(image credits, IG: monsterasmood)
Cat Palm is a tropical Palm that goes by the name of Chamaedorea Cataractarum, belonging to the genus Chamaedorea from the Aceraceae family.
There are other common names for the Cat Palm, like Cascade Palms or Cataract Palms. The big, bold green leaves are the most striking feature of this plant.
Cat Palm loves to bathe in indirect, bright sunlight with regular watering and a rich, moist African violet soil to grow effectively.
This plant also prefers a high humidity level ranging from 50%-70%. The right plant care includes temperatures between 45 -80 degrees Fahrenheit (7-27 Degrees Celsius) and a balanced diluted fertilizer.
Cat Palm originates from the tropical forests of Central America and Southern Mexico, which is why it is also known as the Mexican Palm tree.
It mostly grows near river banks and spreads its root in the river bed; therefore, it is accustomed to high moisture and humidity.
Although Cat Palm requires a tropical environment, it’s still preferred as an indoor plant.
According to Clemson.edu, it is a low maintenance hardy plant; aside from a few essential care requirements, it wouldn’t trouble you in any way. The below guide will help you to keep the plant in perfect shape.
- 1 Basic Cat Palm Care Tips
- 2 Common Problems for Cat Palms
- 3 Tips for Growing Cat Palms
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions about Cat Palms
- 4.1 Are Cat Palm poisonous?
- 4.2 Why is my plant growing in a stretching pattern?
- 4.3 Why the leaves of Cat Palm turning yellow?
- 4.4 Should I cut off the brown foliages of Cat Palm?
- 4.5 Does Cat Palm have the ability to clean the air?
- 4.6 Is Cat Palm easy to grow?
- 4.7 Why are the leaves turning brown from the tip?
- 5 Conclusion
Basic Cat Palm Care Tips
I would recommend a well-drainage soil instead of using clayey or any heavy type of soil. African violet potting mixture can be used with soil in a ratio of 3:1; other than these two peat moss or bark chips, or sand can also be added to the mixture. The soil must contain properties that don’t allow standing water in the pot.
Good drainage and even air circulation in the soil allows the plant to be safe from root rot. Considering the Cat Palm likes a high level of humidity, and your pot should help to remove the excess water. This can be achieved by using pots with drainage holes.
The perfect soil pH for the growth of Cat Palm is from slightly acidic to neutral (6.1-7.5). It thrives in the USDA Hardiness zones between 10-11.
Cat Palm likes to be watered regularly but not heavily. Once you are about to water the Cat Palm, press the soil a few inches to check for dryness.
If 2-4 inches of soil are dry, it’s time to add water. Water it lightly and slowly for even distribution of water.
You can water Cat Palm every five to seven days in summers, while in winters, it’s best to water it once a week.
This plant demands balanced watering because over-watering leads to waterlogged soil while leaving the soil dry for too long will lead to the leaves’ wilting.
I mist my Cat Palm every day, especially in dry and hot weather, to keep it hydrated. Ensure to provide filtered or distilled water because cold tap water can shock your plant.
It is best to only moisten the soil, not let it get soggy; otherwise, your plant will fall prey to several diseases.
Cat Palm should be grown in bright indirect sunlight instead of direct sunlight.
Whenever the Cat Palm is placed near the window, make sure to rotate it regularly so that every side gets a chance to bathe in the sunlight.
This variety can tolerate a few hours of full sun, but it’s better to be cautious as it might burn the leaves.
I would recommend placing the Cat Palm under bright sunlight for a maximum of 4-6 hours a day.
If you reside in a warm region, you can easily grow your Cat Palm in the backyard where the sunlight falls on the plant indirectly.
Cat Palm’s ideal temperature would be 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius) in the daytime and at night.
The minimum winter temperature would be 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 Degrees Celsius).
Cat Palm does not do well in a cold environment, so it wilts quickly if exposed to a temperature lower than the minimum range.
Palm varieties that love warm weather don’t prefer dry and excessive heat because that will damage the foliage. Make sure you keep this houseplant away from heaters, drafts, and even air conditioners.
Cat Palm comes from tropical areas where there is constant humidity around these plants. It grows well in indoor humidity close to 70%, but it would be happy if you do not let the humidity drop below 50%.
Keep it away from a dry environment; otherwise, your plant will die. I use the help of a humidifier, especially in winters, to keep the humidity levels constant.
