Ask a Question forum: Indoor palm tree help!

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Oct 4, 2016 2:01 PM CST
I have a small indoor palm tree (I think either a kentia or a butterfly but not 100%). It sits in a south facing window and I water it about twice a week when the soil gets dry. I noticed recently the leaves were turning brown and droopy and I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Is anyone able to help me? :)
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Oct 4, 2016 2:45 PM CST
Hi Cheese, Welcome! to NGA

Please post some photos of your palm - it would be very helpful.

A few questions:

How long since you repotted it?

How long have you had it?

Has anything about its circumstances changed?

After you water, have you put your finger down into the potting soil to check for moisture?

How fast does the water drain through the pot when you do water?

Is it sitting in a saucer?

Do you fertilize? If so, with what and how often?

Oct 4, 2016 4:23 PM CST
I haven't repotted it yet mostly because I'm afraid to (this is my first non succulent plant so I'm in new territory). I've had it for about a month. Within the time I've had it nothing has changed! The water drains fairly quickly and I do check the soil after and before I've watered it. It's sitting in a saucer of sorts (its really a tupperware container) and I haven't fertilized it yet either.
Thumb of 2016-10-04/cheese/50a14f
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Oct 4, 2016 5:52 PM CST
Its a Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans). They require high humidity and constant moisture (always damp but not drowning). You may want to add a humidity tray under the saucer. Is it sitting under an A/C vent?

Oct 4, 2016 11:06 PM CST
Oh!!! Good to know!!! I was waiting until it was mostly dry to water. Its sitting on a window sill above a radiator.
Name: Scott
Tampa FL
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Oct 5, 2016 10:55 AM CST
Looks more like 'Chamaedorea cataractarum' than 'C. elagans', but the cultural needs will be the same and the cat palm can take more water.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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Oct 5, 2016 4:07 PM CST
Parlor palm nickname comes from Chamaedorea elegans being able to survive the more dim, dry air of a parlor in the Victorian age. IDK if that also applies to C. cataractarum (cat palm,) but they are similar in other ways, so probably.
Cat Palm (Chamaedorea cataractarum)

The pot looks small to hold the roots of so many individuals. The individuals are very close together, and will be crammed as they grow. If this was my pot, I would repot as soon as practical, and separate the plants by at least an inch.
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[Last edited by purpleinopp - Oct 6, 2016 8:05 AM (+)]
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Oct 5, 2016 8:38 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @Cheese !

My thought also was that the pot looks way too small for your plant; I'd get a pot that's about 10" across the top and repot it with a good potting mix. I personally like the self-watering pots because not only can you just fill the reservoir with water rather than watering from the top, but the reservoir provides a place for drainage of excess water if/when you DO water from the top.
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
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Oct 6, 2016 8:37 AM CST
Respectfully, weedwhacker, I 'think' the current pot is about two inches. Let's say- move to a pot about two inches bigger across and depth.
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Name: Lin
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 9b)
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Oct 6, 2016 8:56 AM CST
I learned from a knowledgeable source a few years ago that Cat Palm (Chamaedorea cataractarum) is a clump forming palm; new plants will sprout from the base of the mother plant. It requires high indoor light conditions and high humidity whereas the Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans) has a single trunk, prefers bright indirect light and some humidity but will do okay with lower light and humidity conditions. The Parlor Palm (C. elegans) is often sold with a few to many small plants potted together.
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Name: Will Creed
Professional interior landscaper
Oct 8, 2016 1:36 PM CST
I'm not sure that we can accurately tell from the photo how tall the Chamaedorea is and the width of the pot. Not knowing its size makes it difficult to determine the particular Chamaedorea species and its light & water requirements.

Why is soil(?) piled up higher than the pot rim? It looks like someone repotted it.

I suggest that you cut off all of the fronds that have already start to discolor because they will not recover. Also, all Chamaedoreas are spider mite magnets and that could be part or all of the problem. Spider mites look like tiny dust particles on the leaves. If you spray the plant with a fine mist, the water droplets will expose the tiny spider mite webs if mites are present.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC

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