Indoor Palm Trees — Care and Tips For Indoor Palm Plants

Last Updated on October 6, 2021 by Grow with Bovees

Did you know that in feng shui, palm plants are thought to bring positive energy and luck?

They also represent life and fertility and other generally good things.

Palm trees are a popular houseplant, and easy to grow — you don’t have to be a master gardener to grow a palm tree.

A palm tree also cleans the air in your house as well as bringing some tropical flair.

They truly are excellent house plants. This article will guide you through palm tree care, such as watering, light and humidity levels.

In no time, you will have your own indoor jungle!

How Often Should You Water an Indoor Palm Tree?

For best palm plant care, water your palm tree on a regular basis. As a general rule, wait until the top inch of soil is dry, and that could be up to 1 or 2 times per week.

If you are in doubt, it is better to under-water a palm plant. It can handle a bit of neglect, but not excess water. In the winter, you can let the soil get more dry in between watering.

The soil should be evenly moist and drain easily through the pot. Drainage holes are absolutely essential.

If there is water sitting at the bottom of the palm tree pot, you risk root rot in the root ball, and your palm tree could die.

If you are really unsure, then you can purchase a soil moisture gauge, (amazon link) but indoor palm plants are pretty difficult to kill! Just don’t let the soil get completely bone dry.

In general, brown leaves mean there is a lack of water. Yellow leaves suggest that it needs less.

If you have bought a new palm, you can water it every day in the first week and then reduce it to every other day in the second week.

Once it has gotten used to your home, in the third week, you can water it only a couple of times, and then follow the normal pattern.

In terms of humidity, most palms can survive in average household humidity and this is not much of a concern.

They are tropical plants, so if you want ideal conditions, you could mist, or use a pebble tray or humidifier. They thrive in bathrooms!

Best Lighting For Indoor Palm Trees

The ideal light condition for palm plant indoor care is a bright room with natural light, but not in direct sunlight. These indoor plants do best in partial shade and indirect light or dimmer spaces.

A west or south-facing window might suit varieties that prefer more sun, but be careful not to burn your plant, give it only bright indirect light.

In the summer months you can put your palm in a shadier spot, as it should still get enough.

In the colder months, never put your palm outside, and never in complete darkness during the day!

If you live in a basement flat with no exposure to sunlight or low light conditions, you may want to consider buying a grow light. If your plant has yellow leaves, it suggests that the light conditions are wrong.

A normal room temperature is fine for a palm, although it might struggle in extreme temperatures. Keep your palm tree away from cold drafts.

Best Potting Soil For Palm Trees

You will be fine with general-purpose potting soil from most stores. However, it is possible to buy specialized palm soil mix which includes leaf mold and shredded bark. Cactus potting mix also works.

Ensure you have a porous soil mix that is loosely packed, so that water and air can drain through.

You can always add to commercial potting soil. Adding equal amounts of peat moss and vermiculite or perlite is a good idea. This helps keep the soil moist.

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It is recommended to not repot your palm often. Once every few years is ideal.

Best Fertilizer (During the Growing Season)

The growing season is in the warmer months, during summer and spring. Do not fertilize in winter or autumn, when growth slows, as this is not good for your palm tree.

Fertilize regularly, around once a month, with a water soluble houseplant fertilizer. Use an organic plant fertilizer, even one that is specialised for palm trees. It is important that you avoid synthetic fertilizers as they can actually be harmful.

How To Fertilize Palm Trees Indoors

For the best palm plant indoor care you need to fertilize correctly. Indoor palms can suffer from not enough potassium, so you could always supplement your palm tree with potassium or manganese.

You can use dedicated palm fertilizers if you are not sure how to do this.

Avoid fertilizer burn, which can happen when you use too much houseplant fertilizer. The leaves will start to go brown because the salts are drawing out water. Always follow the recommended amount of your fertilizer.

Pruning Your Palm Plant

There are divided opinions on pruning palm trees. The bottom fronds tend to go brown as the plant gets bigger and older. You can prune these to keep your indoor palm plant looking healthy.

You can also prune the brown tips of palm leaf, but brown tips of palm leaf aren’t a big worry. It might mean it needs a bit more water.

However, if you want a really healthy palm plant it could be useful to keep yellow and brown fronds to give your plant nutrients.

You can prune your palm plant for shape but try not to over-prune it. You can trim the longer stems with careful pruning but don’t cut off too many healthy fronds, and definitely do not top-trim.

You don’t need specialized palm trimming tools, but it is a good idea to use sharp pruners such as bonsai pruning shears or micro tip.

How to Propagate Indoor Palm Trees

There are a few ways to propagate indoor palm trees, and it will depend on what variety you have. Propagating with seed is very difficult but there are ways you can propagate from the mother plants.

You can remove any pups (baby plants) that grow alongside the mother, but we will go into more detail below on other methods.

It is best to propagate just before the active growing period, so around early spring.

How to Propagate Indoor Palm Trees By Division

To propagate indoor palm trees via the division method you will need a clumping palm tree, for example parlor palms and the cat palm or cataract palm.

Firstly, prepare some new pots for the clumps. Use a soilless mix and water it until damp.

Next, remove the mother plant from its pot and loosen the soil so that you can see the root ball more easily.

Stem clumps will have their own seperate root system, so isolate them with your hands and then snip off any connecting roots to the mother plant. Make sure to keep the general root system intact.

Plant the clumps in their new pot. While they are getting settled, it is best to keep them in a shadier spot with a warm temperature.

How to Propagate Indoor Palm Trees With Offsets

Varieties such as the lipstick palm grow suckers, or offsets. Once you have found some, you can prepare some potting mix with the soil moist.

Pull the sucker off gently, and if you find it difficult, then loosen the surrounding soil. You can keep the mother plant in its pot for this.

