- Indoor Kentia Palm Plants: Learn About Kentia Palm Care In The Home
- What is a Kentia Palm?
- Indoor Kentia Palm Care
- How To Care For Kentia Palm
- Soil For Kentia Palms
- Preferred Light Conditions
- Indoor Temperature Requirements
- Watering Your Kentia Palm
- Kentia Palm Humidity Needs
- Fertilizer Needs
- Pruning Requirements
- Potting and Repotting Kentia Palm
- Propagating New Plants
- Pest And Disease Problems
- Why Are The Leaves On My Kentia Palm Turning Brown?
- How Often Do You Water A Kentia Palm?
- Can Kentia Palms Take Full Sun?
- How Fast Does A Kentia Palm Grow?
- Are Kentia Palms Poisonous?
- What Type Of Flowers Do Kentia Palms Produce?
- How Many Varieties Of Kentia Palms Are There?
- #1 – Where Does Kentia Palm Come From?
- #2 – How Big Do Kentia Palms Get?
- #3 – How Much Space Do You Need?
- #4 – What Is The Best Placement For The Kentia Palm Indoors?
- #5 – What Temperature Do These Indoor Palms Prefer?
- #6 – How Much Water Do Kentia Palms Need?
- #7 – What Can You Do About Dry Leaf Tips On Howea?
- #8 – Is Regular Grooming Necessary?
- #9 – Are Kentia Palms Subject To Pests And Diseases?
- #10 – How And When Should You Repot A Kentia Palm?
- #11 – How Do You Grow Kentia Palm From Seed?
- The leaves on my palm plant are turning brown and dying, one by one. What am I doing wrong?
- Help Yourself to this Handy Kentia Palm Guide
- Facts About Kentia Palms
- Planting Kentia Palms
- Caring For A Kentia Palm
- Additional Care Instructions
- Howea forsteriana: Kentia Palm1
Indoor Kentia Palm Plants: Learn About Kentia Palm Care In The Home
If you love the tropical look of a palm tree but don’t live in a tropical region, try growing Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana). What is a Kentia palm? Kentia palm plants are notorious for being able to withstand conditions that many houseplants can’t tolerate. Plus, an indoor Kentia palm can attain a formidable height that makes it an outstanding focal point in interior landscapes. Ready to learn more about Kentia palm growing?
What is a Kentia Palm?
Kentia palms are native to Lord Howe Island in the South Pacific. These palms are also known as sentry or paradise palms. They are suitable for growing in USDA zones 9-11, but for those outside these ranges, Kentia palm plants make terrific container grown specimens.
Kentia palms have the typical large palm-shaped leaves. They can grow up to 40 feet (12 m.) in height but they are slow growers, and indoor Kentia palms typically max out in containers at fewer than 12 feet (3.6 m.).
Kentia plants produce a 3.5 foot (a meter or so) long inflorescence consisting of white blooms on 3-7 spikes. Both male and female flowers exist on the same inflorescence, and the resulting fruit are ovoid and a dull red in color; however, the fruit will take about 15 years to make an appearance.
Indoor Kentia Palm Care
Kentia palm growing can occur in USDA zones 9-11 in a shade to partial shade area or container grown inside – which is the most common growing method for most people.
They adapt to a wide range of soil, from clay to loam and acidic to alkaline. Plant container grown Kentia in well-draining potting mix, preferably on the sandy side. Once established, Kentia palm plants are fairly drought tolerant, although they do not like to be overly dry, or for that matter overly wet. Water only when the top inch or so (2.5 cm.) of soil starts to dry out. Mist indoor Kentia palm occasionally to provide some humidity and to remove any dust build-up.
The plants are quite forgiving and tolerant of low light conditions, but do prefer an area that receives indirect light indoors. You can also choose to keep your plant outdoors during the warmer months in a somewhat shaded location. While the Kentia can tolerate temperatures down to 25 F. (-4 C.) and up to 100 F. (38 C.), it is best to bring the plant back indoors prior to winter and offer protection from excessive heat during the summer – no direct sun.
Once Kentia palm plants have established, they require very little care. Feed your container grown plants with a controlled release fertilizer with an NPK ratio of about 3-1-2. Excessive fertilization may cause the tips of lower leaves to turn brown and die.
While normally carefree, they are prone to potassium deficiency. The first signs of this deficiency appear on the oldest leaves as necrosis on the tips. To manage this deficiency, apply a control release potassium supplement, as this is more effective than a water-soluble supplement. Kentia plants are also susceptible to deficiencies of manganese, which exhibits as leaf tip necrosis on the youngest leaves. Boron deficiencies may cause stunting of new leaves as well.
Indoor grown palms rarely become diseased but may be plagued with spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. The use of insecticidal soap or neem oil can often help with any pest issues that may arise.
Palms, in general, require minimal pruning. Over pruning may cause irreversible damage to the trunk. You should, however, remove old leaf bases by gently pulling; do not force them off, which can cause permanent scarring or open up injury for trunk rot disease.
All in all, the Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) will be a welcome addition to your home, creating a relaxing, tropical atmosphere. The easy nature of Kentia palm care makes it a perfect choice for a novice.
