Kentia palm, scientific name Howea forsteriana, is a species of palm tree in the Arecaceae family. It is native to Lord Howe Island in Australia, just off the coast, and has spread to other regions. You can now find this plant worldwide because it can grow very well in temperate climates. It was popularized to western society by Queen Victoria, who famously tended to these palm trees in her home.
The Kentia palm is a solitary species that can grow to be an impressive 40 feet tall outdoors and a much more manageable 6-10 feet tall indoors. It ticks all the boxes; it tolerates low humidity, low light, low temperatures, irregular watering, and general neglect.
- Kentia Palm Main Characteristics
- Kentia Palm Care
- Propagating Kentia Palm
- Potting and Repotting Kentia Palm
- Common Pests
- Common Problems
- Kentia Palm (Howea Forsteriana) : Growing and Care Guide (Video)
Kentia Palm Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Kentia Palm, Forster Sentry Palm, Paradise Palm, Sentry Palm, Thatch Palm|
|Botanical Name||Howea forsteriana|
|Native Range||Howe Island, near Australia and New Zealand|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||9b to 11a|
|Mature Size||Height: up to 40 feet, Spread: 6–10 feet|
|Bloom Time||November and December|
|Propagation methods||by seed|
|Sun||Dappled Sunlight or Partial Shade|
Kentia Palm Care
The Kentia Palm makes an excellent gift because it thrives indoors while requiring little care other than occasional watering during the dry season. A great choice for a beginner since this palm is very forgiving of neglect.
Light and Location
The Kentia Palm thrives in indirect light. It has poor tolerance for the full sun as the leaves can become scorched. But if you grow a seedling in full sun and allow it to acclimate, it can even thrive there. Otherwise, they grow best in partially shaded areas with filtered sun. They can also grow in low light conditions, albeit with less stellar results.
Location-wise, these are adaptable plants that can survive a vast host of growing conditions. Place this plant where it makes the most aesthetic sense, and this palm tree will grow just fine.
Kentia palms like being regularly watered, but they are prone to getting root rot from stagnant water. Avoid overwatering at all costs. Instead, allow the water to drain away before the next session. Ensure proper drainage channels and use a well-draining soiling mix.
Kentia palms originate from temperate regions and love temperatures above 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Though colder temperatures won’t kill them, higher temperatures are usually better to promote better growth. They are also somewhat drought resistant; placing them near air conditioning or heating vents can quickly lead to problems.
These plants like humid conditions but can survive low humidity conditions too. For optimal growth, mist the leaves two or three times a week with distilled water. The leaves will appear green and vigorous.
Kentia Palms don’t need a fertilizer per se, but to encourage growth, a balanced fertilizer high in nitrogen and potassium would do nicely. Apply it every month, during spring and summer. Do not fertilize the palm during winter.
Propagating Kentia Palm
The Kentia palm is a slow-growing palm tree with seeds that have an even slower germination rate. Therefore, it is not easy to propagate by seeds as it can take years for the plant to grow to maturity. This is also why export from Lord Howe island of mature houseplants survives to this day.
Most gardeners usually buy these palms directly from the supplier, but if you are adamant about growing these plants from seeds, the method is relatively straightforward. Seeds germinate at a temperature between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. It would be best to plant the seed about 5 to 10 mm deep in trays filled with a soil mixture containing peat. In addition, the pots should have drainage holes covered by gauze or netting to keep the soil from spilling out. Finally, water the soil, but don’t let it sit, or the seeds will rot. If you’re lucky, the germination can occur after three months; otherwise, you might have to wait several years.
Potting and Repotting Kentia Palm
Kentia palms are not picky about their pot. But keep in mind that they usually grow six feet tall at the minimum, so keep the pot bottom-heavy from the start to avoid it tipping over in the long run. A standard potting mix with peat and loam will create a well-draining soil essential for these plants as they hate getting waterlogged. Drainage holes are also a good idea.
Be very careful when repotting as their roots are sensitive to being disturbed. Wait for the roots to spill over the compost layer before considering a new pot. If repotting is inevitable, Pot your Kentia palm in a pot one size larger than the previous pot. Add a layer of well-draining potting mix and allow the root ball to settle.
Kentia Palms are non-toxic. You can safely plant them around both humans and pets.
Mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites can be an occasional hazard for an indoor Kentia palm. Cleaning the fronds of the palms now and then should prevent most infestations. But if they do occur, a standard insecticide should do the trick.
Are the leaf tips going brown?
This could occur for a few reasons:
- Too dry – Mist it daily until the leaves recover.
- Too cold – Move it to a warmer spot.
- Underwatering – Give it more water but don’t let the soil get soggy.
Leaves tend to become lifeless if the plant is kept in low humidity. An easy fix is to mist them regularly or use a humidifier. And move it away from radiators.
A few leaves turning slightly yellow is no cause for concern. But if the yellowing is happening throughout the plant, this could be due to underwatering. Increase the watering frequency but don’t allow the water to sit.
Are the leaves going brown?
Leaves tend to go brown naturally when they become old and make way for new growth. But to be safe, make sure you are not overwatering your plant. As too much water can also cause this.
Kentia Palm (Howea Forsteriana) : Growing and Care Guide (Video)
How to care for a Kentia palm?
Kentias are hardy plants tolerant of neglect. They require little care once established. The main points of concern are to avoid overwatering them, keeping them in moderate humidity and away from radiators, and not placing them in direct sunlight.
How to prune a Kentia palm?
Use a clean and sterile knife or pruner. When cutting off sections of the plant, remove the fronds from the base to ensure clean regrowth. If the growth gets out of hand, you can safely remove the topmost stems to make the size more manageable.
Why are the tips of my Kentia palm turning rust-colored?
Either the humidity or the temperature is too low. Move it away from any heat source, like an air conditioning unit or a radiator, and mist it daily. And place it in a room within the optimal temperature range. Also, check the watering regimen; underwatering can also cause this.
“Howea forsteriana” by East West Trees is licensed under CC BY 2.0