Chamadorea elegans (Neanthe bella or Neanthe palm) is part of the Arecaceae family. Its common name, and one most of us recognize, is Parlor Palm. One of the reasons a Parlor palm is one of the most popular indoor palms grown and sold, is that it thrives in almost any location. Like its relative the Kentia Palm, this plant can even stay healthy in low light. Parlor Palm’s popularity as a houseplant dates back to Victorian times when it was a favorite plant used in the “parlours” of well to do families.
Parlor Palm Description
A Parlor Palm, which was originally discovered growing in the rainforests of Guatemala and Southern Mexico, is the most popular indoor palm sold. It is a type of “feather palm;” other familiar feather palms are the kentia palm, the pygmy date palm, the coconut palm, and the sentry palm. A Parlor Palm can be small enough to place in a terrarium, perfect to sit on a table or desk, or as a mature plant, tall enough to be an elegant floor plant. This is a compact, bushy plant with dark green, long, graceful fronds. The fronds have a middle rib with soft, drooping leaflets coming off each side. When planted in a 10” pot, a parlor palm can grow 3-4ft. tall in three or four years and sometimes produce very small, ball like yellow flowers. Since these palms require very little care, it is the perfect plant for offices, businesses, and any area that might have less than optimal growing conditions. Indoor palms, whether it’s an Areca Palm, a Bamboo Palm, a Kentia Palm, or a Cat Palm, come in all sizes and shapes, but they all have one very important thing in common. The only growing point on a palm is at the very end of each stem. If you cut off this growing tip, you will kill the entire the stem.
Parlor Palm Problems
Brown fronds can be caused by over watering, severe under watering, too much fertilizer, using water from a softener or water high in chlorine and fluorine.
Yellow fronds are usually the result of underwatering
Brown spots on fronds is a sign of leaf spot disease, cold temperatures , or over watering
Quick Care Tips
Warm temperatures above 50°F (10°C)
Medium light and no direct sun
Allow the soil to partially dry out before watering and never allow a parlor palm to sit in water
Propagation is very difficult
Although an indoor Parlor Palm, unlike one grown outdoors, rarely produces any flowers, the feathery, lush fronds make it a beautiful houseplant. Some added pluses; a Parlor Palm cleans the air of harmful pollutants and it is safe to have around cats, dogs, and children. Follow the simple care tips below and you’ll have a lovely plant for many, many years.
How much light for a Parlor Palm: This particular palm can grow slowly in low light, but prefers medium, indirect light. Avoid putting any indoor palm plant in direct sun.
How to water a Parlor Palm: Water well, and then allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering again. The roots of a parlor palm should never totally dry out. Water less during the winter when the plant is not actively growing. Brown leaf tips often indicate over watering, while yellow fronds tell you a Parlor Palm needs a bit more water.
How to fertilize a Parlor Palm: Feed monthly in the spring and summer with a balanced, liquid fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Do not feed a Parlor Palm in the fall and winter. Too much plant food causes “fertilizer burn” and brown tips on the fronds.
Best temperature for a Parlor Palm: Try to provides temperatures between 62°-82° F (16.7°-27.8°C). A Parlor Palm can briefly handle temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C) but will die in temperatures lower than 40°F (4.4°C). Avoid cold drafts.
Does a Parlor Palm need high humidity: High humidity definitely helps the plant grow faster and look better. When the air is too dry, leaf tips turn brown and spider mites become a problem.
Does an indoor Parlor Palm flower: As the plant matures, and under ideal growing conditions, a Parlor Palm sometimes produces stalks of small, inconsequential, yellow flowers followed by seeds. These seeds can’t be used to propagate a new plant since they are not fertile. I recommend cutting the flower stalk off as soon as it appears.
Parlor Palm Pests: Although scale and mealybugs can be a problem, it is spider mites that do the most damage. These annoying pests suck the color out of the fronds. The leaves of an indoor palm are very sensitive, so never use a commercial insecticide or any product containing alcohol. If spraying the plant with warm soapy water doesn’t solve the problem, use an insecticidal soap. Read more about spider mites, scale, and mealybugs in the Glossary of the website.
Parlor Palm diseases: Fungal and bacterial diseases such as leaf spot and root rot are a problem. These diseases occur when a parlor palm is over watered, has wet fronds due to misting, or there is poor circulation around the plant.
Best soil for a Parlor Palm: Use a basic, indoor potting soil that retains water but still drains quickly. Once the soil starts to break down and becomes heavy and water logged, immediately replace it with fresh soil.
What size pot for a Parlor Palm: These plants like to be a little root bound so don’t rush to move them into larger containers. When you do repot, the new pot should be only one size larger and have drip holes in the bottom. The roots of Parlor Palm are fragile and easily damaged, so be very careful when repotting.
How to prune a Parlor Palm: Prune dead or damaged fronds but never the stems. A Parlor Palm grows from a terminal bud at the end of the stem. Cutting off a terminal bud causes the stem to stop growing and may even cause the plant to die. Remove brown or yellow fronds a soon as they appear.
How to propagate a Parlor Palm: Successful propagation is usually done by seeds. This is a very difficult process best left to the experts. If you want to try your hand at propagating a Parlor Palm, try using the small offsets that grow horizontally off the root ball of the plant. Read more about how to propagate a plant using offsets in the propagation section of the website Glossary.
Clean Air Plant
Does a Parlor Palm clean the air: It is recommended as a “clean air plant” that removes harmful chemicals from the air.
Poisonous Plant Info
A Parlor Palm in a non-poisonous houseplant and is not toxic to cats, dogs, or children.
The fine webbing on your Parlor Palm indicates the plant has Spider Mites. To get rid of Spider Mite houseplant pests, spray you entire palm with warm soapy water every 10 days for a month. If that doesn’t solve the problem, use an insecticidel soap. Palm leaves are sensitive never use anything, such as the ” green solution“, that contains alcohol.
Your Parlor Palm is turning yellow because you are allowing the soil to get too dry. Try giving your plant a little more water and I think your yellow frond problem will go away.
The white “sticky stuff” on your parlor palm leaves is a houseplant pest called Mealy Bugs. Dip a Q Tip in alcohol and carefully dab the white stuff off, then spray your entire Parlor Palm with warm soapy water. Be sure to spray inside the new growth and reach inside the stem coverings. If this doesn’t get rid of the Mealy Bug infestation after three treatments, 10 days apart, use a commercial insecticidal soap.
Brown tips on the ends of houseplant Palm fronds (leaves) are usually the result of too much water, too much plant food, too many chemicals in the water you are using, or using water that has passed through a water softener.