Kentia palms, also called Paradise palms or Thatch palms, bring a wonderful, natural elegance to indoor locations. Given proper care, these palms are hardy and easy to maintain houseplants, adding a tropical appeal inside the home. Here’s a quick summary of how to care for kentia palm plants with more details outlined below.
How To Care For Kentia Palm (Howea fosteriana): Kentia palms perform best growing in well-drained soil, in a humid environment where temperatures range between 65°F (18°C) to 85°F (29°C). Water when the top three inches of soil become dry and fertilize monthly.
Keep reading because we take all the mystery out of caring for your Kentia palm and keeping it thriving for years to come.
How To Care For Kentia Palm
The slow-growing Kentia palm’s native range is Lord Howe Island located off the east coast of Australia. Kentia palms adapt well to outdoor growth, when planted in an environment that doesn’t experience winter freezes and the weather is consistently warm year-round.
However, its elegant beauty and durability to indoor growing conditions, has made the Kentia a popular palm for inside the home, especially in temperate climates where outdoor conditions are too cold for this tropical beauty.
Due to its elegant features, Kentia palms were a favorite of Queen Victoria and she added them as an addition to all her homes. It’s easy to see why this palm has been a favorite houseplant for centuries dressing up interiors from all economic standings, including the royals. The tall, thin, single trunks give way to feathery, green fronds that are smooth without any thorns or barbs.
Below we offer tips on properly caring for and growing this hardy indoor palm, as well as identifying and preventing potential problems before they occur.
Soil For Kentia Palms
In the Kentia’s native environment it grows and flourishes in sandy soil, which provides it with the much needed drainage the palm requires for healthy growth. Although it will grow in a variety of soils, provided they drain well, adding some fertility to the medium promotes good growth.
You can grow the palm in a mixture of straight potting mix, or other potting mixtures with good drainage. Although you can use potting soil, provided you add sand to decrease its heaviness and add the soil’s capability to drain, you don’t want to plant the palm in straight potting soil. Potting soil is usually too heavy, which means it has a tendency to retain too much moisture and can lead to problems with root rot.
You can easily make a soil mixture for your Kentia palm by mixing the following ingredients:
- Equal portions of potting soil and coarse sand
- Equal portions of coarse sand, peat and potting mix
Whatever you decide to use for your mix, making sure the soil mixture contains a bit of fertility promotes the best growth. Although the palm would grow for a time in straight sand, the soil doesn’t contain anything organic that feeds the root system.
Preferred Light Conditions
To keep the fronds producing green healthy growth, it’s necessary for the Kentia palm to receive some indoor light. However, the palm won’t tolerate a location situated in full sun, as the intense light burns the foliage.
Kentia palms will tolerate lower light conditions than many palms grown indoors. Although for the palm to produce the best growth, place in a location that received bright to medium, filtered light. If you desire to place it by a south-facing window, which is generally the sunniest window, make sure to filter the light by using something like a curtain.
In spring, and if you desire to let your Kentia palm soak up some of the goodness of being outdoors for a bit, make sure you situate it in a shadier location. If the outdoor light conditions are too bright, the foliage can end up burning, especially since the palm is accustom to indoor lighting.
Indoor Temperature Requirements
In their native environment, Kentia palms thrive in consistently warm conditions. Its great ability to adjust to an indoor setting is one of the reasons it’s a popular, but sometimes expensive house palm. Indoors, the palm requires the same warm conditions it prefers for healthy growth as when grown outdoors in the garden. Prime indoor temperatures range between 65°F (18°C) to 85°F (29°C).
If you are growing a Kentia palm outdoors in a container, be sure to bring it indoors to a warm location before cold weather strikes in winter. Once the weather warms in spring, you can once again situate it back outdoors.
Watering Your Kentia Palm
Since consistently overwatering your Kentia palm can lead to root rot and its death, it’s best to follow some type of soil check and watering schedule to produce healthy growth and alleviate potential problems. Kentia palms have a moderate tolerance to drought conditions, so it’s better to miss a watering than overdo it and create soggy soil conditions.
However, the palm shows signs of problems with overwatering and underwatering as yellowing fronds that can or cannot have brown patches or tips. Checking the soil for dryness and only watering when needed usually cures the problem.
Knowing when to water your Kentia palm is relatively basic:
- Test the soil by sticking your fingers into it and if the top 3 inches are dry, it’s time to water.
- Apply water until it begins running out of the container’s bottom drain holes.
When it comes to what type of water to use, don’t use water that goes through a water softener because it contains too much salt. Kentia palms are sensitive to salty conditions. If your water contains an abundance of chemicals, let it set out overnight before using. You can also use rainwater or distilled water.
During the warmer months of spring throughout summer, you might have to water weekly. However, during winter when the palm is dormant and no longer actively putting on new growth, watering might be reduced to every couple of weeks.
Kentia Palm Humidity Needs
Tropical in nature, and like the vast majority of houseplants with a tropical home base, Kentia palms do best when residing in an indoor environment with humidity present. Don’t stress, because making your Kentia palm feel warm and cozy inside your house with adequate humidity is relatively easy and you have several options to fulfill its needs.
- Fill a spray bottle up with water and mist the Kentia palm’s fronds several times each week.
