Kentia Palm Tree – Howea forsteriana
The Kentia Palm Tree (Howea forsteriana) is native to Lord Howe Island off the east coast of Australia. This palm tree is the toughest most elegant most durable of all indoor palm trees. The kentia palm tree can adapt to many ranges of environments from indoors to outdoors with no fuss. The commonly used kentia palm has a reputation for being a favorite indoor palm since the times of the Victorian’s. It is slow growing, not salt-tolerant and should be protected from frost and winds. The grouping of kentia palms with their slender trunks and arching, feathered, evergreen leaves make for an astonishing view. The canopy of a mature kentia palm tree spreads anywhere from 5-10 ft in diameter and contains roughly three dozen leaves.
The Kentia palm tree is by far the number one indoor palm tree of all time. Kentia palms are very durable and slow growing requiring little light which is another reason why the Kentia palm tree is the most sought after indoor palm. Another common name to the Kentia palm is the paradise palm. Given the name paradise palm, it will turn any patio, pool, or indoor space into a paradise.
Most commonly seen in hotel lobbies, malls, and business centers the Kentia palm stands out above the rest.
For more photos of the Kentia Palm, visit our Kentia Palm Photo Gallery, it’s packed with vivid pictures of the Kentia Palm for indoor and outdoor uses!
For wholesale palm pricing on Island Tropical Palm Foliage please contact us at 888-RPT-AGRO or contact us via email at customer.servicerealpalmtrees.com
- Caring For Your Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana)
- #1 – Where Does Kentia Palm Come From?
- #2 – How Big Do Kentia Palms Get?
- #3 – How Much Space Do You Need?
- #4 – What Is The Best Placement For The Kentia Palm Indoors?
- #5 – What Temperature Do These Indoor Palms Prefer?
- #6 – How Much Water Do Kentia Palms Need?
- #7 – What Can You Do About Dry Leaf Tips On Howea?
- #8 – Is Regular Grooming Necessary?
- #9 – Are Kentia Palms Subject To Pests And Diseases?
- #10 – How And When Should You Repot A Kentia Palm?
- #11 – How Do You Grow Kentia Palm From Seed?
- How to Grow Kentia Palm
- Kentia Palm Indoor Care
- Indoor Kentia Palm Plants: Learn About Kentia Palm Care In The Home
- What is a Kentia Palm?
- Indoor Kentia Palm Care
- Kentia Palm Plant Facts
- Kentia Palm An Elegant Stunning Accent Plant
- Kentia Palm Care – The Light Indicator
- What Is The Best Potting Mix For Kentias?
- How Will You Know If You Are Overwatering Your Kentia Palm?
- What Happens With Underwatering Kentias?
- What Pests And Diseases Are Kentia Palms Prone To?
- Background & History of Howea forsteriana The Kentia Palm
- How To Care For Kentia Palm
- Soil For Kentia Palms
- Preferred Light Conditions
- Indoor Temperature Requirements
- Watering Your Kentia Palm
- Kentia Palm Humidity Needs
- Fertilizer Needs
- Pruning Requirements
- Potting and Repotting Kentia Palm
- Propagating New Plants
- Pest And Disease Problems
- Why Are The Leaves On My Kentia Palm Turning Brown?
- How Often Do You Water A Kentia Palm?
- Can Kentia Palms Take Full Sun?
- How Fast Does A Kentia Palm Grow?
- Are Kentia Palms Poisonous?
- What Type Of Flowers Do Kentia Palms Produce?
- How Many Varieties Of Kentia Palms Are There?
Caring For Your Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana)
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Palms are beautiful additions to any garden or indoor space if you’re going for the beach or island vibe. Some palms are more difficult to maintain and care for than the others, but the Kentia Palm is one of the all-time favourites for homeowners and landscapers because of its low-maintenance yet strikingly tropical appearance.
The Kentia Palm has a thin, slender trunk with feather-shaped, drooping fronds. When young, the trunk is dark green and turns to brown as it gets older. The Kentia flowers yearly around November or December
Kentia’s are very adaptable to a variety of soil conditions, which is one of the reasons why they are easy to maintain. They prefer sandy soils with good drainage so they are good palms to grow if you live in a coastal area. Kentia’s can grow up to 18 metres in their natural habitat in Lord Howe Island and will slowly head towards this in your garden.
This palm is also a favourite for indoor décor. It is pretty tolerant of neglect and can handle low sunlight exposure, air conditioning and central heating.
If you are considering adding the Kentia to your personal greenery, here are some tips on how to care for it properly to help it grow optimally.
Although a Kentia Palm can bear neglect well, it is still best to give it the best possible living conditions to make it grow faster and better. Remember that the Kentia is a somewhat slow growing palm. Place your pot in an area where it will receive decent but indirect amounts of sunlight especially in the early mornings and late afternoons. Direct sunlight, especially for young Kentia’s could lead to sunburn.
