4 indoor palm trees are not for everyone

It is no coincidence that palm trees have won leadership among indoor giants. Beautiful, austere, massive and elegant at the same time, they bring clean lines and a tropical mood to homes for decades. And although the belonging of plants to palms is easily determined at first glance, the palm family is far from homogeneous. And first of all – by its exactingness and capriciousness. Among indoor palms there are both hardy Spartans and unpretentious general favorites, as well as species that only a select few can grow. In fact, there are much more capricious palms than hardy ones.

Palms Butia head in containers. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com danger garden

Two palm myths and one big trap

The most popular indoor palms and false palms, which are often referred to as dates and dracaena, yucca and washingtonia, rapese and Co, boast a combination of decorativeness and endurance. They do well in indoor conditions and, if they require careful care, are suitable for growing even not the most experienced growers. Many of them can be grown by yourself – for example, getting a date from seeds is as easy as shelling pears. Due to their prevalence, most gardeners unfamiliar with these giants often perceive all palm trees, without exception, as equally uncomplicated, grateful for care and hardy plants.

No less often than the confusion with the enrollment of plants that have no relation to palm trees in their ranks, there is another myth – that all palms are similar. And, therefore, they are grown in almost the same way. The most dangerous trap lies in this misconception: perceiving all palms as durable, unpretentious plants suitable for indoor conditions, many buy them purely for decorative characteristics.

When an expensive purchase turns into a loss of a plant in just a couple of years (or even months), not only disappointment comes, but also the understanding that palm trees are far from being as simple as they are said to be. No less dangerous is the underestimation of the maximum size of a palm tree, which it will reach already in your house: it is the overgrowth, the excess of the room’s capacity to accommodate the giant, often turns into the reason for finding a way to get rid of a too bulky plant.

Most palms are plants for experienced flower growers that can be safely added to the ranks of the capricious and demanding species. Their cultivation requires regular, systematic care, which does not allow the soil to dry out or too dry air. There are also such palms that need a cool winter, access to fresh air and many other “nuances” that determine whether a palm tree can exist in a living room. The number of palms demanding to care for is much more than hardy and unpretentious. But even among the palms that need highly complex care, there are especially capricious species.

When buying a palm tree for your home, you should very carefully check all its characteristics, not only the size of the leaves and the maximum height, the possibility of containment and the growth rate. The following characteristics are also important:

  • placement requirements (can a palm tree be placed with other plants, in corners or against a wall, or does it need a lot of free space);
  • lighting requirements and the ability to grow not on the windowsill (including the maximum possible shading that this species can withstand);
  • sensitivity to temperature extremes and drafts;
  • temperature requirements during the dormant period and the ability to “endure” warm wintering;
  • sensitivity to dry air and minimum allowable humidity values;
  • drought resistance, requirements for stable soil moisture;
  • the bulkiness of the root system, the size of the pots and the weight of the plant;
  • the tendency to lose the decorative effect of old leaves and the possibility of their removal or restoration;
  • influence on the perception of space (most palms “absorb” space, lower the ceiling and make the room smaller than it really is);
  • preferences for rooms in which a palm tree may be located (some are not suitable for a living room, but only for a spacious hall or staircase), etc.

Palm trees in the interiorPalm trees in the interior

And this is not all that is worth paying attention to. Palm trees are giant plants that have been introduced to the home for decades. And it is worth treating their purchase and selection as responsibly as buying basic furniture. Evaluate, meet, study the experience of other flower growers and the problems they face, ask and weigh the pros and cons. And evaluate not only the plant, but also your capabilities: bring capricious palm trees to your home only when you are sure that you can provide them with everything they need, surround them with care and attention.

In fact, the belonging of a palm to a capricious or non-capricious species is a rather arbitrary concept. Indeed, for those who cannot organize a cool winter, a palm tree that needs a low temperature for a dormant period can also be considered capricious. Still, the most difficult palm trees to grow are usually those that require large space, extremely stable growing conditions and very high air humidity – such as eutherpa, coconuts, patching or butia.

Let’s get acquainted with the four most capricious palms and the secrets of their difficult cultivation closer:

For a list of the most capricious indoor palms, see the next page.

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Anna Evans

Author ✓ Farmer

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