- Set the container on a larger, flat container that contains small rocks that catches all the water running out of the pot’s drain holes. As the water evaporates, it produces humidity.
- If your bathroom has enough natural light and is large enough to hold a potted palm, you can place the Kentia there. The constant use of water produces a humid environment for the palm.
To keep your Kentia palm producing rich green fronds and happily growing, feed it monthly throughout the growing seasons of spring through summer. Cease all fertilizer applications during fall and winter, as the palm tree is in its dormant stage and stops putting on new growth.
You have several options when it comes to what and how to feed your Kentia palm:
- Use a water-soluble, houseplant blend applied at half-strength and applied monthly.
- Use an organic palm fertilizer blend applied at the recommended strength for container palms on the package. If no amount is listed, apply at half-strength. Dilute the mixture in water before applying to the container’s soil. Apply monthly.
- Use a slow-release fertilizer blend sprinkled over the top of the container’s soil. Slow-release fertilizers slowly break down with each water application and generally don’t require a repeat application for several months. Follow package directions on amounts and the frequency of its use.
Since the fertilizers can leave a buildup of salts in the Kentia palm’s soil, it’s best to flush the container’s soil with water every couple of months. This is as easy as taking the container outdoors and slowly running water from a hose through the soil for about five minutes. Allow the container to drain and bring the Kentia palm back indoors.
Kentia palms have the same basic pruning requirements as other palms whether grown indoors or outside. Unless the frond is completely brown and dead, is in the way of something, or is damaged or diseased, it’s healthiest for the palm not to remove it until completely brown.
Even slightly brown Kentia fronds are still giving nourishment to the entire palm, so cutting off green or slightly green fronds remove these nutrients from the plant. Although having browning fronds on an indoor palm tree are unsightly, for the palm’s health benefit, allow them to stay on the tree until you just can’t stand the look anymore.
Depending on the size of the frond, you can snip them off using either hand pruner or loppers, cutting it off at the base of the palm.
To prevent the spread of pests of diseases to your Kentia palm, always make sure your pruning blades are clean and sterile before making your cuts. You can easily wipe the blades off with rubbing alcohol or another household disinfectant.
Potting and Repotting Kentia Palm
Depending on the size of your Kentia palm, using a 3-gallon container is usually sufficient for lush growth for several years. Although the palm is considered a slow-grower, if it becomes large, or too tall and top heavy, you may have repot into a 5-gallon container. When grown outdoors in a preferred environment, Kentia palms can grow up to 25 feet tall or taller and about half as wide. However, indoor Kentia palms usually top out around 5 or 10 feet tall.
When selecting a container for potting your Kentia, just make sure it has bottom drain holes. Any type of material works well, but those made of clay will have a tendency for the soil to dry out a bit faster than pots made out of plastic.
If you place the draining container inside of a decorative one without bottom hole, just be sure to empty any water that drains into it after each water application.
The only time you’ll need to repot your Kentia palm is if it’s grown too big for the present pot, or has depleted all the nutrients in the container’s soil. When potting or repotting, handle the sensitive root system very carefully and try not to damage it when removing from its present pot into the new one.
Kentia palms are happiest when their root systems are not disturbed and left all alone.
Just make sure you plant the Kentia is well-drained soil, the container drains and plant it no deeper than it was originally growing.
Propagating New Plants
Due to indoor conditions, Kentia palms will rarely bloom and produce seeds when grown indoors. The palm requires a bit of direct sunlight to start flowering and it only starts doing this when it reaches about 15-years-old. Once the seeds form, it can take three or four years for them to ripen and develop their deep red color.
However, if you are lucky enough to know someone with access to Kentia palm seeds, propagating them takes the same amount of patience as waiting for it bloom and bear seeds.
- Soak the red ripe fruits for three or four days in warm water. After that time, remove the seeds from inside the red exterior.
- Fill seed-starting trays or pots with a light, well-drained mix.
- Dust the Kentia seeds with a fungicide and then plant each seed shallowly in each pot.
- Water and keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- Place in a warm, partially sunny location.
Next, you just have to sit back and wait because it can take Kentia palm seeds anywhere from three months to three years to germinate.
Pest And Disease Problems
When it comes to problems with disease, the biggest threat to indoor grown Kentia palms is root rot. Generally, this happens when the soil is too heavy, retaining too much moisture or the palm is overwatered on a regular basis and the soil never has a chance to dry out.
The best course of preventing problems with root rot are making sure the Kentia is growing in soil that drains well and watering only when the top three inches of soil becomes dry to the touch.
The two biggest threats from pests come from spider mites and mealy bugs and both are easily identified.
- Spider mites: Spider mites are tiny, white mites that suck the plant juices from the Kentia palm and if left unchecked, can kill the palm as well as infest your other houseplants. If you see fine, white webbing covering the fronds, you have a problem with spider mites.
- Mealybugs: Like spider mites, mealybugs suck the juices from the palm tree and can severely damage the palm as well as infest your other indoor plants. The insects leave cottony-like masses along the fronds.
If you catch the pest problem early, you might be able to wipe them off the Kentia palm with a damp cloth. However, if the infestation is starting to get large, you’ll have to call in the big guns. Saturating all the fronds with an insecticidal soap mixture or Neem oil usually controls the problem. Reapply as directed by the product you are using but it will generally require an additional application after one week.
