One of the most stunning palms, the Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana), may thrive in either a tropical indoor setting or a more temperate outdoor environment. Kentia palms, originally from Australia, have been cultivated in Europe since the 1860s.
Throughout the late 19th century and into the early 20th, this plant was widely employed as an ornamental accessory in homes and other indoor spaces.
The Kentia palm plant has a well-deserved reputation for being exceptionally hardy. Also, a Kentia palm grown indoors can grow to be rather tall, making it a fantastic centerpiece for artificial gardens.
The Origin of Kentia Palm
The Kentia palm is uncommon in the US. The truth is that it was first grown on a little island just off Australia’s coast. This species is found nowhere else in the natural world.
However, it is now mainly encountered in homes and workplaces as a decorative plant, and its popularity has spread worldwide. The Howea is a slow-growing houseplant that makes up for its lack of height with width.
Only around 15 square kilometers is the Kentia palm found natively on Lord Howe Island. There are just two species in the genus, both of which may be found in that area. The shower forsteriana is found naturally only in seaside locations.
Howea belmoreana becomes increasingly camouflaged in the upper elevations of the forest. The highest peak at which either species has been spotted is 450 meters.
In their natural habitat, Kentia palms produce pale green panicle flowers during summer; however, these flowers are rarely seen on indoor Kentia palms.
What Are Some of the Distinguished Characteristics of Kentia Palm?
White flowers grow on 3-7 spikes on a 3.5-foot (one meter) long inflorescence on Kentia plants. The inflorescence is dioecious, which contains both male and female flowers; the ensuing fruit is oblong and dull red; however, it doesn’t develop for around 15 years.
Paradise palms and sentry’s palms are two more names for these plants. Kentia palm plants thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 9–11 but can also be grown well in a container.
The leaves of a kentia palm are the classic huge palm form. Although they have the potential to reach a height of 40 feet (12 m), indoor Kentia palms are usually limited to a height of 12 feet (3 m) or less due to their poor growth rate in containers (3.6 m.).
The average height of a Kentia palm outdoors is 25 feet, but it can get as tall as 60 feet if given enough time. The roots of a mature palm tree can spread out as far as 30 to 50 feet from the tree’s stem.
Kentia palms are slow-growing houseplants that can be maintained in the same container for years. They thrive when their roots are pushed up against the sides of their container.
Although they may survive in dim conditions and with little care, they will flourish in the bright light and consistent water and fertilizer that will bring out their full potential.
They can flourish in various soil conditions, from clay to loam and acidic to alkaline. Container-grown Kentia must be planted in a potting mix with good drainage, ideally one that leans toward the sandy side.
Once established, Kentia palms can withstand dry conditions rather well; nonetheless, they prefer not to be waterlogged. To avoid causing root rot, you should only water the soil’s top inch (2.5 cm) when it becomes dry.
Difference Between Kentia and Areca
Careful inspection of the leaves will reveal whether the palm is a Kentia or areca. The Kentia palm has pinnate leaves, which means a single pinna at the very tip of the several pairs of lateral leaves.
The golden fruit palm’s opposite pinnate leaves don’t have this feature. Unlike the Kentia palm, however, this one has black and yellow spots on the rhachis, commonly known as the leaf spindle.
Both palms are low-maintenance houseplants despite having slightly different substrates and water needs.
Kentia Palm Propagation &Germination
Unfortunately, unlike many common houseplants and garden shrubs, the Kentia palm is not simple to propagate. As the leaves appear only at the top of the tree, they cannot be propagated through cuttings.
There’s no way to propagate the plant by splitting it for the same reason. To propagate, you can only use seeds. It’s not easy to get your palm tree to produce seeds. Due to its slow growth rate, it takes a very long time for a palm tree to reach reproductive age.
A flowering Kentia palm is still highly improbable. Seeds of young Kentia palms can be purchased from nurseries or online.
These need to be new because their ability to germinate swiftly degrades over time. Kentia palms are best planted in the spring or summer.
Due to the lack of mild temperatures during germination, the best place to start your kentia seeds, is inside, where you have more control over the environment—Kentia palms, especially while young, like warm, tropical climates.
Kentia palm trees demand indirect sunshine and may survive with little humidity after establishing themselves.
Propagating a Kentia palm from seed is a slow and careful operation. It could take up to five years for them to settle in.
