About Indoor Palm Trees
Palms are beautiful and add tropical flair when grown indoors. All palm plants are slow-growing evergreens with feathery leaves (fronds) that emerge from a single stem. The fronds branch out from the top of the stem and resemble fans.
Indoor palm plants are the same as the ones grown outdoors, either younger or smaller (dwarf) by nature. All houseplants have air-purifying capabilities, but palms are particularly good at removing CO2 and formaldehyde and adding oxygen to their environment.
Palms belong to the Arecaceae family. This family contains over 180 genera, each containing many palm species. The total number of palm species is over 2,600 encompassing the largest through the smallest.
Each species will be known by its specific genus, species, and common name.
Palms are flowering woody perennials, a classification that includes trees, shrubs, and vines.
Flowering woody perennials are characterized by a rigid stem that grows above ground, supporting the plant's leaves and flowers. These stems don't die back during the winter months as herbaceous perennials do but rather live and continue to grow year after year. New growth occurs during the warmer months of the growing season.
There is some debate as to whether palms are truly trees. Most trees are categorized as either deciduous or coniferous. Palms are neither. It's generally accepted that they're considered trees once palms have reached a certain height. While small, they're considered tree plants.
Palm trees are native to tropical and subtropical climates. This means they can be found in many areas of the Americas, Asia, the South Pacific Islands, Australia, India, and Japan. The origin of individual species can vary among these locations.
Palm trees have been present in these areas for centuries. Current information identifies palm trees as far back as 5,000 years when they were used as a food source in ancient Mesopotamia.
All palm trees are evergreen, with green fronds growing from a single stalk. As the plant grows, the stem will become taller and woodier.
The fronds of palm trees have blade-like leaves that fan out from the top.
Types Of Indoor Palm Trees
There are many different types of palm trees, and several smaller species make excellent house plants. Knowing which ones best suit your home depends on the available space and the desired aesthetic.
The nine most common species of true palms chosen for indoor growing are listed below.
Chinese Fan Palm or fountain palm (Livistona chinensis). Known as the fountain palm due to the fronds that create an arch and then drop down the sides of the plant like a fountain. These can grow as tall as 8-12 feet indoors and up to 30 feet tall outdoors.
Areca palm or butterfly palm (Dypsis lutescens). This is one of the most popular indoor species and has cane-like stems clustered together. The butterfly palm can reach 8 feet tall at full maturity.
Majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis). Although beautiful, the majesty palm is more high maintenance than many of its cousins, requiring particular conditions to thrive. When happy, it can reach close to 10 feet at maturity.
Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans). This slow grower is known for its bushy foliage that can be cut and remains fresh and beautiful in a vase for over a month. It's also one of the few palms that can thrive in colder temperatures. At maturity, it will reach 2-6 feet.
Pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii). This beautiful slow-growing palm will only reach 6-8 feet at maturity. It will produce small yellow flowers resembling dates on the female plants.
Cat palm (Chamaedorea cataractarum). The cat palm never achieves tree status. It grows as a cluster of stalks and associated fronds. It's very low-maintenance and easy to grow. The full height is rarely more than 6 feet.
Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa). The lady palm is an excellent choice for indoor growing because it can grow and thrive in low light. At maturity, it can reach 6 feet tall.
Dwarf bamboo palm (Chamaedorea radicalis). This easy-to-grow palm species will reach 4-6 feet at maturity.
Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana). Kentia palms are one of the most popular palms for indoor growing. This could be partly because they're one of the few cold-tolerant palm species. They can also happily grow outdoors and, under the right conditions, reach up to 40 feet tall. Indoors they'll reach 8-10 feet when mature.
When looking for the perfect indoor palm tree for your space, there are various choices. Among them are certain palm plants that resemble true palm trees but are members of other families. Below are three of the most popular imposter palms.
Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata). Despite the name and its regular inclusion in discussions related to palm trees, the Ponytail Palm is not a true palm tree. It's part of the Asparagaceae family. It bears a striking resemblance to other palm family members and is cared for similarly. It can reach 6-8 feet tall when fully grown.
Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta). This is another case of names being misleading. Although generally referred to as an indoor palm plant, the sago is not a true palm tree but rather a member of the Cycadaceae family. They are known for their extremely slow growth rate and small size. At full height, it may only reach 2-3 feet tall.
Yucca Palm (Yucca aloifolia). Yuccas are part of the Asparagaceae family. There are a variety of yuccas to choose from, some of which can reach 40 feet tall. Their single stem and bushy foliage give them a resemblance to true palms.
Indoor Palm Tree Styling
When grown indoors, palms do well in containers that give them room to grow. Because of their size, placement within a room should be considered the same way furniture is. Large palms are best suited to entryways, corners, and accents around large windows.
Look for areas that receive ample bright light for optimal health and growth.