Why Are The Leaves On My Kentia Palm Turning Brown?
Healthy and happy Kentia palm foliage is deep green, so browning foliage can be the result of several things. If the air is too dry and the palm isn’t getting adequate humidity, the foliage and tips can start browning. Browning foliage can also be the result of the palm not getting adequate water. In addition, too much fertilizer can also cause browning fronds and tips, as well as too much salt in the soil.
You can alleviate these problems by misting the palm regularly with water to increase humidity, and watering when the top three inches of soil become dry to the touch. Reduce fertilizer applications to half-strength and flush the soil of any salt buildup every couple of months using water.
How Often Do You Water A Kentia Palm?
During the seasons of spring throughout summer and while the Kentia palm is actively growing, you may need to water it every week. However, during winter while the palm is going through dormancy, you will probably only need to water every couple of weeks.
The best rule of thumb to follow on when to apply water is sticking your finger into the container’s soil and if the top three inches feel dry, water until it runs out of the bottom of the container.
Can Kentia Palms Take Full Sun?
Kentia palms grown indoors won’t tolerate full sun, as this will cause sunburn to the foliage. When growing a Kentia palm indoors, it’s best to situate the tree in a location with bright to moderately bright, filtered sunlight.
If you move it outdoors during the warm seasons of the year to give it break from indoor growth, don’t place it in a location that receives more sunlight than what it was used to indoors. The direct rays of the sun can burn the foliage because the palm isn’t used to the intense sunlight. However, a Kentia palm that is around 5-years-old or older, can tolerate stronger sunlight than younger ones.
Interestingly, Kentia palms grown in their natural environment will tolerate very strong and direct sunlight. However, they are acclimatized to these conditions from the start of their growth. Indoor cultivated trees are used to lower light conditions, and it is the sudden change in intensity, which the plant cannot adapt to, that does the damage.
How Fast Does A Kentia Palm Grow?
One of the best aspects of growing a Kentia palm indoors is its natural slow-growth. Therefore, it usually takes well over five years for the palm grown indoors to reach its average indoor potential of around 5 to 10 feet tall.
Are Kentia Palms Poisonous?
Kentia palms are entirely non-toxic to humans and pets, so you can safely place it anywhere in your house without concern.
What Type Of Flowers Do Kentia Palms Produce?
Kentia palms grown indoors rarely bloom due to the lack of sufficient light for flower production. However, grown outdoors, the white male and female blooms form on a 3-foot inflorescence, followed by egg-shaped fruits changing to red when fully ripe.
How Many Varieties Of Kentia Palms Are There?
Kentia palms consist of the most commonly found Howea fosteriana and Howea belmoreana and commonly called Belmore Sentry Palm. The major difference is Howea fosteriana has longer leaflets than Howea belmoreana.
If you enjoy growing palms in your home, I have another really interesting article about Areca Palm Care. It’s another one of my favorite palms to grow indoors. Alternatively, check out my other articles about caring for your houseplants.
If you want to find out about some great resources that can help you look after your indoor plants, check out my recommended resources section. This will help you choose the best books, tools, and resources to help you develop your green thumb.
The Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) is a beautiful, popular dark-green feather-leaved palm plant for homes, offices, restaurants, malls and many other challenging, high traffic settings.
This good-looking, elegant plant is well known for its lush green foliage, easy care, grace, and size. Every once in a great while a Kentia palm will flower in captivity.
The flowers are unremarkable, but even kept just for its foliage, this palm does well in a wide variety of large, open indoor settings.
In this article, we answer important questions regarding Kentia Palm plant care. Read on to learn more.
Kentia Palm growing at Gaylord Palms Hotel, Orlando, Florida November, 2017
#1 – Where Does Kentia Palm Come From?
The natural home of this sturdy palm tree is Lord Howe Island, which is located in the Pacific Ocean off the east coast of Australia.
It takes its genus name (Howeia) from its origins. Its common name comes from the town of Kentia, which is located on the island.
The two Howea (hou’-ee-ah) palms Howea belmoreana and Howea forsteriana grow outdoors in frost-proof locations in California. In Florida these plants do not grow as well.
#2 – How Big Do Kentia Palms Get?
In the wild, Kentia trees can grow to be sixty feet tall. Even so, they make good, large houseplants because they grow very slowly, adding only a couple of new leaves annually.
In an ideal indoor setting, they usually top out at about ten or twelve feet high. It can take many years for the plant to reach this height. You can expect an ultimate spread of about five or six feet.
When you purchase a Kentia it will probably be about 3 -5 feet high.
Very often when you purchase your Kentia palm you will find that several small plants have been grouped together in one pot.
This makes a nice, full display to start with and gives you the bonus of several separate plants when repotting time (if needed) arrives.
#3 – How Much Space Do You Need?
Because the Kentia Palm can grow very large, you will need to set aside an area of floor about 4’ x 4’ with an overhead clearance of 8’ to 10’.
When the plant begins to get big, it should have a permanent place indoors on the floor as it will eventually become too heavy and too tall to sit on the surface of any item of furnishing.
