Botanical name: Chamaoderea elegans
Parlour Palm is a popular Indoor Palm for the poorly-lit spaces. It is easy to grow and is suitable for small spaces. The palm has a high tolerance to low light and artificial light. However, it prefers bright indirect light, rich well-drained soils and warm temperature. Parlour Palm is native to the dense forests of Guatemala and Southern Mexico an environment that is consistently warm and humid. It is generally a short palm which grows slowly to reach a height of 2 ft when grown indoors but in the wild it can grow to 8 ft.This makes it suitable for small spaces, bottle garden or terrarium. Once grown and mature apart from being attractive, it also produces tiny yellow flowers and small fruits if grown under good light. According to a study carried out by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), Chamaedorea elegans was found to get rid of common VOCs like xylene, toulene, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloethylene and ammonia from indoor air.
Parlour Palm prefers bright, indirect light but it can tolerate some shade even artificial lighting. A north-facing window is ideal. Keep it away from direct sunlight which may scorch the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Keep the soil moderately moist at all times for Parlour Palm during the growing season. Reduce watering in the cold season and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Use chlorine-free water for watering; like all palms, Parlour Palm is sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Do not allow the palm to sit in soggy soil as it may lead to root-rot and eventual death of the palm. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Average warmth with a minimum of 120C is ideal for Parlour Palm. If the temperature is comfortable for you it is suitable for the Parlour Palm. Protect the palm from cold draughts. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.
Average room humidity is ideal for Parlour Palm. Mist the leaves frequently during hot weather or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Parlour Palm can also be grown in a terrarium where the humidity is consistently high. Occasionally clean the mature leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust.
Feed Parlour Palm every 3-4 weeks with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer during the growing period. Water thoroughly until the solution comes out through the drainage holes. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.
Repot Parlour Palm at the beginning of the growing season only when the palm has become root-bound; Parlour Palms does not like root disturbance. Use a pot 1-2 sizes larger that has a drainage hole(s). The soil should be free-draining and rich in organic matter.
Pruning Parlour Palm is easy. Cut away the old brown and dry fronds near the soil surface to maintain your plant neat and tidy. Do not cut away any leaf with green in it as it continues to supply nutrients to the palm. Where the seeds are required for propagation, allow the fruits to mature and drop then cut away the spent flower stalk. Where the seeds are not required, cut away the flower stalk immediately to prevent the plant from wasting energy on developing the flowers and seeds. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.
Parlour Palm can be propagated from seeds, offshoots or by division.
Propagating Parlour Palm from seeds
Parlour Palm seed germination is difficult and may take up to 4-6 months. Sow the seeds in moist soil and place in a warm place, about 300C. Keep the soil moist through out the period until germination takes place. Lower the temperature slightly after germination and maintain the soil moist until the plant is well established.
Propagating Parlour Palm from offshoots
Carefully cut the offshoot from the mother Parlour Palm. Ensure the offshoot has adequate roots before seperating it from the mother. Pot the offshoot in its own pot, place in a cool shaded place and maintain the soil moist through out. Allow the offshoot to be well established before transplanting.
Propagating Parlour Palm by division
During repotting, divide Parlour Palm into sections and pot up the sections in individual pots. Place in a cool shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the plant to be well established before transplanting.
Reasons for brown leaf tips in Parlour Palm are dry air, underwatering, cold draughts and damage by touching. Trim off the brown tips with sterilized scissors. Correct the faults by raising the humidity, watering correctly, protecting the plant from draughts and placing Parlour Palm away from traffic respectively.
Underwatering Parlour Palm is the reason for yellowing leaves. Keep the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing season. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Overwatering or sudden decrease of temperature are the causes of brown leaf spots in Parlour Palm. Remove the affected parts and improve the growing conditions by correct watering and maintain the right temperature by protecting Parlour Palm from cold draughts.
The lower leaves in Parlour Palm may turn brown and droop due to age; remove by cutting and not pulling. If browning is general and accompanied by rotting the reason is root-rot disease due to waterlogging.
The foliage of Parlour Palm is non-toxic to both humans and pets. The fruits (berries) are highly poisonous to both humans and pets. It is important to prevent flowering by removing the flower stalks when they begin to form.