Do not overwater the plant. When indoors, only water it when the uppermost soil layer is dry. Also ensure that the soil has decent drainage .You can mist your plant to simulate humidity and to prevent pesky spider mites from infesting your Kentia. Misting will also take care of dust build up.
Overwatering your Kentia will cause its roots to rot if the soil’s drainage is not able to draw off the water fast enough. Under-watering on the other hand can cause yellow tips that can eventually turn brown. One sign to look for if the plant is not being watered enough is its stalks and leaves. If they are not standing upright as they should, you may want to do deep watering to help improve their condition.
To ensure that your Kentia is getting all the nutrients and minerals that it needs to grow, you can apply a slow release fertilizer once or twice a year, in the summer and spring.
Also avoid re-potting the plant as the Kentia is generally anti-social and hates being disturbed. The Kentia is again, a slow-growing palm with fragile roots so if you must re-pot, be very careful in handling its root ball.
As in indoor care, the Kentia needs a slightly moist soil. Watering should only be done when 1 or 2 inches of the top soil is already dry. Make sure that your soil’s drainage is effective to avoid root rot. Misting would also be ideal to imitate humidity in its environment.
Kentia Palms do well in shady areas so no need to worry about looking for a spot with direct sunlight. If spotting on fronds occurs it is an indication of too much sunlight and it would be advisable to move the plant if it’s in a pot.
Most of the diseases of this plant occur when it is either overwatered or not watered enough and if it’s getting too much or too little sun.
You might be tempted to prune your Kentia very often but try to resist the urge. Over-pruning may cause permanent damage to the trunk and may make your palm susceptible to fungal infections.
Lastly, try to maintain a tropical climate for your Kentia all year round. In its native habitat of Lord Howe Is the climate is mild and therefore coastal areas are best if growing a Kentia outside.
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The Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) is a beautiful, popular dark-green feather-leaved palm plant for homes, offices, restaurants, malls and many other challenging, high traffic settings.
This good-looking, elegant plant is well known for its lush green foliage, easy care, grace, and size. Every once in a great while a Kentia palm will flower in captivity.
The flowers are unremarkable, but even kept just for its foliage, this palm does well in a wide variety of large, open indoor settings.
In this article, we answer important questions regarding Kentia Palm plant care. Read on to learn more.
Kentia Palm growing at Gaylord Palms Hotel, Orlando, Florida November, 2017
#1 – Where Does Kentia Palm Come From?
The natural home of this sturdy palm tree is Lord Howe Island, which is located in the Pacific Ocean off the east coast of Australia.
It takes its genus name (Howeia) from its origins. Its common name comes from the town of Kentia, which is located on the island.
The two Howea (hou’-ee-ah) palms Howea belmoreana and Howea forsteriana grow outdoors in frost-proof locations in California. In Florida these plants do not grow as well.
#2 – How Big Do Kentia Palms Get?
In the wild, Kentia trees can grow to be sixty feet tall. Even so, they make good, large houseplants because they grow very slowly, adding only a couple of new leaves annually.
In an ideal indoor setting, they usually top out at about ten or twelve feet high. It can take many years for the plant to reach this height. You can expect an ultimate spread of about five or six feet.
When you purchase a Kentia it will probably be about 3 -5 feet high.
Very often when you purchase your Kentia palm you will find that several small plants have been grouped together in one pot.
This makes a nice, full display to start with and gives you the bonus of several separate plants when repotting time (if needed) arrives.
#3 – How Much Space Do You Need?
Because the Kentia Palm can grow very large, you will need to set aside an area of floor about 4’ x 4’ with an overhead clearance of 8’ to 10’.
When the plant begins to get big, it should have a permanent place indoors on the floor as it will eventually become too heavy and too tall to sit on the surface of any item of furnishing.
#4 – What Is The Best Placement For The Kentia Palm Indoors?
These graceful plants like a setting with bright, indirect sunlight but do well in low light as well. Direct sun will scorch them. For this reason, your palm tree should receive northern or eastern sun.
If you cannot provide this, be sure not to place your plant right next to a southern or western window as the direct rays of the sun will damage it.
As with most house plants, a room with bright, indirect sunlight is preferable to direct sunlight. This is especially true for sunlight shining through glass. Too much hot sun can scorch your palm tree.
If you find either of these circumstances to be true, relocate your plant to a less challenging location and monitor it closely for improvement.
#5 – What Temperature Do These Indoor Palms Prefer?
In the summertime, they like a consistent temperature in the low 60’s to 70 degrees. In the winter 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature.
#6 – How Much Water Do Kentia Palms Need?
Water thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry before watering again.
Provide a mild liquid solution of fertilizer prepared especially for palms every other watering during the growing season and not at all during the winter.
