Think of palms and think sandy tropical beaches, the green fronds swaying in the breeze as if tomorrow doesn’t exist. Yet palm trees have had a long past here on earth. Seeds from wild date palms go back 50,000 years, dotting the scene during the Late Stone Age where the first art appeared in archeological records and Neanderthals roamed the area. And fossils records indicate date palms were living throughout the Mediterranean area 56 million years ago. This plant has certainly seen some history and have become truly iconic in our culture.
Today, driving down Hollywood, palm trees fan up and down the streets where movie stars live and tourists thrive. Las Vegas palms beckon those who feel lucky while Orange County has their fare share of these Middle Eastern giants. And what is Palm Springs without a palm tree or two or three or four….?
But palms are also a plant that have made the indoor home and work life a better place to be with their majestic stature rooted in a pot, giving the surrounding environment a little bit of its ancient past. Egyptian pharaohs cultivated these plants in their house gardens and modern day continues the tradition.
Nearly any indoor place visited, a palm tree waits to greet all who pass by. Whether a shopping mall, resident or place of business, the palm gives spaces a tropical luxury that states stay, relax, enjoy.
With an acceptable environment, certain palms do well indoors in the right spot with fairly easy maintenance. Kentia palms and Lady palms are the perfect palm to pot for success. When buying a palm, be sure to look on the undersides of the leaves for bugs, such as spider mites or mealy bugs. Starting out with a healthy palm is half the job of keeping it.
Lots of light is essential for palms, though some will do fine in lower light situation such as a Rhaphis. Indirect lighting is best, with maybe early morning sunlight touching the fronds. Continuous low light makes the palms stretch abnormally which in turns weakens the plant and makes them more prone to parasites.
Palms do like heat. Yet too much heat causes the leaf and root to dry out and become damaged. It’s best to keep the palms away from heat and air conditioning vents that can parch their lovely fronds.
Tropical in nature, these plants like a regular watering schedule and do best in well-draining soil. Palms do not like soggy soil. Especially palms that live in arid conditions where over-watering can lead to rot. But they do love humidity. That is why it is important to get a palm that does well indoors, where humidity is much lower. Misting their leaves regularly with distilled water keeps them happy.
Over fertilization can also damage roots by burning them and is one of the most common problems for indoor palms. Because of less light, less heat, cramped roots and low humidity, the palms grow more slowly and require much less food. Be thoughtful when using fertilizer on indoor palms. They might not need it.
With a little bit of care, these palms can create a place of lavish intention and opulence that descends from the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt into today’s world of business and the sanctity of home.