A new Kentia palm can be grown from the fruits of an existing palm. Pick the dark red fruits off an established Kentia palm since they are ideal for seed saving. Collect the palm fruits and soak them in warm water for a few days.
The seeds should be removed from the fruits and placed in a plastic bag containing peat moss or potting soil. You can also use shallow, enclosed planting trays to plant the seeds.
Put the plastic bag or growing tray in the sun. Maintain moist soil without letting it become soggy. Ensure the seed trays you use have adequate drainage if you intend to use them for planting.
The germination time for Kentia palm seeds ranges from three months to many years. The process can be sped up by storing the seeds at warm temperatures, specifically between 80 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once your seeds have germinated, you can move them to a larger growing space. Protect the plants from harsh light. Your seedling is ready for planting once it has grown.
Get a relatively big container (medium-sized or large) if you want to plant a palm tree. It’s important to provide a spot that gets hot enough to let it flourish. On the contrary, make sure to shield it from the sun.
Soil that drains adequately is ideal for Kentia palms. Prepare your seedling container by filling it with the proper soil combination.
Prepare a planting hole twice as large as the seedling’s root ball in your potting soil. Fill the gap in with soil again once you’ve planted your seedling inside. Rinse it right away.
Seasonal Seed behavior for Kentia Palm
Although the Kentia Palm thrives in warmer climates, it goes dormant during the colder months. It would help if you kept it in a light spot, but water it less frequently and not fertilizes it.
Do not overwater; just enough to keep the soil around the root ball from drying out is all that’s needed. The minimum acceptable temperature is 15 degrees Celsius.
As the Kentia palm is sensitive to dry heating air, you should pay special attention to maintaining a high humidity level by spraying it with a spray bottle.
Kentia Palm Plant Care
The plant needs very little attention. A properly cared-for Kentia palm can easily reach ages 50+ if you follow some basic guidelines.
Location and Temperature
A Kentia palm will thrive in an environment that mimics the moist, shady conditions of the subtropical woods in which it is found in nature.
For this reason, it is recommended to maintain temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius all year and over 20 degrees Celsius in the summer.
Howea forsteriana, while tolerant of outdoor placement in milder climates, does best in a bright, semi-shaded spot rather than direct sunlight. This includes any potential apartment-specific placements.
Leaf production decreases as exposure to shade increases. For the Kentia palm to feel at home, considerable humidity is also required.
An acidic, well-drained substrate is ideal. Combining it with sand at a 1-to-1 ratio is ideal for increasing the soil’s ability to absorb water. The same applies to Howea belmoreana.
Installing a drainage layer (of expanded clay, for instance) beneath the substrate is a good idea. The Kentia palm can also be grown using hydroponics and expanded clay. Hydroponics makes overwatering nearly impossible and allows for pre-watering.
Watering the Kentia Palm
Humidity is high on the island because it is surrounded by water in the subtropics. The Kentia palm is the best option for a light-filled washroom.
Another option is to spritz your plant with low-lime water regularly; this will help prevent dust from accumulating on the leaves. Consequently, low-lime water or rainwater is ideal for watering plants.
Very little water is needed to sustain the plant. As a result, you should water frequently, but only after the top of the substrate has dried off. Winter is an excellent time to cut back on watering a little bit.
However, it would be best if you didn’t let the roots dry up. The Kentia palm doesn’t like it when water sits about after you’ve watered it, so make sure to empty the saucer.
Pruning of Kentia Palms
The Kentia palm does not require any trimming. Dying or withering leaves should only have their tips lopped off, whereas brown leaves can be removed closer to the plant’s stem.
If the browning of the leaves is confined to their tips, you should not make any incisions in the green part of the leaf lest the browning spread.
Alternatively, you can leave a tiny brown rim around the leaf’s edge. The Kentia palm may also have a problem if it grows too large.
In this circumstance, the palm’s central trunk, where new leaves are developed, must be left untouched. The lowest leaves should be lopped off at the base, at most. If you want to slow the plant down a bit, you can remove some of the side roots before repotting it.
Fertilizer for Kentia Palm
Common ingredients in all-purpose garden fertilizers include nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. The NPK ratio describes the proportion of each element in each fertilizer and is always displayed on fertilizer containers.
