Bring the color, texture, and energy of plant life to any low-light room by adding an easy-to-grow parlor palm. This rainforest native is a single-trunk palm with a compact habit and handsome arching green pinnate leaves comprised of narrow leaflets. It may bear clusters of yellow flowers in spring if it gets enough light. This palm typically grows to about 4 feet tall indoors but can reach 8 in ideal conditions. Desktop specimens stand 1 foot tall, making them suitable for small spaces such as nightstands and kitchen countertops. Parlor palm prefers medium light, evenly moist soil, and temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using Parlor Palm Outdoors
Parlor palm is hardy in Zones 10 to 12, where it is easy to grow in rich, moist, well-drained soil and part shade. Enrich the soil with well-decomposed compost prior to planting. Choose a location protected from strong winds, which have a tendency to damage parlor palm's fronds. Outside, parlor palm pairs well with fern, peace lily (Spathiphyllum), ginger (Asarum canadense), and elephant's ear (Alocasia).
Parlor Palm Care
Parlor palm grows well in bright filtered light, like what you'd get at a south- or west-facing window with a sheer curtain. But this adaptable palm also tolerates low light and can thrive in spaces with east- or north-facing windows. Water parlor palm thoroughly (water should escape through pot's drainage hole) when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Palms don't like wet soil, so be sure to dump water-filled plant saucers after watering.
Plan to repot parlor palm when roots begin circling the exterior of the root ball. To check, lift the plant from its pot to examine the roots every few months. When needed, repot the plant in a container that is 2 or 3 inches larger in diameter than the previous container. Use a peaty, soil-base potting mix. Fertilize parlor palm with an all-purpose fertilizer only in spring and summer.
Parlor palms can be moved outdoors in the summer. Protect them from full sun and dry air. The former will scorch their leaves; the latter will make them susceptible to pests. Choose a shaded outdoor location and water daily in hot, dry conditions. Move parlor palm indoors when night temperatures fall to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
More Varieties of Parlor Palm
A small, slow-growing multitrunk palm with an upright shape that makes a good houseplant. Zones 9-11
Bella parlor palm
This selection of Chamaedorea elegans is a compact selection that remains under 4 feet tall for a long time.
Dark green, arching fronds. Grows 6 feet tall over time. Tolerates moist soil. Zones 9-11