Parlor Palms

How to keep a palm alive indoors, and all about parlor palms.

Photographer: Pluume321; Creative Commons 3.0

If aesthetics were a plant, they would certainly take the form of a palm. Graceful, flowing, and occasionally forming parts according to the golden ratio, these plants have been sought for hundreds of years as ornamental plants.

One last thing – NEVER buy cut palm leaves. To date, there are no largescale growers of palm fronds. ALL palm fronds in your florist shops are wild-harvested, which causes habitat and tree destruction, so DO NOT BUY THEM!

I’ll focus on Chamaedorea elegans, also known as the Neanthe Bella Parlor Palm. This plant hails from the tropical Americas, and is a rhizomatous palm, meaning that its stem is horizontal underground. These types of palms are also called “clumping palms”, and they are much easier to recover if something goes wrong than arborescent (tree-like) palms.

Unlike other members of the family Arecaceae (the palm family), this plant produces inedible fruit from flowers at the base of the plant. Cultivated since the Victorian era, this species of palm is prized for its resilience to indoor conditions and reliable habit.

Other than that, there’s not too much to say about this plant other than it can change sex whenever it wants to. Go figure.

General Care



Keep the soil perpetually moist, or if it dries out, water as soon as it dries. This varies depending on light and heat, so a best practice is to just check on them every few days, even if no action is needed.


These DO care about humidity, but don’t like to be wet, so have a humidifier nearby, but not blowing the mist on the plant.


Prefers warm room temperature to hot temperatures.

Common Problems

SYMPTOM: Brown, crispy tips
CAUSE: Thirsty plant, low humidity

SYMPTOM: Black tips, universal across all tips of the plant.
CAUSE: Water too hard / soil has too many salts / overfertilized

SYMPTOM: Yellowing leaves, black stems
CAUSE: Who the hell knows; palms have a sudden-death mentality… But it’s probably temperature or light-related. Occasionally, it’s root rot.

SYMPTOM: Irregular light-brown/grey patchese, usually surrounded with yellow borders
CAUSE: Fungus. Treat with Fungicide.

Phytophthora infection in palm.
Courtesy of C. Kadooka; American Phytopathological Society

Other Notes

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