The Palm House Plant

The number of palms adapted to be palm tree house plants is very limited but they comprise the most elegant of the decorative plants. Learn those varieties and the exact potting, water, and care that you'll need for success.


Although popular now, palm tree house plants would be much more widely used if their growing were better understood. Mistakes made in handling palms are serious in results. They produce, for the most part, only two or three new leaves in a year...so any injury shows for a long time. It's not replaced by new growth and then forgotten, like many of the more rapid growing house plants.

Nevertheless, if the few growing requirements of the palm house plant are carefully attended to, they are as easily grown as any plants and yield a solid and lasting satisfaction.

The palm house plant, as we just said, grows very slowly. It's not only useless, but dangerous, to try to force them into unnatural growth.

Care For House Plant Palm

The palm house plant will do best when the amount of room their roots have is restricted. When your plant comes from the nursery, don't get impatient after a month or so and think that a larger pot would make it grow faster. Repotting once a year while palms are growing is sufficient...then not even as frequently as that after they are in eight-or ten-inch pots. The best time for repotting is late spring...May or June. Use a pot only one size larger than that in which the palm has been growing. Remove carefully, do not disturb the roots, and put into the new pot carefully, tapping the new soil in firmly around the old root ball with a thin piece of wood.

The soil for palms doesn't need to contain as much humus (leaf-mould or peat) as that for most other house plants. A potting mix made just for palms and cacti can be purchased or if making your own some good rich garden loam, with sharp sand added, and bone meal worked through it, will be great.

Be sure the drainage is excellent. Crock the pots carefully. What is crocking? If any of the crocking from the old pot comes out with the ball of earth, remove it as carefully as possible and fill in the space with soil. After potting, keep shaded for several days.

Water For The House Plant Palm Tree

While palms require plenty of water, no plants are more fatally injured by overwatering. Above all, care must be taken never to let water accumulate in saucers in which the pots are standing. Water will soak up through a pot as well as down through it, and water-saturated soil will quickly become sour. When you do water, water thoroughly and then see that the pots are kept where they can drain out, and do not water again until they show a tendency to get too dry. Much water will cause the leaves to turn brown. In this case change the watering schedule at once. (The looks of the leaves can be somewhat improved by cutting them to shape with a pair of scissors.) The amount of water required is much greater in summer than in winter, when the plants are practically at rest.

Light Requirements

Direct sunlight is not good for the palm house plant, but they should have plenty of light. Do not stick them away in a dark corner or an inner room and expect them to do well. They will stand that several days without injury, but should be brought back to the light as soon as possible. They do well in north windows, providing the temperature of the room is high enough. Remember though, that pots kept in a shady place will dry out more slowly than those in the light or sunlight.

Air

Give plenty of air. The more the better, as long as a proper temperature is kept up. Beware of drafts blowing across the plants, but provide plenty of fresh air.

In the spring as soon as it warms up outside, you can plunge the palms outside, in a sheltered position, where they can be given plenty of water. At this time, if they are not repotted, bone meal should be worked into the surface of the soil and a liquid fertilizer given once a month or so during the growing season.

Both during winter and summer, shower the leaves frequently, with as forceful a stream as possible, to prevent scale and mealy-bug from getting a start. Keep the leaves and stems clean by wiping off every once in a while with a soft cloth and soapy warm water, wiping down with clean water afterwards.

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