#4 – What Is The Best Placement For The Kentia Palm Indoors?
These graceful plants like a setting with bright, indirect sunlight but do well in low light as well. Direct sun will scorch them. For this reason, your palm tree should receive northern or eastern sun.
If you cannot provide this, be sure not to place your plant right next to a southern or western window as the direct rays of the sun will damage it.
As with most house plants, a room with bright, indirect sunlight is preferable to direct sunlight. This is especially true for sunlight shining through glass. Too much hot sun can scorch your palm tree.
If you find either of these circumstances to be true, relocate your plant to a less challenging location and monitor it closely for improvement.
#5 – What Temperature Do These Indoor Palms Prefer?
In the summertime, they like a consistent temperature in the low 60’s to 70 degrees. In the winter 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature.
#6 – How Much Water Do Kentia Palms Need?
Water thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry before watering again.
Provide a mild liquid solution of fertilizer prepared especially for palms every other watering during the growing season and not at all during the winter.
If growth slows down or stops and your plant begins to lean it can mean you are overwatering.
Remember that your palm tree must never stand in water. Always allow the soil to dry out before watering thoroughly.
Generally speaking, when grown in an interior setting a thorough weekly watering in the spring and summer months and a thorough watering every couple of weeks in the late autumn and the wintertime should be enough. Mist frequently to hydrate the leaves.
This will help prevent problems with dry leaf tips.
#7 – What Can You Do About Dry Leaf Tips On Howea?
If the tips of your palm’s fronds do dry out, you can trim them to remove the brown parts.
Don’t cut into the green part of the frond. Try to trim in a way that blends in and looks natural.
If you see dry, brown areas on the leaves, it may mean that the air is too dry for your plant.
Check the location.
If the plant is too close to heat or air conditioning vents or too near a radiator or other heat source, this could be your problem.
#8 – Is Regular Grooming Necessary?
Cut off dead or damaged leaves and keep the dead leaves around the base of the trunk trimmed back for a neater appearance. Remove leaves sparingly as new leaves are slow to emerge.
You should cut these leaves quite close to the trunk leaving only about a half inch of the original leaf stem.
In addition to trimming and pruning, you’ll need to give your plant a little cleaning from time-to-time.
You should occasionally wipe the plant down with a damp sponge or soft, clean cloth soaked in purified water. Wipe the leaves carefully and examine for any signs of pests or disease.
#9 – Are Kentia Palms Subject To Pests And Diseases?
Scale insects can be problematic on palm trees. When you clean your plant, check carefully for them on the undersides of the leaves.
Add a little Neem oil to the purified water you are using to clean the plant to prevent scale insects and other pests taking up residence.
If scale insects are already a problem, you may need to scrape them off with a dull knife blade or your fingernail before treating with a Neem oil solution or an indoor houseplant insecticide.
Be persistent in treatment to be sure of killing off all the pests and keeping them away.
Spider mites can also attack the Kentia/Howea. Oval in shape and barely visible. Spider mites like dry, warm conditions and hide first on undersides of leaves, then cover the plant. Use Neem oil as well for control.
#10 – How And When Should You Repot A Kentia Palm?
Late in the winter or early in the spring are good times for repotting. When you tree is still small and manageable, follow standard repotting procedure.
When the plant is young, you should repot annually when it matures, you can transition to repotting once every couple of years.
Because these trees have long taproots rather than spreading roots, you should always repot into tall, columnar containers.
Don’t use a container that is too large as these plants tend to die back if they have too much root space. Keep your palm slightly root-bound.
When you repot, trim the roots back a bit as this will help curb your plant’s growth.
Use a standard well-draining, potting mix for best results.
#11 – How Do You Grow Kentia Palm From Seed?
You can purchase seeds online. They are large and hard. To grow a palm from seed you must soak the seed for several days in very warm water (90 degrees Fahrenheit).
Plant the seed a couple of inches deep in moist, light, well-draining, standard potting soil. Cover with a plastic bag and keep the pot in a very warm setting with bright, indirect lighting.
It may take as long as two weeks for the seed to sprout, and it may not sprout at all.
Kentia palm is a tropical beauty which can seem rather expensive as a houseplant, but in the long run these palms are worth every penny.
As mentioned, these plants often come 3 or 4 to a pot, so when you repot you can definitely get more value for your dollar.
Aside from that, the Kentia palm is a slow growing, long-lived, easy-care indoor plant that can provide elegance and beauty to your sunroom, entryway, bedroom or almost any other spacious location in your home for many years to come.
The leaves on my palm plant are turning brown and dying, one by one. What am I doing wrong?
It would be helpful to know what kind of palm you have. Also it would be good to know what direction the window is facing, and whether or not the light is interrupted by trees or buildings. And it would be useful to know how long you’ve had the plant.
However, since palms that are sold for indoor use have a rather general list of requirements which apply to all of them, I can give you a couple of basic points to consider.
First, if you have a majesty palm, there’s not much you can do, other than to request a refund from the store. They have been marketed heavily for the last few years by some irresponsible big box stores, but are horrible indoor plants, and are just about inevitably doomed to die in your house.
