House Plants/Palms for indoor use
QUESTION: Hi Will,
I was wondering do these palms do good indoors:
I live in Minnesota, so in winter the lighting isnt that good but I have 7 parlor palms surviving just fine. Im not very consistent with humidity, I turn it on only for the night and turn it off for the rest of the day (except when temps go below 10F then its on all day). I have a whole house humidity system, besides that I am humidifier-less.
ANSWER: Hi Jack,
I am curious as to the origin of this list of Palms for indoor use. All of them are tropical or semi-tropical in origin. That means that they require warm temps year round and that makes that suitable for indoor use. However, they have varying light requirements and many of these species are very hard to find, especially in smaller sizes for use indoors. Most on your list are not commonly used indoors, for a variety of reasons, including availability in smaller sizes.
Parlor Palms (Chamaedorea elegans) are small plants and do well in low indoor light. Your success with those suggests to me that you do not have a lot of light indoors. Therefore, I would recommend Chamaedorea cataractum as the most suitable one on your list. A second choice would be Calyptrocalyx, if you can find it.
Finding a plant that matches your available light is more important than humidity, which is what you seem focused on.
The best indoor palms that you did not list are Kentias, Bamboo Palms and Raphis Palms. All do well in moderate light. Of all of the Palms, only Kentias and Rhapis are relatively resistant to spider mite infestations.
I have written detailed articles on Palm care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com. I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.
Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.
If this information has been helpful, please click the Rate Volunteer bar below and enter a rating and NOMINATION for me. I am a volunteer on this site so Ratings are the only compensation I receive for answering plant questions.
Need more information? Visit my website at:
A link to HorticulturalHelp.com
or email me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com or call me at 917-887-8601 (EST)
Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC
Visit my website at: A link to HorticulturalHelp.com
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: What are the reasons they aren't used indoors? The cat palm can catch spider mites VERY easily and would probably die in my house, but as soon as spring comes ill go to Home Depot and get one. I have read on palmtalk and forums.gardenwb that The Macarthur palm, The adonidia, Veitchia Arecina and Spiralis and the calyptrocalyx do well for many. I'd also like to try the Areca Catechu, I don't see why not? The dictyosperma and the nephrosperma have had success as an indoor palm I have read on palmtalk and forums.gardenweb, even the guy selling all these palms on ebay said the listed palms could be indoor palms, he even said the Euterpe Oleracea could be an indoor palm if given a weekly shower and or misting. A guy said on palmtalk for the acai palm "just treat it like any indoor tropical, other than that its easy." Synechanthus I read was easy, but it was SLOOOW and sometimes croaks or just doesn't look good.
Im sourcing these palms from eBay, IKEA and Home Depot for your curiosity.
You seem to have done lots of research from a variety of sources on these Palms, so I am not sure why you are soliciting my advice.
Commonly available plants are grown commercially in large quantities by nurseries in FL, CA and HI. If a particular species is deemed to be hard to sell or difficult (i.e. expensive) to produce or hard to maintain indoors or very slow growers, then commercial nurseries will not invest in them. Therefore, such species are not commonly available and not often used. But that is not to say they cannot be used indoors.
You certainly can try any one of those on your list as long as you have a reliable source. Be careful with eBay because you don't always know who you are dealing with. Home Depot and Ikea have large discounted contracts with commercial growers who, in turn, often cut corners when growing their plants. That means there may be more soil, pest, and disease related issues when you buy from them.
Also be careful about information you receive from plant sellers. The comment that Euterpe could be used indoors if "given a weekly shower or misting" makes no sense. A weekly or even a daily misting is not an effective method of increasing humidity for more than about 15 minutes. It will not make a significant difference for any plant. If humidity is a concern, use a humidifier or pebble trays.
As I mentioned previously, the most important criterion for plant success is matching species with available light. Light is the primary determinant of a plant's growth rate and overall health.