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by Diana Roberts
Category: Indoors
Some people do not garden outdoors but love their indoor houseplants. Itís interesting to note that houseplants all originated outdoors. When certain species were proved able to be grown indoors, they were then commonly known as houseplants. Not all species of particular plants are able to be grown easily indoors. These plants were, after all, never meant to grow indoors. One of the most popular tropical plants grown indoors is the palm. There are three main species which do well indoors; Lady Palm (Rhapsis), Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea) and Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana).
If you want to grow any plants indoors, you need to try and replicate the environment they came from. With palms you will need high humidity, warm temperatures and good air circulation. The heat is not normally a problem in homes but having enough humidity and air circulation could be. Of course Iím sure we all know of someone who has successfully grown a palm in their home. My best suggestion is to find a species that other people have had success with and buy one.
The Kentia Palm comes from semi-tropical areas and is also found in many nurseries. It is a fairly slow growing palm which is single-trunked but you may find it planted 3-4 in a pot, possibly because of the slow growth. This palm does not grow fast even in the wild, taking decades to reach forty feet tall. If you are starting with a foot tall plant, you can expect it to reach the ceiling in about 7 years. This palm has the classical palm appearance, arching, pinnate leaves and drooping leaflets. It is very tolerant of small pots and relatively dry soil (only to a point of course). It does best in direct sunlight but will grow well in any brightly lit spot. It should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry. This is an excellent palm to grow indoors.
Bamboo palms
The Bamboo Palms are a great palm to grow because there are so many species of this plant. There are over 100 different Chamaedorea, many of which do very well indoors. The name is a little deceiving, as not all of these palms look like bamboo. They range from tall to short, single to multiple trunks, suckering and non-suckering, solid leaves to pinnate leaves. With the diversity of this palm, you should be able to find one to suit your needs. The Chamaedorea radicalis is a trunkless species which never gets over four feet tall and produces lovely orange seeds. The Chamaedorea tepejilote has a single trunk, long, dark green leaves and will grow up to fourteen feet tall. The bamboo palm doesnít take a lot of sun, and is a great choice for indoor gardeners.
The Lady Palm is another which is grown as a house plant. This is a fan palm that has thin trunks which sucker and form clumps of stalks. A mature height for this palm is about 7 feet, though there are some species which will grow taller, as well as miniature forms. You can get this palm in a variegated leaf but they are very expensive. The lady palm needs less light than the kentia palm, though more light is better. This palm will thrive in rich, slightly sandy organic soil. Water this plant when the soil starts to dry out and do not over-fertilize. The lady palm will grow fairly fast but will not get too tall, though there are some exceptions. This is an easy palm to grow as well.
I love trying new plants so I would encourage you to give any of them a try. Just remember that there are some palms which insist on full sun and you will be setting yourself up to failure if you choose to try one of these. We have no where near enough sunlight in the winter. Whatever you choose, there are some requirements that must be followed for success. Keep your plants properly watered without giving them too much. During the winter months, watering once a week is probably enough. During very hot days of summer, you may need to water a couple times a week.
Check the top inch of soil to be sure whether you need to water or not. Palms do very well when the pot is sitting on a tray of water and stones. The plant does not sit in the water, but it receives extra humidity from the tray. There is normally a buildup of salts (sodium, calcium) in the soil from the water. As these salts build up, the plant will start to decline which you will notice by the leaf edges turning brown and lower leaves turning totally brown. The way to deal with this problem is to put your plant into a large sink or tub and pour water through it to leach the soil. This is also a great time to spray the leaves to clean them. This may have to be done up to three times per year, depending on your water. When fertilizing palms, it is best to use a weak solution so you donít over fertilize.

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