Plants

Parlor palm

Chamaedorea elegans

The parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) is one of the most popular houseplants in this country. Here, you can find out how to plant and care for this graceful Mexican.

Growth characteristics
  • upright
  • overhanging
Flower color
  • yellow
Flower shape
  • simply
  • panicles
  • unimpressive
  • branched
Flower characteristics
  • dioecious
  • unimpressive
Fragrance
  • 1
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • pinnule
  • feathered
  • linear to linear lanceolate
  • duster
Sheet properties
  • evergreen
Fruit color
  • black
Light
  • semi-shade to shady
Soil Moisture
  • fresh to humid
ph value
  • weakly alkaline
  • weakly acidic
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant
Decorative or utility value
  • Leaf ornaments
Use
  • Interior greening
  • Winter garden

Origin

The Chamaedorea elegans (parlor plant) is also known as the neanthe bella palm. The parlor palm originates from Central America, where it can be found in the mountainous regions of Mexico and Guatemala. It primarily grows as shade-loving undergrowth. Its easy-care nature and robustness make it a popular houseplant. It is particularly suitable for plant newcomers as it quickly forgives small mistakes.

Growth

The parlor plant has a narrow trunk with a terminal uneven leafcrown of green, gracefully overhanging fronds. It can grow up to 9.84 feet tall and 6.56 feet wide.

Leaves

The leafcrown of the parlor plant consists of rich green, pinnate leaves with 21 to 40 linear to lanceolate pinnate leaves that can reach a length of up to 5.91 inches and a width of up to 1.18 inches. The fronds can grow up to 23.62 inches long.

Flowers

The parlor palm is one of the few palms that can flower even in the early years. From the spring to the fall, parlor plants bear 5.91 to 11.81 inch long single or branched panicles of inconspicuous, small flowers. The palms have different genders, meaning each plant only has either all male or all female flowers. The flowers of female plants are fragrant.

Parlor palm flowers

The flowers of the parlor palm are so delicate that they are almost unnoticeable

Fruit

The female flowers ripen 0.24 to 0.6 inch, small, round, black fruit.

Location

The parlor palm likes light to semi-shade and does not enjoy direct sunlight. Cooler summer temperatures around 68 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. Parlor palms can be placed outside in a shady spot from June. They should be kept cooler in the winter at about 53.6 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. If they are kept too warm during the winter rest they will not flower.

Parlor palm on a balcony

Substrate

The substrate should be permeable and slightly alkaline. Slightly acidic soil is also tolerated. You can use special palm soil or also standard mixtures for houseplants. Herb soil can also be used as a substrate. Conventional potting soil should be mixed 1:1 with sand.

Watering

The parlor palm should be kept evenly moist and should never be allowed to dry out. You should therefore water the parlor plant thoroughly in the summer. Tip: Give smaller plants an immersion bath once a week and then leave the plant pot with the root ball to drip dry thoroughly afterwards, before returning it to the planter. Waterlogging must be avoided at all costs. As the parlor palm requires a lot of water, it’s not a bad thing if some water remains in the plant saucer or planter - however, this should disappear completely before watering the plant again. In the winter it is sufficient to keep the substrate slightly moist.

Fertilizing

Young plants still in their first year should not be fertilized to promote root growth. Even in the first year after repotting, the nutrients from the fresh substrate are still sufficient. Otherwise, they can be sparingly fertilized every two to three weeks from March to September with a standard trade liquid fertilizer for green plants or with a special palm fertilizer. Half of the recommended dosage is usually enough. Fertilizing rods can also be used as an alternative to liquid fertilizer.

Repotting

Parlor palms should be repotted in the spring as soon as the root ball is heavily rooted. The rhythm primarily depends on the size and growing pace of the plant and is two years for young plants and three to five for older ones. For very large specimens it is usually sufficient to change the top substrate layer of the pot ball. However, parlor palms should always be repotted if the roots push out of the pot or even grow over the edge of the pot.

Pruning

Regular pruning is not necessary. Simply remove the older, dried up leaves at the trunk with sharp secateurs and use kitchen scissors to cut off scraggy leaf tips.

Additional Care

You should also occasionally shower the houseplant to keep the fronds free from dust. It is also important in dry room air to spray the plant every few days with rainwater or lime-deficient tap water.

Varieties

‘Bella’ is a compact growing variety of parlor palm that can be traced back to a coincidental breeding discovery. Today, it is the most widely sold variety and is available in the garden centers more often than the fast growing wild species.

Propagation

Parlor palms can be propagated through seed sowing or saplings. As the parlor palm is dioecious, there must be a male and a female plant present to create seeds. The most reliable way to pollinate is by hand with a fine brush. Do this by brushing over all the flowers several times a day. If fruit forms after flowering then the pollination was successful. However, it is easier to order parlor palm seeds on the internet. Imported seeds are generally higher quality and have a better germination rate.

Growing parlor palms from seeds requires a lot of patience. The seeds have a hard shell and must first be softened in lukewarm water. After one to two days they can be planted in peat pellet pots. Place the peat pots in a mini greenhouse and leave the hood closed to begin with. Then place the mini greenhouse in a bright and warm location out of direct sunlight. As soon as the first seedlings are visible, the mini greenhouse can be regularly ventilated. When the young plants are big enough, the peat pots can be moved to the proper plant containers. If the young plants are planted in groups of three in a pot, there is a high probability that a male and female plant will be directly next to one another.

Chamaedorea elegans regularly forms saplings that can be easily separated with a knife and planted in pots. They should initially be kept in moist potting soil under film until new leaves start to grow.

Diseases and Pests

If it is too dry when overwintering there may be an infestation with scaly insects and spider mites. If the plants are kept too moist, fungus gnats will often take up residence in the potting soil.

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