Care of Palm Plants

Overview

Palms, often selected for their bold, textured foliage, add a tropical touch to an indoor space. Palms fall into one of two categories based on their leaf type: palmate (fan-shaped) and pinnate (feather-shaped). Pinnate palms have a tall thin trunk with long feather-like leaves at the top. Palmate varieties often have erect fan-shaped leaves on a short thick trunk. Both kings of palms tend to thrive naturally in less than hospitable locations, making them good candidates for interior environments. Nevertheless, make sure palms in your home or office receive adequate light in order to prevent deterioration.

Step 1

Place the palm plant near a west or southeast window to provide bright natural light year around.

Step 2

Maintain a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and about 60 F at night for ideal palm growth. In the winter, when palms are not actively growing, they may benefit from temperatures between 55 and 60 F. Keep palms away from drafts.

Step 3

Keep palms evenly moist. Water the plant until water drains out the bottom, and then empty excess water out of the saucer. Do not allow palms to stand in water or to dry out.

Step 4

Fertilize palms during summer months when they are actively growing. Use either a liquid fertilizer solution or a slow-release fertilizer, following product directions.

Step 5

Treat insect problems if and when they arise. Mites, mealy bugs and scale insects may be attracted to a palm plant. In the event you have any of these, consider using predatory mites and beetles to control the harmful insects on your palm plant, the University of Kentucky suggests.

Step 6

Rinse palm leaves periodically. This cleans the leaves while also washing excess fertilizer salts from the soil.

Step 7

Repot when palm roots fill the pot, approximately every two to three years. Keep in mind that palms tend to like their roots confined.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use any leaf shining products on a palm plant because they could severely damage the plant. Avoid excessive fertilization, which could cause tips of palm leaves to turn brown and die.

Things You'll Need

  • Palm plant
  • Watering can
  • Fertilizer (standard formula or slow-release type)
  • Larger pot

References

  • Clemson University Extension: Indoor Palms
  • University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension: Palms
  • University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension: Large Plants for Homes and Offices
Keywords: grow palm indoors, indoor palm care, palm plant care

About this Author

Ann Wolters, who has been a freelance writer, consultant, and writing coach for the past year and a half, has had her writing published in "The Saint Paul Almanac," and in magazines such as "Inventing Tomorrow" and "Frontiers." She earned a master’s degree in English as a second language from the University of Minnesota and taught English as a foreign language for nearly seven years.