Another option is using a pebble tray with water filled in it or placing the Cat Palm in the bathroom for continuous humidity.
Cat Palm doesn’t require fertilizer every other day. So, whenever you need to feed, make sure to dilute the fertilizer and provide it in a small quantity.
I use 10:10:10 balanced fertilizers diluted at half the recommended strength for lush green foliage.
The diluted fertilizer should be used monthly, especially in the growing season (spring-summer), while in the winters, use it once or twice.
Cat Palm loves to be root-bounded, so repotting them early is not preferred. I would suggest doing it after three years.
When you repot the Cat Palm, first change the soil, add a peat-based soil and make sure the pot is 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the former pot.
Cat Palm roots are brittle, so it’s better to keep the root ball intact whenever shifting to a new pot.
After repotting, water thoroughly and place the pot in a sunny spot; make sure the pot has drainage holes for the excess water.
Cat Palm doesn’t require much pruning, but it can be trimmed every few weeks for a tidy appearance.
Trim all the fronds that are brown or yellow. Get rid of the diseased parts on the Cat Palm plant.
Whenever you prune the Cat Palm, trim the foliage from different areas to have more growth on your plant. The new foliage grows shiny and green.
Cat Palm can be propagated through their seed germination and shoot propagation.
- Take the Palm tree out of the pot and look for a sucker about 1 foot tall.
- The sucker represents the shoot produced from the plant.
- Make sure to choose the shoot, which consists of maximum roots and is close to the plant’s base.
- It’s best to propagate the shoot in early spring. Start by preparing a soil mixture that consists of two parts of standard potting mix and one-part perlite.
- Bury the shoot in the soil mixture and cover it with plastic wrap. This ensures maximum humidity.
- Make sure the temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).
- Remember to water if the soil is dry.
- After a month, new growth would be seen. Remove the plastic wrap from the pot.
- Water it once more if the soil is dry. Then shift the Cat Palm to a new pot and continue the usual care.
- First, wash the seeds on a mesh screen and use it to scrub away the skin from the seeds.
- Now soak the seeds in lukewarm water for a week; this allows the seeds to soften up.
- Bury the seeds in a well-draining mixture and make sure half of the seed the below the soil.
- Make sure to put the pot in a semi-shade spot and provide water as well.
- If you are growing the seeds outside in the garden, then bury the seeds about 3-6 feet apart from each other.
- Make sure the temperature remains close to 70 Degrees Fahrenheit (21 Degrees Celsius).
- After one month, the seeds start germinating, and small shoots are seen.
Cat Palm produces white or yellow drooping flowers that bloom in late winter or spring. These flowers are about 1 inch in size.
Later sesame fruits (0.3 inches) are produced on the flower stalks, which are oval and dark green in the blooming phase.
The fruits are shiny, but they change into black color when they reach maturity.
Oftentimes, the Cat Palm doesn’t produce blooms indoors; it produces several fronds with 20-30 leaflets on each branch.
Cat Palm is a slow-growing plant that can take up to 10 years to fully mature. It grows up to 3 feet (0.9 m) tall when planted indoors. However, outdoors, it can grow up to be 6 feet tall (1.8 m), while it spreads 3-5 feet (0.9 – 1.5 m) in width.
Cat Palm stems are clustered with long leaves at the base to form clumps. The lush green leaves are pinnate and consist of a linear pattern on the surface.
These long leaves are shiny and can grow up to 1 foot (0.3 m) long.
The triangular leaflets on this variety resemble the tail fins of a fish. The foliage has a growth pattern similar to the Cane plant. As the plant matures, the fronds start drooping downwards.
Common Problems for Cat Palms
Spider mites look similar to miniature black spiders; they are not easily seen by visible eye and are about the size of 0.03 inches long.
They are mostly noticed when the leaves are heavily infested. They could be identified through the white webs that are used to cover themselves and their babies.
They are usually present under the leaf or the leaf joints as tiny black dots. Spider mites also have sharp teeth to suck on the juices of the plant.
The Cat Palm foliages would start turning brown, yellow, or bleached after a mite infection.
To control spider mites, you can first prune the plant’s affected parts. Showering the plant with a water hose will also help as this will dislodge the mites.
Soap sprays are also effective against these pests, but the use of neem oil is famous for eradicating pests.
Rubbing alcohol combined with predatory insects would fight them off permanently.
