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Parlor Palm

How to take care of a Parlor Palm

A palm, and the Parlor Palm especially, is a great first plant to start your plant collection. They're plants that are great for those darker places in your house where not a lot of other plants can grow. Palms are low-maintenance plants, so it's no problem if you forget it to water it for a few days. They're also quite forgiving plants and they show you when they're not happy. This makes it a perfect plant for beginners, but it's also a great addition to any experienced plant owner's collection.

These are the most important aspects of taking care of palms:

It's not a difficult plant to take care of, so let's highlight everything you need to know to successfully take care of your Parlor palm.

Watering your Parlor palm

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Parlor palm leaf

The Parlor palm is a plant that likes moist soil, but also likes to dry out before watering it again. This palm doesn't store a lot of moisture in its stems, so it relies on the soil to provide it with everything it needs. This means that you should let the soil dry out, but you can't let your Parlor palm sit in dry soil for more than a few days.

If you're trying to find out how often you should water your Parlor palm, you should ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my Parlor palm in a pot that's just a little bigger than the palm's root system?
  • Is my Parlor palm is a warm/bright spot?
  • Do I have soil that retains water really well?

These questions will help you to figure out if you need to water more often or less often. If you have a small Parlor palm in a large pot, you won't have to water as often, as it takes much longer for the soil to dry out. If your Parlor Palm is in a warm/bright spot, the moisture in the soil will evaporate more quickly than it would if your palm is in a darker spot. Than the soil, which we'll go over together in a later section, is also an important factor when figuring out how often to water your plant. If your soil retains water for a long time and doesn't drain as well, you'll have to water less often. If you have a well-draining soil, you'll have to water more often.

As a good target, you can start with watering your plant every two weeks. Then, before you water again, check if the soil is dry. If it's still moist, wait a few days and repeat this until the soil is dry. When the soil is dry, you can water your Parlor palm.

Sunlight exposure of your Parlor palm

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A Parlor Palm, as opposed to some other palms, prefers a darker spot in your house. This small palm doesn't tolerate direct sunlight at all, as this will burn its leaves. A spot that's too bright for your Parlor Palm will turn its darker green leaves light green and/or yellow.

The Parlor palm doesn't tolerate direct sunlight, so exposing your plant to direct sunlight will cause sunburns on your palm's leaves. These sunburns are permanent unfortunately and look like this:

Burned Parlor Palm leaf

When you see this happening to your Parlor palm, be sure to move it to a darker spot. You can trim off any of the burned leaves, as these won't return to it's normal green color. Trimming off the burned leaves will give some nutrients back to your plant, which helps it to grow new leaves.

With the perfect light exposure, the leaves will look like this:

Healthy Parlor palm leaves

The leaves should be darker green, than you know it's not getting too much light. When your leaves look like this image, you know it's getting the perfect amount of light. You can see if your Parlor palm is getting the right light by checking young leaves. Older leaves that have turned light green and yellow won't turn back to the darker green. By looking at the new leaves that your Parlor palm is growing, you can determine if your plant is now getting the right amount of sunlight.

The best soil for your Parlor palm

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Earlier in this guide, we've quickly mentioned the soil for your Parlor palm and the effect it has on how often you need to water your plant. The ideal soil for your Parlor palm is a soil that retains water for a few days. This type of soil is perfect for the Parlor palm, as it loves the soil to be moist for a few days.

However, it's also important that the soil you're using doesn't compact too much when it's moist. Compacted soil makes it very difficult for oxygen to reach your Parlor palm's roots. This will cause root rot, even without overwatering your plant. You can prevent your soil from compacting too much by adding wood chips, Perlite or pumice. You can help the soil to retain more water by adding peat moss or vermiculite.

Your Parlor palm can't sit in wet soil, because this will also cause root rot over time. You can avoid having your Parlor palm sit in wet soil by adding some elements to your soil to promote great drainage. These things include: Leca, Perlite, and Pumice. These things will help the excess water to escape the pot more quickly, so you're less likely to over water your plant.

Non-compacting, moist soil is perfect for your Parlor palm. You can buy pre-made palm soil mixes in your local gardening stores or make it yourself, both methods are great. The most important parts of the soil you're going to use for your Parlor palm are these:

  1. It should not compact
  2. It should drain excess water quickly
  3. It should retain water well to stay moist for a few days

When you get all of these parts right with your pre-made soil or your own mix, you've set your Parlor Palm up for success.

