Growing Palm Trees Indoors
This is my site Written by Wayne on March 1, 2009 – 1:25 pm

I love Palm trees! Big ones, little ones, fat ones, skinny ones, it makes no difference to me I like them all. This makes no since to me as up until a few years ago I never had even seen one except in picture books or movies. Being a northern boy I should love Oak/Beech/Maple forests or at least White Pine stands.

I was in seventh heaven when a local community started planting full size Queen Palms during the Summer months along their parkways. Unfortunately, this was short lived as they soon discovered that the cost of leasing the trees was just too much. Personally I thought it was worth every penny.

Now the only way I can ever see a live palm tree everyday is by growing them indoors. Several years ago this would not have been a problem as we had a tropical greenhouse. Unfortunately, we now live in a home with forced air heat, air conditioning, and surrounded by a mature hardwood forest. Not the most ideal environment for a tropical palm.

So what do palms want? The answer to this question is easy, “Palms want to be in Florida, Hawaii, or Any Place Warm”, just like me. Since my wife says this is impossible we can start by putting in humidifiers, setting up fans throughout the house, and maintaining a constant warm temperature. Also, choose locations in the home with the most light exposure and consider supplementing with artificial lights. Group the palms together in pebble trays will also help.

You should select species that are easier to grow indoors such as the Sago Palm. The Sago Palm is a long-lived exotic palm that tolerates neglect but thrives with attention. Sago Palms will grow in almost any soi,l although they prefer soil that is well drained and rich in humus. It adapts to indirect light or full sun and has a wide temperature range from 15 to 120 degrees. A slow growth rate allows indoor specimen’s to remain in the same container indefinitely.

 Generally, palms should be treated as a cactus and watered when almost dry. Unlike most plants which can wilt when dry or turn yellow from lack of fertilizer, Cycads give little indication of when to water or feed. If the plant is receiving morning or afternoon sun or temperatures are warm, Sagos may need to be watered at least weekly. Plants grown in low light or cool temperatures may need watered every few weeks or so.  We generally water a plant twice.  The first time wets the soil, the second watering a few minutes later soaks the soil. 

Palms are ideal to plant inside apartments, where space, lighting and fresh air is limited. You can breathe the fresh, clean air in a confined apartment room, when you plant a palm to freshen the air and add aesthetic enjoyment to your living area. The same can be true of the home, it only requires a little more work. But what is work for the palm lover that cannot live in Hawaii or Florida year round?


Tips of the Month

1. Keep palms relatively moist, in spring and summer, or when temperatures are warm and days are longer, water them as soon as their soil feels dry a little below the surface. Allow the soil to get slightly drier in winter.

2. It is important that potting soil drains well and containers you use have functioning drain holes..

3. Fertilize lightly from late winter through early autumn, the time when houseplants are likely to grow most actively.

 4. A build-up of fertilizer salts in the soil results in brown tips and edges, especially if you allow the soil to get too dry between waterings. If you’re unsure about fertilizing, error on the side of too little rather than too much. 

5. Keep palm fronds clean as Spider Mites are attracted to dusty foliage and can balloon into a serious problem, particularly in winter when relative humidity is low indoors.

6. Palm roots will often die if cut or torn, so be careful not to injure roots.

7. Palms have the ability to sprout new roots from the sides of their trunks so it is better to plant them a little bit deeper then most plants.

8. Palms are commonly fertilized with a palm special fertilizer that contains trace element supplements.  If palm special fertilizer is not available, composted manure makes a good, readily available substitute.

9. The only pruning that most palms need is occasional removal of dead fronds. The growing bud of a palm should not be pruned. Palm trunks cannot grow new buds and pruning the bud could result in death to the palm.



Flower of the Month

Canary Island Palm

Canary Island Palm


Phoenix canariensis ‘Canary Island Date Palm / Pineapple Palm’ or Feather Palm

It is a large, stately palm often reaches a size too massive for most residential landscapes but, fortunately, it is very slow-growing and will take a considerable amount of time to reach its 50 to 60-foot- height. It is most impressive with its single, upright, thick trunk topped with a crown of 8 to 15-foot-long, stiff leaves with extremely sharp spines at their bases. The stalks of inconspicuous flowers are replaced with clusters of one-inch-diameter, orange-yellow, date-like, ornamental fruits which ripen in early summer. The trunk can reach a diameter of four feet and is covered with an attractive, diamond-shaped pattern from old leaf scars. Moderate growth, single trunk


Featured Web Site

One of our favorite Winter time botanical gardens is the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens ( located right in downtown Sarasota, Florida ( . Named after Marie Selby who donated her Sarasota Bay home and grounds “to provide enjoyment for all who visit the Gardens” it is a great place to get some quiet time and enjoy the natural beauty of Sarasota.

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Modified: March 8, 2009 at 7:44 pm GMT-0800

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