Parlor Palm: Guide to Caring for Your Tropical Beauty

Published April 26, 2021
Parlor palm with sunlight

If you're looking for a low maintenance houseplant that is beautiful and also nontoxic, parlor palm might be the perfect choice. Parlor palms add a tropical feel and lush greenery to any space.

A Classic Houseplant

Parlor palms (Chamaedorea elegans) have been popular since the Victorian era, gracing sitting rooms and parlors and bringing a feel of the tropics with them. And it's easy to see why the parlor palm is such a popular houseplant. Not only is it beautiful, but it's easy to care for as well.

Parlor Palm Care

Parlor palms are low maintenance houseplants. They grow very well in low light conditions and aren't overly fussy about temperature or humidity. For these reasons, parlor palm is often considered to be an ideal plant for a new houseplant grower.

Lighting, Warmth, and Humidity

Parlor palms grow well in low to medium light. It's important to keep in mind that they do need some light. A good rule of thumb is that if you can read a book in the area in which you plan to place your plant, it's low light and will be fine for plant growth. If you can't read, it's too dark and you'll have to add supplemental lighting.

Average indoor temperatures and humidity work fine for parlor palm. It can even withstand temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your parlor palm is near heat sources or heating vents, you may notice the tips or edges of the leaves getting brown. This is a sign that conditions are too dry. Either move it away from the heat or drying air, or mist a couple of times per day.

Parlor palms don't need watering often; every one to two weeks will be plenty. The soil should dry out in between waterings.

Parlor Palm or Chamaedorea elegans

Fertilizing Tips

Parlor palms are very light feeders. You really only need to feed them once or twice during the warmer months, and not at all during the winter. To make it easy to schedule, consider feeding once on the spring equinox and again at the summer solstice, and your parlor palm will have all the nutrients it needs.

Soil and Repotting

Parlor palms are slow growers and actually have somewhat weak, undersized root systems for their size. They don't need to be repotted more often than every couple of years.

Any good quality potting soil will work. If your parlor palm has been in the same pot for a few years, it might be a good idea to gently pull it out and add fresh potting soil around the roots, even if your plant doesn't need a larger container. This will replenish the soil and give the roots some nice, new, fertile soil to grow into.

Pests and Problems

There aren't many pests or diseases that affect parlor palms. Be on the lookout for aphids, which you can get rid of by spraying them with insecticidal soap.

Any other issues are likely due to water or humidity. Browning leaf tips usually mean the area is too dry, and the plant needs higher humidity.

Yellowing leaves, or stems that start turning black, are both signs that the parlor palm is being over-watered. Cut back on watering, allow the soil to dry out, and check to make sure the soil is dry before watering in the future.

Perfect for Experienced and Beginner Houseplant Growers

Whether you're a longtime indoor gardener or are just picking up your first houseplant, parlor palm, with its beauty and ease of care, definitely deserves a spot in your home.

Parlor Palm: Guide to Caring for Your Tropical Beauty