Fertilizing your Parlor palm

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Your Parlor Palm gets all of its nutrients from the soil and grows fairly quickly. However, a Parlor Palm is also a small plant that doesn't grow as big as its cousins like the Areca Palm. Since it's a small plant, you won't need to fertilize your Parlor palm a lot. A slow-release fertilizer is the perfect choice to fertilize this plant. You'll only need to fertilize a few times per year, but the slow release fertilizer will be used as it's needed.

If your Parlor palm is planted in brand new soil, you won't have to fertilize it for the first 6 months, as the soil should have plenty of fertilizer in it. Rather than a slow-release fertilizer, you can also use liquid fertilizer to feed your Parlor palm. If you want to do this, do so at the beginning of spring and once more at the beginning of the summer.

Your Parlor palm is a very efficient plant and doesn't require a lot of nutrients. Fertilizing it once or twice per year is enough if you use liquid fertilizer. If you use a slow-release fertilizer, you can add this to the soil at the beginning of spring and you won't have to think about it any more. Don't fertilize your Parlor palm during the winter, as it won't absorb most of the fertilizer and this could make the soil too acidic.

Toxicity levels for pets

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If you have pets or small children, you're in luck! This plant is not toxic and is safe for cats, dogs, and small children. A lot of plants are toxic to pets and people, but luckily the Parlor palm is not.

New growth on your Parlor palm

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When you've taken great care of your Parlor palm consistently, you will start seeing new growth on your Parlor palm during the growing season (spring and summer). The leaves grow and die quickly, so there is quite a lot of new growth during the entire growing season. New leaves on a Parlor Palm grow including a stem. When they grow, they look like straight sticks like this:

New leaf on Parlor Palm

These sticks will start to unfold and this is when you'll see the leaf's shape. Don't be surprised if you see 5 or 6 of these sticks pop up at the same time. This plant grows quickly during the spring and summer. You can trim any yellow and brown leaves/stems to give the nutrients back to the plant and promote new growth.

Common signs your Parlor palm is in trouble

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In the introduction of this guide, we've covered that this plant shows you when it's not doing so well. So in this section we'll go over some common symptoms and what you can do to help your plant be happy again.

Drooping Parlor palm

When your Parlor palm starts drooping, it's most likely due to underwatering or overwatering. It's easy to determine which of the two is the root cause: check the moisture of your soil. If the soil is still moist, you might be overwatering your Parlor palm. However, if the soil is dry, it's time to water your Parlor palm.

If you're consistently overwatering your Parlor palm, it's very likely root rot will start to develop. This happens because not enough oxygen can reach the roots of your Parlor palm. It's easy to avoid this by letting the soil dry out completely before watering your palm again.

Yellow and/or light green leaves

Yellow and/or light green leaves are often due to too much sunlight exposure. It could also be due to improper watering. If this is a watering issue, you'll also see the drooping leaves on your plant. If you have non-drooping leaves that are yellow and/or light green, it's sunlight exposure and you'll need to move your plant to a darker place.

Black spots on your Parlor palm

When you start seeing black spots on the tips of your Parlor palm leaves, you need to move your plant to a darker spot quickly. These black spots are sunburns caused by direct sunlight. You can trim these black spots and give some nutrients back to your plant. These spots won't turn back to green any more.

Brown tips on your Parlor palm

When you've let your Parlor palm dry out for too long, the tips on your palm's leaves will turn brown. If you see this happening, make sure to water your Parlor palm. You can trim off the brown tips, as these won't turn green again.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: palm, beginner-friendly, low-light, pet-friendly

Posted on: Dec 27, 2020 Last updated on: May 30, 2021

Other common names for this plant

  • Neanthe Bella Palm
  • Chamaedorea Elegans
  • Parlour Palm

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Frequently asked questions

Why does my Parlor Palm have brown tips?
Your Parlor palm has brown tips when it's too dry and it needs to be watered. The Parlor palm doesn't store a lot of moisture in its stems, so when the soil is dry, your palm will start to dry out slowly.
Why does my Parlor Palm have black spots?
The black spots on your Parlor Palm are due to too much sunlight. The black spots are sunburns. The Parlor palm doesn't tolerate direct sunlight and its leaves are very easily sunburned.
Is a Parlor palm toxic to cats and dogs?
No, a Parlor palm is not toxic to cats and dogs. It's safe to have your Parlor palm in places where you cats and dogs can reach it.
Why are the leaves on my Parlor Palm turning yellow?
When the leaves on a Parlor Palm turn yellow, it's often due to too much sunlight exposure. It could be a watering issue as well, but it's most likely that your palm is getting too much sunlight.

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