growing, meaning they don't all make suitable houseplants. Some palm trees adapt well to pots and indoor conditions, but still need adequate amounts of light and water.
Several palm trees make good indoor plants, including the pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii), kentia palms (Howea forsteriana), bamboo palms (Chamaedorea seifrizii) and lady palm (Rhapis excelsa). Some other types of palms may grow in indoor containers, but many others will quickly outgrow those containers. Large-growing palm species will not stop growing because they have reached the capacity of the container and therefore will likely split the container, or become so stressed they die.
Most potting soils are not suitable for indoor palm trees. Soil for cactus and other succulents may also work well for palms, if you can find it. The most important thing to remember is that the soil needs to be porous so water can drain well to prevent root rot. You can mix equal amounts of potting soil and sand to accomplish this. Soil pH between 6 and 6.5 is ideal. A time-released fertilizer, formulated for palm trees, can help keep replenish nutrients the tree uses.
As with any indoor plant, the potted palm is totally dependent upon you for its water. Palm plants are susceptible to root rot. Therefore, watering should only be done after the soil is dry to the touch down to a depth of 2 inches, but before the palm begins to wilt. Palms can recover from wilting, but keeping the tree free from stress should help it grow and remain healthy. Generally, watering once a week is sufficient for palms.
In most cases, an indoor palm can flourish indoors at temperatures that are comfortable for you. If you want to put your palm outdoors or on a porch during the warmer months, remember that freezing temperatures can kill or damage palm trees. Most palms can withstand a light freeze or frost, but temperatures below 32 degrees F for more than a few hours can cause severe problems, including substantial tissue damage.
Generally, you should keep palm trees near a window so that there is some natural light reaching the tree. You can also use a fluorescent or incandescent lamp to provide some supplemental lighting, especially at northern latitudes in the winter. Palm Clip advises you give at least three additional hours of supplemental fluorescent, in addition to any natural light the tree receives.