Grow palm from seed

Neanthebella aka Parlor Palm


If you’re looking for a nice, short palm, that made NASA’s list of top plants for cleaning air then consider the Neanthebella Palm – it’ll last long in lower light conditions with very little care. Here’s what you need to know if you’re getting a Parlor Palm:


Much likes its cousin the Bamboo Palm, the Neathabella should be watered to maintain soil moisture considered damp, not wet; overwatering can cause the leaves to yellow and drop. Please see our watering guide for more information.

While this palm can tolerate lower light levels than other palms, it will thrive adjacent to an east-, south-, or west-facing window. So, good filtered natural light or bright florescent light will keep this palm growing strong. With its smaller stature, don’t be afraid to move it around – but be careful not to expose it to direct summer sun.


Like other plants shipped fresh from Florida, you won’t need to feed this palm for at least 6 months after you get it. That’s because there are residual nutrients in the soil from when the palm was being propagated. After 12 months, it can be fed quarterly with a complete fertilizer formulated for interior plants. Please refer to our plant nutrition guide for details.


This plant, with its numerous stems and plentiful leaves and leaflets can be a challenge to clean. While we still prefer a cleaning regimen with water and a light soap solution, it would be okay to break out the feather duster on this plant. Make sure your feather duster is clean though – it’s a primary way to get bugs from one plant to another. And since the Chams are susceptible to spider mites, it’s especially important with this plant.


The leaves of the Neanthebella Palm form sheaths around the stem. The older leaves at the bottom of the plant will yellow and turn brown, and it’s easy to just give a little twist and tug to get the old leaves off. The only time you’ll need pruners to care for a Neanthebella is if one of the stems gets too tall or out-of-line with the rest of the plant. In that case, we recommend pruning the stem at the base where it emerges from the soil. You should never cut a stem in half because the plant does not generate new growth from mid-stem pruning cuts.


There’s always a chance for mealybugs or mites to set up camp on your Neanthebella Palm. Look for the little white cottony mealybugs at the base of the leaves, on the stems, and especially under the leaf sheaths between the sheath and the stem; mites will hide on the bottom side of the leaves and produce webs. Be extra vigilant when scouting for mites, as they can do irreparable harm quickly often mistaken for dust on the underside of the leaves. If you see either of these, break out the spray bottle with a light soap solution and spray them daily ’til they’re gone.


Keep an eye out for the bugs mentioned above, and you’ll enjoy this palm for a long while.

Parlor Palm Tree – Chamaedorea elegans
Parlour Palm description
This cute table top palm called the Parlor Palm is one of the most popular palms in the world due to its ability to tolerate low light, drought and general abuse/neglect. These spectacular small sized palm does extremely well in adapting to ever changing interior environments with out much problems at all. Native to Guatemala, the Neanthe Bella grows to a mature height of 5-10 feet tall with very slow growth. This small indoor palm tree has foliage very similar to the Bamboo Palm and can detoxify your air just as well as the Areca or Bamboo palm.
This house plant prefers moderate to high humidity, but will grow in low home humidity. If you don’t have much space and still want the tropical feel of an exotic garden in your home then the Parlor Palm is a wonderful choice. This palm will not only make your landscape unique it will also make your area center of attention to other palm enthusiasts. Have a piece of unspoiled nature and piece of true uniqueness and take a look at our Parlor Palms
With proper care, the Parlour Palm will flourish in any setting and make a wonderful addition to your home or office.
Wholesale Nursery
For wholesale palm pricing on Island Tropical Palm Foliage please contact us at 888-RPT-AGRO or contact us via email at

Chamaedorea elegans (Neanthe bella / Parlour Palm)

Parlour Palm Care Guide

Low light will be tolerated but like all houseplants deep shade or no light at all will not go down well (unless it’s only for short periods). Some sun will be helpful, but harsh direct sunshine will scorch the leaves in time.

The perfect spot for your Parlour Palm therefore should be bright and ideally with a little sun in early morning or late afternoon. Have a read of our Light Guide if you want some further food for thought about placement.