If the plant sits by a window that has a light filtering shade, there’s a good chance that it’s not getting enough light. Contrary to what some people might think because these are supposed to be “shade” plants, in a house it would be almost impossible to give them too much light. Indeed, they can take plenty of light – it’s just that they have the ability to adapt to more shade if they have to. Probably the lowest light palm of all, the neanthe bella (parlor) palm can grow happily outside. (I know, I have several in my yard in Florida.) However, if you have one of the higher light palms, like a lady palm, or a kentia palm, definitely it will need more light.
Browning on the tips of the leaves is most likely an indication of soil that is staying too wet. You say that you try to keep the soil feeling damp; presumably you mean it feels damp on the top surface. This would be a problem, because most palms indoors, especially in low light, are going to need their soil to feel almost dry before you water again.
You can’t judge the soil moisture solely by feeling the top of the soil. The reason is that often the soil dries out on top, while underneath, where the roots are, it actually stays quite damp.
If you dig some soil from several inches beneath the top, and examine it, it should feel soft and cool, but not damp. If you squeeze it between your fingers, it should stick together, but fall apart easily at a touch. If water comes out when you pinch, the soil is too wet to water again.
Even better is to test the soil moisture with a probe or moisture meter, so you can see what’s happening down near the bottom of the pot.
So, to sum it up, I suggest you open the shades to get more light to the plant, and let the soil dry more between waterings, because brown tips on the leaves are most likely a sign that the soil is too wet.
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WHAT DO WE SHIP PLANTS, I.E., OFFER MAIL ORDER?
Anything we grow can be shipped. Smaller and medium sized plants are sent presently utilizing UPS. Larger plants or large numbers of items may require an independent trucker but can be easily done. With any mail order, we like to maximize the number of plants per box, thus getting more plants per box and saving you money when ordering. The photo below shows boxes waiting for UPS pick up on a typical Monday.
HOW DO WE SHIP PLANTS?
We typically ship plants in their containers, soil included. Few nurseries are qualified to do this, but we are a CA certified nursery. Shipping plant with their soil avoids immediate bare root losses (33%) and there’s not the typical “one year set back” seen with bare root plants. With an order, all the required Agriculture permits are included. Plants are packed carefully in shipping boxes utilizing stakes and packing material to stabilize your plants. No one does a better job at this than our nursery. And, we optimize your packing to get multiple plants in the same box.
WHY DON’T WE HAVE A SHOPPING CART AT OUR SITE?
Simply put, because almost all customers need assistance in selecting the right species for their area. Otherwise we have folks in Wisconsin ordering Coconut Palms for their front yards (which will die before November). So, let us use our expertise and make life easier for you and your plants. Yes, this means you can’t satisfy your impulse buying tendencies, but in the long run you’ll be happier with your purchases.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET PLANTS?
We usually get plants shipped within 24 hours, often within hours of your call. Delivery via UPS or Fed Express takes one to five days, depending on where you live. We do not ship outside the U.S.
DO WE SHIP ALL YEAR LONG?
Yes, we ship year-round unless cold weather stops us. To the western and southern areas of the country, we ship twelve months a year. If you live in a northern area with severely cold winter weather, on request we might have to hold your order until weather permits shipping.
TO WHERE DO WE SHIP PLANTS?
We only ship plants to states with the U.S. or possibly its territories. But, otherwise WE DO NOT SHIP INTERNATIONALLY.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO SHIP?
Almost always, we ship plants in their containers with soil. The cost for shipping is what UPS charges us and a packaging fee. This latter fee covers the actual costs of boxing up your order (stakes, boxes, labor and other materials). No one does a better job at this. To this fee we add the actual shipping costs from UPS. Usually the handling fee for materials is $20, but with big boxes can be more. Although it’s a bit cheaper to send plants bare root, we don’t believe it’s best for you or the plants. We try to piggy-back as many plants into one box as possible. We let you know the approximate total for shipping when you place your order.
DO WE GUARANTEE OUR PLANTS?
Simply put, we can’t guarantee that everyone in every part of the country will have success growing all species. That’d be impossible to do. We do guarantee that when you buy a plant or receive it by mail order, it’ll arrive in good health. This is because we pack and ship plants like no other nursery.
DO WE OFFER LOCAL DELIVERY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA?
Yes, local delivery is offered. And we have a private trucking company that offers deliver to the SF Bay area at a very afforeable rate.
CAN WE SHIP LARGE PLANTS? YES!
SHRINK WRAPPED OR CRATED PALLETS HOLD A LOT OF PLANTS
We can ship plants of any size. More recently, we’re offering very affordable prices for shipping pallets all across the country. On a typical pallet we can ship nine to fifteen different 15g plants and piggyback smaller items among the 15g. We can also ship boxed sized plants. The limitation is the plant height. Plants can’t be more than 8 feet tall. The price per plant with pallets is really reduced when a customer utilizes this service.
HOW DO I ORDER? (SEE BELOW)
Help Yourself to this Handy Kentia Palm Guide
Kentia Palms, also called the Howea Forseriana or Thatch Palm, are an Arecaea palm native to Lord Howe Island, Australia. They grow slowly but reach impressive sizes, up to 33 feet tall and 20 feet wide in optimal outdoor conditions. The fronds are also substantial, sometimes growing to 10 feet in length. Though they require tropical temperatures to grow properly outdoors, you can also raise Kentia Palms indoors, making them suitable as an elegant house decoration (provided you follow some careful steps to raise them right).
