Encyclopedia of Houseplants

How to Grow and Care for Parlor Palms

updated Jun 6, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Studio Light and Shade/Shutterstock

Got a corner that needs filling or a sunroom that’s begging for a touch of green? Then it’s time you got acquainted with the parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), sometimes also called Neanthe bella palm or Victorian parlor palm for its popularity in Victorian-era sitting rooms. Its tropical, slender fronds grow more or less upright, reaching about four feet in height indoors and making the parlor palm the perfect occupant for a floor planter. The best part? Caring for it is really simple. Here’s how.

How to pot your parlor palm 

This one is super straightforward: Rodale’s “Encyclopedia of Indoor Gardening” advises using your favorite well-draining organic potting mix for parlor palms. Pots with drainage holes make watering easier. 

The best conditions for your parlor palm

Water: Like most houseplants, parlor palms like damp (but not wet or soggy) soil. Stick your index finger in the pot down to your second knuckle. If it feels damp, don’t water yet. If it’s dry, add water until it flows out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Houseplant care site Epic Gardening recommends watering in a circle around the base of the plant to prevent dry spots in the soil, which can cause the plant to drop fronds. 

Light and location: Parlor palms need bright light, but not too much of it. Direct sun leads to wilting and overly dry soil, but light that’s too low will stunt growth. Epic Gardening offers this handy tip: If you parlor palm casts a shadow, it’s getting enough light. 

Err on the side of less light if you’re unsure. Rodale’s recommends an east-facing window, but opt for a north-facing window over south if choosing between the two. 

Temperature: Parlor palms prefer temperatures in the range of 65-70 degrees indoors. Your plant may also enjoy moving outdoors for the summer months when temperatures are above 65 degrees at night. Select a partially shady spot out of direct sun. 

Fertilization: Rodale’s recommends feeding parlor palms once every two weeks during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion. Use half as much as the directions suggests to avoid salt buildup. 


Good news! Parlor palms are nontoxic to cats and dogs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).