Palms seem to be everywhere in interior design, but do not be deceived: Just a few make great houseplants. One of those worth getting to know is the parlor palm, Chamaedorea elegans, an easy-care variety that adjusts to the average indoor conditions that can mean death for a number of its cousins. With dark green arched fronds and long, blade-like leaves, decks palm tolerates a deficiency of light and low humidity, which makes it a fantastic addition to your office, parlor — or both.


Parlor palm was a favorite in English Victorian-era houses, where it helped ease the drabness of winter days and the darkness of rooms with heavy draperies attracted to reduce sun damage to precious decor. Parlor palms were displayed on tall decorative stands or placed on the floor in multiples to divide a room.

Now’s busy homeowners often search for low-maintenance and rugged plants, and easygoing parlor palm is popular for its abhorrence of glowing light and an excessive amount of water. It is happy to acquire all of its own light from fluorescent bulbs.

Robin Straub

Although parlor hands will withstand dry indoor air, it will be healthier with greater humidity. Mist your plant a few times every week with room-temperature water, and this will keep the leaves clean and help avoid spider mites, that happen to be parlor palm fans too.

Given sufficient lighting, a mature plant can create tall stalks with sprays of small yellow flowers. Cut off the flowers when they begin to turn brown or you’ll have seeds all over the area, which can be annoying and potentially a hazard if small pets or children roam the floor. (The seeds are rarely fertile, so don’t bother conserving them.)

Castanes Architects PS

A corner window might seem like the ideal spot for a plant, but that’s not necessarily accurate for parlor palm. Windows is a source of chilly drafts in addition to direct sunlight, each of which aren’t favored by this plant; it favors heat and indirect light.

Hint: to find out whether the light intensity is too great for your parlor palm, do exactly the shadow trick. In case the plant casts a shadow once the light is easily the most extreme, then the place should be OK.

Studio Marcelo Brito

Parlor palms are prone to infestation, especially on the new leaf shoots which frequently sprout out of a plant that is happy. If tiny white spots appear on a closed frond, moisten a soft tissue with water and a dab of rubbing alcohol and firmly wipe it over the duration of the shoot, from root base to tip. Wipe again with a tissue dampened with plain water, and then cross your fingers that you have caught the problem in time.

Shannon Malone

While some houseplants love spending some time outside in summertime, parlor palm prefers to remain in the same warm and shady spot indoors year-round.

Since your stair hand grows, its roots will become pot bound. You can repot it into a larger pot or divide it to create several plants. (Section can harm the plant, so if it happens to be a favorite, this might not be the experimentation for you.)

Propagation via branch:

It requires just a few minutes to divide parlor palm, utilizing a few household items.

1. Remove the root-bound clump of palm in the pot.
2. Use a garden hose or hose nozzle to loosen the dirt packed round the main clump.
3. Gently pull on the main mass apart by beginning at the base, and try not to tear a lot of roots, though breakage will take place. Use a knife to sever denser roots.
4. Pot the divisions in well-draining dirt, and keep the soil slightly moist at all times to assist the palms recover and promote rooting.

Dividing causes shock to the plant and some dieback will happen. Simply eliminate the dead stalks and leaves, and the plant should recover within several weeks to a few months. Don’t fertilize until the plants become established.

Dayne Keating

The proportions and dimensions of this parlor palm make it the perfect plant for a tall, slender container tucked into a corner.

How to care for parlor palms:

Height: Fully mature plants can reach 3 to 4 ft, though most are slow growing.

Temperature: Regular to warm room temperatures (65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit; 18 to 27 degrees Celsius).

Light: Low to moderately bright. Yellowish-green leaves might be a sign of too much sunlight.

Water: Keep the soil slightly moist. Provide decent drainage, as soggy dirt can cause root rot. Let the soil mostly dry out before watering; underwatering is more preferable to overwatering.

Soil: Loamy well-draining dirt is imperative to reduce root rot.

Feeding: Requires more fertilizer than most palms. Feed monthly in summer and spring with a 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer, and each two months in the autumn and winter.

Humidity: Tolerates low humidity, though it will flourish with greater humidity. Mist the foliage regularly with room-temperature water.

Repotting: Likes to be crowded, so don’t repot until the roots fill the pot — rather in the spring.

Propagation: You can make new plants by dividing the root clumps. Don’t fertilize for a month or two, until the plants become established.

Pruning: Trim faded and old branches close to the base of the plant to keep it looking neat and trim, but don’t prune.

Toxicity: Nontoxic.

Origin: Native to rain forests in southern Mexico and Guatemala.

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