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Kentia Palm Care – The Definitive Beginner’s Guide

Kentia Palm Care – The Definitive Beginner’s Guide

Kentia Palm, also known as Thatch Palm or Paradise Palm, are gorgeous palms that will bring stunning elegance to your indoor space. 

These palms are very hardy and easy to care for and provide the feel of a tropical environment at your house.

Kentia Palm is a slow grower that is a South Pacific region native

There are two varieties of Kentia Palm found, namely Howea Belmoreana and Howea Forsteriana. The distinction between the two varieties is that Howea Forsteriana has got longer leaflets.

 

Kentia Palm Care

Kentia Palm can adapt to a range of soil mixtures, such as sandy, clay, and loamy while enduring to bright, indirect light. Water the Palm weekly during the spring and summer season. Fertilize your Palm every month with the fertilizer having an NPK ratio of 3:1:2 and keep it in a place with temperatures between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-29 degrees Celsius). 

 

Soil

In the native environment, Kentia Palm flourishes in sandy soil if given the necessary drainage to grow healthily. 

However, the Palm grows in a variety of soil that drains well, and adding some fertility to the soil will help achieve excellent growth.

You can plant your Kentia in a simple potting mix or a potting mix that drains well. It is suggested to add some sand to your potting mix in order to decrease the heaviness. 

Potting soils are often very heavy and can retain a lot of moisture in them, which will cause problems like root rot.

To make an ideal soil mix for Kentia Palm, combine the following elements:

  • An equal amount of coarse sand and potting soil or
  • An equal amount of potting mix, coarse sand, and peat.

Irrespective of the mixture you use, make sure you add fertility to it in order to have a healthy plant. 

The Palm may grow in basic soil mix for some time, but it does not contain any organic matter for the roots to develop.

 

Water

It is important that you do a soil test and follow a proper watering schedule for the healthy growth of your Kentia Palm. Constantly overwatering will only lead to root rot and the death of the Kentia Palm.

The Palm is slightly drought tolerant, so it will bear you if you miss watering it but never overwater it and create soggy soil, which it hates. 

You will notice your Palm showing signs of water problems by turning the fronds yellow.

This then often leads to the formation of brown spots in its leaves. Do a soil test to check soil dryness, then, if needed, water to cure the problem.

Test your soil by sticking your finger, and if you feel the top 3 inches are dry, the Palm needs water right away. Continue watering until you notice it running from the pot’s drainage holes.

The type of water you give to Kentia Palm is also very important. Avoid applying water that contains salt since the Palm is sensitive to salty conditions. 

It is always safe to use distilled or rainwater for the healthy growth of Kentia Palm. 

Water the Palm on a weekly basis during spring and the summer season, as the conditions are warm and water dries up rapidly. 

On the other hand, during the winter season, when the plant is not actively growing, water it only two times a month.

 

Light

To help your Palm grow green foliage, it needs to receive some indirect bright light. Remember Kentia Palm will not tolerate full sun because the intense light of the sun will burn the sensitive leaves.

Fortunately, Kentia Palm is the only Palm that will tolerate low light conditions compared to other indoor Palms. 

However, to help it produce stunning foliage, place it in a spot where it will receive medium to bright indirect light.

In case you place your Palm in a south-facing window, make sure curtains or blinders filter the light as it is the sunniest location. 

In spring, you can place the Palm outdoors just to let it soak some goodness from the sun but make sure it is put in a shadier location.

If the light gets too bright outdoor, there are chances the foliage of the Palm will burn specifically because the Palm has adapted to the indoor light conditions.

 

Temperature

Kentia Palm thrives in constantly warm environments in their native surroundings. The Palm has got the ability to adjust to the indoor environment very easily.

When cultivated indoors, the Palm needs a temperature similar to the temperature it receives outdoors. The optimum indoor temperature for healthy growth of the Palm should be between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-29 degrees Celsius).

When you cultivate Kentia Palm outdoors in a container, remember to bring the Palm indoors before the frost hits. 

When the temperature outdoor becomes warm again, likely during spring, you can take the Palm back to the outdoor location.

 

Humidity

Since Kentia Palm is a tropical plant, it will thrive in indoor environments with raised humidity. Creating a humid environment for the Palm in your house is quite easy, and there are several tricks to do so.

The very first option would be to fill a spray bottle with water and misting the foliage now and then every week. The second alternative would be to place your pot over a tray that contains rocks.

This way, the rocks will catch the water coming out of drainage holes, and when this water evaporates, and a humid environment is created around the Palm. 

You can also place your Kentia Palm in your toilet if it receives enough bright light. Since the water is being constantly used in the toilet, a humid environment is developed.

 

Fertilizer

To help your Kentia Palm produce lush green leaves and grow happily, feed it every month during the active growth season of summer and spring. 

You can stop applying fertilizer during the winter and fall season as the Palm has gone into dormancy.

The ideal NPK ratio for Kentia Palm is 3:1:2. There are various choices to opt from when it comes to Palm fertilizing schedule and methods. 

  • You can use an organic Palm fertilizer applied as recommended on the packaging. In case no application amount is mentioned, apply in half-strength. Dilute it with water and apply it every month.
  • Sprinkle slow-release fertilizer over the soil. Slow-release fertilizer breakdown only when water is applied; hence you won’t have to feed the Palm for several months.
  • Lastly, you can use a water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Apply this fertilizer every month during the active growth season.

 

Repotting

Being a slow grower, Kentia Palm will thrive in a 3-gallon container for several years. However, you would have to repot it to a 5-gallon container when it grows taller, heavier, and bigger.

