The Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) is a beautiful, popular dark-green feather-leaved palm plant for homes, offices, restaurants, malls and many other challenging, high traffic settings.
This good-looking, elegant plant is well known for its lush green foliage, easy care, grace, and size. Every once in a great while a Kentia palm will flower in captivity.
The flowers are unremarkable, but even kept just for its foliage, this palm does well in a wide variety of large, open indoor settings.
In this article, we answer important questions regarding Kentia Palm plant care. Read on to learn more.
#1 – Where Does Kentia Palm Come From?
The natural home of this sturdy palm tree is Lord Howe Island, which is located in the Pacific Ocean off the east coast of Australia.
It takes its genus name (Howeia) from its origins. Its common name comes from the town of Kentia, which is located on the island. [source]
The two Howea (hou’-ee-ah) palms Howea belmoreana and Howea forsteriana grow outdoors in frost-proof locations in California. In Florida these plants do not grow as well.
#2 – How Big Do Kentia Palms Get?
In the wild, Kentia trees can grow to be sixty feet tall. Even so, they make good, large houseplants because they grow very slowly, adding only a couple of new leaves annually.
In an ideal indoor setting, they usually top out at about ten or twelve feet high. It can take many years for the plant to reach this height. You can expect an ultimate spread of about five or six feet. [source]
When you purchase a Kentia it will probably be about 3 -5 feet high.
Very often when you purchase your Kentia palm you will find that several small plants have been grouped together in one pot.
This makes a nice, full display to start with and gives you the bonus of several separate plants when repotting time (if needed) arrives.
#3 – How Much Space Do You Need?
Because the Kentia Palm can grow very large, you will need to set aside an area of floor about 4’ x 4’ with an overhead clearance of 8’ to 10’.
When the plant begins to get big, it should have a permanent place indoors on the floor as it will eventually become too heavy and too tall to sit on the surface of any item of furnishing.
#4 – What Is The Best Placement For The Kentia Palm Indoors?
These graceful plants like a setting with bright, indirect sunlight but do well in low light as well. Direct sun will scorch them. For this reason, your palm tree should receive northern or eastern sun.
If you cannot provide this, be sure not to place your plant right next to a southern or western window as the direct rays of the sun will damage it.
As with most house plants, a room with bright, indirect sunlight is preferable to direct sunlight. This is especially true for sunlight shining through glass. Too much hot sun can scorch your palm tree.
If you find either of these circumstances to be true, relocate your plant to a less challenging location and monitor it closely for improvement.
#5 – What Temperature Do These Indoor Palms Prefer?
In the summertime, they like a consistent temperature in the low 60’s to 70 degrees. In the winter 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature.
#6 – How Much Water Do Kentia Palms Need?
Water thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry before watering again.
Provide a mild liquid solution of fertilizer prepared especially for palms every other watering during the growing season and not at all during the winter.
If growth slows down or stops and your plant begins to lean it can mean you are overwatering.
Remember that your palm tree must never stand in water. Always allow the soil to dry out before watering thoroughly.
Generally speaking, when grown in an interior setting a thorough weekly watering in the spring and summer months and a thorough watering every couple of weeks in the late autumn and the wintertime should be enough. Mist frequently to hydrate the leaves.
This will help prevent problems with dry leaf tips.
#7 – What Can You Do About Dry Leaf Tips On Howea?
If the tips of your palm’s fronds do dry out, you can trim them to remove the brown parts.
Don’t cut into the green part of the frond. Try to trim in a way that blends in and looks natural.
If you see dry, brown areas on the leaves, it may mean that the air is too dry for your plant.
Check the location.
If the plant is too close to heat or air conditioning vents or too near a radiator or other heat source, this could be your problem.
#8 – Is Regular Grooming Necessary?
Cut off dead or damaged leaves and keep the dead leaves around the base of the trunk trimmed back for a neater appearance. Remove leaves sparingly as new leaves are slow to emerge.
You should cut these leaves quite close to the trunk leaving only about a half inch of the original leaf stem.
In addition to trimming and pruning, you’ll need to give your plant a little cleaning from time-to-time.
You should occasionally wipe the plant down with a damp sponge or soft, clean cloth soaked in purified water. Wipe the leaves carefully and examine for any signs of pests or disease.
#9 – Are Kentia Palms Subject To Pests And Diseases?
Scale insects can be problematic on palm trees. When you clean your plant, check carefully for them on the undersides of the leaves.
Add a little Neem oil to the purified water you are using to clean the plant to prevent scale insects and other pests taking up residence.
If scale insects are already a problem, you may need to scrape them off with a dull knife blade or your fingernail before treating with a Neem oil solution or an indoor houseplant insecticide.
Be persistent in treatment to be sure of killing off all the pests and keeping them away.
Spider mites can also attack the Kentia/Howea. Oval in shape and barely visible. Spider mites like dry, warm conditions and hide first on undersides of leaves, then cover the plant. Use Neem oil as well for control.
#10 – How And When Should You Repot A Kentia Palm?
Late in the winter or early in the spring are good times for repotting. When you tree is still small and manageable, follow standard repotting procedure.
When the plant is young, you should repot annually when it matures, you can transition to repotting once every couple of years.
Because these trees have long taproots rather than spreading roots, you should always repot into tall, columnar containers.
Don’t use a container that is too large as these plants tend to die back if they have too much root space. Keep your palm slightly root-bound.
When you repot, trim the roots back a bit as this will help curb your plant’s growth.
Use a standard well-draining, potting mix for best results.
#11 – How Do You Grow Kentia Palm From Seed?
You can purchase seeds online. They are large and hard. To grow a palm from seed you must soak the seed for several days in very warm water (90 degrees Fahrenheit).
Plant the seed a couple of inches deep in moist, light, well-draining, standard potting soil. Cover with a plastic bag and keep the pot in a very warm setting with bright, indirect lighting.
It may take as long as two weeks for the seed to sprout, and it may not sprout at all.
Kentia palm is a tropical beauty which can seem rather expensive as a houseplant, but in the long run these palms are worth every penny.
As mentioned, these plants often come 3 or 4 to a pot, so when you repot you can definitely get more value for your dollar.
Aside from that, the Kentia palm is a slow growing, long-lived, easy-care indoor plant that can provide elegance and beauty to your sunroom, entryway, bedroom or almost any other spacious location in your home for many years to come.