Chamaedorea Palms (also known as “Bamboo Palms”) are a very diverse group of palms with over 100 varieties or species. There are many contrasting appearances among the group. For example, some are miniature (up to only 12 inches tall) and others can be over 20 feet tall. They range from having tiny trunks to robust stems, and all have pinnate (feathered) leaves which lends to more delicate-looking fronds.
Several Chamaedorea Palm varieties are currently being used in interiorscape designs due to their durability and classic, elegant features such as:
Chamaedorea elegans (Neanthe Bella) also known as the Parlor Palm;
Chamaedorea seifrizii (Reed Palm);
Chamaedorea hooperiana (King Maya);
Chamaedorea metallica (Metal Palm);
Chamaedorea “Florida Hybrid” (hybrid cross of C. seifrizii and C. elegans);
Chamaedorea cataractarum (Cat Palm)
Chamaedorea Palms will naturally spread through off-shoots or suckers, similar to bamboo. These plants are commercially grown as clumps to form full shrub-like specimens. The graceful Chamaedorea Palm is much hardier than an Areca Palm and less expensive than a Kentia Palm.
Native to Mexico and Central America, Chamaedorea Palms are hardy and most all will thrive in an understory setting. They can handle low light, making it very popular for indoor use where a low light plant is needed. They are often used in a northern exposure. NASA lists Chamaedorea Palm as a clean air plant.
Although the Chamaedorea Palm is mostly used indoors, as it prefers shade, it can withstand higher light and will produce flowers and fruit in these environments. The flowers arise from the leaf sheaths (covering) and are dull yellow in color. The fruits are usually small pea-sized berries that are an orange/red color. Caution should be used with the fruit as it is an irritant to humans.
Insects partial to Chamaedorea Palms are the spider mite, which thrive in a dry, still-air environment. If you encounter this problem, try misting the plant twice daily with a soapy mixture or a professional grade pest remover. Less common pests are the mealy bug or scale.
Chamaedorea Palms like adequate water but do not like being water-logged or sitting in soppy soil. For container-grown plants, water when the top inch of soil just starts to dry out. Even moisture is ideal. It is better to leave the soil slightly dry than to overwater.
If you are overwatering, you will usually notice the leaf tips begin to turn yellow and fall off as well as new growth emerging very pale. The plant may also experience stem rot.
On the flip side, if you are under-watering, the tips of certain varieties, like C. seifrizii, for example, will turn brown as well as any new growth.
Chamaedorea Palms will do well in a soil rich in organics, top soil, and sand for good drainage.
Fertilize with a slow release from late winter to early fall. If the plant starts yellowing, add a dose of blood meal, which contains nitrogen and iron. This should green up the leaves in three to four months.
All species of Chamaedorea require good air ventilation. For plants that are kept indoors, that can be a challenge! Opening a window or having interior fans can assist with air movement.
Chamaedorea Palms do well in temperatures between 65-80 degrees.
Chamaedorea Palms can typically be found in 6” to 21” grow pots. They are very popular because of their durability and classic, elegant features and make a great part of any interiorscape!