Indoor palm trees are gorgeous plants, and some varieties really have a big wow factor. If you’re interested in keeping a palm tree in your home, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about caring for an indoor palm tree.
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While most palm trees have similar needs, it’s essential that you research the kind of palm you have to be sure you’re giving it what it needs to thrive. That said, palms are pretty resilient and adapt fairly easily to life indoors.
Palm trees are generally more expensive than other houseplants, which is motivation enough to want to take care of them. But, rest assured that you’ll be rewarded for treating your palm tree right. They make a stunning addition to any room and give off those tropical vibes that so many people love.
Believe it or not, most palm trees that are houseplants don’t need bright direct light. Some have a natural love of shade, which makes them ideal for keeping indoors. Palm trees are happiest when they get plenty of bright, indirect light. So, if you have a big window, it should be enough to keep your palm tree happy.
Indoor palm trees will do just fine in the winter when the light coming through the window isn’t as bright.
The key is to keep their exposure balanced. Keep it out of direct sunlight, but make sure it gets some natural light in the winter.
Some people move their palms outside in the summer, which can be great for the plant. But never place it in direct sunlight as this will be too much for the plant. Instead, put it on the porch or under a large tree where it will be safe in the shade.
The trick to giving your indoor palm tree the right amount of water is to find balance. That is, don’t underwater, but don’t overwater, either. Indoor palm trees can tolerate getting a little dry, but they thrive when they get the right amount of water.
To find the right balance, try to keep the soil moist. To do so, you’ll need a good pot with drainage. Water every time the top inch of the soil feels dry. And give it a good watering, too, allowing the water to flow through the pot and out the drainage holes into the saucer.
That said, If you keep your palm tree sitting in a saucer full of water, that’s not good, either. Root rot will soon follow, so, make sure you empty any excess water from the saucer every time you water.
If the tips of your palm tree start to turn brown, it probably needs to be watered more often. On the other hand, if they’re yellow, you’ve probably watered too much. Like most plants, palms can tolerate underwatering better than overwatering, so be cautious but don’t let them dry out too much.
The type of soil you use is one of the most important factors in keeping your indoor palm happy. Most commercial potting soils are fine as long as they drain well. Loose soil is ideal as it lets water drain well and airflow around the roots.
When choosing a potting soil for your indoor palm tree, look for products with peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite to ensure it’s airy enough. You can also make your own mix if you want to, or seek out a special potting mix made especially for growing palms indoors.
Your indoor palm generally doesn’t need to be fertilized at first as most commercial potting soils are formulated to support active growth. That said, your palm might be super happy if you fertilize it anyway, and eventually, you will need to add fertilizer to the pot or change the soil.
The main thing to remember when using a fertilizer with a potted palm tree is that you should only use it during the active growing season, which occurs in the spring and summer. Adding fertilizer in the fall and winter could cause damage to the plant.
Do your research for the specific type of palm you have, but most of them do not like synthetic or chemical fertilizers. Organic, natural options are generally best. You can also find fertilizers specially formulated for indoor palms that have all the nutrients and micronutrients your palm needs to thrive.
You might panic if you see older leaves on your palm turning yellow or brown, but stay calm! This is perfectly normal. Palm leaves naturally turn yellow or brown as they age, but that doesn’t mean you should chop them off.
Old, discolored leaves are a valuable source of nutrients for the palm, so even though you might find them a little ugly doesn’t mean you should cut them off.
If you over prune your palm or any plant, really, you’re making it really hard for the plant to stay healthy. Cutting too much too fast stresses the plant, and it loses some of the support it needs to thrive.
For palms, remove fronds when they turn completely brown. Again, you might not want to wait that long, but your palm needs you to. Also, you should never prune your palm tree to a certain size or shape. Always think of the health of your plant.
Pest infestations are common with indoor plants, including your palm. Some of the most common are spider mites and scale, but many other things can damage your plant.
Some people prefer to stop a problem before it starts, while other plant lovers prefer to leave the plant be unless there’s a problem. This is up to you. There are great arguments for both preventative treatment and why it’s not a good idea to treat a problem that doesn’t exist.
If you do choose to pre-treat with pesticides, go for natural and non-toxic options. Some soaps and oils work quite well. It’s probably a good idea to keep something on hand even if you don’t pre-treat to make sure you have a treatment when you need it.
Most palms need humidity above 50 percent, so if your house is dry, you will need to use a humidifier around your palm. You can also add rocks to the saucer under the palm and fill it with water, but make sure that the rocks hold the bottom of the pot away from the water so the soil doesn’t soak any of it up.
Some people swear by misting their palms. If you choose to go this route, it’s best to only mist it once a week. Any more than that, and you might damage the leaves.
Palms are tropical plants, so they don’t do cold temperatures. Although it varies from one species to the next, most palms do not tolerate a nighttime temperature any lower than 60 degrees F.
You might be thinking, my house is warmer than that even in the dead of winter! And that’s most likely true, but you have to consider other things, too, like how close your palm is to the window and whether there is a draft in the room.
The Right Container
It’s important to choose the right container for your indoor palm. Most varieties have shallow roots and they don’t like to be repotted. So, start with a pot that’s a little too big and let them grow until they’re root-bound. This way, you can wait years before you have to repot the plant.
Also, make sure the pot you choose has adequate drainage to avoid problems with root rot.
Not that you know a little more about how to care for an indoor palm tree, you can see that it’s actually pretty simple!
Remember, each variety has its own needs, so be sure to research the variety that you chose to make sure you’re giving it exactly what it needs.