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Facts About Kentia Palms
Though they can grow indoors and across tropical climates, Kentia Palms are considered “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The plant is on the “Red List,” and prospective owners will likely receive a specimen from seeds that were cultivated directly on Lord Howe Island. The distribution of these seeds is highly regulated in an effort to protect this rare species.
Photo By Black Diamond Images Licensed Under CC By 2.0
As for the plant’s structure, the Kentia grows as a single trunk from which all of the derivative palms grow. The Kentia Palm’s leaves are a deep green and have a pronounced arch, as palms tend to do. Indoors, they’ll reach heights more manageable than their outdoor counterparts, usually up to 8 feet. Unfortunately, you cannot prune Kentia Palms to manage their height. If they begin to outgrow their original location, you must move them to a more suitable spot to prevent them from dying.
The number of fronds that sprout on this plant is dependent on the amount of light they are exposed to. In low light, you should expect fewer fronds, perhaps 4-6. With greater levels of (indirect) light, you might see as many as 12 fronds growing from the plant. Kentia Palms will occasionally flower, producing white flowers and a red, egg-shaped fruit.
This stunning appearance, combined with their hearty nature, makes them a good choice for living rooms and offices. Don’t abuse their robustness, though; the plants still require proper care to stay as healthy as possible.
Planting Kentia Palms
As mentioned, Kentia Palms can grow indoors and outdoors. No matter which location you choose to grow yours in, you’ll have to choose your exact spot carefully. Outdoors, you’ll need to to find a semi-shady area to foster the palm’s growth. Make sure the soil will provide suitable drainage, then prepare the ground with an all-purpose fertilizer. Dig a hole deep enough to cover about 2/3rds of the root ball, then cover.
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Water your outdoor Kentia regularly, but don’t overdo it. Overwatering the Kentia can produce drooping, discolored fronds with yellowing tips and brown splotches. Underwatering your Kentia will lead to a similar outcome, so monitor and balance your plant’s water levels closely.
Indoors, you should plant your Kentia in a sizable pot and position it in an area with plenty of light. The Kentia will survive in low light but will thrive with ample amounts of indirect sunlight. Ensure that the pot has ample drainage and a container for collecting excess water. During the winter you won’t need to water your Kentia as much (only when the soil becomes too dry). During the rest of the year, stick to watering your palm on a regular weekly or bi-weekly schedule.
If your Kentia grows too large for its pot (or your ceiling), you’ll have to transplant it. Make sure to do so very carefully. The roots of this plant are fragile, so overhandling them will cause damage. Thankfully, you won’t have to do this too often, as Kentia grow slowly. At most, you might have to transplant yours once every three years.
Caring For A Kentia Palm
Outdoors, you’ll need to fertilize your Kentia once a season during the Spring, Summer, and Fall. A balanced, slow-release fertilizer should do the trick. Sprinkle this over the soil where the Kentia is located, and water thoroughly. You should also make a habit of trimming away dead foliage from your Kentia twice a year. Use pruning shears, and make sure they are sufficiently sharp and well-sanitized before taking them to your palm leaves.
Indoors, your plant will require more work. Stick to your watering and fertilization schedule as you would if the Kentia were outdoors. Cut your fertilizer to half-strength before applying it to the pot. Trim dead leaves away from the Kentia in the same manner. You will also have to clean dust away from the leaves once a month to discourage spider mites. A rag and a spray bottle should be more than enough to accomplish the task.
In the event that spider mites do take residence on the plant, you’ll have to kill them before they can do irreparable harm to your palm. You can perform a visual examination to determine if the mites are present (they are hard to see, but are red in color and will show up against a white background). Remove the mites with water, then trim away the most heavily infested leaves. Finally, spray your plant with a soapy solution to discourage the mites from returning.
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Additional Care Instructions
Your Kentia will be in good hands if you follow the above guidelines. To continue caring for your palm properly, keep the following in mind:
- Kentia do best in temperatures between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. They can survive at temperatures as low as 55 degrees, but no lower.
- Moderate indirect light is best for Kentia growth. Don’t keep them right in front of the window, rather, position them in well-lit room but off to the side.
- You should monitor water levels to make sure your Kentia isn’t getting too much or too little. If the leaves start to yellow or develop brown spots, this is a sign that you’re watering either too much or not enough.
- Kentia thrive in humid environments, and too little moisture will attract the dreaded spider mites. Too much moisture, on the other hand, can cause rotting, so be careful.
- Don’t repot your Kentia too often. Give your palm time to grow naturally and only repot when the plant is at risk of becoming pot bound.
Howea forsteriana: Kentia Palm1
Samar Shawaqfeh and Timothy Broschat2
The kentia palm, also known as the sentry palm, is native to Lord Howe Island off the east coast of Australia. It is a slow growing palm that can reach 40 feet in height with a spread of 6–10 feet (Figure 1). It has single slender trunk, 5–6 inches in diameter, that is dark green when young but turns brown as it ages and is exposed to sun. The trunk is attractively ringed with the scars of shed fronds. Leaves are pinnate, or feather-shaped, about 7 ft long, with unarmed petioles 3–4 feet in length. The kentia palm is considered one of the best interior palms for its durability and elegant appearance (Figure 2). The dark green graceful crown of up to three dozen leaves gives it a tropical appearance. Containerized palms can be used on a deck or patio in a shady location or the palm can be planted into the landscape.
