Parlor Palm

OFFICIAL NAME

Chamaedorea elegans

ALSO KNOWN AS

Neanthe Bella Palm, Victorian Palm, Good Luck Palm

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

Central America | Tropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

The simple elegance of this feathery palm is hard to deny. Generally grown in bundles or clumps—even a small specimen will have a pleasant bushy look. More mature specimens are sure to anchor any space with their tall fronds, parlor or not!

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

easy going, bright indirect, goldilocks, mid-size, upright, clusters, bushy or dense, floor, tabletop, pet friendly, tropical, fronds, low light tolerant

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Parlor Palm

The basics

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Be particularly vigilant in winter to avoid overwatering.

Water

Preferred Light

Medium to bright, indirect light is ideal for your Parlor Palm. However, they can tolerate low light, as well. Just take extra precautions when watering and don't expect the plant to grow very much.

Light

Humidity Needs

While not too bothered about high humidity, your Parlor Palm will appreciate the occasional misting, which helps remove dust from their leaves and can keep brown edges at bay.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but may complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents. Still prefers the warmer side and will thrive in temps between 65-85°F.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

A non-toxic plant pal! You can introduce this plant to your whole family, pets and children included. While it'll be a sad day for you and your plant if someone takes a nibble, you don't have to worry about poisoning anyone!

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to around 3-6 ft tall with a 2-3 ft spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Size

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation of densely packed stems with tall feathery fronds that will arch more dramatically as they get larger. Works best on the floor or a plant stand to show off those magnificent leaves.

Format

Leaf Look

Delicate green blades line a tall skinny stalk, giving a feathery look to these fronds.

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

While often touted for their low-light tolerance, if you're looking for significant growth year-over-year, your Parlor Palm will be much happier in bright, indirect light. On the other hand, if you're satisfied with their size and would like to brighten up a dreary corner of your house—by all means, the Parlor Palm is up for the job (as long as you cut back on watering)!

Pro Tip

Did You Know?

Sometimes referred to as the Victorian Palm, it's clear this houseplant has been a favorite for quite some time! Even the most common name, Parlor Palm, reveals their Victorian popularity as parlors were where you received fancy visitors and thus displayed your fanciest possessions!

Fun Fact

Water

|

Allow top inches of soil to dry between waterings.

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Be particularly vigilant in winter to avoid overwatering.

Light

|

Low light tolerant. Bright, indirect light preferred.

Preferred Light

Medium to bright, indirect light is ideal for your Parlor Palm. However, they can tolerate low light, as well. Just take extra precautions when watering and don't expect the plant to grow very much.

Humidity

|

Not too concerned by humidity levels.

Humidity Needs

While not too bothered about high humidity, your Parlor Palm will appreciate the occasional misting, which helps remove dust from their leaves and can keep brown edges at bay.

Temperature

|

Can adapt, but doesn't like sudden change.

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but may complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents. Still prefers the warmer side and will thrive in temps between 65-85°F.

Toxicity

|

Non-toxic. Completely pet safe!

Toxic or Not?

A non-toxic plant pal! You can introduce this plant to your whole family, pets and children included. While it'll be a sad day for you and your plant if someone takes a nibble, you don't have to worry about poisoning anyone!

Size

|

Pretty big, but manageable.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to around 3-6 ft tall with a 2-3 ft spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Format

|

Densely packed upright stems.

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation of densely packed stems with tall feathery fronds that will arch more dramatically as they get larger. Works best on the floor or a plant stand to show off those magnificent leaves.

Leaf Shape

|

Feathery green fronds.

Leaf Look

Delicate green blades line a tall skinny stalk, giving a feathery look to these fronds.

Pro Tip

|

Growth is always tied to light, no matter what.

Pro Tip

While often touted for their low-light tolerance, if you're looking for significant growth year-over-year, your Parlor Palm will be much happier in bright, indirect light. On the other hand, if you're satisfied with their size and would like to brighten up a dreary corner of your house—by all means, the Parlor Palm is up for the job (as long as you cut back on watering)!

Fun Fact

|

A fancy plant for a fancy era.

Did You Know?

Sometimes referred to as the Victorian Palm, it's clear this houseplant has been a favorite for quite some time! Even the most common name, Parlor Palm, reveals their Victorian popularity as parlors were where you received fancy visitors and thus displayed your fanciest possessions!

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

Try to repot every 2-3 years in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time. Once mature and becoming unwieldily to maneuver—you can reduce your repotting frequency and switch to a routine of refreshing just the top few inches of soil. More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

While no specific pruning is required for this plant, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests.

Propagation

Not an easy plant to propagate. Commercially, this is typically done with seeds—not something most casual plant parents are willing to undertake. It is also possible through simple division, but this plant's roots are particularly sensitive to damage. You'll simply pull apart the roots into your desired clumps. Or, if a bit rootbound, you may need to cut them apart. You can then pot each one up into their own appropriately sized vessel. More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why are the leaf tips on my Parlor Palm browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

Once you've addressed the problem: If the brown tips bother you, you can trim them back. Do your best to follow the shape of the leaf to help them look natural. Also, try to cut just short of the discolored edge so it doesn’t expand.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why does my Parlor Palm have patchy, pale spots?

Symptom

Larger grey or pale patches on a few leaves. The spot may look dried out and somewhat bleached.

Cause

When your plant is exposed to the hot sun, it begins to evaporate more moisture from the leaf surface than the plant can replace. Leading to bleached areas or large grey patches on leaves.

Solution

You may be pushing the limits on how much direct sun your plant can handle. Try moving it out of reach of those direct rays of sun or moving to a spot that receives only minimal direct sun in the mornings or evenings. While this should prevent further burning, the spots will not "heal", so it's up to you if you'd like to prune off the affected leaves.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaves on my Parlor Palm wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why isn't my Parlor Palm growing?

Symptom

Slow or no new growth.

Cause

This is most likely due to insufficient light. While Parlor Palms are quite tolerant of low light conditions, they will not grow very much.

Solution

Improve the lighting conditions for your Parlor Palm to thrive. These plants prefer medium to bright, indirect light. Make sure to adjust your watering to accommodate the increased light.

More on lighting here.
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