Which palm for your space? Here's our top 5
Palms are some of the most popular and versatile plants to adorn your home with. To help you choose the perfect variety, we take a look at our top five palms. We’ll look at the key differences between them, which one will suit your space best and what to look out for when buying them. (Click on each one to see some info).
1. Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
The Areca palm is one of the most common and most affordable palms you’ll find. It’s easy to distinguish because of its beautiful feathery foliage and stems that go from a light grey to deep red-brown colour. They look particularly good in baskets and, to show off their stems as much as possible, try to raise them up high within their decorative planter.
Areca palms are pretty easy to care for but, as with all palms, they need constant watering. With paper thin leaves, the Areca will quickly tell you when it’s not happy from under or overwatering – you’ll start to see the tips of the leaves browning. Once this happens sadly it won’t turn green again, so keep an eye on your Areca to keep it in peak condition.
2. Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana)
This is our go-to palm for virtually any interior – we love a Kentia. It has lovely green stems that gently arch outwards from the base to its dense, feathered foliage. It’s more robust than its cousin the Areca palm and is less sensitive to inconsistent watering – its leaf tips will turn brown if not cared for properly, but less so than the Areca.
A Kentia will also do surprisingly well in low-light conditions, making it the perfect choice if you’re looking to add some lush greenery to a room with limited light. It’s also a good option if you’re looking for a big fella to fill a large space, as Kentias come in a wide range of sizes, some three metres and above.
Although you can get hold of Kentias relatively cheaply, it’s wise to remember that you get what you pay for. A seemingly cheap Kentia will most likely have few stems and look a little sparse and weedy. They’re not speedy growers, so don’t expect your skinny Kentia to fill out quickly. If you’re looking for a palm to provide impact with a full, bushy figure, we recommend paying a little more and going for a Kentia with plenty of stems.
Our top tip, if you have space to play with, is to choose a large Kentia and put it in a tall planter. The result is a wonderful green canopy that creates a visual emphasis on the long arching stems, and the added height means you can walk underneath the arching stems without brushing into them.
3. Parlour palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
The Parlour palm is one of the first plants the Victorians used in their homes, so it has a somewhat iconic status amongst not only all palms, but all house plants. It has lovely, airy foliage that’s more bushy in appearance compared to an Areca or Kentia palm. In their natural habitat a Parlour palm can grow up to two metres in height but it's unlikely to reach that height at home.
When it comes to looking after your Parlour palm, they’re a fairly undemanding plant. They’ll tolerate drier air, but if you want them to really flourish they’ll need a bit of humidity. As with all house plants, make sure you clean your Parlour’s leaves occasionally to avoid the build-up of dust. Dust will stop the plant from photosynthesising, and we don’t want that.
4. Footstool palm (Livistona rotundifolia)
The Footstool palm (also known as a Table palm or Fan palm) was popular a few decades ago, but has since fallen out of favour with interior plant lovers. But not for us, it’s still one of our favourites! With stems that tend to branch outwards more than some of the other palms on our list, it’s perhaps not as versatile. That said, the beautiful fanning fronds add another dimension to any interior with a distinct visual focus.
One thing to watch out for with a Footstool plan are the spines on its stems – they have a nasty habit of getting caught on clothing or skin. Like the other palms, it can’t store much water in its stems so it will quickly show signs of neglect if it gets dry. Regular watering will keep this guy happy.
5. Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Whichever palm (or palms) you choose, we hope you love them and the splash of green they’ll add to your home. For more ideas and inspiration follow us on Instagram @underleaf, drop us an email to email@example.com or pop into our Underleaf shop at 94 Columbia Road, London.