Underwatering a Parlour Palm is better than overwatering. Water well then wait until the surface and inch or so below the soil surface has dried out, at which point water well again. They’re forgiving plants and will let you off if you forget to water them on occasion.

Do make sure you limit the amount of water given when light or temperature levels are low because in those conditions plants don’t need as much water. Too much wetness around the roots for prolonged periods will encourage fungi and run the risk of root rot which could quickly kill your plant.

To avoid this happening all you need to do is remember to make sure no water is being held in the drip tray or in the container surrounding the pot itself after you’ve watered it. If there is, simply pour it away.

Red Spider Mite can be an issue if humidity is very low or there is a lot of dry air around the leaves, for example if placed near a working radiator. However, providing Spider Mites aren’t a problem in your home this is a palm that really doesn’t care too much about low or high humidity.

Limit the amount of water when light or temperature levels are low


Because there are often several plants in a single pot all fighting for the limited number of nutrients in the soil, you should look to feed on a semi regular basis. That said, these palms are still relatively small and don’t need masses of feed to do well. A general feed once every couple of months will be enough for mature plants. Younger plants will be happy with slightly more, so aim for once a month.

Warmth is needed for actual growth to occur 20°C (68°F) – 27°C (80°F). A lower temperature is fine as the plant will still survive providing it doesn’t dip much below 10°C (50°F), just be aware that slow or no growth might be symptom of the temperature being too cold.


Palms in general don’t like regular root disturbance and because they have weak root systems, frequent repotting can be damaging over the long term. Despite this warning, young plants will often still need to be repotted once a year until they reach a mature size because they will need space to grow.

Only repot mature plants when the potting media breaks down and starts to affect your watering efforts, i.e. the water either constantly drains out leaving the soil dry or it becomes like a sponge and results in a soggy mess. Realistically this is likely to be every two or three years.

Your average everyday compost from the garden centre is all that is required. A pot one size bigger is a good idea, but if you prefer it would be fine to just scrape and remove some of the old soil, then replace it with new. When you put the plant in the pot be sure to anchor it in place by packing it fairly tightly around the root ball.

Those stems are packed in tight, but that’s how they like it


As mentioned in our introduction section above, Chamaedorea is often sold in clusters of several plants close together, as you can see in the photo above. This means you can look to increase your stock through division. Be warned when you divide a plant you effect its appearance in a big way, so think carefully before you do it.

Speed of Growth

Even in a bright light location, if the temperature is warm and you water perfectly, growth is still rather slow. With that said, maturity is reached after only a few years because the ultimate height and spread tends to be on the dwarf size when comparing all the different palms species side by side.

Height / Spread

In general these are short plants, and few grown indoors will ever be taller than 3ft / 1m, although 6ft / 1.8m specimen plants are not unheard of. The spread will narrow towards the base and become wider as you move upwards.


Small flowers and sometimes even small seeds do appear quite often throughout the year on a mature well grown and well cared for plant.

They don’t really smell or look remarkable so if you do get them bloom it probably won’t be something you’d be sharing on Instagram. There are some photos from readers in the comments section below, but in the main this houseplant is only grown for the tranquil and lush foliage.

Is the Parlour Palm Poisonous?

Like many palms, the Parlour Palm is not poisonous to pets or people. So it can be enjoyed by you and your four legged friends without worry.

Anything else?

Some houseplants respond really well to some light pruning. You cut off a few shoots and the plant grows several more in its place. However you must never “prune” or cut off healthy green fronds on Palms because they’ve only one point of growth, which if removed will stop growth on that part dead in its tracks.

Lower fronds will naturally die and brown over time though and you should cut them off to maintain the overall attractive appearance.

Caring for Parlor Palms Summary

  1. Average Light Levels An adaptable houseplant that can be grown in a bright spot or moderate low light.

  2. Medium Watering They like their soil to be moist in Spring, Summer and Fall. On the drier side in Winter.

  3. Average Temperature Provide temperatures between 15°C (59°F) and 27°C (80°F).

  4. Feeding Provide feed to the soil once every other month.

  • Be careful not to give too much water
  • Never “prune” or cut off the growing stems as they won’t grow back

Parlour Palm Problems

Large parts are browning and dying

Unlike other houseplants “leaf drop” doesn’t occur in the same way on Parlour Palms, instead what looks like large parts of the plant may brown up and die. This is okay, normal in fact if it’s only happening occasionally, so once fully brown and crispy cut it away.