Find the seperate roots for the sucker and cut it away from the plant parent. Make sure to keep the root system intact.

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Plant the sucker in a new pot, and as with the clumps, keep them in a shady and warm place.

Why Is My Indoor Palm Dying?

There could be one or many reasons why your indoor palm is struggling. While it is difficult to isolate the main reason there are a few symptoms you can look out for. Here is a small checklist.

If leaves or tips of leaves are turning brown then this is a sign that you are not watering it enough, or that the humidity is low.

This could be if you live in dry conditions. Follow the above advice and spritz your plant, or get a pebble tray or humidifier.

If your plant is developing yellow or discoloured fronts then you might be watering it too much. Excess water can result in lethal root rot, so maybe check your roots to make sure.

Are you using chemical fertilizers?

This is bad for your indoor palm plant and also potentially bad for you and any pets you might have! Use organic fertilizers instead.

Also, if it is a new plant, the garden center might have used chemical fertilizers. You can wait a few days for them to wash out and see if your plant improves.

Another problem might be lack of light or too much. Make sure your room is bright, but the plant is not in direct sunlight or in a dark corner.

Finally, is your tap water too chlorinated? If tap water has a lot of impure substances, then this can be harmful to your plant. If you want to be extra careful, you can filter the water that you use or leave in an open container overnight.

Palm Varieties

There are many palms for indoors, so you have lots of options. They are very common houseplants for homes, and many people have them as office plants. Here are a list of a few.

We have gone through the basic conditions for all palm varieties, such as bright but indirect light. Some indoor palm plants have slightly different specific requirements and characteristics.

Below are some common palm houseplants with growing tips for proper care.

Parlor Palm Tree

The parlor palm is a common indoor palm tree, and is an easy-care indoor palm plant. The parlor palm can actually survive without much light compared to other palms, so if you are not sure if your house is light enough or consistently light then this could be a good choice.

A parlor palm can grow up to around 12 feet high, so consider looking into dwarf parlor palm houseplants. The parlor palm is non-toxic.

Sago Palm Tree (cycas revoluta)

This palm is probably not best for beginners, but if you have some experience then it is an option. It can handle a shady spot, but keep your room warm and higher than average humidity.

This is a much smaller palm which will not get much smaller than 3 feet high. It is ideal for smaller living spaces.

Be warned that this plant is toxic if it is ingested. If you have children or dogs it might nto be a good idea, or at least keep it in a high up place.

Areca Palm Tree (dypsis lutescens)

The Areca palm tree is a beginner-friendly indoor palm plant, and can survive in low light spaces and indirect sunlight. Bear in mind though that all palms do need a well-lit room.

Areca palms are a bit smaller and grow up to 8 feet.

Ponytail Palm Tree

The ponytail palm tree is a unique palm tree in appearance. The fronts grow in curls like hair! It is actually in the asparagus family instead of a palm but is more like a palm visually.

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Keep the soil of your ponytail palm drier in between watering especially for this palm plant. It can grow up to 8 feet but grows slowly!

Pygmy Date Palm Tree

The Pygmy date palm, is a dwarf palm tree, so would be good for a smaller house. Miniature date palms are also easy to grow but do best in full sun rather than indirect light. They prefer more humidity too.

Kentia Palm Tree

If you are concerned about the conditions in your house then container grown Kentia palms might be right for you!

In terms of light conditions it can take a bit of shade and lower than average room temperature.

Yucca Palm

The yucca palm is the indoor palm tree that looks most like what you would imagine a palm tree to look like. The yucca palm is a very easy to care for plant.

It is able to survive in low-light areas found in many home interiors.

Cascade Palm

The cascade palm is the most difficult palm tree to look after in this list. It is probably not best for a beginner. It needs more light than the others, but not full sun.

The cascade palm does better in constant moist soil, unlike the others. Your cascade palm will be smaller at maximum around 3 feet.

Majestic Palm

The majestic palm is a good choice and one of my favorite palms. Your majestic palm requires the same general palm tree care, but only fertilize a few times during the summer months.

The majestic palm grows relatively fast and grows tall up to 20 feet!

Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona chinensis) / Fountain Palm

This fan palm is very popular in Florida, as it likes indirect but bright light throughout the year.

However, it can still be grown in less sunny places and is easy to look after. Only fertilize twice a year, once in spring and summer. 

It grows slowly and can reach up to 7ft tall. 

Other nice varieties of palms to try are; palm lady palms, bamboo palm, lady palms, butterfly palms and banana palms.

Pests and Diseases of Indoor Palm Plants

So you’ve followed every single step of the way so far, and your beautiful palm tree gets infested with pests!

Do not fear, there are ways to get rid of them.

Signs that you might have an infestation of a common pest are spotted or curling leaves. Leaves that drop from the plant are also a sure sign. Fronds with either a webbed stem or underside suggest that pests are around.

The most common types of pest for indoor palm plants are spider mites, scale insects or mealy bugs. Try and identify what pest you have on your plant.

Firstly, prune off any of the infested branches and dispose of them outside so that they do not return easily.

Next, decide on the best way to get rid of them.  

You should use natural pesticides, as synthetic chemicals can harm your indoor palm plant. These include organic oils, such as neem oil. 1.5 tablespoons per liter of warm water every few days should help.

You can also use horticultural oil, or insecticidal soaps. Use 1 teaspoon of soap in a liter of water.

If spider mites are the problem, once you have gotten rid of them, you can keep the humidity high near your plant to help ward them off.

Final Thoughts On Indoor Palm Tree Care

Hopefully, now you have everything you need to grow indoor palm trees.

Many indoor palm trees cost very little, and will give pleasure for many years. Be sure to share all your tips for a healthy palm tree with friends for excellent houseplants!