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Indoor Palms

Palms they are very easy to look after provided you have the right space as many palms grow to a great height, from one to three metres. They thrive in warm temperatures and bright conditions.  Some of the most popular palms are the Parlour Palm (Chamaedorea elegans), Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana), Sentry Palm (Howea belmoreana), Pygmy Date (Phoenix roebelenii), European Fan (Chamaerops humilis), Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) and the Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens).

Most palms will be happy in the average centrally-heated house.  They should not be placed near radiators as dry air may lead to brown leaf tips.

Palms should be placed in a bright position but not in direct sunlight which can scorch their leaves and give them a yellow colour. The Kentia and Parlour Palms are among the palms that can grow well in low light conditions but they will appreciate a bright position. Conservatories can be good places for palms but care should be taken to avoid scorching on their leaves as sunlight comes through the glass. The Parlour Palm is quite sensitive to such scorching.

Some palms like the Lady Palm are sensitive to hard water which can cause brown leaf tips, so where possible water with soft water or rain-water at room temperature.

In general, the growing medium should be kept moist and never be allowed to dry out. During the summer watering needs to be frequent, whereas in winter you should water very sparingly. Avoid over-watering as it can cause root rot or yellow leaves.

Palms will benefit from some humidity in the air, so occasional spraying with soft water or Houseplant Myst (which provides the palm with nutrients at the same time) is recommended.

Palms will benefit from regular feeding during the growing season. Use a fertiliser specifically formulated for palms such as Palm Focus with every other watering. It will support healthy vigorous growth and long term viability as it contains a rich supply of organic plant acids and pure seaweed.

As they grow upwards and relatively slowly they do not need regular repotting. They do not like to be disturbed too often either, so you should only repot them when absolutely necessary.

Indoor palms do not require special soil so you can use a good quality general purpose compost such as Houseplant Focus Repotting Mix Peat Free.

Brown Leaf Tips

The old leaves will turn brown over time and you should cut them off. The most common causes for newer leaves turning brown are dry or cold air and overwatering. If the brown leaves are dry the likely cause is dry or cold air. If they are wet (rotting) it is likely due to overwatering.

Yellowing Leaves

Some old leaves will become yellow or brown over time. If newer leaves become yellow the most likely cause is under-watering. If the whole plant takes on a yellow colour the most likely cause is either not enough feeding or too much light. You need to adjust the environment accordingly.

Brown mushy base (root rot)

The main cause for this is overwatering or poor drainage of the growing medium. If the palm has been recently been repotted it may be that the new growing medium is too peaty and holds too much water or the new pot does not have adequate drainage. You need to adjust the watering and/or the growing medium accordingly.

White ‘threads’ on the leaves and/or white fluffy insects in the plant crevices

These are most likely mealybugs. Remove with a cotton bud dipped in methylated spirit and wipe the leaves clean regularly to prevent an infestation. Additionally, spray with SB Plant Invigorator as per the instructions on the label. After the first signs spray at least four times every four days to kill off any remaining insects.

Cob-webs between the leaves (with small insects)

This is likely to be red spider mite. Wipe off all the webs you can and spray with water, Houseplant Myst or ideally SB Plant Invigorator. Red spider mites do not like high humidity or water, and Houseplant Myst will deter further infestation. SB Plant Invigorator will kill the insects; spray at least four times at an interval of four days between treatments. Both Houseplant Myst and SB Plant Invigorator contain nutrients, too, so they will strengthen the plant. During warm weather, regular spraying with water or Houseplant Myst will help prevent red spider mite attacks.


Inevitably dust will build up on palm leaves over time and this can restrict the amount of light that the plant receives. As palm leaves tend to be bright green dust looks especially unsightly, too. You should avoid using ‘leaf shine’ products. An easy way to refresh the palm is to wipe the leaves down with slightly soapy water or to stand the palm outside during a summer shower. If the plant is small enough a shower in the bathroom would be an option, too.

Related Products

Perlite is an amazing medium for Pot Culture with superb capillarity and moisture retention. Available in 100 litres.
Medium-grade pebbles (8–16 mm) for terrariums, humidity trays, and repotting mixes, in a handy retail size. Available in 3 litres and 10 litres.
Uniform, lime-free and washed. Available in 3 litres.
Accurate readings. No batteries needed. No more overwatering or dry plants – check the soil moisture, and water when needed. Ideal for houseplants.
Coarse-grade perlite for improved soil drainage, aeration, and root growth. Available in 3 litres and 8 litres.
Medium horticultural grade vermiculite for better germination, moisture retention and healthy seedlings. Available in 3 litres and 10 litres.
Rooting Hormone Gel
An advanced multi-application nutrient solution: A media soak to give your cuttings a head start Seed soak for exceptional germination every time A first feed for young plants Available in 300...
Houseplant Focus Repotting Mix is peat free and is designed for best results with the widest range of houseplants. A free draining mixture helps to promote healthy root growth. It contains sterilised...
Balanced nutrition for all palms
The ultimate root promoter A complex blend of pure organic plant extracts, seaweed and vitamins that ensures the plant thrives in the new environment. Root Ultra promotes strong, vigorous, healthy rooting...
Perlite is an amazing medium for Pot Culture with superb capillarity and moisture retention. Available in 100 litres.

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