Mature kentia palm in the landscape.
T. K. Broschat
Juvenile kentia palm used in the interiorscape.
T. K. Broschat
Kentia palms prefer shade to partial shade but still can adapt to full sun if planted outside. This species can tolerate temperatures of 100°F if not in direct sun. Kentia palms prefer coastal southern California rather than areas like southern Florida or Hawaii because high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall are poorly tolerated. Kentia palms are considered to be moderately tolerant of salt spray and can tolerate cold down to 25°F, making them suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 9b (25–30°F) to 11 (above 40°F). They are adaptable to a wide range of soils (clay, sand, loam, slightly alkaline, acidic, well-drained) and are considered to be moderately drought tolerant. However, they do not tolerate severe dryness or continual over-watering, especially during the winter.
Kentia palm requires some sun exposure to produce its creamy flowers. Flowers are produced below the leaves on 3.5-foot-long inflorescences during November and December. Male and female flowers are produced on the same inflorescence. Kentia palms will fruit at about fifteen years of age. The fruits are oval, 1–3 inches long, and red-brown in color when ripe.
Potassium (K) deficiency (http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep269) is a serious problem on most species of palms, including kentia palms. Symptoms appear on leaflets of the oldest leaves as marginal or tip necrosis with little or no yellowish spotting present (Figure 3). Symptoms are most severe toward the tips of those leaves. Applications of controlled-release K sources are much more effective than the easily leached water-soluble K sources.
Potassium deficient older leaf of kentia palm showing leaflet tip necrosis.
T. K. Broschat
Kentia palms also are known to exhibit symptoms of manganese (Mn) deficiency (http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep297) under alkaline soil conditions in southern Florida. Manganese-deficient palms have leaflet tip necrosis on the basal leaflets of the youngest leaves (Figure 4). Boron (B) deficiency (http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep264), which can cause stunting and distortion of newly emerging leaves, incomplete opening of new leaves, or even horizontal shoot growth, also can be a problem on this species (Figure 5).
Manganese deficient kentia palm.
T. K. Broschat
Boron deficient kentia palm.
T. K. Broschat
Controlled-release fertilizer having an N:P2O5:K2O ratio of approximately 3:1:2 results in the greatest growth in container-grown plants. However, in Florida landscapes fertilizers having an analysis of 8-2-12-4Mg plus micronutrients are recommended for this species. See “Nutrition and Fertilization of Palms in Containers” (http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep262) and “Fertilization of Field-Grown and Landscape Palms in Florida” (http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep261) for more information about fertilizing palms.
Diseases are very rarely a problem with indoor grown palms. However, in kentia palms Cylindrocladium leaf spot, stigmina leaf spot, and other fungal leaf spots (http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pp142) can occur during nursery production. Spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects are the most common insect pests on this species, especially on indoor specimens.
Old leaf bases can be removed from kentia palm trunks by gentle pulling. Avoid forcing them or tearing them from the trunk as this can permanently scar the trunk and create a potential entry site for Thielaviopsis trunk rot disease (http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pp143). Removal of old leaf bases will expose the yellowish-colored trunk tissue which will change to green if the plant is in the shade or tan if in sun.
Propagation of kentia palms is normally by seeds. Kentia palm fruits mature very slowly, sometimes taking 3–4 years. The fruits change color slowly from dull orange to deep dull red as they mature. It is best to obtain older red seeds for optimum germination. Seeds seem to have maximum viability for 8–16 weeks after maturing. To propagate kentia palm from seeds, remove fruits from the palm and soak them in warm water. After several days, remove the seeds from the fruits and place them either in a sealable plastic bag with peat or a potting soil mix or sow them shallowly in planting trays. Water the soil to keep it hydrated but not saturated. Place the bag or planting trays in indirect sunlight. For direct soil sowing, place the seeds in a well-drained soil in partial shade at a temperature between 85 and 104°F and keep the seeds moist but not too wet or the seeds will rot. Bottom heat and fungicide treatment have been shown to improve germination rates and seedling survival. The seeds typically germinate within three months to several years. For more information about palm seed germination see “Palm Seed Germination” (http://www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep238).
Broschat, T. K. 1984. “Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms in Five Species of Palms Grown as Foliage Plants. Principes 28:6–14.
Meerow, A. W. 2006. Betrock’s Landscape Palms. Hollywood, FL: Betrock Info. Syst.
Nelson, S. and E. Patnude. 2012. “Potassium Deficiency of Palms in Hawai‘i.” Univ. Hawaii- CTAHR Plant Disease. PD-89.
This document is ENH456, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised January 2015. Reviewed December 2017. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
Samar S. Shawaqfeh, graduate student; and Timothy Broschat, professor; Environmental Horticulture Department; UF/IFAS Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center, Davie, FL 33314.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.