How to Care for Indoor Plants Like Palms


Palms are popular indoor plants, which add attractive foliage to any home. They also help improve the quality of the air in the home. As with most indoor houseplants, palms need proper care, including care that meets their light, humidity, water and temperature needs. In addition, they need to be planted in well-draining potting soil in a container that has drainage holes. Palms that grow well as houseplants are the bamboo, lady reed, sentry and parlor palms, just to name a few.

Step 1

Place your indoor palm in an area where it receives the amount of light it needs and is away from a heating source, such as a vent or radiator. Temperatures should ideally range from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Many palms, such as bamboo and parlor palms, need indirect light. Ideal locations include near a north-facing window (which receives little sunlight), near a window with filtered light (such as through a curtain) or about 8 feet or more away from sunny windows or skylights. Other palms, like the Chinese fan, need direct light, such as near a south- or west-facing window.

Step 2

Water only after the soil becomes dry. Test with your finger about an inch deep. If the soil is dry, then water the palm slowly from the top and until it comes out the bottom drainage holes. Discard the excess water that accumulates in the saucer beneath the plant. In the winter, you can allow the soil to dry out a bit deeper, around 2 or 3 inches.

Step 3

Keep the humidity high. If you live in a dry environment or your home is dry, which is especially the case when the heat is on, keep a humidifier running in the same room as the indoor palm. You can also spray the leaves lightly with water once or twice a week.

Step 4

Fertilize your indoor palms once a month from late winter until early fall with a houseplant soluble fertilizer, such as one labeled 20-20-20, 5-10-5 or 7-7-7. Follow the dosing instructions, but in general, 1 tsp. is mixed with 1 gallon of water.

Step 5

Keep an eye out for pests, such as spider mites and scale. Treat as soon as you notice a problem. Take a sample bug or damaged leaf to your local nursery or county extension office if you are unsure how to identify the pest. Treat with an insecticide appropriate to the pest, such as one that contains malathion or diazinon. Always read the label for proper application instructions.

Step 6

Clean the leaves by gently rubbing them with a clean, soft cloth. This will help prevent pests. Do not use oil to shine the leaves; however, if desired, use a leaf wax available at most florists and home and garden centers.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Humidfier or spray bottle
  • Soluble fertilizer
  • Insecticide
  • Soft cloth
  • Leaf wax (optional)


  • University of Minnesota: Growing Palms Indoors
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Indoor Plant Care
  • Heirloom Gardens: Indoor Palm Tree Care
Keywords: care for indoor plants, care for potted palms, care for indoor palms, growing palms indoors

About this Author

Melissa Lewis has been a professional writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. A former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist, Lewis is also a script writer, with a movie script, "Homecoming," she co-wrote currently in production. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.