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How to Care For Kentia Palm (Howea Forsteriana)

Last Updated on October 10, 2022 by Plant Mom Care

Kentia Palm or Howea Forsteriana was found in the 1800s on Australia’s Lord Howe Island. This splendid palm tree grows well in tropical environments with good care, this palm can survive growing indoors for more than 50 years. 

The Kentia palm was introduced in the UK in the 1870s and became a favorite with Victorians as an exotic houseplant. Queen Victoria was a big fan and insisted that the palms should be placed around her coffin. These palms were also used to decorate the first-class decks of the Titanic. 

Kentia Palm houseplant

This slow-growing palm can ultimately reach a mature height of 40 feet and around 6 – 10 feet wide. Its feather-like, arching, erect fronds have green leaves that are around 10 – 12 feet long. The slender trunk is green and turns dark brown when mature. The flowers are creamy-white and appear on spikes and the small fruits are oval. 


Kentia Palm Light Requirements

Mature palms can grow under full sun but palms under 5 years old must only be grown under indirect light. Getting this right is important to successfully grow these palms. Too little light limits frond growth and prevents the palm from producing flowers. Too much exposure to harsh light can burn the fronds. 


Kentia Palm Watering

This palm prefers slightly moist soil and doesn’t tolerate severe drought or overwatering. Water it once a week when the first inch of topsoil becomes dry but make sure the soil isn’t water-logged and soggy, as the palm is susceptible to root rot. You can cut down watering during autumn and winter when growth slows down.


Kentia Palm Humidity

Average humidity levels are sufficient as this palm struggles in high humidity, including arid weather. If conditions are arid around the palm misting the fronds will raise humidity.


Kentia Palm Temperature

This palm can endure temperature highs of 100°F and lows of about 25°F for short spells but it prefers temperatures to be roughly above 55°F.


Kentia Palm Soil

This palm prefers well-drained loamy or sandy soil and can also adapt to clayey soil if there’s adequate drainage. Acidic soil pH is best, but it can tolerate neutral to somewhat alkaline pH.


Kentia Palm Repotting

Because this palm grows slowly, it only needs repotting every couple of years or so. Repotting is best minimized only when it’s necessary—when you see roots growing out from the drainage holes—as it doesn’t like its roots to get disturbed.

Howea Forsteriana plant

When growing this palm in a pot make sure it has plenty of drainage holes. Unglazed clay pots are ideal because excess moisture evaporates through their walls. Pick a pot that’s a couple of inches wider than the root ball, and use a suitable potting mix. Gently ease it out from its old container and plant it at a similar depth, filling around the roots with fresh soil.


Kentia Palm Propagation 

This palm can be propagated through division or from seed. The best time is in spring or summer. 

When the plant is repotted, you may discover a stem near the edge that separates naturally if not a stem or clump can be cut away with a sharp knife. Gently ease the palm out and loosen the roots then, select a suitable stem slowly teasing apart the attached roots without damaging them. 

Repot it with a suitable potting mix in a new container. 

Propagation from Seed

The seeds of the palm mature slowly, ending up a deep reddish-burgundy color. The seeds should be planted as soon as they mature for the best results however, germination will take a long time, so be patient.

Sow the seeds in a tray of moist seed-starting soil. Place a plastic bag over the tray to retain moisture, and place the tray under indirect sunlight. Soil temperature should be around 85 – 104°F – you can use a heating mat to maintain the temperature if the weather is cool. 

Make sure the soil stays slightly moist but not soggy. Germination could take any time between three months to more than a year.

Additional Care

Use a slow-releasing fertilizer specifically formulated for palms in spring and summer to promote growth and follow the instructions.

Pruning needs for this palm are minimal, remove dead fronds when they dry up. They will still provide the palm with nutrients while they’re changing color from green to brown to remove any diseased fronds to prevent the disease from spreading.

This palm generally doesn’t need any special overwintering as long as you live within its USDA hardiness zones 9b – 11. If you take a potted palm outside during summer, bring it back indoors before the temperature drops below 55°F.

Kentia Palm Common Problems

Pests that can disturb this palm are mealybugs, spider mites, and scale, particularly palms that grow indoors. Sometimes minor infestations can be treated simply by spraying the fronds with water; otherwise insecticidal soap or neem oil can be used. Avoid treating pests with alcohol as the fronds can be damaged. Pests can be prevented by simply wiping the fronds with a damp cloth once a month.

Diseases that affect this palm include leaf spot and other fungal infections. These commonly affect outdoor palms more than indoor palms and can often be treated with appropriate fungicides. 

Yellow palm fronds could either be due to root rot or overwatering. Make sure you follow the recommended watering schedule and inspect the soil after you finish watering, making sure the water has drained away properly. 

Brown tips can indicate under-watering; you may have to increase watering in hot or dry weather; brown tips could also indicate overfeeding. A soil test will determine the nutrient levels.

Brown patches on leaves could be caused by direct sun. 

Move the plant under indirect light. Dull leaves can mean that the air around the palm is dry. Regular misting will help keep the palm away from the radiator or air conditioning vents.

Is a Kentia palm good for growing indoors?

This palm grows quite well indoors, as it can tolerate low light and a little neglect, although it won’t reach its full size. But you might have to increase humidity if the air is dry.

Where should I put my Kentia palm?

The best place to keep this palm indoors is near a window under bright indirect light. Growing it near a window facing west or south is a good location provided it isn’t exposed to direct sun.

How often should I mist my Kentia palm?

If humidity levels are low or if you live in a hot or arid climate, regular misting will help raise humidity. Misting will also help remove dust from the fronds.

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