If grown outdoors in appropriate conditions, the Palm will grow to a height of about 25 feet (7.62 meters) and half as wide. 

Whereas the indoor Kentia Palm only grows to a height of 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3 meters).

When choosing a pot for repotting Kentia Palm, check that it has drainage holes at the bottom. The ideal material of container for the Palm is the one made of clay as it will help the soil to dry faster.

You will have to repot the Palm only when it grows out of its pot or the nutrients in the pot’s soil have been drained. 

During the repotting process, cautiously handle the palm’s delicate root system so as not to damage it.

Kentia Palm will be happiest if its roots system is not disturbed. Make sure you repot the Palm not very deep in well-draining soil and put it in a spot where it will get indirect bright light.

 

Pruning

Just like any other palm, Kentia Palm also needs some basic pruning now and then. You will have to prune the plant only when the foliage turns completely brown, is overgrowing, or is diseased.

Keep in mind that the leaves that have slightly turned brown are still giving it nutrients. So, cutting these leaves will stop the supply of nutrients to the Palm, although these don’t look very appealing.

You can either snip the overgrown fronds or cut them at the base of the Palm using pruning shears. To avoid the propagation of diseases and pests, always disinfect your pruning tools.

 

Propagation

You can only propagate your Kentia Palm through seeds. The Palm produces a fruit that takes around 3 to 4 years to completely mature. 

The fruit’s color changes from dull orange to maroon-red as it ripens.

For optimum germination, always aim at obtaining red seeds. The seeds will stay viable for around 8 to 16 weeks after maturation. 

To start the propagation process, take the fruit and soak it in warm water for several days. 

Then take the seeds from the fruit and either sow it in a container containing potting mix or put it in a sealable plastic bag containing potting mix.

Water the soil with such a schedule so that soil remains hydrated and not saturated. Place the propagated seeds in a location that receives indirect sunlight. 

When you sow them directly in the soil, place the seeds in soil that is well-draining.

The temperature around the sowed seed needs to be maintained between 80 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 to 40 degrees Celsius).

The soil must be kept moist but not waterlogged, or it will make the Palm prone to root rot. 

The seeds will take around three months to germinate and will keep maturing for several years.

 

Blooms

Since the Palm is grown indoors, it does not get sufficient conditions for developing blooms. The Palm will need direct light to grow flowers, and this can only be done when it is 25 years old. 

Nevertheless, it will produce white male and female blooms if grown outdoors, forming a 3-foot inflorescence. 

This is then followed by egg-shaped fruit that changes to a red color as it ripens.

 

Growth

Kentia Palm grows to a height of about 3 to 12 feet (0.9 to 3.65 meters) indoors, whereas spreading as wide as 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters). 

The Palm will thrive in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11.

 

Common Problems for Kentia Palm

 

Brown Tips

Brown tips of your Kentia Palm’s leaves are usually caused when you underwater it. However, the reason can be overfertilizing in some cases.

Yellowing of leaf tips that ultimately turn brown is a foremost symptom of this problem.

To avoid this, follow a very strict watering schedule and make sure the soil does not dry out completely between watering. 

You can moist the leaves occasionally to keep the plant moist. Never place the Palm near heaters, vents, or AC as the atmosphere is very dry for the Palm.

 

Droopy Leaves

The reason for extreme droopy leaves in your Kentia Palm is over and underwatering.

You will notice that the foliage of the Palm is drooping more than usual.

If you think drooping is due to underwatering, an easy solution is to take your Palm out of the pot and thoroughly water it. 

While you do this, allow the roots to absorb water evenly. In case you think it’s overwatered, stop watering your plant for a while and only apply water when 2 to 3 inches of soil feels dry.

 

Pests

The two most frequent pests that will attack your Kentia Palm are:

 

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are tiny sap-sucking insects that are commonly found attacking houseplants. 

If you notice cottony mass along with the foliage, then your Palm is surely infested by mealybugs. It will suck the important juices out of your Palm and weaken it to death. 

If the infestation is in the initial stage, you can easily treat it by cleaning the foliage using rubbing alcohol. 

 

Spider Mites

Spider mites, just like mealybugs, are tiny insects that attack and suck the juice out of your Kentia Palm. If the trouble is not resolved right away, the Palm will end up dying.

The presence of spider mites can be detected when you notice white webbing on the foliage of the Palm.

A small infestation of spider mites can be treated by wiping the fronds with a damp cloth. However, if the infestation is severe, use neem oil or insecticidal spray.

 

Tips for Growing Kentia Palm

  • Kentia Palm prefers bright light but not direct sun as the fronds can burn because of direct heat.
  • Follow a strict watering schedule, or you might end up with problems like yellow leaves or brown tips.
  • Always disinfect the pruning tools as they can be the source of spread on pests in your Kentia Palm.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Kentia Palm Care

 

Can you plant Kentia Palm in full sun?

Indoor-grown Kentia Palms won’t tolerate direct sun. Placing the Palm in direct sunlight will cause sunburn, which might end up killing the plant. Place it in a location where the huge trees filter the light.

 

Are Kentia Palm toxic for pets?

Luckily, Kentia Palm does not contain any toxic elements. Hence it is very safe to grow it in a place around pets and kids.

 

Conclusion

The lush green foliage has to be the reason this plant is used as a statement piece in the interior of your home and office. 

The Kentia Palm easily adapts to the outdoor environment when planted in an area that is warm all year and won’t face extreme frost conditions.