If growth slows down or stops and your plant begins to lean it can mean you are overwatering.
Remember that your palm tree must never stand in water. Always allow the soil to dry out before watering thoroughly.
Generally speaking, when grown in an interior setting a thorough weekly watering in the spring and summer months and a thorough watering every couple of weeks in the late autumn and the wintertime should be enough. Mist frequently to hydrate the leaves.
This will help prevent problems with dry leaf tips.
#7 – What Can You Do About Dry Leaf Tips On Howea?
If the tips of your palm’s fronds do dry out, you can trim them to remove the brown parts.
Don’t cut into the green part of the frond. Try to trim in a way that blends in and looks natural.
If you see dry, brown areas on the leaves, it may mean that the air is too dry for your plant.
Check the location.
If the plant is too close to heat or air conditioning vents or too near a radiator or other heat source, this could be your problem.
#8 – Is Regular Grooming Necessary?
Cut off dead or damaged leaves and keep the dead leaves around the base of the trunk trimmed back for a neater appearance. Remove leaves sparingly as new leaves are slow to emerge.
You should cut these leaves quite close to the trunk leaving only about a half inch of the original leaf stem.
In addition to trimming and pruning, you’ll need to give your plant a little cleaning from time-to-time.
You should occasionally wipe the plant down with a damp sponge or soft, clean cloth soaked in purified water. Wipe the leaves carefully and examine for any signs of pests or disease.
#9 – Are Kentia Palms Subject To Pests And Diseases?
Scale insects can be problematic on palm trees. When you clean your plant, check carefully for them on the undersides of the leaves.
Add a little Neem oil to the purified water you are using to clean the plant to prevent scale insects and other pests taking up residence.
If scale insects are already a problem, you may need to scrape them off with a dull knife blade or your fingernail before treating with a Neem oil solution or an indoor houseplant insecticide.
Be persistent in treatment to be sure of killing off all the pests and keeping them away.
Spider mites can also attack the Kentia/Howea. Oval in shape and barely visible. Spider mites like dry, warm conditions and hide first on undersides of leaves, then cover the plant. Use Neem oil as well for control.
#10 – How And When Should You Repot A Kentia Palm?
Late in the winter or early in the spring are good times for repotting. When you tree is still small and manageable, follow standard repotting procedure.
When the plant is young, you should repot annually when it matures, you can transition to repotting once every couple of years.
Because these trees have long taproots rather than spreading roots, you should always repot into tall, columnar containers.
Don’t use a container that is too large as these plants tend to die back if they have too much root space. Keep your palm slightly root-bound.
When you repot, trim the roots back a bit as this will help curb your plant’s growth.
Use a standard well-draining, potting mix for best results.
#11 – How Do You Grow Kentia Palm From Seed?
You can purchase seeds online. They are large and hard. To grow a palm from seed you must soak the seed for several days in very warm water (90 degrees Fahrenheit).
Plant the seed a couple of inches deep in moist, light, well-draining, standard potting soil. Cover with a plastic bag and keep the pot in a very warm setting with bright, indirect lighting.
It may take as long as two weeks for the seed to sprout, and it may not sprout at all.
Kentia palm is a tropical beauty which can seem rather expensive as a houseplant, but in the long run these palms are worth every penny.
As mentioned, these plants often come 3 or 4 to a pot, so when you repot you can definitely get more value for your dollar.
Aside from that, the Kentia palm is a slow growing, long-lived, easy-care indoor plant that can provide elegance and beauty to your sunroom, entryway, bedroom or almost any other spacious location in your home for many years to come.
How to Grow Kentia Palm
Botanical Name: Howea forsteriana
Over many years, a kentia palm tree can reach several feet in height, making it a striking, tropical floor plant. Give it some elbow room, too. Those elegant, arching fans can grow as much as 1 ft (30 cm) wide and 2 ft (60 cm) long.
All of them grow from a single trunk, but growers typically plant several together for a lush, full appearance. This is hands-down the most popular indoor palm tree, and it’s easy to see why.
The palm family is large, but only a few kinds of palm trees are tolerant of average home conditions. This dramatic palm is one.
How to Care for Kentia Palm Indoors
Give it a shower. Keep the fronds dust-free by giving your palm a shower. This has the added benefit of flushing the soil of built-up fertilizer. Use a gentle flow of tepid water. Or stand the plant outdoors for a gentle summer (warm) rain shower. Remember to keep your palm out of direct sun.
Watch for scale insects. They look like brown oval bumps that tend to lurk on the undersides of the leaflets. Treat any infestation immediately.
Repot only when needed. Planting palm trees is only necessary every 3 years at the most. Kentias are slow-growing and don’t like to be disturbed. Their roots are fragile, so handle them with care.