Mealybugs are sap-sucking pests that cause a lot of damage to plants. They are about 0.07 inches long and appear similar to tiny clouds as they produce waxy material that helps them hide.
When they appear on the plant, they are seen like small cotton balls on the leaf or stem surface.
They suck on the plant’s sap and produce honeydew, a sugary content leading to the formation of sooty mold and infects the whole plant.
The plant would then have slow growth and the yellowing of the foliage.
Mealybugs can be successfully controlled by washing the plant or rinsing it with a shower.
Rubbing alcohol is also effective with a cotton swab, merely touch the surface and removing the bugs. Liquid soap and neem oil are also excellent products against these bugs.
Make sure to use a new soil mixture and avoid over-fertilization as well. Once in a while, check the plant for the presence of mealybugs.
Scale insects look like small bumps on the surface of the stems and leaves. They are about the size of 0.2 inches in diameter, and they have oval-shaped bodies.
They look similar to small black dots if they are present in a large infestation.
Like mealybugs, they have sharp teeth to suck on the plant’s juices, leading to the formation of honeydew and sooty mold infection.
They are sometimes mistaken for stunted growth on the stems as they have shiny and round bodies.
Scale insects can cause stunted growth or wilt. Scale insects can be controlled by the use of rubbing alcohol as well as neem oil.
Sometimes home-made soap sprays are also effective against them. I would recommend changing the soil mixture of the Cat Palm.
Always check the plant for the presence of the scale insects. Predatory insects are another beneficial option.
Whiteflies are also sap-sucking pests that are 1/16 inches long with cloudy wings and have a triangular-shaped body.
They mostly colonize under the leaf and are quite visible in heavy infections. Whiteflies also produce honeydew, which forms black sooty mold.
Their infection leads to the weakening of the foliages, wilting, and even the plant’s yellowing. They will also interrupt the process of photosynthesis, which leads to the death of the plant.
To control whiteflies, use a water hose to clean the eggs. Make sure to spray the Cat Palm with insecticidal soap and neem oil later.
Beneficial predators and yellow sticky traps can be introduced to fight against the whiteflies. Horticultural oils and organic pesticides should be the last option because they might damage the foliage.
I would also recommend pruning the infected parts and changing the soil potting mixture from spreading it to the whole Cat Palm plant.
Tips for Growing Cat Palms
- Ensure to keep Cat Palm away from the drop under 45 Degrees Fahrenheit (7 Degrees Celsius).
- Make sure the humidity level is at 55%, not below or above that.
- Don’t over-fertilize the Cat Palm.
- Make sure to provide indirect and bright sunlight.
- Just like nutrient deficiency, over-fertilization is also dangerous for plant growth.
- Extreme temperatures from air conditioners or radiators are not suitable for this indoor plant.
- Only repot the Cat Palm after three years, not before that.
- Water Cat Palm only when the soil is appropriately dried.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cat Palms
Are Cat Palm poisonous?
Cat Palm doesn’t have any toxic chemicals or components that make them dangerous to pets or children in the house.
Why is my plant growing in a stretching pattern?
If you have given good feeding and temperature, but your plant is having stretching or leggy growth, you need to fix the light. Your plant simply needs more sunlight.
Why the leaves of Cat Palm turning yellow?
This is due to the leaves being under-watered or insufficient nutrients present in the soil for its proper growth. Remember to water it with distilled water as well.
Should I cut off the brown foliages of Cat Palm?
It’s better to prune the brown and yellow foliage for the plant to grow shoots and flowers. It would also keep your plant looking neat and tidy.
Does Cat Palm have the ability to clean the air?
According to NASA research, the Cat Palm can clean the air of harmful gases and carbon dioxide, and they also help to sleep better.
Is Cat Palm easy to grow?
Cat Palm is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Cat Palm grows effectively, even with little care given to them.
Why are the leaves turning brown from the tip?
When the Cat Palm has been over-fertilized, the leaves start turning brown. Cat palm needs a diluted fertilizer in little amount.
Cat Palm are magnificent plants that provide a fresh and green appearance to brighten up your room. Their presence gives a tropical vibe in your house and a peaceful environment to relax. Their drooping foliage has a glossy finish that makes it fascinating to look at.
Cat Palm will thrive and grow amazingly with little care; it’s a perfect plant for new gardeners.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.