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Caring for your palms – Areca Palm, Chamaedorea and Yucca: A Guide to Palms

At this time of year, one of the most common questions we get from you lovely plant people is ‘why do the leaves on my palm have brown tips?’. So, this week we’re bringing you a guide to Palms – with a particular focus on the causes of those pesky brown tips and how to prevent them. Whether your indoor palm plant of choice is a Chamaedorea (commonly known as a Parlour Palm), an Areca Palm or a Yucca, we’ve got you covered.

Parlour Palm, Areca Palm, Yucca – A Complete Guide to Caring for Palms

There’s no doubt that palms are a fab choice of indoor houseplant if you want to bring a tropical feel to your indoor jungle. You can add structural style with a distinctive Yucca or a leafier look with the luscious, palmy leaves of an Areca or Parlour Palm. Whichever you choose, follow these tips for caring for your palm and you’ll be sure to keep your tropical indoor jungle happy and thriving.

How much water does a palm plant need?

The watering needs of palms are all very similar. They like moist but not soggy soil and should not be left sitting in water. Allow the top 1-2 inches of soil to dry out in between each watering.

What kind of light do indoor palms like?

Despite palms all hailing from tropical climates, their ideal light conditions do vary.

Your Yucca and Areca Palm will be very happy in a bright spot away from direct sunlight as that can scorch the leaves. A Chamaedorea also enjoys a medium to brightly lit spot away from direct sunlight, but can tolerate much lower light levels than other palms.

What temperature and humidity level is good for palm houseplants?

Palms will do best in temperatures between 18 – 23˚C and it’s best to keep them away from cold draughts and radiators.

As tropical plants, your palms will appreciate high humidity levels. To avoid brown tips on their leaves give them a spritz with a mister regularly. Alternatively, you could consider using a humidifier or popping them in the bathroom where humidity levels are naturally higher. For more info about getting the humidity levels right, check out our blog all about it.

Food for palm plants

Palms will benefit from plant food once a month from spring through to autumn when they are in their growing phase. Here at TLB we love the Plantsmith Fortifying Houseplant Tonic, a fab blend of 13 essential nutrients to stimulate growth and promote strong leaves. They won’t need food in the winter months when they are dormant.

Why does my palm have brown leaf tips? How to work out the cause and prevent them.

As we said earlier in the blog, questions about brown tips on your palms are very common at this time of year so we’re dedicating a whole section to this annoying little problem. Have a read to help identify what is causing the brown tips so that you can take steps to prevent it from getting any worse.

Brown tips on the leaves of your palms, commonly known as leaf tip burn, can be caused by a number of factors. The good news is that they’re often caused by something to do with the care routine, so if we can identify what changes need to be made, we can stop it from happening – yay!

These are the most common causes of brown tips:

Water issues

Palms are more susceptible to leaf tip burn because of their long leaves. They make it more difficult for water to be moved from the roots to the tips of the leaves and so leaf tip burn is a more common problem for tropical, long-leaved palms.

Brown tips on the leaves of your palmy, tropical beauties could be the result of overwatering or underwatering your plant. To determine which of these it might be, pay close attention to your palm in between waterings, particularly to the soil. Ensure the top 1-2 inches of soil have dried out before watering and make sure you don’t give them a water if the soil is still moist.

Another potential water issue could be the humidity levels. Palms love humidity and if the level is too low, this could be the cause of the brown tips. Make sure you give them a generous spritz with a mister regularly and if the problem persists consider moving them to the bathroom where humidity levels are higher or pop a humidifier in the room with them.

The final water issue could be related to tap water. Palms can be sensitive to high levels of chlorine and other salts sometimes found in tap water. If you have perfected your watering schedule but you are still noticing more brown tips appearing, then you could try using filtered water or collected rainwater to give your palms a drink instead.

Light issues

Another possible cause of the brown tips appearing on your palms could be the light conditions. Too much direct sunlight can result in the leaves being scorched. If you think this is the issue, make sure your palm isn’t in a spot that gets a lot of direct sunlight.

On the other end of the scale, the problem could be caused by too little light. Palms, particularly Yuccas and Areca Palms, will thrive in a bright spot away from direct sunlight, so make sure your palm is getting enough light – a westerly facing window is ideal.

Pests

There is a chance that the brown marks on your palms could be caused by houseplant pests. If you’re concerned that pests are the reason for the brown marks on your palm, have a read of our blog all about houseplant pests to help you identify what pest might have invaded your plant and how to treat it.