Kentia Palm Indoor Care
Origin: Lord Howe Island (Northeast of Australia)
Height: Grows slowly, but can reach up to 8 ft (2.4 m) indoors
Light: Kentias tolerate shade better than some, but you’ll get a healthier, greener plant by giving your palm bright, indirect light year-round. Take care not to put it in direct sunlight, which may cause brown scorch marks on its leaves.
Water: Keep soil evenly moist spring through fall; slightly drier in winter.
Humidity: Moderate to high humidity. Use a humidity tray or mist the foliage regularly. If the relative humidity drops below 40% in winter, use a room humidifier. Brown leaf tips are a symptom of dry air, although this is common even on healthy palms.
Temperature: Average room temperatures 60-75°F/16-24°C. It can tolerate a minimum of 55°F/13°C.
Soil: Peat moss-based potting mix with added sand for quick drainage.
Fertilizer: Feed monthly in spring and summer. Organic palm fertilizer contains the micronutrients this palm needs. Don’t feed in fall and winter when growth has slowed.
Propagation: Kentia seeds can be grown with a grow light and heat mat, but seedlings are slow-growing. You’ll wait for years for seedlings to grow into a tall palm tree.
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Indoor Kentia Palm Plants: Learn About Kentia Palm Care In The Home
If you love the tropical look of a palm tree but don’t live in a tropical region, try growing Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana). What is a Kentia palm? Kentia palm plants are notorious for being able to withstand conditions that many houseplants can’t tolerate. Plus, an indoor Kentia palm can attain a formidable height that makes it an outstanding focal point in interior landscapes. Ready to learn more about Kentia palm growing?
What is a Kentia Palm?
Kentia palms are native to Lord Howe Island in the South Pacific. These palms are also known as sentry or paradise palms. They are suitable for growing in USDA zones 9-11, but for those outside these ranges, Kentia palm plants make terrific container grown specimens.
Kentia palms have the typical large palm-shaped leaves. They can grow up to 40 feet (12 m.) in height but they are slow growers, and indoor Kentia palms typically max out in containers at fewer than 12 feet (3.6 m.).
Kentia plants produce a 3.5 foot (a meter or so) long inflorescence consisting of white blooms on 3-7 spikes. Both male and female flowers exist on the same inflorescence, and the resulting fruit are ovoid and a dull red in color; however, the fruit will take about 15 years to make an appearance.
Indoor Kentia Palm Care
Kentia palm growing can occur in USDA zones 9-11 in a shade to partial shade area or container grown inside – which is the most common growing method for most people.
They adapt to a wide range of soil, from clay to loam and acidic to alkaline. Plant container grown Kentia in well-draining potting mix, preferably on the sandy side. Once established, Kentia palm plants are fairly drought tolerant, although they do not like to be overly dry, or for that matter overly wet. Water only when the top inch or so (2.5 cm.) of soil starts to dry out. Mist indoor Kentia palm occasionally to provide some humidity and to remove any dust build-up.
The plants are quite forgiving and tolerant of low light conditions, but do prefer an area that receives indirect light indoors. You can also choose to keep your plant outdoors during the warmer months in a somewhat shaded location. While the Kentia can tolerate temperatures down to 25 F. (-4 C.) and up to 100 F. (38 C.), it is best to bring the plant back indoors prior to winter and offer protection from excessive heat during the summer – no direct sun.
Once Kentia palm plants have established, they require very little care. Feed your container grown plants with a controlled release fertilizer with an NPK ratio of about 3-1-2. Excessive fertilization may cause the tips of lower leaves to turn brown and die.
While normally carefree, they are prone to potassium deficiency. The first signs of this deficiency appear on the oldest leaves as necrosis on the tips. To manage this deficiency, apply a control release potassium supplement, as this is more effective than a water-soluble supplement. Kentia plants are also susceptible to deficiencies of manganese, which exhibits as leaf tip necrosis on the youngest leaves. Boron deficiencies may cause stunting of new leaves as well.
Indoor grown palms rarely become diseased but may be plagued with spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. The use of insecticidal soap or neem oil can often help with any pest issues that may arise.
Palms, in general, require minimal pruning. Over pruning may cause irreversible damage to the trunk. You should, however, remove old leaf bases by gently pulling; do not force them off, which can cause permanent scarring or open up injury for trunk rot disease.
All in all, the Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) will be a welcome addition to your home, creating a relaxing, tropical atmosphere. The easy nature of Kentia palm care makes it a perfect choice for a novice.
Kentia palm care comes with a rich history few indoor houseplants can claim.
The upright “Kentia palm Howea Forsteriana” with its beautiful, arching, dark green leaves has graced the background photos of royalty in the Victorian era earning the name ‘Parlor Palm.”
There’s also another Kentia called Howea belmoreana, Belmore sentry palm and curly palm.