On the other hand if it is happening on mass you have a problem. Check it over carefully for any pests and assess how you have been treating it during the previous couple of weeks or months. Then going forward, follow our Parlour Palm care instructions section.


Palms can attract Red Spider Mites that will take over and weaken your plant over time. Difficult to spot at first, but in time their presence is clear to see with their sticky webs taking over the fronds. Good levels of humidity will help prevent their appearance in the first instance.


There is a lot going on on this neglected plant in the photo below. All the issues you can see (leaves with brown tips, brown spots, and fading leaves) are detailed separately below and the cause and solutions explained. All of these things though can be avoided with a decent care routine.

Leaves with brown tips

Normally this is a sign of very dry air. So it might be an idea to try and increase the humidity to prevent this. Most homes however have a reasonable level of humidity for this not to be an issue anyway (these plants tolerate low humidity more than most). So if you’re getting the brown tips it could be that you’re growing your plant in a location with excessively dry air like near a radiator or high up on a shelf. Consider moving it somewhere different.

If you can’t, or the problem isn’t that bad (no houseplant can look perfect forever, even if you give the best possible care) just leave it where it is and remove the brown tips with a pair of scissors as they will blemish the overall appearance if you leave them on the plant. Take care to only cut off the brown and not into the healthy green parts.

Leaves have brown spots

In most cases this will have been caused through overwatering or the temperature being too cold around the plant. They could be “spots” or more like “blotches”, both type of marks are shown in the photo above, but they’re caused by the same thing.

Translucent, fading, less green leaves

Older leaves will eventually die. Before they go completely brown the plant will remove all the useful parts within the leaf and transfer it to other parts or use it to fuel new growth. This process in some plants is quite rapid, but in palms it can take several weeks or even months.

The colour contrast between the affected leaf and a younger one can be quite remarkable, but basically it’s normal and not something to be concerned about. However if any of the colour has a yellowing shade, then have a look at the final issue below.

Yellow leaves

This is either caused by allowing the root ball to dry out, (water more frequently). Or the nutrients in the soil have been depleted and the plant is struggling to maintain basic functions. You will know if it’s the latter because it will mean your plant hasn’t been fed or repotted for quite some time. The fix is to ideally repot it or start feeding more frequently.

About the Author

Tom Knight

Over the last 20 years Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the Ourhouseplants Team.

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Credit for the Chamaedorea elegans photo near water – Article / Gallery – David Stang

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Growing Palms from Seed

Linospadix monostachya sets seed readily and self-sown seedlings occasionally appear, but they are slow growing. Some other palms regularly produce self-sown seedlings: Howea forsteriana, Sabal minor, Trithrinax brasiliensis and Arenga engleri. The latter become scattered about the garden, no doubt by birds. They are easily identified by the characteristic shape of the first leaflet which is silvery underneath. Potting up such seedlings gives you a start of a year or two.

Unwanted seedlings also appear around the garden,especially Phoenix sp., easy to identify by the groved date-like seed and Bangalows, also easy to recognise by fine hairs on the stem. These weeds are easily pulled out.

If you are a palm grower and are lucky you can collect seedlings in your own garden. Many chamaedoreas will self-sow in Sydney. Chamaedorea cataracterum, C. elegans, C. glaucifolia, C. microspadix, C. radicalis, C. schiedeana and C. tepejilote have all produced seedlings under or near the mother plant. Thus your own garden may be a source of seeds. Some palms like Areca triandra set seeds dependably. Others are more erratic.


