The Q&A Archives: Kentia Palms

Question: Twice my husband and I have attempted to transplant and maintain a Kentia palm. The area is light and breezy, but no direct sunlight. Both times the palms have faded and died. The last one had what looks like root rot. Is there a specific key to growing and maintaining these particular type of palms. We've been asking at local nurseries and have not been very successiful. Many thanks for any and all imput concerning these palms.

Answer: The Kentia palm, Howea forsterana, is one of the most elegant palms, growing equally well indoors or out in mild winter climates such as yours. They are native to Lord Howe Island, off the eastern coast of Australia. The climate on this island is warm to cool temperate, therefore Kentias are tolerant of wind, drafts, temperature changes, and rough handling. They take cool weather well, but cannot tolerate frost. Phytophthora is probably the most serious disease in Kentia palms. If moisture-holding capacity of the soil is too high or if plants are overwatered, kentias frequently die from Phytophthora. I suspect your plant needs a faster draining soil than you've provided, and less water than you're used to supplying. Try planting in a different location, or removing the soil and replacing it with new soil (to ward off reinfection of the root system if you decide to plant another kentia in the same spot).

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