Kentia Palm Plant Facts
- Origin: Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, Australia
- Family: Arecaeae
- Botanical Name: Howea Forsteriana
- Common Name: Kentia Palm, Sentry Palm, Parlor Palm
- Plant Type: Evergreen perennial
- Size: Indoors 5′-12′ feet tall
- Hardiness: USDA hardiness zone 9b -11
- Exposure: bright location, indirect morning sunlight
- Soil: good drainage and fast draining on the sandy side
- Water: Thoroughly water and allow soil to dry
- Fertilizer: slow-release
- Propagation: seed
- Pests & Problems: Spider mites, scale insects, mealybugs
Kentia Palm An Elegant Stunning Accent Plant
Recently, doing some channel surfing, I ran across an old movie. In the background was the “Kentia” a popular indoor palm and one of the toughest and most elegant palms for interior use around.
The Kentia is simply a great indoor plant!
Decorators love kentia palm indoors for its singular, slender shape which provides a stunning accent.
The Kentia is an upright palm with beautiful, arching, dark green leaves. Its use as an indoor palm dates back to the socialite days of the Victorian era. Many call this species – “tree in a pot.”
Kentias are generally available in the 5′-12′ foot tall range for indoor use.
The name “kentia” comes from a town Kentia on Lord Howe Island east of Australia where the palm grows naturally and the Kentia palm can reach a height of 60′ feet tall.
Today, seed (strictly regulated) is still imported from the island and grown in both Hawaii and California.
Kentias do not have a tap root, and do very well as a containerized palm. They are usually grown as single plants until they reach a certain height.
Then the palms are matched up and planted as multiples of 2 to 5 plants per pot and grown on. This process can take 4 to 7 years before the Kentia are ready for sale.
Kentia Palm Care – The Light Indicator
Here is a “light indicator” for Kentia palm plant care – in low light the plant may only hold 4 to 6 fronds, in medium light levels you may see twice as many fronds. So, generally the more indirect light, the better.
These indoor palms grow pretty tall, root bound in rather small pots. When watering make sure the entire root ball is watered, and allow a least one-half of the potting media to dry.
DO NOT keep the root ball moist or wet all the time or root rotting will occur.
Although the Kentia is versatile and will tolerate low-light conditions, a bright location with indirect sunlight in the morning should provide enough light and intensity to sustain this floor plant and allow for proper care.
What Is The Best Potting Mix For Kentias?
Most Kentias are grown in small pots in a somewhat root bound condition. This makes the potting medium an important part of Kentia palm care.
The soil mix should provide good drainage as well as fast drainage to prevent root rot.
The small pots need to carry some weight so the plant does not get top heavy due to the weight of the fronds.
A houseplant potting soil with additional sand added for both drainage and weight along with a slow-release fertilizer should provide the stability and nutrients this “evergreen tree” requires.
How Will You Know If You Are Overwatering Your Kentia Palm?
Look for the fronds with yellowing tips, then yellow speckling and followed by browning of the Kentia’s leaf tips. During the winter time be especially careful not to over water your kentia.
What Happens With Underwatering Kentias?
An under watered Howea will develop brown tips, and the fronds will not be as erect and possibly leaning.
Remember, when growing a Kentia, these palms are slow growers. While caring for your Kentia if you must prune do so selectively (trimming yellow tips) to the leaves and don’t remove the entire frond.
The Kentia is one of the best palms to grow and easy to maintain like the tough, durable Rhapis palm, and more expensive than other palms like the Majesty Palm – I would NEVER recommend using the Majesty Palm tree as an indoor plant. A properly maintained and cared for Kentia palm can be enjoyed for years and years.
Kentia Palm growing at the Gaylord Palms Hotel, Orlando, Florida, United States, November 2017
The Kentia is considered as “vulnerable” by the World Conservation union, but this Australian native Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) is still one of the world’s most beautiful palms grown for either indoors or kentia palm outdoors.
What Pests And Diseases Are Kentia Palms Prone To?
Red Spider Mites are the number one pests on Kentias palms and most indoor palms. The mites enjoy the warm room temperatures, and the dry, low humidity levels found most living rooms. Look for these tiny pests on the undersides of the fronds.
Scale Insects look like waxy, brown oval bumps tend to collect on the underside of the fronds and on the stem.
Applications of Neem Oil spray will help “discourage” spider mites, scale insects and mealybugs from sucking the plant juices from you Kentia.
Background & History of Howea forsteriana The Kentia Palm
The Kentia plant got its scientific name, Howea forsteriana, from Lord Howe Island in Australia for the Howea part and Howea belmoreana another species from Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour (1853-1922), Botany Professor and keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Characterized by a slender trunk with slightly raised annular trunk rings and a graceful crown of dark-green drooping fronds.
It has a series of arching, feather-like, dark green, droopy leaves radiating from small trunks. Established kentia palm specimens can be expensive.
