There’s a good reason why indoor palm trees are so popular. Nothing evokes the calm, refreshing breezes of an exotic tropical isle quite like the majestic palm tree. Entering a room with palm trees is not only a beautiful sight, but it also calms the spirit and conjures images of island vacations. With 2600 species of palmsto choose from, it can be overwhelming, but the good news is most palms do well indoors in about the same climate conditions as humans. The Arecaceae family of plants(palms) are an incredibly diverse species found in both deserts and rainforests around the world.

A small palm on your desk or a mature palm in the office foyer are easy-care plants, and once you understand the basics, you will enjoy your palm tree for many years. You’re not looking for simple ways to care for your exotic indoor palm tree; you’re looking for the best ways! Here are three such methods:

1. Find the Best Location

Space

Outdoor palms often grow to great heights in tropical climates, so it is crucial to know the mature height of the palm before purchasing. Indoor palms grow approximately 3ft -8 ft in height, depending on the variety. Keep in mind that you cannot prune the top of a palm. If you cut off a growing palm tip, the palm will die. Luckily, most palms are slow growing, and when they reach the ceiling, the best option is to find a room with a higher ceiling for the big palm.

Light

Most indoor palms thrive in bright indirect light from a southern or western window exposure. The pygmy date palm and Washingtonia palm prefer direct sun, but they are the exception. Occasionally turn your palm to ensure all sides of the plant receive adequate light, and the plant grows straight. Palms do well indoors because they like lower light and may get a sunburn in direct sun!

Temperature and Humidity

Palm trees flourish in warmer temperatures, again with a few exceptions. The hardy parlor and kentia palms favor nights with temperatures dropping into the 50’s. Generally, palm species flourish in a wide range of temperatures but prefer 70-75 degrees during the day, with a 10-degree drop at night. 

2. Optimize the Growing Conditions 

Soil

Indoor palms grow well in general purpose potting soil, but additives to the soil create the ideal environment for a growing plant. Consider a loose, porous soil mix such as a combination of peat moss, leaf mold, and shredded bark. Palms do not like to be repotted, so repot the plants only after they have become rootbound in the pot. 

Fertilizing

Because palms are slow growers, excessive feeding is not necessary. A good rule to remember for palms is to feed lightly in the warmer summer months and not at all in the winter months. Any good houseplant fertilizer works well.

Pruning

Carefully prune your palm tree because palms don’t need excessive pruning and they don’t like it either. In general, only remove brown leaves, if you remove leaves earlier, you run the risk of robbing the palm of vital nutrients. Cut, do not pull leaves from the plants to avoid damage. Gently sponge clean large leaves on a big palm and shower leaves of a smaller palm in a sink.

3. Avoid Potential Problems

Yellow Leaves

The most likely cause of yellow leaves on palm trees is underwatering. Palm trees quickly recover from underwatering by merely adjusting the watering and keeping the soil evenly moist, and by cutting off (not pulling) yellow leaves.

Root Rot

The opposite of yellowing leaves, root rot is caused by overwatering; in fact, overwatering is the number one killer of indoor palm trees. Keep the soil moist but make sure the pot is draining well at the same time.

Insects

Insect infestations are usually not a problem with indoor palm trees. Red spider mites cause the palm to have a dull appearance, but they typically flourish in hot, dry conditions, which is not the general climate in an indoor office. Cleaning or spraying the plant is a good control measure.

Palm trees create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere in an office setting, and who doesn’t want a little less stress in their busy lives? If you would like to experience the ambiance of palm trees or other healthful plants in your office, contact us at Cityscapes and let us handle all your corporate horticultural, plant installation, and maintenance needs.