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The deep green foliage of bamboo palm adds wonderful depth to a shade garden. It also makes a fantastic houseplant. With its exceptional shade tolerance, this rugged palm is perfect in a bright window—and can even do well in north-facing light.
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Palms have long been used for their versatility and their ability to bring a tropical flair to any space. Bamboo palms are no exception. These tend to be some of the most common palms grown, especially for the indoors because they are proven to filter the air in your home! Bamboo palms can take anything from part sun to full shade and are ideal in the filtered light of a house or apartment setting.
This genus has more than 100 species to choose from. Most have lovely green foliage born on the typical pinnate leaves. A few varieties have smaller leaflets, and some have fused leaflets. Some, like the metallica palm, have blue and green metallic-looking foliage. Regardless of leaf size, most bamboo palms tend to stay fairly small.
As their name implies, bamboo palms form tall, slender trunks that often resemble bamboo, thanks to the rings around their trunks. Many species of bamboo palms also form suckering colonies of plants, giving them a grove-like effect. This isn't the case in all species, though—many are single stemmed and will never form colonies. Growers will often plant several of these trees in one pot to give the appearance of having colonies to make up for it.
Bamboo Palm Care Must-Knows
Bamboo palms are easy to care for and require no special skills to grow. These plants generally won't tolerate full sun, unlike many other types of palm. Bamboo palms prefer part sun but can manage fine in full shade.
Make sure to plant your bamboo palm in well-drained soils. While these plants like to remain consistently moist, they don't tolerate standing water—1-3 waterings a week should do the trick. Container bamboo palms also like to have some room to grow, so if they look cramped in their current pot, consider bumping them up a container size. While bamboo palms like to be fed, don't go overboard when fertilizing them; the easiest and safest route is to apply a slow-release fertilizer every three months or so.
Problems and Concerns
Bamboo palms are pretty rugged plants with very few problems. One of the main things your bamboo palm may encounter in a container setting is leaf burn. This often happens when too much salt from water and fertilizer build up within the soil. To solve this, either repot the plants and try and remove as much old soil as possible, or leach the soil out. To leach the soil, simply flush the pot with water until it runs clear.
During hot and dry seasons, palms can also be susceptible to spider mites. Often, you'll see small webbing at the edges of leaves before you notice the mites themselves. Spider mites like hot and dry conditions, so be on the lookout in the summer. If you leave these plants outside, simply washing the leaves off with a heavy stream of water can remove spider mites. Otherwise, this problem can be treated with an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Occasionally, mealybugs and scale can be a problem—these can be wiped out with horticulture soap or oil.
More Varieties of Bamboo Palm
Miniature fishtail palm
Chamaedorea metallica is a small shade-tolerant palm suited as a groundcover when grown in a large grouping. The deep bluish-green leaves are splashed with silver, providing the plant with a metallic sheen. Miniature fishtail palm grows 4-6 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. Zones 10-11
Chamaedorea elegans may be better known as a houseplant than as a landscape plant. It has been popular for indoor use since Victorian times. In the landscape, it grows 5-8 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. Shade is essential: The foliage may burn and the plant decline if given too much sun. Zones 10-11