These leaves can grow up to 3 meters long on thornless petioles. While the leaves produce an airy and poised look, the finger-shaped leaflets bend downward in a fashionable two-tone look.
The kentia palm produces an inflorescence consists of white flowers and dull red egg-shaped mature fruits. Although they are slow growers, Kentia palms can grow to about 6 to 18 meters as a solitary tree.
Kentia Palm is a wonderful specimen palm, popular as an indoor durable houseplant, adding class to any setting – elegant hotel lobbies, restaurants, malls and private residences.
Smaller Kentia palm specimens require low light levels while larger ones require direct sunlight. But generally, they need exact watering, well-drained soil and moisture to grow at their best.
Kentia palms, also called Paradise palms or Thatch palms, bring a wonderful, natural elegance to indoor locations. Given proper care, these palms are hardy and easy to maintain houseplants, adding a tropical appeal inside the home. Here’s a quick summary of how to care for kentia palm plants with more details outlined below.
How To Care For Kentia Palm (Howea fosteriana): Kentia palms perform best growing in well-drained soil, in a humid environment where temperatures range between 65°F (18°C) to 85°F (29°C). Water when the top three inches of soil become dry and fertilize monthly.
Keep reading because we take all the mystery out of caring for your Kentia palm and keeping it thriving for years to come.
How To Care For Kentia Palm
The slow-growing Kentia palm’s native range is Lord Howe Island located off the east coast of Australia. Kentia palms adapt well to outdoor growth, when planted in an environment that doesn’t experience winter freezes and the weather is consistently warm year-round.
However, its elegant beauty and durability to indoor growing conditions, has made the Kentia a popular palm for inside the home, especially in temperate climates where outdoor conditions are too cold for this tropical beauty.
Due to its elegant features, Kentia palms were a favorite of Queen Victoria and she added them as an addition to all her homes. It’s easy to see why this palm has been a favorite houseplant for centuries dressing up interiors from all economic standings, including the royals. The tall, thin, single trunks give way to feathery, green fronds that are smooth without any thorns or barbs.
Below we offer tips on properly caring for and growing this hardy indoor palm, as well as identifying and preventing potential problems before they occur.
Soil For Kentia Palms
In the Kentia’s native environment it grows and flourishes in sandy soil, which provides it with the much needed drainage the palm requires for healthy growth. Although it will grow in a variety of soils, provided they drain well, adding some fertility to the medium promotes good growth.
You can grow the palm in a mixture of straight potting mix, or other potting mixtures with good drainage. Although you can use potting soil, provided you add sand to decrease its heaviness and add the soil’s capability to drain, you don’t want to plant the palm in straight potting soil. Potting soil is usually too heavy, which means it has a tendency to retain too much moisture and can lead to problems with root rot.
You can easily make a soil mixture for your Kentia palm by mixing the following ingredients:
- Equal portions of potting soil and coarse sand
- Equal portions of coarse sand, peat and potting mix
Whatever you decide to use for your mix, making sure the soil mixture contains a bit of fertility promotes the best growth. Although the palm would grow for a time in straight sand, the soil doesn’t contain anything organic that feeds the root system.
Preferred Light Conditions
To keep the fronds producing green healthy growth, it’s necessary for the Kentia palm to receive some indoor light. However, the palm won’t tolerate a location situated in full sun, as the intense light burns the foliage.
Kentia palms will tolerate lower light conditions than many palms grown indoors. Although for the palm to produce the best growth, place in a location that received bright to medium, filtered light. If you desire to place it by a south-facing window, which is generally the sunniest window, make sure to filter the light by using something like a curtain.
In spring, and if you desire to let your Kentia palm soak up some of the goodness of being outdoors for a bit, make sure you situate it in a shadier location. If the outdoor light conditions are too bright, the foliage can end up burning, especially since the palm is accustom to indoor lighting.
Indoor Temperature Requirements
In their native environment, Kentia palms thrive in consistently warm conditions. Its great ability to adjust to an indoor setting is one of the reasons it’s a popular, but sometimes expensive house palm. Indoors, the palm requires the same warm conditions it prefers for healthy growth as when grown outdoors in the garden. Prime indoor temperatures range between 65°F (18°C) to 85°F (29°C).
If you are growing a Kentia palm outdoors in a container, be sure to bring it indoors to a warm location before cold weather strikes in winter. Once the weather warms in spring, you can once again situate it back outdoors.
Watering Your Kentia Palm
Since consistently overwatering your Kentia palm can lead to root rot and its death, it’s best to follow some type of soil check and watering schedule to produce healthy growth and alleviate potential problems. Kentia palms have a moderate tolerance to drought conditions, so it’s better to miss a watering than overdo it and create soggy soil conditions.
