How to Care for Palm Plants

Overview

The mention of a palm plant usually conjures up images of the tropics with sandy beaches and large palm trees blowing in the wind. While you may not be able to travel to the tropics, why not bring a little bit of the tropics into your home by growing a palm plant? Typically a slow-growing plant, palm trees are relatively easy to care for in your home when you learn a few basic steps.

Step 1

Water your palm plant consistently, not letting it dry out or get too soggy. When the top 1/2 inch of the soil is dry to the touch, water thoroughly until water runs out of the drainage holes in the pot. Be sure your pot is sitting on a saucer to catch the water and empty the saucer when it fills up with water.

Step 2

Feed your plant a high nitrogen fertilizer (e.g. 10-5-5) every other month during the summer. Nitrogen encourages healthy foliage. Palms in general are light feeders so once every other month is sufficient and fertilizing is not needed during the winter.

Step 3

Give your palm plenty of bright light, but be cautious of strong direct sunlight which can burn the fronds. Set the plant in front of a large picture window and if necessary cover the window with a lightweight curtain to filter the really strong sunlight. Another good option is to place artificial lighting overhead, such as shop lights or fluorescent lighting.

Step 4

Create humid conditions for your palm by misting the leaves daily. You can also set the pot in a pebble-lined tray filled about 1/2 full of water; be sure the pot does not sit in the standing water or it will soak up the water, making the soil too soggy.

Step 5

Keep the temperature warm enough for your palm to thrive, around 80 to 85 degrees F during the day and 60 to 65 degrees at night. Keep your palm out of drafty areas such as by doors that are opened frequently or air vents. If a palm plant gets too cold the leaves will turn yellow, then brown and eventually fall off.

Step 6

Prevent common pests such as spider mites and mealy bugs by wiping the leaves daily with a damp cloth. Signs of infestation are a white coating on the underside of the leaves or small holes in the leaves. If your palm becomes infested treat by using a natural neem oil or insecticidal soap available at any gardening store, or treat by washing the leaves with laundry soap and warm water every day or two until the pests are gone.

Step 7

Keep your plant looking tidy by trimming off any brown or yellow tips on the leaves and removing leaves that have completely turned yellow by cutting off at the base. Yellow leaves will never become green again.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Artificial lights
  • Laundry detergent
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft cloth

References

  • Mother Earth News; Grow Palms As Houseplants
  • Indoor Palm Trees; Indoor Palm Tree Care
Keywords: palm trees care, palm trees, grow palm trees

About this Author

Residing in Southern Oregon, Amy Madtson has been writing for Demand Studios since 2008 with a focus on health, pregnancy, crafts and gardening. Her work has been published on websites such as eHow and Garden Guides, among others. Madtson has been a childbirth educator and doula since 1993.