5 Tips for Growing Palms Indoors

My Garden Life
August 23, 2019
Table of Contents
Palms grown indoors as houseplants bring a tropical feel to any room, so it’s no surprise they’re one of the most popular houseplants out there. Palms also come in a variety and shapes and sizes, some big enough to fill those difficult empty spaces in your interior design. Overall, palms are easy to grow as houseplants, but here are five tips on caring for your indoor palm that will guarantee it stays healthy and beautiful.

1. Choose the right palm

Some palms are more finicky than others, and some need very specific conditions to thrive. When you’re buying your palm, make sure you read the plant label and understand that particular variety’s unique requirements. In general, parlor palms and cat palms are good for your first foray into these houseplants.

2. Dim the lights

Many native palms spend their lives below the jungle canopy, so they are hardwired to thrive on the light filtering down through the leaves of other trees. On top of that, many growers of indoor palms further acclimate their plants to lower light settings, making them well suited to grow indoors. Of course, your palm needs some natural light, just not direct sun. And if you move it outside for the summer, be careful not to place it in full sun.

3. Follow the “Goldilocks rule” for watering

Palms don’t like to be too wet or too dry. To get it “just right” for them, keep the soil in their pot moist to the touch, never letting it dry all the way out nor get sopping wet. Making sure your palm’s pot has drainage holes in the bottom and mixing some perlite or vermiculite into its soil can go a long way to ensure good drainage.

4. Remember where your palm came from

When you think of palms outside, what do you think of? Miami Beach? A Caribbean bayside? Hollywood Boulevard? That’s right–places that are hot. Palms really don’t like to be cold, certainly never below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) and better yet, 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) or higher. Also, be sure to keep them away from drafts and air conditioning vents.

5. Indulge your palm’s inner prima donna

Palms can be a little fussy. They don’t always respond well to chemical fertilizers, so feed them with a well-balanced organic one, either once with a slow release formulation at the beginning of the summer or once a month during the growing season. Palms also don’t like to be re-potted, so hold off on that chore as long as you can. And when making any change in the plant’s location, do so gradually, increasing the time the palm spends in the new location by an hour each day.

A note on brown leaf tips on your palm:

One of the most common problems with palms grown indoors is the tips of the plants’ leaves turning brown. This is most often a sign of over- or under-watering. If that doesn’t seem to be an issue with your plant, check whether the palm is warm enough, getting too much light, is in need of fertilizing, or has changed locations abruptly recently. Any of those factors can cause the leaf tips to brown. The good news is, once you identify and rectify the problem, the palm should make a full recovery.
Palms make wonderful houseplants. They can add height, texture, and a tropical feel to indoor houseplant groupings or stand alone as structural elements in an interior design plan. And, if you follow these tips, you should have no problem keeping your indoor palms growing and gorgeous.
Beautiful living room with palm

Looking for the perfect companion plants for your palm? Check out lots more houseplants in our Plant Library.


  1. Peter Cook

    My cat palm has some white stringy looking substance on the leaves. When I move it there is white dandruff like spores/ tiny insects maybe falling off them
    Is this a fungus or are they insects in your opinion. Many thanks Peter

    • My Garden Life

      Hi Peter,
      It sure sounds like a mealybug infestation. We found a care sheet specific to mealybugs on palms from the University of Hawaii that you might find helpful. You might also want to have a look at our article Common Houseplant Pests to view some other insect possibilities. It’s not unheard of to find more than one pest making itself at home on a palm. Use a magnifying glass to give your plant a good inspection.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Choosing Container Garden Herbs

Choosing Container Garden Herbs

Potted herbs are an easy way to liven up a home-cooked meal without committing to the effort of a full-blown vegetable garden. Besides their culinary qualities, most herbs also lend style to container gardens.
No Till Gardening

No Till Gardening

A no till gardening soil recipe includes a blend of compost, mulch and plant matter layered over cardboard or newspaper. No till gardening is a low-maintenance solution to the problem of tilling, which is not always good for the environment.
The Potting Bench

The Potting Bench

Every gardener needs a potting bench. They combine style, storage and practicality all in one piece.

Related Posts

Plant a Tea Garden

Plant a Tea Garden

Plant a Moon Garden

Plant a Moon Garden

How to Grow Happy and Healthy Camellias

How to Grow Happy and Healthy Camellias

frost map with dates

Frost Map with Dates

USDA zone finder with zip code search and maps

USDA Zone Finder

plant library

Plant Library

Save plants to your personal library

Join My Garden Club to access more features

Already a member?
Log in now

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!