However, the palm shows signs of problems with overwatering and underwatering as yellowing fronds that can or cannot have brown patches or tips. Checking the soil for dryness and only watering when needed usually cures the problem.
Knowing when to water your Kentia palm is relatively basic:
- Test the soil by sticking your fingers into it and if the top 3 inches are dry, it’s time to water.
- Apply water until it begins running out of the container’s bottom drain holes.
When it comes to what type of water to use, don’t use water that goes through a water softener because it contains too much salt. Kentia palms are sensitive to salty conditions. If your water contains an abundance of chemicals, let it set out overnight before using. You can also use rainwater or distilled water.
During the warmer months of spring throughout summer, you might have to water weekly. However, during winter when the palm is dormant and no longer actively putting on new growth, watering might be reduced to every couple of weeks.
Kentia Palm Humidity Needs
Tropical in nature, and like the vast majority of houseplants with a tropical home base, Kentia palms do best when residing in an indoor environment with humidity present. Don’t stress, because making your Kentia palm feel warm and cozy inside your house with adequate humidity is relatively easy and you have several options to fulfill its needs.
- Fill a spray bottle up with water and mist the Kentia palm’s fronds several times each week.
- Set the container on a larger, flat container that contains small rocks that catches all the water running out of the pot’s drain holes. As the water evaporates, it produces humidity.
- If your bathroom has enough natural light and is large enough to hold a potted palm, you can place the Kentia there. The constant use of water produces a humid environment for the palm.
To keep your Kentia palm producing rich green fronds and happily growing, feed it monthly throughout the growing seasons of spring through summer. Cease all fertilizer applications during fall and winter, as the palm tree is in its dormant stage and stops putting on new growth.
You have several options when it comes to what and how to feed your Kentia palm:
- Use a water-soluble, houseplant blend applied at half-strength and applied monthly.
- Use an organic palm fertilizer blend applied at the recommended strength for container palms on the package. If no amount is listed, apply at half-strength. Dilute the mixture in water before applying to the container’s soil. Apply monthly.
- Use a slow-release fertilizer blend sprinkled over the top of the container’s soil. Slow-release fertilizers slowly break down with each water application and generally don’t require a repeat application for several months. Follow package directions on amounts and the frequency of its use.
Since the fertilizers can leave a buildup of salts in the Kentia palm’s soil, it’s best to flush the container’s soil with water every couple of months. This is as easy as taking the container outdoors and slowly running water from a hose through the soil for about five minutes. Allow the container to drain and bring the Kentia palm back indoors.
Kentia palms have the same basic pruning requirements as other palms whether grown indoors or outside. Unless the frond is completely brown and dead, is in the way of something, or is damaged or diseased, it’s healthiest for the palm not to remove it until completely brown.
Even slightly brown Kentia fronds are still giving nourishment to the entire palm, so cutting off green or slightly green fronds remove these nutrients from the plant. Although having browning fronds on an indoor palm tree are unsightly, for the palm’s health benefit, allow them to stay on the tree until you just can’t stand the look anymore.
Depending on the size of the frond, you can snip them off using either hand pruner or loppers, cutting it off at the base of the palm.
To prevent the spread of pests of diseases to your Kentia palm, always make sure your pruning blades are clean and sterile before making your cuts. You can easily wipe the blades off with rubbing alcohol or another household disinfectant.
Potting and Repotting Kentia Palm
Depending on the size of your Kentia palm, using a 3-gallon container is usually sufficient for lush growth for several years. Although the palm is considered a slow-grower, if it becomes large, or too tall and top heavy, you may have repot into a 5-gallon container. When grown outdoors in a preferred environment, Kentia palms can grow up to 25 feet tall or taller and about half as wide. However, indoor Kentia palms usually top out around 5 or 10 feet tall.
When selecting a container for potting your Kentia, just make sure it has bottom drain holes. Any type of material works well, but those made of clay will have a tendency for the soil to dry out a bit faster than pots made out of plastic.
If you place the draining container inside of a decorative one without bottom hole, just be sure to empty any water that drains into it after each water application.
The only time you’ll need to repot your Kentia palm is if it’s grown too big for the present pot, or has depleted all the nutrients in the container’s soil. When potting or repotting, handle the sensitive root system very carefully and try not to damage it when removing from its present pot into the new one.
Kentia palms are happiest when their root systems are not disturbed and left all alone.
Just make sure you plant the Kentia is well-drained soil, the container drains and plant it no deeper than it was originally growing.
Propagating New Plants
Due to indoor conditions, Kentia palms will rarely bloom and produce seeds when grown indoors. The palm requires a bit of direct sunlight to start flowering and it only starts doing this when it reaches about 15-years-old. Once the seeds form, it can take three or four years for them to ripen and develop their deep red color.
