Chamadorea Elegans - Neanthebella Palms - NASA CLEAN AIR PLANT #21
If you are a beginner to the plant hobby, than a Parlor Palm is a must! This plant has been a main stay since the Victorian days. Chamaedorea elegans, the neanthe bella palm or parlour palm, is a species of small palm tree native to the rainforests in Southern Mexico and Guatemala.
The parlor palm is one of the most heavily sold houseplant palms in the world. This is most likely due to its low demanding personality! It is flexible regarding light, not fussy about too much or too little water and grows slow. The Parlor Palm can be small enough to fit into a terrarium or will mature into a lovely 4 foot tree, perfect for a bright corner.
To be successful growing your Parlor Palm, there are a few things you need to keep in mind for a great relationship.
Light - One of the great attributes of the Parlor Palm is its ability to thrive in lower light conditions and artificial lighting. It keeps growing without skipping a beat in a lower light setting, where many indoor plants will fail to thrive. The Parlor Palm is an understory plant in its native environment, sheltered from the sun by larger trees. It is successful indoors because it tolerates low light, however it will not survive in "no" light. Place in a east or north window, or away from the window in a south or west exposure. They are most happy with bright, indirect light. Keep out of the sun as this palm will get scotched very easily.
Temperature - Since the Parlor Palm is native to regions that are consistently warm, it will grow best when indoor temperatures between 65°F and 80°F are maintained. Generally, if you are comfortable inside the home, your Parlor palm will be comfortable too. It can tolerate a low of 50 degrees but will die with a frost. Keep it away from cold drafts near windows, vents, and outside doors.
Water - Parlor palms have a moderate tolerance to drought conditions and are more forgiving if you forget to water than if you "over-love" them by watering too frequently. Watering too often allows the soil to remain soggy for too long, which then promotes problems with rot. If rot develops, you can end up losing your palm tree.
During the growing season of spring throughout summer, you will typically have to water once each week. However, during winter while the Parlor Palm is dormant and its growth slows, it will probably only require an application of water every couple of weeks.
Like many palms, parlor palms are sensitive to overwatering and cannot tolerate being waterlogged or sitting in saturated potting mix. Water a Parlor Palm well, and then allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering again. When in doubt, do not water! Water even less during the winter when the plant is not actively growing. Brown leaf tips often indicate over watering, while yellow fronds tell you the plant needs a bit more water.
Humidity - In the Parlor Palm’s native environment of densely forested rainforests, the humidity levels are high and constant. Parlor Palms prefer high humidity. Dry air encourages spider mites to attack the plant. Use a pebble tray during the winter months to increase the immediate humidity around your plant.
Soil - Use a well-aerated potting soil that holds water but still drains quickly. Add a bit of sand to the soil to improve the soil texture and allows water to move through the pot.
Fertilizer - Parlor Palms do not need much plant food as they are light feeders. Fertilize once in the spring and once in the summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Do not feed a Parlor Palm in the fall and winter.
Re-pot - Parlor Palms like to be potbound. They have really tender roots that grow very slowly so make sure they completely fill the pot before moving them up a pot size. Avoid moving your plant into a pot too large, just move it up one size larger. Also be sure any pot you use has drip holes in the bottom. Large pots retain too much water and will drown this plant. The best time to repot is at the end of the winter season just as it begins to grow.
Maintenance - Remove dying leaves to maintain good looks and discourage bugs. Regular pruning during the winter months will keep your ficus looking its best and give you a bushier plant. If a Fiddle Leaf Fig gets too tall, gently remove it from its pot and trim the roots. Trimming the roots limits how tall the plant grows. Root-trimming a ficus plant can be done every few years during winter and fall. You can also remove the growing tip at the top of the stem to stop upward growth and maintain a height that works for your home.
Keep the large leaves of your Fiddle Leaf Fig wiped monthly with a damp cloth to remove any accumulated dust and pests. When the leaves are too dusty, they aren’t able to soak up all the sun and nutrients. Remember, plants breathe through their leaves. Using a oil-free leaf shine will make the leaves shine.
Brown spots on the leaves can be caused by a number things including overwatering or not enough water. When a brown spot occurs it doesn’t usually go away and can get darker and develop a hole in the leaf. If the brown spot is towards the end of the leaf, take scissors and trim around it.
Pests - Like many indoor plants, the biggest pest threats to the Parlor Palm are mealybugs and spider mites. Fortunately, both are easily recognizable and you will want to treat a problem quickly so the pesky pests don’t travel to your other houseplants.
Spider mites: The tiny pest covers the Parlor Palm’s leaves in a fine webbing, much like a spider would. Spider mites suck juices from the leaves and if left untreated, the foliage loses its color and in an extremely bad infestation, can kill the palm, especially if it’s small.
Mealybugs: Mealybugs form mass groupings on the Parlor Palm’s leaves or their crotches that resemble cotton. Like spider mites, mealybugs suck the plant’s juices, leaving foliage discolored. The smaller the palm, the more damage the pest causes. For more information on fighting these pesty critters, go to our page on mealybugs.
Propagation - Propagation is done by air-layering and stem cutting. Use rooting hormone for the best success and stick in regular potting soil.
Potential Problems - When grown in proper conditions, Parlor Palms aren’t plagued by any serious diseases. However, overwatering is the palm’s biggest enemy, which leads to problems with root rot that can eventually kill the entire palm.
The problem usually rears its ugly head by what should be healthy fronds completely browning and sections of the trunk browning and beginning to soften and rot. In severe cases, the root system turns mushy and rots.
Prevent problems with rot by watering only when the top several inches of soil become dry. Grow the Parlor Palm in lightweight soil that drains well and doesn’t remain soggy. Make sure the container has bottom drain holes.
If you notice the beginnings of a potential problem, stop watering and allow the soil to completely dry before watering again. If the potting medium is too heavy and remains soggy for too long, you should repot the Parlor Palm using another potting mix that is lighter and drains well. Trim off any affected sections of roots.
PARLOR PALMS ARE NON-TOXIC AND SAFE FOR CHILDREN AND PETS!