Seeds are more likely to set after good rainfall; if the inflorescences appear in spring, and if there is more than one inflorescence or another palm is flowering. Apart from the self-sowing types mentioned above, I have occasionally been able to germinate seeds from Arenga cordata, Calamus caryotoides, Chambeyronia macrocarpa, Euterpe edulis, Lytocaryum weddeliana, Synechanthus fibrosus, and after hand pollination, Chamaerops humilis.

Again, the easiest and most rewarding are the chamaedoreas. Most species set fruit if you have both sexes, even better with hand pollination – and they germinate readily.

Fruit ripening on Chambeyronia macrocarpa

If you want rare seeds, there are suppliers who advertise on the internet, but they can be quite expensive and germination is by no means guaranteed. If you travel abroad and are lucky enough to find some ripe palm seeds, be sure to clean off all the fruit and put the seeds into a clear plastic bag with a label showing the botanic name.Declare them at Customs. Most palms seeds are allowed in, although there are rumours that this situation may not last.

Seeds from your own garden or that of a friend should germinate well, being fresh. Another advantage of such seeds is that you are germinating a palm that you know will grow well in our climate. During the years when the International Palm Society had a seed bank I germinated many species, only to have most die when young. They were not suited to our climate.

In spite of that high mortality rate there are a some survivors in the garden that I would not have been able to obtain any other way. They include Archontophoenix maxima, Brahea armata, Brahea brandeegei and Brahea edulis, the ‘Hookeri’ and ‘Houilou’ forms of Chambeyronia macrocarpa, Cyphophoenix elegans, Dypsis plumosa, Rhapidophyllum hystrix, Rhopalostylis baueri, Synechanthus fibrosus, Syagrus schizophylla, Trachycarpus martianus and Trithrinax schizophylla. However nearly all the chamaedoreas survived, the exceptions being a few species from mountain cloud forests, such as Chamaedorea undulatifolia..


Many ways have been suggested for germinating palm seeds, most of which I have tried over the years. Now I use a simple and reliable method, suited to an amateur wanting to germinate a few seeds without going to any trouble. First of all the seeds must be cleaned of fruit pulp. Ripe chamaedorea fruit are easily cleaned by simply squeezing them, making the seed pop out. For most other seeds the fruit will need to be scraped off with a sharp knife. Some palm fruits irritate the skin, so it might be best to wear gloves. Then wash the seeds well: some palm fruits are said to contain chemicals that inhibit germination. If you have had dry seeds sent to you, soaking them in water for two days is usually recommended. I still do this, although recently the need to do so has been questioned. Another step, again queried by some, is to disinfect the seeds. It is easy enough to do: 10 minutes in 10% bleach.

Germinate the seeds in cocopeat, as the coconut coir wets and rewets much more readily than real peatmoss. It should be damp but not wet. About 2–3 cm in the bottom of a sealable plastic lunch bag, size 15 x 9 cm, is suitable for a dozen or so of most seeds, although for large seeds you will need fewer seeds and more cocopeat, enough to cover the seeds.

Finally, hang up the bag by means of a noose of string, in a place that is warm, but not where any sunshine can get onto the bag and overcook it.

Nothing will happen for at least two months, or more than four months if the seeds are bagged up before or during winter. It is a good idea to have an occasional look– there should be a few drops of moisture on the inside of the bag if the cocopeat is at the right dampness. It is best to leave the seedlings as long as possible in their bag, which is when they are “fighting their way out of the bag.” At this stage of their lives they need only to be moist, obtaining all their nourishment fromthe seed. When the seeds germinate their roots usually become tangled along the bottom of the bag, but they are tough and not easily broken, and it is not too difficult to disentangle them when the seedlings are removed. When the time comes to pot up the seedlings they can go directly into a potting mix. I use the best quality mix that I can find. It is expensive, but the pots are small. For a few years I used Debco Professional, but it went off the market and I now use Debco Terracotta and Tub. This has water crystals that are probably not needed, but, importantly, it has a wetting agent, Saturaid, which ensures perfect drainage. Yates Professional has also been satisfactory, but is rarely available in our area. Nowadays I rarely lose a seedling, but in earlier years lost many from centre rot, which in retrospect I think was caused by less than perfect drainage. Excessive dampness sets up the seedlings for fungal infection, and by the time the disease is noticed it is too late for fungicides to be of any use. I repot the seedlings as they grow, about once a year. In the shadehouse the only major hazard is a spider mite attack, which can be quite sudden, causing leaves to lose their green and if untreated, death of the seedling. The mites appear to like some chamaedorea seedlings, so I watch these carefully, magnifying glass in hand. Nowadays there is available a much greater range of palms, so who would want to grow them from seed? The answer is that there is much satisfaction to be gained by germinating your own palms and watching them grow, rather than relying entirely on ‘bought ones’. It is fascinating to see how much variation there is in the time taken for seedlings to mature enough to be planted out. Compare the size of the seedlings below. There is a 50 cent coin at back of each pot for scale.