However, if you are lucky enough to know someone with access to Kentia palm seeds, propagating them takes the same amount of patience as waiting for it bloom and bear seeds.
- Soak the red ripe fruits for three or four days in warm water. After that time, remove the seeds from inside the red exterior.
- Fill seed-starting trays or pots with a light, well-drained mix.
- Dust the Kentia seeds with a fungicide and then plant each seed shallowly in each pot.
- Water and keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- Place in a warm, partially sunny location.
Next, you just have to sit back and wait because it can take Kentia palm seeds anywhere from three months to three years to germinate.
Pest And Disease Problems
When it comes to problems with disease, the biggest threat to indoor grown Kentia palms is root rot. Generally, this happens when the soil is too heavy, retaining too much moisture or the palm is overwatered on a regular basis and the soil never has a chance to dry out.
The best course of preventing problems with root rot are making sure the Kentia is growing in soil that drains well and watering only when the top three inches of soil becomes dry to the touch.
The two biggest threats from pests come from spider mites and mealy bugs and both are easily identified.
- Spider mites: Spider mites are tiny, white mites that suck the plant juices from the Kentia palm and if left unchecked, can kill the palm as well as infest your other houseplants. If you see fine, white webbing covering the fronds, you have a problem with spider mites.
- Mealybugs: Like spider mites, mealybugs suck the juices from the palm tree and can severely damage the palm as well as infest your other indoor plants. The insects leave cottony-like masses along the fronds.
If you catch the pest problem early, you might be able to wipe them off the Kentia palm with a damp cloth. However, if the infestation is starting to get large, you’ll have to call in the big guns. Saturating all the fronds with an insecticidal soap mixture or Neem oil usually controls the problem. Reapply as directed by the product you are using but it will generally require an additional application after one week.
Why Are The Leaves On My Kentia Palm Turning Brown?
Healthy and happy Kentia palm foliage is deep green, so browning foliage can be the result of several things. If the air is too dry and the palm isn’t getting adequate humidity, the foliage and tips can start browning. Browning foliage can also be the result of the palm not getting adequate water. In addition, too much fertilizer can also cause browning fronds and tips, as well as too much salt in the soil.
You can alleviate these problems by misting the palm regularly with water to increase humidity, and watering when the top three inches of soil become dry to the touch. Reduce fertilizer applications to half-strength and flush the soil of any salt buildup every couple of months using water.
How Often Do You Water A Kentia Palm?
During the seasons of spring throughout summer and while the Kentia palm is actively growing, you may need to water it every week. However, during winter while the palm is going through dormancy, you will probably only need to water every couple of weeks.
The best rule of thumb to follow on when to apply water is sticking your finger into the container’s soil and if the top three inches feel dry, water until it runs out of the bottom of the container.
Can Kentia Palms Take Full Sun?
Kentia palms grown indoors won’t tolerate full sun, as this will cause sunburn to the foliage. When growing a Kentia palm indoors, it’s best to situate the tree in a location with bright to moderately bright, filtered sunlight.
If you move it outdoors during the warm seasons of the year to give it break from indoor growth, don’t place it in a location that receives more sunlight than what it was used to indoors. The direct rays of the sun can burn the foliage because the palm isn’t used to the intense sunlight. However, a Kentia palm that is around 5-years-old or older, can tolerate stronger sunlight than younger ones.
Interestingly, Kentia palms grown in their natural environment will tolerate very strong and direct sunlight. However, they are acclimatized to these conditions from the start of their growth. Indoor cultivated trees are used to lower light conditions, and it is the sudden change in intensity, which the plant cannot adapt to, that does the damage.
How Fast Does A Kentia Palm Grow?
One of the best aspects of growing a Kentia palm indoors is its natural slow-growth. Therefore, it usually takes well over five years for the palm grown indoors to reach its average indoor potential of around 5 to 10 feet tall.
Are Kentia Palms Poisonous?
Kentia palms are entirely non-toxic to humans and pets, so you can safely place it anywhere in your house without concern.
What Type Of Flowers Do Kentia Palms Produce?
Kentia palms grown indoors rarely bloom due to the lack of sufficient light for flower production. However, grown outdoors, the white male and female blooms form on a 3-foot inflorescence, followed by egg-shaped fruits changing to red when fully ripe.
How Many Varieties Of Kentia Palms Are There?
Kentia palms consist of the most commonly found Howea fosteriana and Howea belmoreana and commonly called Belmore Sentry Palm. The major difference is Howea fosteriana has longer leaflets than Howea belmoreana.
If you enjoy growing palms in your home, I have another really interesting article about Areca Palm Care. It’s another one of my favorite palms to grow indoors. Alternatively, check out my other articles about caring for your houseplants.
If you want to find out about some great resources that can help you look after your indoor plants, check out my recommended resources section. This will help you choose the best books, tools, and resources to help you develop your green thumb.