In addition to nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, palm fertilizers also include magnesium. Common palm fertilizers have a high potassium NPK ratio, say 12-4-12 or 8-2-12, and contain about 4 percent magnesium.
Iron, manganese, and boron are three essential minerals that could be added to palm fertilizers and are much needed for excellent Kentia tree growth.
For Outdoor Kentia Palms
The soil around palm trees should be fertilized three to four times a year, from spring to fall, with dry palm fertilizer. This should be done 30 feet from the palm trunk.
The recommended application rate of 12-4-12-4 palm fertilizer is 1 pound per 100 square feet. Grass growing in the shade of a palm tree should not be fertilized.
For Indoor Kentia Palm
When the plant is actively growing, follow the label instructions to incorporate a slow-release fertilizer into the soil.
A common recommendation is one and a half tablespoons of fertilizer for a 12-inch pot. Maintaining a consistent watering schedule will prevent salts from fertilizer from accumulating in the soil.
Problems You Might Face with a Kentia Palm
Browning of entire leaflets or fronds, unless isolated to a single frond, may indicate several different issues with your Kentia Palm.
Browning and eventual death of older fronds are inevitable consequences of natural succession. This often occurs over a few weeks, with a single frond gradually turning brown. This is quite normal and nothing to worry about.
A potassium deficiency can cause brown or orange spots to appear in patchy patterns on the leaflets of Kentia palms. Browning of the tips or peripheral regions of the leaflets is another symptom that may be present.
You should consider the possibility that your Kentia Palm suffers from a lack of nutrients if it has never been fertilized.
Fertilizers can cause direct harm to the fronds, which can show up as brown spots and points on the leaflets. A Kentia Palm does not require a significant amount of fertilizer, and applying excessive amounts can harm your plant significantly.
Good results can be achieved by fertilizing the plant once every month during the spring and summer months using a balanced, half-strength, water-soluble fertilizer.
Excessive Direct Sunlight
The leaves that are the most vulnerable to direct sunshine may have patchy browning of their surfaces and browning of their leaf tips if there is an excess of light.
Kentia Palms cultivated inside become used to indoor areas’ relatively low lighting conditions. If they are exposed to intense direct sunlight, they cannot cope, which results in leaf scorching.
Make sure that your Kentia Palm is placed in an area that receives a lot of bright, indirect light. In most cases, exposing it to a modest amount of direct sunshine in the early morning or late afternoon is not harmful.
The result of underwatering plants is dry leaves, brown ends, leaf drops, withering, as well as curling of the leaves. After being watered, the plant’s condition will improve, even though the soil may appear dry.
Overwatering results in the yellowing of the leaves, browning of the tips of the leaves, and wilting even while the soil is moist. If root rot has already begun, overwatering also causes signs of underwatering.
Diseases That Might Occur in Kentia Palm
Even though Kentia Palms aren’t very sensitive to illnesses, they occasionally get fungal leaf spot diseases like Cylindrocladium and Stigmina leaf spot.
These diseases cause the leaves to become discolored and spotty. On the Kentia Palm’s leaves, most illnesses generate irregular brown or black dots.
To stop the disease from spreading, it is essential to isolate your plant and cut away all of the infected foliage.
Benefits of Growing a Kentia Palm
A Kentia palm plant could live for decades if it receives the right kind of care and attention. Their palm fronds consistently have a bright green color and a lively appearance.
As a result of their evergreen nature, they are an excellent option for a plant that will not perish after a certain amount of time, unlike certain perennials. You will be able to take advantage of their gorgeous foliage throughout the entire year.
An evergreen plant such as the Kentia palm offers protection to your landscape if you plant it outside, where it can be exposed to the elements.
The genus Kentia Palm plants are very effective in cleaning the air because they expel large quantities of moisture into the atmosphere while also removing chemical pollutants.
Since these plants are non-toxic, it is fine to keep them inside where they are accessible to both children and pets. Therefore, you won’t need to be concerned if your animal companion accidentally bites on the plant’s leaves.
Our Final Thoughts
Kentia Palms is a species of plant that is universally adored and simpler to maintain in excellent condition compared to other typical indoor palms.
With their voluminous, dark-green fronds and imposing growth habit, Kentia Palms are fantastic additions to any home as statement plants. Even though they are typically well suited for being grown inside, you will still have to pay close attention to their requirements to maintain them appear their best.
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.