Shop Areca Palms, Yucca Plants and Chamaedorea at The Little Botanical

For all the tropical paradise feels in your home this summer, a palm (or two!) is, without doubt, the way to go. Whether you want big and bold, small and structured or leafy and luscious, we’ve got palm perfection for you. Take a look at our range below.

We have a fab range of Areca Palms for you to choose from. Available in large or extra large, these big tropical beauties, with their luscious, green leaves, are sure to make a fab statement in your indoor jungle. And, for oh-so-simple, instant style, your Areca Palm will be delivered with your choice of our signature seagrass & cotton belly basket or our bespoke, hand-painted grey ceramic.

The Chamaedorea, often referred to as a Parlour Palm, is a fab choice for a super stylish tropical sanctuary, bringing oodles of exotic elegance to your indoor jungle. In a choice of bespoke ceramics, these leafy beauties will make a gorgeous focal point in your interiors.

For a more structured look but still with an oh-so-tropical feel, a Yucca makes a super addition to a jungle plant-scape. The XL Yucca in either the seagrass & cotton belly basket or the grey ceramic is a stunningly striking choice for a focal point in your home. Alternatively, if you don’t have space for the big guy, the smaller option will still make a big impact!

Fun Facts

Yucca plants are native to the Americas and belong to the Asparagus family.

The largest variety of Yucca plants is found in California. They are also known as Joshua Trees and the oldest one is thought to be around 1,000 years old.

The roots of Yucca plants can be used to make soap.

Some Yuccas bear edible fruit that looks like a cross between a cucumber and a pepper. You can fry, stew or bake them as well as eating them raw.

Chamaedoreas have been popular since Victorian times.

They got their more commonly used name, the Parlour Palm, because Victorians were fond of displaying them in their parlours – a much-used room in the house, meaning they could be admired by visitors.

Parlour Palms have a lot going for them; not only do they look fab, but they also have super air-purifying powers and they are pet friendly too!

The Areca Palm is native to Madagascar and is a member of the Arecaceae family.

The Areca Palm is also known as the Butterfly Palm, the Golden Butterfly Palm, the Yellow Butterfly Palm, the Cane Palm and Dipsus Lutescens.

Like his close relative, the Parlour Palm, the Areca Palm can add fab air purifier and pet-friendly to his list of positive traits.

Left image: a group of houseplants including a small palm in pots on a shelf
Right image: a large palm plant in a black and natural coloured basket on a table next to a desk with more houseplants on it

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I water a Chamaedorea?

Chamaedorea, also known as Parlour Palms, like moist but not soggy soil. They should be watered about once a week, when the top couple of inches of soil have dried out. Don’t let your Parlour Palm sit in water as this could cause root rot.

Does Chamaedorea need sunlight?

In a word – yes. The Chamaedorea will thrive in a medium to brightly lit spot but unlike other palms, he can tolerate lower light levels too. Avoid direct sunlight as this can scorch his leaves.

How do you pronounce Chamaedorea?

This is definitely a slightly tricky word to say! Despite the spelling, the initial sound is actually a ‘k’ rather than a ‘ch’. So, the pronunciation of Chamaedorea is ‘kam-i-dawr-ee-uh’. Hope that helps!

How much water does a Yucca need?

A Yucca plant will need water about once a week when the top couple of inches of soil have dried out. Do not let your Yucca stand in water as this can cause root rot.

Are Yuccas safe for pets?

Unfortunately, Yuccas are not safe for pets. Areca Palms and Chamaedorea pet friendly though.

How much water does an Areca Palm need?

An Areca Palm plant will need water about once a week when the top couple of inches of soil have dried out. Do not let your Areca Palm stand in water as this can cause root rot.

Are Areca Palms safe for pets?

Yes, Areca Palms are safe for your furry friends, hurray! Check out our full range of Pet-Friendly Plants for more options that will keep you and your pets happy.

Left image: dog sitting on the floor next to green house plants
Right image: a large palm plant in a basket on a table behind a table and chairs, with more houseplants on the table

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about how to care for your lovely, leafy tropical palms. Most importantly, we hope you’re now more enlightened about the possible causes of those annoying brown tips on the leaves of your palms and how to prevent them. As always, if you have any questions about any aspects of caring for your palms, drop us a line at [email protected].

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