Growing Palm Trees from Seed

Palm seeds are relatively easy to germinate from seed if you follow some simple steps. We find that the following method is very successful.


Palm seeds are best sown in pots but to prevent waterlogging it is beneficial to use deep clay pots. The clay pots allow excess water to drain off and allow air to reach potential seedling roots.


Fill your chosen pot with compost mixed with grit, water it well and leave it to drain. A warm temperature and high humidity are essential if you are going to achieve a high germination rate. Place the pot in a propagator for 24hrs bringing it up to the required germination temperature (30 – 35 deg C). If you don’t have a propagator simply cover the top of your pot with a clear plastic bag held in place with an elastic band. (If you cant achieve this temperature, dont worry your seeds will still germinate but may take a while longer). Place the seed on the surface of the compost and then cover it with more compost at the same thickness as the seed itself.


Keep a weekly eye on your seeds. Never allow them to dry out as they will die. If you need to, simply mist the surface of the compost with a light spray. Germination can take anything from three weeks to eighteen months, SO BE PATIENT.


Once your seeds germinate prize them out of the compost gently. Tip – always handle the seedlings by their seed which will still be attached to the roots at this time. Prepare some fresh compost in 2 – 3 inch pots (clay is best) and transfer each seedling into their own pot by planting them level with their own natural collar.


Water and label each pots and position them into bright shade. Try and avoid scorching sunlight for the first 2 – 3 years.

Parlor Palm Tree

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The parlor palm makes a super addition to any space, especially indoors.

It was named as such because it thrives in low and indirect lighting situations making it perfect for parlors of houses, or lobbies of hotels, banks and other commercial buildings.

They are really easy to look after making them an ideal palm for beginners to start with.

Placement, lighting, care and moisture requirements are not hard to manage even in those commercial applications.

Photo by Jerzy Opioła (Own work): on Wikimedia creative commons 3.0

There may be someone only around once a week to actually give them any attention they may need.

These palms originate in a rainforest environment as an understory plant in places like Mexico and Central America.

It is a very close relative of the bamboo palm as both are in the Chamaedorea branch of the family.

Most all of the different ones of this family are well known for their indoor growing ability.

Some others in the group are the cat palm, metallic palm, tuna tail palm and the velvet palm.


The parlor palm is an excellent addition to your decor as they present you with a tropical feeling wherever they are placed.

They are a small, feather leaf variety with leaves that are a paler emerald green color. In nature they will get to be 6-8 ft tall and about 4 ft wide, but not nearly that large when potted.

This tree is a single trunk type which is a bonus they won’t fill out the container you have them in for a very long time.

The trunk is a pale green with rings left from the old leaves.

The parlor palms flowers present in a branching fashion with small yellowish to cream color flowers.

The flowers turn into a cream color fruit that will turn to a dark black color once fully ripe. There are both male and female flowers on the same tree.

They are one of the palms that are both hard and easy to start from seed.

It may take up to a year to germinate and you may only get a couple of sprouts to start in that time.

One tree will be enough in a container once a bit more mature. For a fuller look plant in multiples of 2 or 3 per pot.

Growth and Care of a Parlor Palm

The parlor palm is considered to be a slow grower that thrives in any type of soil. There should be some moisture holding organic material mixed in to help with water retention. Make sure it is well drained and their roots aren’t sitting in any water left over.

