Botanical Name — Chamaedorea elegans
Common Name — neanthe bella palm, parlor palm
Plant Family — Arecaceae
Neanthe bella palms are slow growing palms, native to the rainforests of southern Mexico and Guatemala. These low maintenance plants require even moisture, and moderate to high humidity. They love bright indirect light, but are adaptable and will tolerate low light conditions. These plants are great if you are looking for a lush, easy care plant that will make a bold statement without overwhelming your space.
- Parlor palms enjoy medium to bright indirect light. A few hours of morning sun is ideal. Though these plants prefer moderate light, they are adaptable to low light conditions.
- These plants love warm temperatures, between 70 and 80 ºF. Neanthe bellas are not cold hardy. If growing this plant outdoors, place it indoors in a sunny spot when nighttime temperatures begin to cool below 55 ºF.
- Parlor palms, like most other palms, like moisture. Soil should remain evenly moist, but never soggy or waterlogged. Give the soil a thorough watering once soil is dry about 25% deep.
- Parlor palms like to be watered regularly during the spring and summer, but during the winter, reduce the frequency of watering to half.
- Neanthe bella palms prefer a soil mix that is well-draining, yet moisture retentive. A good quality potting mix would work great. Soil can be amended with coco coir up to 25% to improve moisture retention.
- If given the proper conditions, parlor palms will readily bloom indoors, though the ornamental value of these plants lies primarily in their foliage.
- These plants typically bloom during the springtime. Branching flower stems release inconspicuous, yellow flowers that give rise to small yellow fruit that darken to brown when ripe.
- Neanthe bellas are light feeders and thus do not require much fertilization. Feed them once a month using a weak, balanced fertilizer during the spring and summer only. Cease fertilizing in the fall and winter.
- The most common way to propagate these plants is by seed. Seed propagation is not always reliable, with germination taking 6 to 9 months or longer, and success rates being variable.
- Propagation by division is another option. Make sure the piece that’s been selected has some roots. Division can cause shock to the plant, resulting in leaf loss and stunted growth. It can take these plants a long time to recover from shock.
- As these are common indoor plants, and propagation is time consuming and unreliable, it is probably best to purchase a new plant rather than propagating.
- Maintaining parlor palm health can be a delicate balancing act. Environments that are too warm and dry can invite pests, while overly moist soil can encourage root rot and other infections.
- Pests to look out for include mealybugs, scale, and aphids. Poorly cared for plants can be left vulnerable to infestations, so always aim to provide your plant with the best care possible. Treat with neem or a diluted gentle soap, such as castile, at the first sign of infestation.
- Diseases that commonly affect parlor palms include root rot and leaf spot, which can arise from overly moist soil and poor air circulation, respectively. Prune away unhealthy leaves and allow overly moist soil to dry out to give the plant an opportunity to recover.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- Parlor palms require little maintenance. They can grow wild, and become a bit unruly, so pruning can be done for aesthetic reasons, to keep the plant tidy.
- These plants are slow growers. Repotting should only be done once every two to three years and should always be done with great care to protect their delicate root systems.
- These plants are non-toxic to humans and pets.