Quick info:

  • Scientific name: Chamaedorea elegans
  • Min temp: 30 °F outdoor growth zones: 10-11
  • Size: 5-8 feet tall, 4 plus feet wide
  • Any soil with organic water retaining material
  • Slow growing, single trunk, feather leaf
  • Shade to heavy shade

They don’t do well in direct sunlight situations, their leaves will burn.

In the wild they are an understory plant. They are used to being protected from the bright sunlight.

Their water needs aren’t too hard to meet as long as you have included that extra organic moisture holding matter to the soil mix.

Best practice water the parlor palm once a week to twice week with fertilizer added once every eight to twelve weeks should keep them especially happy.

A nice refreshing mist bath would be well appreciated too.

This helps keep their leaves clean and free from dust. Schedule one of those at the same time you fertilize so you won’t forget.

You’ll have to watch out for a salt/mineral build up and for possible spider mites if they are in a container indoors.

photo by Tequilavia Wikimedia Commons using licenses3.0/

Both of these are minor maintenance for such a beautiful addition. Find out more at the links provided.

Other than that this house plant has no other real disease or pest problems to be concerned with.

This is the best part for a beginning palm or plant enthusiast. But their beauty and ability for those low-light difficult locations make it perfect for the seasoned grower or decorator.

What intimate corner of your house will you place one of these tropical beauties?

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Articles others have found useful:

Indoor palms shows you exactly which are the best and easiest to grow.

Small, large, medium and cold hardy kinds listed for landscapes. Types has a complete list all in one place.

Care covers the basics, pests shows problem insects, damage they do and how to eliminate.

Palm tree bacterial or fungal diseases show you the common kinds, how to spot and treat them.

Fertilizer explains how much, what kind and where to place.

Growing includes the plant zones, sun and water requirements, soil pH and other commonly used landscaping terminology.

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Palm Tree Passion > Types of Palm Trees > Parlor Palm

Parlor Palm Care

Family: Arecaceae
Common Name: Parlor Palm, Neanthe Bella Palm
Botanical Name: Chamaedorea elegans

An indispensible staple of a houseplant that synchronously mixes both grace and utility, the gorgeous Neanthe Bella (or Parlor) Palms are extremely adaptable to most indoor spaces. They are slow growers, never rarely reaching more than 4’, staying manageable for years to come. They are also one of the rare palms that can tolerate less lighting, making them great additions to the darker corners of a well-lit room. They are most often grown as clumps (more than one plant per pot) for visual impact. The lush fronds can handle low temperatures, so if you like to keep your space cool at night, these indoor palms will settle in nicely. Parlor Palms are a top choice for offices and commercial businesses as they help clean the air, have low light requirements, and temporarily transport you to a wilder, yet less stressful, place.


Low to bright indirect light, but they will perform best when getting medium indirect light. To avoid leaf scorch, they should never be placed in direct sunlight.


Underwatering these guys is much better than overwatering. Keep the soil evenly moist during the growing season, but not soggy. During the cold months, water when the soil is completely dry. Water more often in the summer as the plant it transpiring water at a much faster rate. If the Parlor Palm is in bright indirect light, then the plant will require frequent watering. Plants in smaller pots will need to be watered more frequently than plants in larger pot sizes.


These plants can withstand temperatures as low as 50℉, but the ideal range is between 70-80℉. They need warmer temperatures to reach their growth potential.


Parlor Palms will adapt to most household humidity levels.


It is not necessary to feed these palms often, but since each pot usually has many individual plants clumped together, it’s a good idea to feed them twice a growing season with a high nitrogen slow-release fertilizer. You can always use worm castings or compost, as well.

Pro Tips

  1. If you miss a watering and some of the leaves turn brown, simply remove the crispy foliage. Once revived, your palm will push out new growth.
  2. Wash your palms to the shower or sink every few weeks to keep the foliage clean and pest free.
  3. When repotting Parlor Palms, loosen any roots that have become matted and dense either by lightly slicing through the roots or gently pulling them apart by hand.

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